Charles and a friend started their own business about 18 months ago. It’s been a challenge in many ways, but their hard work is just now starting to pay off. However, because of the new business our travel schedule, until recently, has been almost nil. Instead of the five or six long weekend trips and two or three week long trips we dropped down to one weekend trip and one week long trip for the entire year (I don’t count going home to California as holiday, that’s mandatory). This was a big sacrifice for us considering one of the major reasons we moved to London was the access to travel. A cheap, two-hour plane ride from home and we can be walking the streets of many a different countries: France, Italy, Spain, Germany to name just a few. A trip to Rome from London for the weekend is like a trip to San Francisco from Fresno. We have been doing our best to make up for last year as documented here, here and here, but we still have a lot of catching up to do.
Paris has been high on my list for quite some time now. I’ve been several times before, usually because I was tagging along on one of Charles’ business trips, but I’ve been trying to figure out a good excuse to go back. Thankfully, our friends Simon and Shannon who live in San Diego happen to be in France for a family ski trip and Charles mentioned to them that we could meet them in Paris for a weekend. Perfect excuse! We get to hang out with our much-loved friends AND go to Paris.
We took the Eurostar over (a two hour train ride), which dumps you out right in central Paris, and made our way over to our hotel. After checking in we took a stroll around the cute pedestrian street we were staying on and I spied this little kid lounging on a public sculpture outside a shopping mall. He, like so many other people around us that day, was taking advantage of the amazing weather. I love this picture!
Neither of us had ever been to the Pompidou Center so that was first on our to-do list. Before going in we grabbed a table at a little cafe outside the museum and sat in the sun for about an hour eating lunch and people watching. There is so much going on outside the Pompidou you could spend hours there watching all the street performers, listening to music while catching some rays.
Once lunch was finished and the obligatory cafe had been drunk we walk down to the entrance of the museum, right past all the people waiting to buy tickets (tip: pre-book tickets online to avoid wasting time standing in line) and over to the visitors desk to pick up a wheelchair for Charles. Whoops! I forgot to mention earlier that my dear boyfriend broke his ankle playing football (soccer) two days before we left. Yep, cast, crutches and all that accompanies a broke ankle came with us to Paris. A city where you walk nearly everywhere you go. Anyhow, we made the best of the situation and took advantage of a loaner wheelchair at the museum and off we went.
The Pompidou is a modern art museum and it is quite amazing. The exhibits are well curated and the building itself is very interesting. Definitely worth a visit!
Simon and Shannon were late getting into the city so we met up with them later that evening just before dinner. We chose the restaurant based on a review that Charles had read, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to it’s reputation. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was not worth going out of our way for. No matter, we had a good time catching up with our friends.
Next on the agenda was something I was really looking forward to. A few years ago my friend Ange and I made a girls trip to Paris. One of the nights we were there we were wondering our way through the Latin Quarter, stopping at way too may bars along the way, but having a such a good time. Somehow, I think based on the recommendation of a waiter we met, we ended up at Au Trois Mailletz. We had an unforgettable night and I have been wanting to go back again ever since!
Au Trois Mailletz is a paino bar and cabaret. The piano bar is upstairs, where you can have dinner and listen to great music in a very comfortable atmosphere. Downstairs is the cabaret and that is what we wanted to see. After walking down some very steep steps (difficult to manage on crutches) you arrive in a stone cave with a long table down the center and little tables pushed against the walls. The space is very small, but they pack it full. The show starts at about 11:30pm with an amazing singer/guitar player. Most of the songs are in French, but we recognized the tune of a lot of them and didn’t feel lost at all. Throughout the night about 10 different performers go up on stage singing solos, duets and group sing-a-longs. Audience participation is always encouraged and even though we didn’t know the words we were still singing along. After about an hour the dancers come out. Beautiful girls dancing their way down the central table, shaking their hips like you wouldn’t believe. Although the show continues through the night ending at about 6am we called it quits at about 3:30am. This is such a fun thing to do while in Paris and I couldn’t recommend it more!
Needless to say we got a late start the next morning. The plan was to head to one of our favorite markets that is only held on Sunday mornings, ending at about 2pm. The market is on Rue Mouffetard and is mostly a food market where locals come to buy their food, at least as far as we can tell. We grabbed some breakfast at a little cafe and then wonder the market for a bit.
I have never had white asparagus, but I’m guessing it’s kind of a big deal because people were selling it all around the market. I’ll have to buy some next time to bring home. One of those bundles would probably feed about six people. Each stalk is about 1″ thick! Check out the fist-sized kiwis in the background. Huge!
Yummmm…. rotisserie chicken.
After the market Simon and Shannon took off to visit the Eiffel Tower (both us have been up the tower before) while we walk/hobbled around a bit more. After about 30 minutes we decide that walking on crutches in Paris was no fun at all, so we rented some bikes. All over Paris are these bike rental stations where locals and tourist alike can buy a pass, check out a bike, ride around, park the bike at another bike station, go shopping, hop on another bike, ride around some more, lock that bike to a tree and check out a park, ride some more, etc. Seriously cool idea that we have seen in a few other cities, but never tried. We figured this was the perfect opportunity to try them out and pedaling the bike didn’t put any pressure on Charles’ bad ankle. We had so much fun! I highly recommend doing this in any city that provides the service. We were able to see so much more of the city than we would have had we been walking, crutches or not.
Pretty building with beautiful blue sky background. Not sure where I took this picture.
We spent a few hours on the bikes before meeting Simon and Shannon at the Musee d’Orsay. Another great museum that we have been to before but was so worth making the return visit. Again, pre-book your tickets as the lines can be huge.
Later that night, after consulting TripAdvisor for a recommendation, we had a very nice dinner at a small restaurant called Au Bougnat just around the corner from Notre Dame. After stuffing ourselves with really good food and wine we called it a day and headed back to the hotel.
Simon and Shannon had driven a car to Paris so instead of taking the train back we hitched a ride with them. A three hour drive to Calais, an hour+ ferry ride across the channel, then two more hours of driving from Dover to Putney and finally a 20 minute tube ride and we were home. Most definitely not as fast or comfortable as the train, but we got to spend more time with our friends so it was worth it.
The whole trip was very quick, but we packed each day full and had a great time. There is always so much to do and see in Paris it’s hard to not to have a great time. In fact, we are already planning our next trip back!