No, not like that sketchy movie “One Night in Paris”. Here’s a listing of Diann and my crazy whirlwind Paris-in-a-week tour. Read on for more details. Many of our food recommendations come from Rick Steves’ France 2007 book.
### Day 0 ###
Land at Charles de Gaulle, take a taxi to the hotel ($70), and sleep.
Charles de Gaulle is, quite honestly, the ugliest airport we’ve ever been in. We’ve been to a lot of airports in many countries: Taiwan, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, Amsterdam, Belize, Mexico… tons in the United States. And Charles de Gaulle is ugly. In French, they’d say il est laid. Totally retro, very Jetsons-esque. (I grew up watching The Jetsons, and I’m still saying it’s ugly) Did I mention the airport is ugly? Oh, get some Euros before you leave the airport — there are a few HSBC ATM machines around, and I don’t know if the taxi drivers take dollars (or whatever your local currency happens to be).
It’s also totally plausible that your taxi driver has never heard of the street your hotel is on. Don’t worry, he’ll pick up his cell phone, and call someone for directions. Yes, it happened to us.
### Day 1: [Daytrip to Reims](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/reims) ###
We woke up early from our [hotel](http://www.hotel-marignan.com/) in the Latin Quarter, and needed to venture over to Gare de l’Est to catch a train to Reims. We had looked up the time table previously on the [SNCF](http://www.sncf.fr/indexe.htm) website, and knew we needed to be there at 9:30am. Sadly, we couldn’t find the bus stop near our hotel quickly, so we ended up at the train station around 9:35am. We bought our tickets for the next train (Paris to Reims at 11:30am) and got a undefined return time ticket back to Paris. We grabbed breakfast (petit dejeuner) at a small cafe across from the train station, and then did a bunch of people watching while waiting for our train to depart.
The train ride was pretty uneventful, with a few stops before arriving in Reims, including Epernay. When we arrived in Reims, we hopped on the local bus route that would get us to the [Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin](http://www.veuve-clicquot.com/) cellars. Diann had e-mailed them prior to our departure to make reservations for a 2:00pm English-speaking tour, and to get the lowdown on what the best way to get there was. They were very helpful by e-mail. The tour included a history of Veuve Clicquot, and they told us that they are actually owned by the [Louis Vuitton MoÃ«t Hennessy Group](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Vuitton_Moet_Hennessy). Vuitton actually owns several “luxury” brands: MoÃ«t et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Fendi, TAG Heuer, etc. (note to self: buy LVMH stock) We got to go into their awesome chalk caves, which are about a hundred feet underground. They have over 24km of caves on site, and they were used in both World Wars as schools. One of the most interesting things we were told at Veuve Clicquot is that their non-vintage champagnes may have 40 different varietals in them to make a consistent year-to-year flavor.
We tried the 2000 Rose champagne (a new vintage for them), and paid a few extra Euros to sample the 1996 La Grande Dame — their premium champage, on par with Dom Perignon.
After drinking the champagne, we took a walk to the Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral, which was — in a word — amazing. This is where all the French kings underwent coronation ceremonies and was built over 800 years ago. They were working on restoring the facade of the building, and the most obvious result of this was cleaning off years of pollution. I would guess that the inside was 300′ from floor to roof, and it definitely makes you feel tiny when you’re standing inside of it. We caught the bus back to the train station, and took the train back to Paris. Back in Paris, we ventured into the Metro for the first time, bought a set of tickets (carnet), and caught a subway back to our hotel’s neighborhood. Between jetlag, train rides, and champagne, we were pretty tired. We grabbed a quick dinner at a local spot (way touristy) and then went to sleep.
### Day 2: Valentine’s Day ###
We grabbed breakfast in our hotel, and we went out and bought umbrellas, as it was raining harder in Paris than it does in Seattle. We walked over to the MusÃ©e de Cluny and bought our 4-day Paris Museum passes. We didn’t actually go into the museum, as it’s most well known for tapestries… that didn’t interest us. We walked over to [Notre Dame de Paris](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/Notre+Dame/), which has tons of stained glass. Notre Dame was not nearly as impressive as the one in Reims, so that was a little disappointing after all the hype about Notre Dame. We took the self-guided climb to the top of one of the belltowers, which a total of 422 steps to climb. These wouldn’t be the last stairs of the day. We were able to see the grand bell (13,000kg of brass, hoisted by rope in the 1600’s) and amazing gargoyles in the gothic architecture.
After leaving Notre Dame de Paris, we headed out to the Crypt de Archelogy just in front. It was interesting, but if I were to do this over, I’d skip them.
Lunch was on the Isle de CitÃ© at a crÃªpes place, Au Lys d’Argent (90, rue St Louis en l’Ile). It was excellent — I had salmon, egg, and cheese on buckwheat crÃªpes, and Diann had ham, egg, and cheese on buckwheat. We split a honey and lemon juice sugar crÃªpe.
After this, we took the RER train over to the MusÃ©e d’Orsay, which was, unfortunately, closed due to a strike. We walked over to [Place de la Concorde](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/concorde/), and then headed off in the rain the Champs-ElysÃ©es towards the [Arc de Triomphe](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/Arc+de+Triomphe/). This was about 1.5 miles in pretty heavy rain, after climbing the Notre Dame that morning. The Arc de Triomphe brought us more stairs to climb, but had an awesome view of Paris from the top. We headed back down after a bit, and caught the metro over to the Rue Cler neighborhood. Rue Cler is truly “market” Paris — there were cheese vendors, wine vendors, meat vendors, and everything else to fill up a picnic basket. We sipped hot chocolate just outside of the Tribeca Restaurant. It was getting close to 6pm, so we walked around trying to find a place to eat dinner on Valentine’s Day. We ate at Chez Pierrot (9, rue AmÃ©lie), and had sangria (with bananas and other fruits), scallops, beef w/homemade bernaise sauce, and fondue for dessert. This was one of the best dinners we had in Paris.
