In my opinion, one of the best ways to travel is to integrate yourself with the locals. I think this is one of the reasons I love France so much; I have friends here and have been able to do so much of my own networking to make new friends and establish new connections. My vacation in Paris was short but wonderful. I stayed in a wonderful apartment located conveniently just off one of the metro lines. Long story short, the Parisians I stayed with were friends of friends I met and stayed with during my time in Caen back in 2010. It was so nice of them to welcome back for a few days! Basically, one of the girls was in Canada so she left me her keys and I was able to enter the apartment when I got there. I stayed one night (Sept 3-4) and then when I left for Normandy on the 4th I was able to leave my 50 pound suitcase and just travel with my smaller one, which was so helpful.
When I returned on the 10th, I was able to hang out with the guys, Koni (short for Nicholas) and Marco, their Italian roommate. However, I took most of the afternoon to travel via metro to the Arc de Triomphe and climb to the top, as it is one of my favorite views of Paris. Then, I walked all the way down the Champs Elycee until I arrived at Place de La Concorde. I then continued walking through Jardin des Tuileries until I realized I exactly 45 minutes to return to the other side of Paris to meet people for dinner. It took me awhile to find a metro station (ironically) but was able to arrive à l’heure (on time) to dinner. That night I had dinner with my host mom’s niece (my host brother’s cousin) Sylvie, and her daughter, Pauline. Pauline actually stayed at my house and at the home of my mother’s colleague, back in 2011 (unfortunately I was in Japan during this time so I never got to meet Pauline until tonight). Upon meeting we exchanged bisous and then found a really good Thai restaurant near my place. It was such an enjoyable evening.
The next morning I had a rendez-vous at Cafe de Flore with A Woman’s Paris Barbara Redmond, and then afterwards I left towards Notre Dame, another monument I was looking forward to climbing. unfortunately it was Wednesday morning, meaning kids didn’t have school, and this year is the 850 year anniversary if Notre Dame, so the monument was crazy crowded. That afternoon, I took a free walking tour of Paris, and afterwards I went to the Eiffel Tower just to sit in the garden, enjoy the view, and take photos.
That night I went out with 4 guys (the two with whom I was staying and then their two friends). Ironically their favorite bar is an English speaking bar in the 5th arrondissement. (Apparently this is where you go to watch the Super Bowl.) It was a really fun experience and it really pays to have locals show you the hottest spots in the city.
I want to give a huge shout out to my wonderful hosts, I have never experienced such generous hospitality! Gros bisous!