Back in Paris for a handful of days so managed to get a few runs in as well as enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of one of my favourite cities.
There are a few boxes that I like to tick foodwise in Paris. The croissant and coffee for breakfast at a railway station was done on the way to Blois from Tours when we were in the Loire Valley. Another I like to get in early on any visit is a caramel et fleur de sel Macaron from Laduree. Mmmm! I knew there was a Laduree outlet at one of the entrances to Printemps, so when mum and I hopped off one of the open top touring buses nearby, I made a bit of a bee-line to Printemps to acquire said macaron. Mum had a vanille macaron while I had my fave. Sadly no picture of us consuming them as it was done with rapid reverence. But here is the empty bag to prove we were there!
We have enjoyed dinning in as much as out while here. Renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel provides the opportunity through a fully equipped kitchen. Mind you, as it is summer here, we have just been making salads for dinner, and various sandwiches to take around with us. The apartment we are in has a collection of dry goods left from previous occupants – something I am sure we will contribute to. One little treasure that I found at the back of the cupboard was a bottle of truffle oil! Went very nicely on the salad I made with smoked salmon, mâché, tomatoes, goats cheese, carrots rappe, marinated beetroot, and walnuts thank you very much.
The other thing I have enjoyed (especially the days I have been running) has been a boule of ice cream. It is summer, so hey! Vanille, caramel, or speckuloos have been the flavours of the moment for me. Due to the heat my breakfast, typically porridge before a long run, has been yoghurt and fresh fruit. Being summer, all of the beautiful stone fruits are around. The cherries have been amazing, and I have felt quite indulgent enjoying a handful of cherries out of the fridge. Sweet and refreshing!
To help orient mum a bit, and to make sure she did manage to see all of the main attractions as they are spread out, we decided to do the hop on hop off tour for a few days. Our apartment is situated not far off Boulevard de Sebastapol, so we walked down to the river, crossed the bridges to the Isle de la Cite until we got to Notre Dame. We stopped in Notre Dame to sit in the square and eat our sandwiches while admiring this 850 year old cathedral. Extraordinary is an understatement.
We picked up the hop on hop off from here and did a grand circuit of most of the main sights: Musee d’Orsay, Place de la Concorde, Champs de Lysee, Arch de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, etc. Similar to London, mum said it was like being in a postcard. We paid for a 2 day pass as due to the public holiday on Bastille Day, we could score a third days use. On the second day of the hopping on and off safari, we headed out in the afternoon to go to Sacre Coeur. I have been here many times, but I wanted mum to see it. The steps were a little challenging initially I think, but she agreed that it was worth it when we were sitting in the church listening to high mass. We did take the funicular down though – it was going to be much faster!
As has been the case in most cities, I have caught up with a few friends. This time in Paris we went and visited my friends Andrea and Said with their lovely daughter Sarah in the 16e. I used to work with them both in Belgium a number of years ago, so it was fantastic to visit them. We were very spoilt with a beautiful rosé and a plate of nibbles to accompany the fantastic conversation.
On Bastille Day we rested a bit in the morning. Well, sort of. I ran 16.64km then rested : )
In the afternoon we did a little more hop on hop offing (is that a verb?), before enjoying dinner together at home and heading out for a drink at a gay bar in the Marais (the area our apartment is in). The first place we tried was an interesting feminist bar, but as soon as we saw they served their drinks in plastic cups, I was out the door! Perhaps I may be a bit of a snob, but I like my coup de champagne in a glass, svp. We found another great bar/restaurant called Les Fouines, where we enjoyed a Bastille Day beverage. Very groovy spot – highly recommend it. After a couple of drinks we wandered down to the Seine just in time for the fireworks. They went for a mammoth 45 minutes!
A trip to Paris is not complete without a visit to either the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay. Mum wanted to see the Louvre, so there was no objection from me on that. I planned our Louvre visit so that mum was not thrust straight into the crowds. That started by buying our tickets in advance so that we did not have to queue (that came later at the Tour Eiffel). Once inside, we headed straight for the Richelieu so that I could show mum the sculptures in the Cours Marly and Puget. It was well worth starting there as there is a lot of space, and a lot less people go to this section first.
