The flight from Rome to Paris went by fairly quickly, just under 2 hours and not bumpy at all. We got our bags quickly and the van driver that we had found (again, via Viator) was there waiting for us. I had to run over to the Paris Tourist desk and pick up the museum passes that I had purchased online the night before. Piece of cake! Not exactly. Almost 30 minutes and a couple of calls to the manager later, we finally had the passes in hand and were ready to roll.
*Apartment FAIL* We have always had excellent luck using Booking.com for our hotel/apartment reservations. I always pitied the people who used Airbnb and had the horror stories to tell. Let me tell ya. The joke was on me this time. I *thought* I had meticulously researched the area of Paris that we would be staying in. I had chosen an apartment on the outskirts of the city. I figured that it would be quiet, safe and most all…cheap. Sounds like a win, right? Keep reading, friends.
As the driver (who was very irritated with having to wait for me to pick up those blessed museum tickets) made his way through the city, things weren’t looking quite as I had imagined them looking…or looking as it had on Google Maps. When we made it to the apartment, the driver got out of the van and walked us to the front door. I don’t know if it was to make sure that we didn’t get jumped or to make sure we found it okay. I’m going with a combination of both. We should have just walked away when we discovered that the front door handle was broken and falling apart on the inside. All I’ll say is we finally had our bad Booking.com moment.
After a really uncomfortable night’s sleep, lots of up and downs to make sure that the front door was really locked, and loud construction that started nice and early at 7:00 am, Husband and I made the decision that this place really wasn’t what we had hoped for. We got online and decided to look for something in the city center and somewhere that had a non-broken front door. We managed to find a quaint little hotel in the city that was close to everything, and they had three rooms available. We made the reservation and checked out of the apartment. We spoke with the business owner and the property manager. Both were appalled at the condition of the apartment and they refunded our money for the previous night. They tried to convince us to stay, but we told them we had already made other arrangements.
Trip win #1: Hotel d’Orsay. This hotel is literally right behind the Musee d’Orsay and within walking distance of the Seine, the Louvre and Pont Alexandre III. The rooms were nice and the beds were really comfortable. Definitely a smart decision to move over. We hit our reset buttons and decided it was time to do a little lunch and a little exploring. We walked around the corner to Cafe de la Concorde. We had cappuccinos (I smell a theme brewing here) and I ordered quiche lorraine. Boy Child surprised all of us and ordered his own fancy pants cheese plate. That kid essentially devoured the whole thing.
Trip win #2: Big Bus Paris. Since we had such a good time on the Rome hop-on, hop-off bus system, we thought it might be fun to try it in Paris as well. It was a little more spendy (€33 for adults, €16 for the kiddos), but it was absolutely worth it. The commentary was a good mix of history and humor. The bus takes you right up to the monuments and attractions and you essentially go right through the Louvre compound.
Trip win #3: Notre Dame. Since there was a hop-off spot for Notre Dame, we decided to take our chances and see if there was a ridiculous line or not. April is borderline start of the tourist season, so we knew that it was going to be a little busier than when we came in January. We were pretty lucky; the line was maybe about 15 people deep and it went really quickly. We walked inside and took our time looking at everything. When we walked back outside, the sky looked like it was getting ready to open up on us, so we waited for the bus to head back to the hotel.
Trip fail #2: Crepe stand. While we were waiting for the bus, we noticed a crepe stand and they smelled really good. So, Mom, Dad, Boy Child and I grabbed a crepe each. It was probably one of the worst ones we’ve had…and we’re not even crepe connoisseurs, y’all. The texture was really chewy and rubbery and just really meh.
Trip win #4: Le Paris Orsay Cafe. Back at the hotel, Husband decided to do some super sleuthing on Yelp and find some places around the area to try out for dinner. We ended up at a place about a block and a half away, Le Paris Orsay Cafe. Because Parisians eat dinner a lot later than we Americans, we were hitting it right at the end of happy hour. There was a nice little spot inside hidden away and the server was really nice. I was able to use my elementary French, and he was able to use his excellent English. All of our dishes were delicious, and I would highly recommend it.
After dinner, we passed a little bakery named Gosselin (is it bad that I automatically think of John and Kate Plus 8?). They had excellent eclairs, meringue, and of course, macarons. Because really, you can’t go to France without trying out the macarons. We headed back to the hotel for a little bit of shut-eye before the next day of exploring. Girl Child and I were bunkmates and played a long, rousing game of War before we turned out the light.
–To be continued–