Paris – The Journey Begins (Day 1)

(In the fall of 2010, my wife and I made our first trip to Paris, France in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary. What follows is an electronic version of the journal I wrote while on the trip, liberally sprinkled with photographs taken during our Parisian visit. For the full collection of links, stay tuned to this page as I post my thoughts on our excursion.)

Long flights are exhausting.

“Red-eye” flights across the Atlantic (or anywhere overseas, for that matter) seem to serve nothing more than to completely disrupt your body clock. In hindsight, of course, it’s a good thing.

There wasn’t anything really wrong with our Air France flight. I’d had a difficult time sitting comfortably since only a couple weeks before I’d bruised my back and hindquarters from a short fall down some stair s in our home. I ended up sleeping maybe a total of an hour during the 8 hour journey. My wife slept comfortably beside me.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport with no problem and on time. CDG is a very large and very pretty airport, I have to say. And very clean. After collecting our bags and some mixed discussion with our non-English speaking cabbie-we spoke in broken French, he in broken English-we sorted out our destination and off we went.

I’m very glad on this trip we nixed renting a car. I’m a patient (though slightly aggressive) driver and I’m fairly sure I could not have handled the Parisian traffic very well. The worst, in my opinion, are the multitude of scooters. There is no regard for lanes, safety, or even pedestrians; they just go and move as they please!

On the drive in, our driver took us a slightly long way into town; we were staying in a rented townhouse in the Third Arrondissement. The cabbie’s approach went straight through the massive traffic circle that rings the Arc de Triomphe which was quite impressive. The roundabout is just utter craziness – there are no traffic lines or lanes; it’s pretty much every vehicle for themselves. Woe to the traveler who gets stuck in the middle of the inner ring and wants to get out…


We then got to ride down the length of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which was pretty sweet. We planned on walking the full length during our stay but it was a very nice ‘introduction’ to our stay in the city.

We arrived at the Marias District (in 3e) early. After a short wait, we dropped our bags off at the townhouse we were renting; the maid needed to clean the place first and shooed us out. So we walked the Marais for a bit. The streets are very narrow (enough for tiny sidewalks and small cars) and it became evident very quickly that Parisians are VERY focused. No rudeness, however. Just brevity.

Of course, we’d taken steps to learn basic French before our trip; it was more of a refresher for me (with 2 years of college French under my rusty belt) and we both had fun doing the audio courses on our commute to and from work for the few months prior. One of the tips given to us was to try communicating in French first, showing appreciation for the culture, and then bumble our way through the conversation.

We managed to get a little lunch at a nearby boulangerie near the Centre Pompidou, locally known as the Beauborg for the street it is located on., and ate in the Centre’s courtyard while people-watching. Our lunch was simple fair but filling, and the crowd was thin but entertaining. Not to mention the very unique look to the Centre, of which I never quite seemed to get in a photo…

After some more wandering – no photos at this time, since our cameras were still packed away – it was nice to simply wander around. Soon enough, it was time for us to return to the rental.

And also time for a nap!


The rental was very nice for a small apartment in a historical building. It’s “differently” appointed than our normal taste, but this is in part due to the fact that the owner and her husband also live there for some months of the year. Still, it is vastly larger than a hotel room of equivalent cost and more “homey.” It’s the perfect type of relaxing getaway and central point to our plans for this trip. Since we planned on exploring the city and less on “living” in the space, it would work splendidly for our needs.

About 7 pm we were fully functional again, though still exhausted and not terribly hungry. We puttered for a bit, unpacking various things and somewhat planning our first full day but it wasn’t long before I crashed again. My wife followed shortly afterward.

I awoke early in the morning and jotted down my thoughts (of which you’ve just read) and eagerly awaited our first foray into Paris at large…

4 thoughts on “Paris – The Journey Begins (Day 1)

  1. My name is Carol Davis and I’m a fellow blogger and photography intern for the Vasa Transmedia Project. The Vasa Project’s vision is to bring photographers and other visual artists together to share work, ideas, exhibition information, essays on photography and new media in a dynamic and interactive online environment called Vasa Transmedia. We want to invite you to contribute essays, personal work, reviews, etc. to the Vasa blog and essentially become a part of the Vasa Transmedia community. If you are interested we would appreciate you linking your blog to the Transmedia blog and we ask that you add us to your blog roll as well. Essentially our goal is to bring photographers, writers and visual artists under one umbrella. We would also like you to consider doing a gallery talk about your work sometime in the future.You can check Transmedia Blog out at the link below. You can post a request to the blog to be a contributor and we will get back to you with submission details.

    “Transmedia is a global networking project publishing the work of artists, theorists, critics and others on an international scale transcending traditional media categories. At a time when global networked communications are breaking down traditional concepts of space and time and moving beyond traditional forms of publication and networking, Transmedia, VASA’s Blogging Project, connects people to events and people to people. The Transmedia, blog will cover photography, video, sound, digital art and theory. Transmedia will focus on artists, writers and theorists from north, south, central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.”

  2. Only been in Paris once, but it’s very high on my list of places to return to. I enjoyed it a lot. It is a lot more modern than other european cities like Rome, or London, simply because they totally redid the city in the 19th century to have broad avenues and such. It means it does not have the ‘anicent’ feel of Rome, but it has an open and modern feel instead.

  3. Been to Paris once before, but that was 13 years ago. Some of the highlights I remember were going to a World Cup game, it was weird to see inside the stadium, every couple of sections of seating had an iron fence in between with spikes on top to keep everyone separated. And when you bought a bottle of soda the vendor opened it and kept the cap (I guess they’re good for throwing, but wouldn’t the bottle be as well?). Then on their Metro there was a woman on the train with a pet rat that stayed perched on her shoulders, walking around. And it was weird to see the public toilets they had in the city. They were essentially a porti-potty that had a lock on the outside and you had to pay to use it, but these were just set up on street corners and such in the middle of the city.

  4. I loved your post. I went to Paris for the first and only time last spring. I fell in love with it. My wife (who did not make the trip) has been teasing me ever since that I have been obsessed with “all things Paris.” I dragged her and friends to see “Midnight in Paris” a couple of weeks ago. I caught the movie “Le Divorce” (Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts) on a cable channel last week and am now reading the book. If interested, you can read about our trip on my blog, beginning around March 28 of this year. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts.

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