Only 300 More Miles To Go…
Days 2 and 3 in Paris definitely consisted of lots more walking, and by the time we boarded our TGV to Avignon, our feet were begging for a break! On our second day, we visited one of my favorite places in Paris, the Luxembourg Garden.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
Once a haven for royalty, it’s now a wonderful public space full of trees and flowers, a little pond where children race toy sailboats, and the occasional game of boules (basically the same as bocce, just in French instead of Italian; in the South of France, the same game goes by the name Petanque).
We sat an enjoyed watching the children sail their boats. Funny thing was, I think all of them there that day were tourists!
The boats are available to rent, and it’s so sweet to see children getting excited about playing with something that has no screen, and hasn’t changed in generations.
Ile de la Cite
After relaxing the Jardin for a while, we headed north, toward the Ile de la Cite. This is the original site of the city of Paris, settled by the Parisii tribe as a fishing village. It’s also the site of one of Paris’ most famous landmarks, the Notre Dame Cathedral. Of course, being the height of the tourist season, there were long lines to get in. We opted to enjoy the view from the outside while making our way to another one of my favorite spots, the Ile Saint Louis. Even in this busy time, the Ile felt quiet and hidden. Even though it’s right next to one of Paris’ iconic locations, it feels like most people focus so much on Notre Dame that they don’t even notice the little island next door. Fine by me– I love the respite from the foule!
If you visit Ile Saint Louis, there is just one main street that goes right down the center of the island. There are boutiques galore, and one of the most famous places for la glace in the city: Berthillon.
Given that it was in the upper 80s, there was no question we had to get a scoop! What is probably most striking about Berthillon is the creativity and variety of flavors.
Sure, you’ll find chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry here. But you’ll also find roasted pineapple basil, thyme lemon, lavender, lemon praline coriander, and yes, even fois gras! I don’t remember what flavors we got, but it was definitely not the fois gras! Adventure has its limits! Notice how quiet the street is in the picture to the right? Yes, that is the main drag through the Ile Saint Louis in the middle of summer. Heaven.
Once we’d had our fill of ice cream and cute little boutiques, we headed for the metro to make our way back to our apartment.
The Paris Metro
Taking the metro in Paris could not be simpler. Google maps is great for helping you find which metro line you need to get from point A to point B. Once you know what line number you need, figure out which end point you want to travel toward, and that’s the train you take. Trains run every couple of minutes, so there’s no need to run to catch one. You can purchase tickets at the automatic kiosk, which does have an option for English. I recommend buying the pack of 10 tickets if you really want to get around town. You can walk 500 miles around Paris, but I don’t recommend it!