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Prior to about two years ago, I did not have much of a desire to travel. I’m not sure why, exactly, except perhaps that I hate flying. But then suddenly, between reading blogs by folks in far-flung places and watching a number of travel DVDs, I suddenly had enough travel enthusiasm to plan a dozen trips. I also had a long list of places I wanted to visit. It helped that my wonderful husband has already travelled quite a bit, and could tell me stories of the cool things he has seen and experienced (like the glow worms in New Zealand!)

As it turned out, my parents and brother were also interested in going on a trip, so we decided to plan a family vacation to Paris, France. Although the dates of our trip moved around a bit, we finally settled on a week in October of 2006. And last week, we finally went!

One thing I brought with me on our trip was a Moleskine notebook I bought over a year ago, with the intention of dedicating it to travel journaling. During our trip, I kept track of what we did (in occasionally scrawled and almost always fragmented notes), what we ate, and what we spent. I am hoping to write up these notes into a full-fledged journal of our adventures, but that is going to take some time. But for now, here are some lists (you know I love lists!):

Ten Favorite Experiences:
  • Visiting the Luxembourg Gardens. Watching the people, encircled by the ring of pale stone queens and women of myth.
  • Seeing the Eiffel Tower light up and then twinkle at the top of the hour.
  • Visiting the Jardin des Plantes and seeing the recycled dragon and all the lovely flowers still in bloom
  • Riding in a boat along the Seine
  • Shopping in the Franprix and the different boulangeries and other shops along the street.
  • Climbing the Sacre Coeur basilica.
  • Visiting the Cluny Museum and seeing the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.
  • Sainte Chapelle: both the lower section with its vaulted starry ceiling, and the upper with its walls of colored glass.
  • Notre Dame: especially during the evening history/slide show with everyone hushed and the whole vast place dark but for the prayer candles.
  • The Chateau de Vincennes - marvelling at the walls, the towers, and the lack of crowds :-)!

Ten Thrilling Moments:
  • Seeing the Medici fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens. I still can’t put into words why this fountain gave me shivers. Something about the quality of light filtering through the trees, and the sluggish water, and the lush red begonias spilling out of the pots, and the ropes of twining ivy leading you toward that huge, almost oppressive fountain.
  • Catching my first glimpse of Sacre Coeur in between buildings as our shuttle driver took us into the city along the Champs Elysees.
  • The sight of the Winged Victory of Samothrace at the top of the stairs in the Louvre.
  • Walking across the bridge toward Notre Dame in the evening and hearing a street musician playing his accordion.
  • Coming around the corner of the Science Museum and seeing the Geode and the Parc de Vilette laid out like some glittering, utopian science fiction landscape.
  • Catching sight of the Grand Palais from aboard our boat, never having stumbled across a mention or photo of it in any of the travel resource I had read. It looks just like something out of the setting of one of my books, and it was so cool and startling to see it come to life.
  • Standing in the Sainte Chapelle, marvelling at the beautiful walls that seem made entirely of stained glass, and having the sun suddenly come streaking out (it had been cloudy when we went in) and set one wall aglow.
  • Sitting with Bob down on the quay along the right bank, between the Pont Neuf and the Pont des Artes, eating croissants, with very few other folks out and about. The sky had a volatile edge, with clouds and sunlight tearing one after the other though it. Watching the play of light on the bridge and the water, I really felt like I was there for the first time (despite the fact that this was technically the third morning I had spent in France).
  • Opening my boxes from Pierre Herme and seeing my rows of pretty little macarons and artistically rendered pastries sitting there like flowers.
  • Searching the Rue Rapp for the restaurant Jenny recommended (which alas we did not end up trying as my family was worn out by then) and stumbling across a gorgeous, weird,marvelous building done up completely in the height of Art Nouveau, that just calls out for some story to be set behind its elaborate edifice.

Ten Delicious Foods:
  • The sandwiches Bob and I got near Bon Marche - baguettes with four cheeses, tomato and chicken, heated up till the bread was crisp and the cheese melting.
  • The crème brulee and Earl Grey tea at Mariage Freres teashop. The best tea I have ever tasted. Seriously.
  • The gelato from Amorino (first visit: marron glace; second visit: mascarpone and pistachio).
  • The Isphahan from Pierre Herme patisserie. That breath of roses when you bite into it, and the burst of raspberry and lichie. So good!
  • The chouquettes, all of them! Little nubs of pastry, like empty cream puffs, rolled in chunky crystals of sugar.
  • The many breakfasts of baguette with butter and mirabelle plum jam I consumed in our apartment.
  • The roasted duck and potatoes from Restaurant Jules, where we had our “French Traditional Cuisine” dinner.
  • Nutella crepes!
  • My assortment of Pierre Herme macarons, especially the rose, caramel, pistachio, and chocolate.
  • The sip I had of my dad’s soup at the Vietnamese restaurant we had dinner at - fragrant and fresh and lemon-grassy.

April 2017



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