Or, How to Walk 500 Miles in 3 Days
Three days in Paris. Three days in a city with more museums than I can count, a city where cafes spring up like mushrooms, a city I adore. A city I want my son to adore as much as I do. I feel that these first few days are critical for establishing the feel of this trip– this trip that is, essentially, years in the making.
Therefore, I proceed to drag my son from one end of Paris to the other, both above and below ground, in the heat of summer. Because nothing says “European vacation” like madly trying to squeeze in every monument, chapel, museum, and brasserie you can get your little American hands on. Oh, and did I mention that Paris in the summer is 3 things: crowds, noise, and more crowds. The French word for crowd is “foule” and it is pronounced like “fool”, which to me is apropos. My son hates crowds, and I don’t blame him. Still, the best way to tackle Paris seemed to be to grab it by the reigns and ride the holy hell out of it. Or, in our case, walk the holy hell out of it. I think we covered about 250 miles that first day.
Luckily, my son is nothing if not patient, and even though by the end of Day One, I feared I had broken
him, he was ready to spring to life the next day and do it all over again. Day One consisted of: la Tour Eiffel, les Invalides, cafe break, failed attempt to see the Rodin museum (closed), failed attempt to see the Grand Palais (closed), metro ride to Sacre Coeur, meandering the streets of Monmartre (oh, so cute, those petits streets!!), dinner at Bouillon Pigalle (complete with G’s first escargot!), and metro home and collapse.
My takeaways from the first day:
Bouillon Pigalle is a must! Excellent food, amazingly cheap prices, unbeatable location, and for those of you not up on your French, an English menu!
Sacre Coeur is a perfect way to take in an amazing view of the city for free (a great alternative to waiting in line and paying at the Eiffel Tower). Just ignore the street vendors and they’ll move on to someone else. They are a bit persistent, but they can take a hint. As you leave, take time to wander the lovely little streets of Montmartre. They are the stuff of fairy tales.
While you’re in Monmartre, pop into A L’Etoile d’Or, a chocolate shop to end all chocolate shops. The owner, Denise, speaks no English, so bring a French-speaker or brush up on a few key phrases. Ask her about the special chocolate from Lyon, Bernachon, and watch her face light up like a Christmas tree. Ask her to choose her favorites for you, and she will gladly pile your tray with some of the best chocolate in the world, while animatedly telling you all about what makes each bar special. She might even hug one of the bars; this is one of those priceless Paris moments. Bernachon is expensive. Deal with it, and count it as a worthy splurge. No one outside of Lyon sells this chocolate, and Denise had to do some convincing to get permission from the chocolatier to sell his precious bars anywhere but in his Lyon shop. If you haven’t had enough, there’s plenty of other sweet treats in this little gem of a shop. Savor it like you will savor your amazing Bernachon chocolate!