Travel, traveling

Looking Back at France

Okay, so now that the dust has settled from all of our traveling, I wanted to take a few minutes to write about our little adventure. Chris and I got into Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday, March 7th about 9:30am Paris time. We met up with Chris’ mom, gramma, and sister & then headed to our hotel, where we pretty much crashed and took it easy for the entire day (naturally). We had dinner that night at Le Creperie, which was pretty good but very tiny!

After that illustrious entrance into France, we were off! On Saturday, we went to Paris to view the Eiffel Tower and to shop. While there, we had lunch at a very nice restaurant, Le Cafe de l’Homme, which had beautiful views of the fountains and the Eiffel Tower. If you go, you should definitely eat there. But a word to the wise – they did not seem to be all that fond of Americans! Still, they had fabulous violet ice cream…

Moving on! On Sunday we went to Le Musee du Louvre and visited all of the famous paintings and sculptures, such as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and the Venus de Milo. It was an amazing experience to be in that place! We also went to all of the little shops near the Louvre and bought quite a few things. I was happy with my purchase of French perfume, which very nearly did not survive the flight back to America (gasp)! We didn’t eat at any fancy restaurant that day – it was the Louvre food court for us!

On Monday we stayed close to the hotel since it was raining. We did go grocery shopping again, I believe, at Le Val d’Europe’s Auchan market. We frequented that store a lot, it seemed… We also went shopping in the French version of an outlet mall, but I don’t think any of us bought anything. It seemed like most of the shops where the French version of Bed, Bath & Beyond, if you ask me. For lunch that day we ate at Le Pardis du Fruit. I think we all would have enjoyed this particular restaurant a lot more if we could have known what we were ordering! Our poor server did his best with our limited French and his limited English 🙂

On Tuesday we went to the Champagne Region of France, specifically Epernay, where we visited the Moet & Chandon cellars. It was actually really neat, albeit a bit cold that far underground (75 feet below street level). Our tour guide was fabulous, and we did the grand tour which included tasting several champagnes at the conclusion. Thankfully, we did not have to drive anywhere to get to lunch! That day, we ate at Bistrot le 7, which was right in the heart of Epernay. After a great meal we walked around the little streets & roundabouts for some shopping. Chris, of course, was all too happy to visit the little patisseries & chocolatiers 🙂 On the way back to our hotel we stopped in another little town that had looked promising on the way to Epernay, but basically consisted of a cafe & a pharmacy!

Wednesday we headed to Versailles Palace & took the grand guided tour. I would definitely recommend that you take the tour if you go to Versailles – it gives you access to areas of the palace that are not open to the general public and we well worth the cost. After touring the palace, Chris & I took a leisurely stroll through Versailles’ gardens while his mom, gramma, & sister took the train. For a rather late lunch we at at Le Restaurant la Flottille, which is in Versailles Gardens in front of the grand canal. At the end of the day we headed back to our hotel & ordered dinner in via the Galloping Gourmet, which was less than spectacular, to say the least!

Thursday we all slept in and headed to Notre Dame & Le Musee d’Orsay. We went a bit later in the day because we all wanted to see downtown Paris lit up at night. And on Thursdays, Le Musee d’Orsay is open till 9:45pm, so it worked out. First, however, we went to Angelina restaurant, which has very French hot chocolate. Nicki & I both decided that it was basically like drinking chocolate that had simply been melted & put in a cup, it was that thick. If you are ever going to Paris, you should look it up – it is on Rue de Rivoli and is pretty close to the Louvre.

After Angelina’s we shopped around and bought several pieces of artwork, then headed to Notre Dame. It was a bit odd to tour Notre Dame, since they were right in the middle of mass, but I assume the church-goers are used to having people milling about with their cameras. It, too, was an amazing thing to see.

After Notre Dame we headed to Le Musee d’Orsay. I was so excited to see all of the impressionist paintings! It was amazing to see. The musee itself is in a fascinating building with multiple levels, lots of twists & turns, and many, many escalators! For dinner we ate at Le Restaurant, which is within the museum. It was great and I highly recommend it! However, if you want to eat dinner there it is only open on Thursday evenings, since that is the only night the musee stays open late.

Our last day was spent in Paris. We went for some more shopping and walking about. It was pretty relaxing, except at the very end of the day. Traffic was HORRIBLE that day, and for the 1st time since being in Paris we let our little GPS re-route us to avoid heavy traffic. Big mistake. We ended up taking this crazy route through Paris that probably extended our travel time by at least an hour. We were all pretty sick of the car when we got back to the hotel…

Saturday we all got up bright & early (4:25am Paris time) and headed to the airport 🙁 We got on our plane without any trouble, and the flight to Atlanta was fine. However, we arrived in Atlanta the day after the tornadoes had struck downtown, so leaving the airport was a bit of a challenge. At one point, Chris & I were sitting in a plane on the tarmac, only to have the pilot announce that Atlanta airport had shut down. We sat there for about an hour, then eventually took off & headed back home to Indiana.

So that was my little summary of our trip. If you want to see photos, go to my Facebook account – I have tons 🙂

PS – the next family vacation will be to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, January 3rd – 10th, 2009 🙂 Janice (Chris’ mom) has already booked the week at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove. Hopefully it will work out with Chris’ job so that Chris & I will be able to go, too!

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