Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paris

Brad and I got to spend the weekend in Paris a few weeks ago while my mom stayed in London with Charlie. She suggested it a long time ago when we were planning her trip - her attempt to get another grandchild! Well we showed her, didn't we? lol

Actually, when I found out I was pregnant, one of the things I was really worried about was that I wasn't going to feel very well when we went to Paris. How can I go to Paris and be too sick to eat all that wonderful food?? I was upset just remembering how awful I felt at 11 weeks with Charlie. But fortunately, I felt ok for the trip and just pushed through when I didn't. 

I had never been to Paris and Brad hadn't been in many years, so we were very excited leading up to it! Going to Paris has always been a dream of mine - and it did not disappoint. It is such a beautiful, romantic city filled with amazing food. It was only a 2 hour train ride!

We took the Eurostar down from London on Friday afternoon, which was awesomely convenient, if not cheap. We splurged for the Premium Standard seats on the way there and they brought along a little meal and drinks. It was very nice and felt like we were in Paris in no time!

One thing Paris is not is cheap. Wowzers, I thought London was bad. The hotels there are kind of crazy expensive, but luckily we hadn't yet sucked Brad's Starwood Preferred account dry, so we got a room at the Westin Paris. 

He also submitted an upgrade request that got approved the day before we left so we got a sweet suite! It had a little balcony that looked over Les Jardins de Tuileries and off in the distance was the Eiffel Tower. I screamed when I saw it. The photo up top is the view from our room at sunset on Saturday night. I didn't scream, but had a good laugh, when I saw the stationary bike in our bathroom. 

Being the rookie Paris visitor that I was, I did not consider the time change between London and Paris when asking the concierge to make our dinner reservation. So we had to kind of hustle to get over there, but it was raining and a taxi was necessary anyways. 

We ate at La Petite Cour, which is off Boulevard St. Germain and it was a perfect nice-casual French restaurant to kick off our trip. There did not appear to be many tourists there and our waitress didn't speak much English, but we muddled through. 
Obnoxious Americans that we are, we wanted a cheese plate to start, instead of to end. They were kind enough to indulge us. And ohhhh, how indulgent it was. So delicious and fresh. And yes, I ate soft cheese while pregnant. Pretty sure the baby loved every bite! I know I did. 
After dinner the rain had stopped so we walked back to the hotel and took in the sights from the bridge over the Seine and the Place de la Concorde. It was a nice, long walk followed by a nice, long sleep! 
It rained most of the next morning so we bought and umbrella and walked up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc d'Triumph. 
We stopped at the Louis Vuitton store, which was like it's own little department store. Huge and packed full of people! We also enjoyed ads for some local cinema:
In case you can't read it or don't make the connection, this movie came out on my birthday! haha!

After checking out the Arc and taking some pictures, we decided to walk towards the Eiffel Tower. On our way, we passed this open air market where Parisians do their grocery shopping. It was quite big and walked the entire length of it. It was amazing and I think the way shopping is supposed to be.

There were tables for cheese, bread, desserts, produce, meat, fresh fish, flowers, honey, oils and vinegars - anything you could think of. And it was all SO fresh! The produce guys cut off bits of the fruit so you can taste it first and the crabs are all still alive. I know I'm pregnant, but the smells! Oh my gosh, so intense and beautiful. When I walked by the flowers I thought this must be what heaven smells like. 

Anyways, I will quit obsessing about food I didn't even eat, but here are some photos of how I wish I could grocery shop: 
After we were done drooling, we walked over to the Eiffel Tower and admired its greatness. We also admired the long line to ride up and decided that would just have to be something we do next time. 
We started walking back along the river towards the Musee d'Orsay because there were some restaurants we thought might be good for lunch. We walked through some adorable neighborhoods and markets before just picking somewhere because it had Croque Madame and that was what I wanted for lunch! Also because it had outdoor seating and Brad was intent on sitting outside at a cafe. In the rain. 

On the way to lunch we passed my dream range in a shop window. A lavender Aga. Can you imagine? 
Afterwards we meandered back to our hotel for a nap and then spent the late afternoon checking out all the crazy designer shops near our hotel. Hermes was another mini-department store that was neat to check out. They actually have a guy in there making saddles! I'm surprised Neiman Marcus hasn't thought of this. 

