Paris seems to be a love it or hate it kind of city. I have a few friends who have visited and feel no need to return, unimpressed by the graffiti-covered walls and the “cold” Parisian persona. But then I know others who have visited, felt the “magic” and absolutely fell in love with the city of love. One friend, in a text before we left Geneva, called the French capital “the closest thing to paradise.”
I personally fall in the second camp, so I was thrilled to make my third trip to Paris on Friday to spend the weekend with my in-laws after wrapping up my summer French intensive. Now, my first two visits — one while studying in Spain in college and the second a few years ago with my family — had some rough spots, so the fact that I still adore the city is really saying something. During the first trip, my friend and I got food poisoning the night we arrived and, at another point, literally got spit on and berated by this scary guy in the metro until he was blocked by random bystanders from following us into a metro car. The second involved a pretty serious Segway accident with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it resulted in the death of my favorite pants, considerable blood loss, and a bruised, swollen finger that I couldn’t bend for more than a week.
It looks like the third time’s the charm because this round I spent a lovely weekend in Paris without any major hiccups. Gui and I took the high-speed train from Geneva Friday afternoon and arrived in Paris three hours later, quickly checking into our hotel near the Eiffel Tower and then setting off to meet his parents and brother for dinner. We selected Le Casse Noix where everything was delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the restaurant’s take on gazpacho. Paris was having a pretty serious canicule, or heat wave, while we were there (hello high 90s), so the cold soup was very refreshing. We worked off our dinners by climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, rewarded by a gorgeous view and cool breeze from the second platform.
My mother-in-law and brother-in-law had never been to Paris before, so we spent Saturday hitting the highlights via the hop-on, hop-off bus, including Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, the Arc de Triomphe and the Rodin museum (I’d never been to Sainte-Chapelle, which has breathtaking stained glass windows, or the Rodin museum, and really enjoyed both). Energy-depleted from the heat, we took a break to rest at the hotel in the late afternoon before meeting back up for dinner and a sunset boat ride down the Seine.
Sunday we spent most of the day at the Louvre where we said hi to Mona (the museum now has a pen to contain the hoards trying to take her photo) and spent some time in Napoleon III’s apartments (so lavish!) Afterward, we got drinks at a cafe near the hotel and picked up our bags to take the train back to Geneva.
It’s worth noting that Paris was pretty darn empty during our visit. Yes, we were there in August, when the Parisians famously flee the city for the beach, but my last stay a few years ago was also in August and there were considerably more lines. We came expecting it — the hotel rate we got seemed unusually cheap and highly-rated hotels had plenty of availability when we looked for a reservation just a day in advance — but being able to walk straight into the Louvre, straight up to the ticket counter of the Eiffel Tower, still caught me off-guard. Signs of heightened security, a reminder of why we tourists were fewer in number, were visible all over the city. I may be a notoriously impatient line-waiter, but I hope the queues are back for our next visit. Stay safe, Paris.
(Thanks for the photo, Valère!)