After all this, we walked over to the [Eiffel Tower](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/Eiffel+Tower/), which was lit up at night. The first 10 minutes of every hour, they strobe a bunch of lights that makes it glitter like a jewel. Very cool. We paid our fees, and took the elevator up to the second viewing level, and spent a very cold hour looking over the Paris city lights on Valentine’s Day night. Totally clichÃ©, but totally cool.
### Day 3: [Versailles](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/versailles/) ###
We headed to the metro, and bought the special tickets to Versailles, which is a 30-minute ride away to this suburb of Paris. We made the short walk to the palace, and were perplexed by the huge line in front at 11:30am. Apparently, there was a museum strike here too, and the chÃ¢teau would be opening late. We waited around for another hour or so with a bunch of other tourists, and finally they partially opened the palace.
Versailles was by far my favorite location to see. The opulence of the palace and the gardens is completely indescribable. I’ll let the [pictures](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/versailles/) speak for themselves. We can’t imagine the army of cleaners and gardeners required to keep this place up-to-snuff. We walked around (skipping the rent-a-bike and mini-train options) the gardens, as this was the best weather we had seen during our trip.
We took the metro back to Paris, and decided to go grab ice cream on the Isle de CitÃ©. We went to the original Berthillon shop (31, rue St. Louis-en-l’Ile) and paid way too much for not nearly enough ice cream — but it was good. While walking back, we had a run-in with the paparazzi and some blonde lady in sunglasses they were trailing. A brush with fame, but we don’t know who.
We stopped outside of another cafÃ© for tea and french coffee (coffee, cognac, and crÃªme fraiche) with a cheese plate. We met up with a colleague of mine that works in our Paris office, and headed to the Marais district of Paris for dinner. We ate at Le Rouge Gorge (8, rue St. Paul), where they squeezed us into what would later become a fairly busy restaurant. It was a pretty small restaurant, and the staff here were extremely helpful with our inadequate understanding of the all-french menu. We had a bottle of 2005 Arbors Poulsard (Domaine Andre et Mireille Tissot), and ate wonderful food. This was, by far, the best food we had in Paris.
### Day 4: [MusÃ©e du Louvre](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/louvre/) ###
The museum strike continues. I guess the Louvre is important enough that they keep it operating no matter what, however, as they had security present and opened the museum for all to see. No payment required.
There is an amazing amount of art in the Louvre, and it’s not just paintings. Tons of old roman, egyptian, and greek sculptures, and of course, the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is, well, unimpressive. It’s pretty small (about 2′ by 3′), and surrounded by throngs of tourists. Whatever.
I got chastised a few times because there is a “No Photography” policy in many of the halls of the Louvre, and I had my camera out. One employee asked me to put my camera in the bag, but since the prohibition is on photographing, and not cameras, I kept it out. I snapped a few sneaky stealthy pictures, but nothing major. One of the amazing things about the Louvre is that, while they don’t allow people to photograph, they apparently do allow people to sit there and paint paintings of the actual paintings. These people are sitting 3′ away from antique paintings, with a tray full of paints and a few bottles of paint thinner — imagine the damage they could do if there were an accident, or with malicious intent.
We headed to Pont Neuf, and took a river cruise of the [Seine](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/Seine/). After the cruise, we looked for Angelinas — a cafÃ© that everyone told us to try, and is known for its hot chocolate. Alas, we didn’t find it. We walked around for several miles, and after arriving back home, we found out we were only about two blocks away from it. We took the metro to the Luxembourg district, and grabbed dinner at Terra Nera (18 rue des FossÃ©s St. Jacques). We were in an odd mood for italian comfort food, and this restaurant did not disappoint. Excellent food, and excellent panna cotta dessert.
### Day 5: Shopping ###
We headed out this morning with the full intent of shopping. On our way to the metro, we caught the [Saturday morning market](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/france/paris/market/) outside of our hotel. We went to the Grand Magasin district, where the large department stores are. We walked around the [Galeries Lafayette](http://www.galerieslafayette.com/international/index.do), and checked out all 7 floors of this huge store. The fine foods section of the store was awesome, with tons of wines. As a side note, the name of the lingerie section of the store isn’t called the lingerie area, it’s called the “Seductive Fashion” section. Learn something new every day.
We went to [H&M](http://www.hm.com/), which was insanely crowded, and had a very mediocre lunch in a cafÃ©. Side note: in France, when you order a hamburger, it doesn’t include buns.
Not much else was done on this day, as Diann didn’t feel well. We sat around the hotel room for the rest of the day.
### Day 6: Airport Delays ###
We headed to the airport this morning, and got stuck due to delayed flights. One thing of note to travellers flying through Charles de Gaulle: when you arrive at your gate, if you need to go to the restroom, you’ll need to leave the secured area to do so. You’ll have to clear security every time you go to the bathroom. The second part of our vacation brought us to [Norway](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/travels/2007/norway/) to visit family, and that will probably bore you, so we’ll conclude here. By the way, did I mention the airport is ugly?