Monday, December 9, 2013
Upon our arrival in Paris, Sister #3 is craving something, anything from KFC (silly American), so we walk around the station and find nothing. The next best thing is McDonalds which is conveniently located across the street. This place is packed; Sisters #2 & #3 are in line for 2 Egg McMuffin breakfast specials. Sister #10 and I take the time to read some news and check email off an IPAD and watch the gypsies in action. They (mainly women) walk up to every table and just put their hands out for money. Another scheme is for them to walk by and drop their wallet; waiting for an unsuspecting victims to lean down while their partner in crime does the pick pocketing.
We take a taxi to our apartment at 1-bis Place Du President Mithouard; It’s a Mithouard Apartment rental located in the Invalides neighborhood of Paris, close to the Eifffel Tower, Les Invalides and within walking distance to other neighborhoods and shopping areas around “the left bank”.
The unit we have is a one bedroom suite with a separate living room and open balcony. The place is airy with plenty of natural lighting; sleeps four with a small kitchen, washer & dryer and free Wi-Fi. The negative points to this place is the loud creaking bathroom door that needs some oil, a broken super glued lamp that doesn’t work and chairs that no longer have any support-luckily we’re all pretty light! This apartment building is also very narrow with a very small lift/elevator and stairwell.
After settling in, we decide to head out for a walk along the River Seine. The Eglise Saint François Xavier church is located right across the street along with a neighborhood shop with beautiful and colorful assortments of flowers! We also get a great view of the Dome de Invalides.
We walk north on Boulevard des Invalides; this road takes us towards La Seine. The students from Lycee Victor Duruy are letting out for lunch, you can that the most popular mode of transportation for the kids is the Razor scooter; they’re all locked up outdoors along the window railings of the school.
We enter Square d’Ajaccio thinking that it would be a short cut but it is a circular park situated behind the Army Museum with one entrance/exit.
We continue around the open plaza on Ave du Marechal Gallieni to Rue de Grenelle. This little side street has quite the diversity of stores from souvenirs shops to small boutiques, cafes, cheese shops, restaurants and other local markets. We walked inside The Real McCoy, a store that sells all products from America with mostly all processed boxed or canned junk food items.
The turn up on Ave Bosquet takes us through a mixture of residential and commercial buildings, the road ends at Place de la Resistance off Quai d’Orsay near the riverbank.
We cross the Seine River at Pont de l’Alma and stop along the way to enjoy the gorgeous views of the river, the Eiffel Tower, the tour boats, the hotels and other sights-WOW!
It’s time for an afternoon pick-me upper; we walked around and stopped at Bert’s on Avenue du President Wilson; a local favorite with very reasonable prices for beverages, soups, salads and sandwiches.
Refreshed and refueled, we return on Pont de l’Alma and head east on the pedestrian path along Cours Albert 1 er and Cours La Reine.
On this path, we encountered another gypsy scam; a decent looking man is walking towards us in the opposite direction, he bends over to pick up something off the path right in front of us. As he approaches, he kindly hands me the item which he found off the ground-it’s a gold ring. He gives it to me as “a blessing”, we walk away and suddenly he returns and asks me if I can pay him 3 Euros for the “blessing I received”. “No thanks” I say as I immediately place the ring on top of the retaining river wall. He walks away with the ring. Not skipping a beat, he does the same approach to Sister # 2 who was walking about 20′ behind us!
The walk along the right bank is spectacular; chestnut trees line the grassy parkway with several statues strategically placed along the way. The setting sun cast a warm yellow-orange glow to everything it hits.
We cross the Seine River on Pont Alexandre III; an arched bridge with fabulous gilded sculptures of winged horses on high granite pillars. The Art Noveau lampposts have sculptures of cherubs. At the center of the arches, Nymphs of the Seine overlooking the river.
On the left bank, we simply reverse our way back to the apartment with a brief stop at the park to watch the local men play bocce ball.
The day ends with dinner at Bistrot Le P’tit Troquet-28, rue de l’Exposition. It’s a small cozy place that serves pre-fixed dinners with a starter, entrée and dessert.
It was a lovely slow paced day of exploring the different areas around the Seine! It’s also a good idea to brush up on your High School/College French before arriving in Paris.