For my birthday dinner that night we celebrated at La Closerie des Lilas, which is located near the Jardins de Luxumbourg. It was recommended by my mom who has been to celebrate her cousin's birthday. He loves Paris and this is his favorite restaurant, where he celebrates his major birthdays. My parents will be there in December! It has a very old Paris feel about it.

We sat in the atrium of the restaurant and it was so lovely. I forgot I was pregnant and almost ordered some raw oysters. Brad, who rarely speaks up about anything pregnancy related, gave me the funniest look! So sad, they looked amazing. But we had filet and lobster and all sorts of crazy yummy things. It was a perfect birthday dinner. 
We went back to the hotel after dinner because - major excitement here - the TV in our hotel room actually had the College World Series on and Arkansas was playing at 11pm! It's amazing what 10 years of marriage will do. On our honeymoon I got so mad at Brad for watching college sports in Hawaii. It was unthinkable to me. That night I was excited to curl up and read my book!

At midnight I tore away from my book to see the lights twinkle on the Eiffel Tower. The whole tower erupts in sparkly lights on the hour at night for 5 minutes. We watched from our balcony (fortunately a commercial break from the game allowed this) and it was so beautiful.
Oh and if you were just dying of curiosity and don't follow - Arkansas won. :)

The next morning we found a cafe for croissants and coffee and then walked along the river looking for a boat tour to take on the Seine. Some of the bridges have tons of padlocks on them. They have the initials on them of the couples that leave them. You write on the padlock, put it on the bridge and then throw the key into the river. I mean - so romantic!!
It was a beautiful sunny day and we sat on the top floor of the boat tour and took pictures of everything. We also had a glass of champagne. Yes, I had a glass of champagne. Here is Brad keeping it super classy. Per usual.
We got some good views of Notre Dame, which was one site I wish we'd had time to go see. Next time. It was stunning.
We passed all sorts of other sights, too, but the pictures are clearly from a boat. And we took still more photos of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, my photo album could be called 50 Ways to Photograph the Eiffel Tower.

Doesn't this look like an ideal place to go cook after shopping in that market?
We ate lunch at an outdoor cafe in Les Jardins de Tuileries. More Croque Monsier. It was sunny and warm and I think we both wished we could stay there all day. Because guess what it was doing in London?? We reluctantly packed up and headed to the train station. My pregnancy hormones got the best of me and I teared up in the elevator. I didn't want to leave!

We learned the hard way on the way back that we should have splurged for the Premium Economy seats again. Our train was packed and loud - lots of screaming kids. I mean, I've been there, believe me. But it was like being soaked in cold water after a relaxing, romantic weekend. I'm allowed to have a screaming child but others are not!

It was a wonderful trip and I like to think of it as a taster of a longer future trip. Paris is not a city you can do in two days! I can't wait to go back, but until then, at least I know how to make Croque Monsier at home. :)

7 comments:

Lindsay said...

Sounds amazing! Next time, you must do Sacre Couer and the Musee d'Orsay. =)

Soña said...

Sounds so lovely :) Glad you had a great time and now have an itinerary for a future trip.

Kirsti said...

So glad you had fun! By the way, it's hard to do Paris in 5 days, as well. We did wait in the crazy long line to go up the Eiffel tower. Long wait, but the view is amazing. Notre Dame is incredible, too.

Megan Willis said...

Love this! Sounds like an incredible trip. You guys got to see a lot in your couple days there. You are making me want to go there. Great pics Spooners!

Colleen Krezel said...

Wow! sounds like a wonderful trip and I'm sooo happy your were feeling well enough to really enjoy it :) I LOVE the 50 ways to photograph the Eiffel tower :) miss you!

Katie Eaton Photography said...

Love! Love! Love! It sounds like it was a fabulous trip ... and yes, I love that range! Wowza. And you look simply radiant! Fly me there, and let's do some awesome maternity shots. ;)

Jim Stack said...

Kara, Your mom forwarded your blog to me. You are a beautiful writer and photographer. Glad you and Brad loved Paris. Sounds like you did everything just right for a first trip. Can't figure out the date you were at the Closerie, but I was there on June 30. It would be riot if we were there at the same time. I've been to Paris at least 6 times and still can't get enough of it.