A Single Baby Boomer Spends April in Paris

A Single Baby Boomer Spends April in Paris

 

April in Paris

“I never knew the charm of spring

I never met it face to face

I never knew my heart could sing

I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom

Holiday tables under the trees

April in Paris, this is a feeling

That no one can ever reprise

I never knew the charm of spring

I never met it face to face

I never knew my heart could sing

I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris

Whom can I run to

What have you done to my heart”

Songwriters: E. Y. Harburg / Vernon Duke

April In Paris lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc.

April in Paris is indeed as charming as the song says.  The weather is balmy.  Everything is in bloom and the beauty of the city sparkles during the day and twinkles at night.  The tourist attractions aren’t as crowded as during the summer and the cafes don’t have a line of people waiting for a table even near places like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.  Americans have a false belief that the French are snooty but my friend and I didn’t encounter that at all.  They were helpful and cheerful but then we always treated them with respect and weren’t demanding.  We tried to use as much French as we could muster and they obliged us by using English.  As one waiter told us, he needed a smattering of many languages in his job.  I think Americans would do well to do the same.  Paris is home to many immigrants who have acclimated to their new country and are willing to work long hours in the stands and tourist stalls that dot the city.

We tried to visit the smaller cafes and have the plat du jour.  We were happy with the prices and the interesting dishes.  I was surprised at one that featured what I thought was a serving of fish with mashed potatoes but when it came ended up being a casserole of fish bits and potatoes.  It was tasty but then anything drenched in butter, as is common there, is rarely bad.  I was determined to eat as much duck as possible and succeeded in my effort.  I wish we had it on the menu in the U.S. more often.  I recommend crepes for a quick treat and of course, anything from a bakery is to die for.  I don’t know why we can’t get a crispy baguette in the grocery stores the states.  We had a bakery by our front gate, a luxury I don’t have at home. I can’t give you any recommendations when it comes to the nightlife.  I’m one of the older Baby Boomers but everywhere we went there were clubs I’m sure were hopping all night.  We did walk by the Moulin Rouge one evening and the lights themselves were very impressive.

 

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The Metro and buses were easy to use.  We used Google Maps to navigate both systems and didn’t have a problem.  My friend had already been in the city for a couple of weeks and we’d spent a year using subways in Japan.  We had experience but it’s easy once you do it a few times.  There are machines to buy tickets and the larger stations have manned booths.  You can use these tickets on both the Metro and buses.  Buses take longer but they’re a good way to see some of the city for a small price.

 

I’d been to Paris before but wasn’t able to visit the Louvre so we spent several hours there.  I thought it would take the whole day but the main museum is not that big.  The top floor with the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo was hot and crowded but the rest was easy to navigate.  I’d have liked to see more of the gardens but it was quite hot so we opted to visit the shops inside.  There’s a Metro stop right in the building housing the museum so it’s easy to get there.  Don’t miss this when you go to Paris but also take in the many other museums and attractions in the area.  We also visited the Rodin Museum.  Just the garden alone was worth the price of a ticket.

Louve map

 

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Even though I’ve been up in the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to visit the area again.  At 1,063 feet tall the tower is the tallest structure in Paris.  Just being there is the quintessential Paris experience.  The wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel.  Constructed from 1887–89 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design but is now a global cultural icon of France and the most-visited paid monument in the world.

 

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We took a boat ride down the Seine under all the historic bridges and past Notre-Dame.  The next day we visited the famous cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle which was erected in the mid-13th century by King Louis IX. The chapel features some of the period’s stain glass, a total of 15 glass panels and a prominent large window.  Notre Dame Cathedral, arguably the most stunning gothic cathedral in the world, was conceived in the 12th century and completed in the 14th. It was the very heartbeat of medieval Paris. After a period of neglect, it recaptured the popular imagination when Victor Hugo immortalized it in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.  The back portions with the flying buttresses are currently being refurbished but the area was still charming enough to be a backdrop for photo shoots and wedding pictures.  We also saw couples being photographed at several Paris tourist attractions. We also did some shopping on the Left Bank near Notre Dame.  The flower shops had magnificent blooms that I wanted to bring home but I had to be satisfied with dried lavender which now makes my drawers smell heavenly.

 

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The Arc de Triomphe is another tourist must see as is the neighboring high-end shopping area of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

 

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Our Paris Greeter took us on a tour of her home market near the Champs-Elysee  We were enthralled by the variety of delectable food available to the Parisians at their small local markets.  Click on the Ballade link below to see the places we visited and learn about their history.

Ballade_2018_v3

Then there’s the food.

Oh là là!

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I’d love to return some day but life is short and I have so many other places I want to visit.  My next cross Atlantic trip will be to Wales, Scotland and maybe back to Port Issac with my kids.  Back to writing my book and enjoying the St. Andrew’s Bay views from my window.

 

Continue the Adventure!

Linda Lea

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