After looking at the grand sculptures, we went to the apartments of Napoleon III on the first floor of the same wing. Truly worth a look if you have not seen that section of the Louvre before. The incredible artisan work on the furniture and objects of art are amazing. To ensure mum could say we saw it, after a short coffee break (is that a chocolate mousse filled eclair I see on your plate, mum?), we battled the mob to see the Mona Lisa. It is an extraordinary picture, and one of the first few pictures ever acquired by the Louvre, so it is worth a look, but you really need to steel yourself for the mob. We also looked at the large format paintings from the Italians and the French in the same wing in more leisure!
We had a lovely rest in the Jardin des Tuileries and ate our sandwich there on the way to the Tour Eiffel. At the Eiffel Tower we had to queue and queue and queue to buy a ticket to take the elevator up to the second level. We queued for over an hour and a half. I can tell you, I was a slightly grumpy thing by the time I got to the second level of the tower! Only ice cream and a sit down could calm me! The view was still spectacular as the second level is approximately 30 stories high. Mum is not so keen on heights, but wanted to tick the box of going to the Eiffel Tower. She really appreciated it.
For the first time in all of the years I have been to Paris I finally made it to the Palace of Versailles. We did a half day tour where we went by bus with a group and had a tour guide who explained the rooms of the palace to us. It was well worth it. The crowds were vast, and it would have been near impossible to try to navigate the rooms with a guidebook. We did not have time to do the gardens as well As they are over 2,000 hectares. So a reason to return I think!
Run #1: 14.47km. My plans for my runs in Paris were to pick a different side and direction along the river each time and do an out and back. Nice idea, but not necessarily easy to implement. My first run this time in Paris was to be on the northern side and head east. So I ran down to the river again and instead of crossing the first bridge, just popped down to the Quai and off I went. Unfortunately there was some blockage along the way and I was unable to continue the same route, so I turned around and ran back towards the crossing to the Isle de la Cite and past Notre Dame to end up taking the same route as last time, but just went further. My fuel belt has proven to have been a great purchase, as no matter what distance I usually need some water in this heat (we have not had a day below the mid 20’s since leaving Australia), so carry at least one little water bottle with me in the belt. Drinking fountains are few and far between. It took a few runs to get used to wearing it, but as I am not actually carrying anything in my hands, it is fine. I was only planning to do 12 and a bit kms, but I was enjoying the sights, so ended up with a couple extra added on. : )
Run #2: 16.64kms. A poetic and perfect distance to have run in Paris on Bastille Day! 1664 is a well known beer made by Kronenberg in Paris. It is also the year that Louis XIV started building the palace at Versailles (where we are going in a couple of days time). Funny coincidence. Anyway, I headed out down towards the river and past the Hotel de Ville. I had planned to run along the north side of the river heading west, so I would see all of the setting up for the parade later in the morning. The plan started off well, and I trotted along the river until I reached the other side of the Louvre. Once past the Louvre however, the police would not let me run any further as it was blocked off for the parade, so I crossed the river and ran west along the south bank instead. I was amazed at how much work has been done to the Quai. Even last year when I was here and ran a similar route, this area was a little grubby with a lot of homeless people sleeping near the water. Now it is a trendy place to run, walk or hang out. There are a lot of pop up style bars built in old shipping containers and exercise areas, including rock climbing walls on the side of the Quai. I was impressed, and am keen to check the area out at night now, as I suspect it would be very lively. It was definitely lovely this morning in the sun. I am developing my summer running tan. : ) Oh it is winter back home isn’t it? Hehe
Run #3: 20.21kms. my last run in Paris (sob!) – well until next time at least! It was another gorgeous morning in the early 20’s. I headed down to the Seine and kept to the north bank in the westerly direction. This time I ran past the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Place de la Concorde, the Trocadero, past one of the three statues of liberty in France, and pretty much right to the end of the 16e along the river before turning around and running back most of the same way. However, once I hit Pont d’Iena, I took a right and directly approached the Tour Eiffel for one last good look, headed down to the Quai on the south bank and followed it all the way to Isle de la Cite before heading across the river, past the Hotel de Ville, back up Boulevard de Sebastapol and home. I have thoroughly loved running every km in Paris. Such a fantastic way to see a city, especially in other countries. I love saying ‘bonjour’ to passing runners as opposed to ‘good morning’, and hearing the same welcome in return. Running is a universal language, and as long as you learn a simple greeting I think you will be welcomed in the running community of the world.
Next stop: London again!