I swear, I will get around to posting about our trip to Italy and our first trip to Paris, and the last day of school (thank goodness!!), but I am working on the computer that only has the most recent pictures on it.
We returned to Paris this past weekend, in order to celebrate my birthday. Yeah, I know, we did that three weeks ago. But, as I posted earlier, we missed my birthday dinner. On my birthday, we went in to Paris for the morning and early afternoon, and then drove about 25 miles out of Paris to our hotel to get changed for dinner. I guess I miscalculated, well, maybe we both did, but I assumed we could leave at 7:30 for our boat's 8:30 departure. That may have worked, if we didn't spend over an hour sitting in traffic entering Paris and then another 20 minutes trying to find the boat dock. Needless to say, as we were approaching the dock, we saw the boat sailing down the river. Bleh! I called the company immediately, and they told me that I could reschedule for any time, but getting my money refunded would be extremely difficult. So, I decided to reschedule for my first weekend of summer break, this way, I could go to work with Joern on Friday, and we'd have a head start to Paris. We manage to enjoy lovely dinner in the Montparnasse district for my birthday, but I was really looking forward to returning to Paris for another weekend, and my real birthday dinner.
This past Friday, I went to work with Joern, and he scheduled his day to bring us close to the French border. Since it was Friday, he was finished around 2:00 and we were able to head out to Paris! The weather was sunny and warm, and we had really no traffic the entire way, so we arrived by 7:30 pm. We stayed at the same hotel outside of Paris, where we stayed last time. Yes, the hotel is a major chain, Clarion, and your run-of-the-mill business hotel, lacking any Parisian charm, but it was much less expensive than any hotel in Paris. Plus, we booked their Executive Suite, with an amazing bed, separate living room / conference room (seriously, the dining table could easily accommodate 10 people for a meeting,) and an incredibly fabulous shower. Plus, it is near a huge shopping center and tons of restaurants.
Once we were checked in, we headed to the grocery store in the mall to pick up some food for breakfast. While we were walking around the very homey feeling mall, we found a microbrewery that really reminded me of home. And yes, we could have searched for some very French restaurant, but living abroad you learn that to eat like the locals doesn't always mean indulging in typical food, plus, Joern is always excited about trying a new beer. Dinner was great, I had a hamburger and Joern had a nice steak. We split a maple beer that was delicious! We headed back to the hotel, where we relaxed, enjoyed some French wine, and watched Back to the Future II on the DVD player.
After a leisurely morning on Saturday, we headed in to Paris in the early afternoon. We decided not to rush to monuments or museums, Paris needs a lot of time, so instead we drove around a while. Finally, we parked near Ile St. Louis, and decided to walk around for a bit.
Besides being home to Notre Dame, the Ile St. Louis is actually an adorable neighborhood with streets lined with cafes and shops. We really enjoyed just strolling along the streets. The walk from the city across the Seine was also lovely. Despite the crazy number of tourists, the area was quite peaceful.
Of course, it was fun to look into the windows of the shops and many boulangeries and patisseries of the area.
Since it was such a warm day, we decided to follow the crowd, and jump in one of the many lines at ice cream stands. Turns out, that was quite a wonderful decision. The shop we stopped at had incredible flavors. Joern tried the Pine Nut Praline and I had salted caramel. They were both delicious and perfect-me-overs for the afternoon.
From there, we headed to Notre Dame to check out the famed gargoyles.
Since we were in a bit of a time crunch, and the line to enter was long, we simply sat outside the church and listened to the bells chime.
On our way back to the car, we admired the Hotel de Ville, or City Hall, decorated quite patriotically for the 4th of July.
We headed back to the car, got changed, and headed towards the Eiffel Tower, near the boat dock. Since we had extra time, we drove around, and found the most incredible view of the tower- from the Trocadero. You could easily see other monuments from this spot too, including Les Invalides.
Once we found a parking garage, we made our way to the boat, and boarded around 8 pm. The cruise was incredible! We sat in the Premiere Service section, meaning we sat in the front of the glass covered boat. It was very romantic, the service was wonderful, and the food, although not Michelin starred, was pretty good. The cruise lasted two and a half hours, although I would not have minded if it lasted a lot longer. And that's where I'll end my written description of the weekend. I wish Sunday was better, but needless to say, there was too much wine and champagne included in the dinner. Sunday was not really a day to remember. Oh, and yes, the glare from the glass cover of the boat does detract a bit from the pictures. Sorry!
It was cool to celebrate the 4th of July with the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower!
My long-awaited birthday cake!