The high pitched revving of a half dozen motor scooters occupied by men in suits; the smell of roasted chestnuts at a make shift Muslim street vendor; one building after the next adorned with ballustrayed balconies, French doors, dormer Windows, friezes and columns; it's like every capitol building I have ever seen, plus all the monuments in dc have been collected onto one street... but that one street is only one of dozens, or a hundred. I can't count at this point. "Oh look," says Cygridh, "that's the fifth Rolex shop I've seen so far!" We have only been walking for about a half hour.
The ornate greek mythology fountains, wrought iron street lamps and fruiting chestnut trees, all so novel at first, now practically have become mundane they are all so common on the streets of Paris. Is this a culture steeped in excess or do they simply love decorations? I hope one day to find out.
Speaking French is important to people here. If you begin the conversation by asking whether they speak English, the customary answer is "no." But if you begin with a sonorous "bonjour!" And then proceed to stumble through broken, but well intended French, they will certainly begin to speak Engish. They are right next to England, after all...
Having just had lunch at the 3 Michelin star Pavillion Ledoyen overlooking the gardens at Champ d'ellyses, I know it was one of the most expensive and delicious meals I've ever had, but I have no way of knowing whether it will be the most memorable of the trip. For, the trip has only just begun!
Having spent 20 hours in transit, we feel about as lively as the permanent residents of Paris's subterranean catacombs... its 5am our time, but 2pm here, which means there will be no rest for the weary! (We may end up joining them before this is all over. Jk)
Our plan today is to stop by a cafe for some authentic local fare, scout the city with our cameras, and see how long we last. More updates to come from the City of Lights...
Bienvenue a Paris! - M&C
1. Keep a copy of your passport (or upload a photo to the cloud) in case you need an emergency replacement.
2. Check your debit and credit cards to see which have the best terms for international transactions and exchange rates. Some cards will ding you for every international transaction, or use one exchange rate for the year regardless of whether todays rates are better. This can get very expensive!
3. Save locations, cities, and navigation to your phone via googlemaps for offline access without using data or wifi. When you are used to unlimited connectivity, this one is clutch for keeping your phone on airplane mode/wifi only the whole time. (Beware the temptation to turn on calla or data "check in quickly" which may result in your phone processing an automatic data dump costing you hundreds.)
Happy travels! M&C