Day Two in Paris
Day two, and I’m still floating in a dream. It’s currently 11:49 p.m. in Paris and I just got back from a dinner cruise on the Seine River.
The dinner portion included four courses, well, five technically as they serve their coffee as a course in and of itself.
Between the scallops served in a cream sauce, the farmhouse guinea fowl drenched in a wine-based Chateaubriand sauce and the chocolate/praline dessert, I feel as though I’ve become someone new, or perhaps I’ve just shed an inhibiting layer of skin. It’s more than just good food.
It’s this feeling of relishing every bite coupled with every individual sip of Chardonnay or Medoc. It’s letting this culture seep into my bloodstream and guide me. Slowly, as the evening went on, I felt myself unravel. Every moment, as our ship gently swayed and bobbed with the water, guiding us past the Eiffel Tower and under several elaborate, bowed bridges, I was coming undone.
It was as though I began to transform with each harmonious song in the background, with the man who quietly stood by our table, serenading us shortly after our first course was served; the talk of diversity in culture between our press group and the natives.
And yet I found myself continuously wanting to pinch my elbow to remind me this was real. Especially when, on the hour, the Eiffel Tower began to sparkle again, reflected off the water and onto the glass surrounding our boat. Once again, it elicited a gentle sigh I could not hold in.
But let’s back up a moment. Before all of this enchantment, I had been a panicked mess. You see, most of the places to visit in Paris are easily done if you know your way around the city, or, more specifically, the metro system.
Let’s just say, I was all good for the majority of the day. I woke up at 7:20 a.m. to the sound of rain. Sure, I was in Paris, but rain had the same effect it always does on me, not to mention the bed they put me in is a California King sized piece of heaven, so I had found myself momentarily tortured.
Nevertheless, the motivation of this city – and the fact that as soon as I opened the curtains to my terrace, I saw traffic and people out and about – gave me enough inspiration to hit the shower and enjoy a complimentary omelet and chocolate-filled croissant breakfast downstairs.
We met with the SNCF National Rail Operations Centre early this morning. If you’re not familiar, Rail Europe is a pretty big deal here. For example, you could get from Paris to Geneva, Switzerland in 3 and a half hours if you wanted to, but I’ll have more on that in my actual article.
Afterward, I visited the Louvre, though it was not open today. However, the Musée d'Orsay was opened, so I took advantage. While part of me was truly bummed the Louvre was closed (I didn’t get to see it the last time I was here either), another part of me is grateful. Orsay was amazing.
It was formerly a train station and its internal set-up definitely speaks to that, giving it a very obscure character that was magnetic, not to mention the intoxicating Jean-Léon Gérôme exhibit as well as Van Gogh’s section and both Édouard Manet and Claude Monet’s work. At times I found myself staring for minutes at a single painting, utterly lost, before taking a breath to regain myself and move on.
Then the shopping bug bit … and bit hard. I can tell you this much. If ever you come here and want to find some good deals, the left bank is where it’s at. The lovely quaint cafes strewn about for a quick snack or lunch break add an allure as well.
Then finally, Notre Dame. I choked back tears the moment I saw her. It was approaching sundown and I was due to be back at the hotel for dinner, but I couldn’t miss it. I just couldn’t.
It was different at night (the last time, we went in during the day). The overcast backdrop gave the gargoyles an edge and the stained glass windows, a melancholy glaze. And there was a service that actually began a few minutes after I entered, indicated with melodic bells and the smell of aged wood layered with incense. It filled my nose as I made my way around the expansive, glorious building.
But not long after, I knew I had to tear myself away from it and head back, which is when I took the metro on the left bank instead of crossing the bridge back to the Louvre on the right. Suffice it to say, I popped up on the left bank by the Eiffel Tower and had a bit of a disoriented, semi-anxious ridden adventure getting back to Le Dokhan.
But, feet screaming in agony, I made it. Too bad this press trip didn’t include a write up about massage services …
Nevertheless, the momentary freak-out was worth it. Anyhow, I better tie this one up. It is currently 12:59 a.m. here and I have to up at 5:50 a.m. to be ready for our Rail Europe train ride to Bordeaux.
Until next time … au revoir.
-- Cassandra Shofar