Individual Days - France

City of Light

September 28, 2023

We got up early, grabbed a quick breakfast, and walked to board our bus for the final time as a group.

Farewell Peter

Before arriving in Paris, we stopped for our last refueling and restroom break. We all had the opportunity to say goodbye and thank our Dutch driver, Peter. He was a wonderful driver navigating the steep hills, narrow streets, and crazy traffic. Not to mention, he is a speed demon on the luge. Peter always had a smile on his face. We got a picture with Peter and our guide, Lisa. They helped make our entire trip so enjoyable.

Hotel Beaugency

Bonjour à Paris! It is hard to believe that we are at the final destination of our wonderful Rick Steves’ Best of Europe tour. We checked into the Hotel Beaugency before lunch. Look at the view from our window – you can see the tippy top of the Eiffel Tower.

Rue Cler

Just a few minutes’ walk away from our hotel was Rue Cler. Rue Cler is a charming cobblestone street in Paris’ 7th arrondissement filled with flower stands, cafes, and shops offering wine, chocolate, cheese, and meat – a Parisian market street. We had many options for lunch.

We ate a light lunch outside at Le Café Les Téléphone. I chose the Œuf dur Bio et mayonnaise maison (fancy deviled eggs), and Mark chose the Ham & Cheese Omelet with salad.

7th Arrondissement

After lunch, Lisa took us to meet our local Paris guide. On the way to the metro station, we passed by an elementary school. There was a plaque on the side of the building that when translated said:

In memory of the children, students of this elementary school, deported from 1942 to 1944 because they were born Jewish, innocent victims of Nazi barbarism with the active complicity of the Vichy government. More than 11,400 children were deported from France 13 of these children lived in the 7th district. They were exterminated in the death camps. Let’s never forget them.

Throughout our entire trip, we have seen the devastating effects World War II had on individuals, families, communities, and property. Memorials, museums, plaques, and stumbling stones serve as a constant reminder of those who lost their lives. We must never forget.

Those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeat it.

After this somber moment, we walked to La Tour-Maubourg metro station. Lisa gave us a Metro lesson and tickets. The Metro is super easy to use once you understand how different lines connect. I downloaded an app that identified which lines to take and even which cars to board to make transfers faster.

4th Arrondissement

We meet Sylvia, our local Paris guide, at the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville (the public square in the 4th arrondissement). The square was decorated for the upcoming summer Olympics.

Sylvia told us how Napolean III (Napolean’s nephew) was responsible for Paris’ current architecture (Second Empire Style). He also modernized the economy, widened boulevards, created parks, and expanded the railway system.

We crossed the Pont d’Arcole bridge walking towards Île de la Cité, the city island in the Seine.

Le BHV (Department Store)
City Hall
Pont d'Arcole

Notre-Dame Cathedral

On April 15, 2019, we all watched the news footage of the fire that spread through the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Restoration is still ongoing which unfortunately meant we could not see the inside. It is scheduled to reopen in December of 2024.

Sylvia told us that even before the fire much of the interior needed cleaning and restoration. While the roof reconstruction work is ongoing, the interior is being cleaned and repaired. We need to return to Paris to see Notre-Dame once it reopens.

Place Louis Lépine

We passed through the Marché aux fleurs Reine Elizabeth II (Paris flower market). The last picture shows one of the Wallace Fountains. These fountains are scattered throughout the city and dispense clean drinking water. Just bring your refillable water bottle.

Île de la Cité

The island is split between the 1st and 4th arrondissements. Sylvia let us through the area pointing out areas of interest. Since we still had time before our Saint Chapelle reservations, we crossed the Pont Neuf bridge to the 6th arrondissement to catch a glimpse of the first 3-star Michelin restaurant, Lapérouse Restaurant. No more Michelin restaurants planned for us this trip, maybe next trip.

Théâtre de la Ville
Conciergerie
Pont Neuf
Fontaine du Palmier
Place Dauphine
Pont Neuf
Pont des Arts
Lapérouse Restaurant
Pont Saint-Michel

Sainte-Chapelle

The group headed to Sainte-Chapelle for our tour reservation. Notice the police presence in the first photo. Our neighborhood tour had been redirected several times during the day due to police barricades.

As we approached the entry area, we found out that there was a trial of an escaped convict in the Palais de Justice next to the church. We were initially denied entry, but finally, we were allowed to pass through. This was just the beginning as we had to go through very serious security checkpoints. Bags were searched and everyone had to be screened. Once we all got through security, we found out that the church had closed early (even though we had reservations) because of a special dignitary event.

Even though we were disappointed, we were still able to get a close look at the outside of this magnificent Gothic chapel. We exited past the courthouse and gold-adorned fence.

Latin Quarter

We crossed the Pont Saint-Michel bridge and entered Paris’ Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement. This ended our group tour. We walked around the area before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our special dinner.

Fontaine Saint-Michel
Art Nouveau Saint-Michel Metro Entrance
Square Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

Le Calife Sienne Dinner Cruise

Traditionally, we have a group dinner on the first night at a new location. However, since tomorrow will be the last night of our tour, we will celebrate with a special group dinner then.

We decided to make reservations on the Le Calife Sienne Dinner Cruise. We have had much to celebrate – our 30th wedding anniversary, my birthday yesterday, and this wonderful trip we were able to take together.

We boarded the wooden boat. Our seating was in the top Terrace area. We were greeted with a glass of champagne. We had good weather, so they uncovered the roof so we could see the sky during the cruise.

Starters

On this trip, I have learned the importance of taking pictures of the menu so that I can accurately report what we ate. For our appetizers, Mark selected Grilled Prawns with gomasio served with a yuzu, avocado, and mango cream. I chose The Famous Calife’s foie gras with sweet shallot confit and mustard seed gingerbread toast. While we ate, the boat slowly navigated the Seine.

Main Course

Mark had Yellow Chicken Supreme with a yellow wine sauce accompanied by a declination of carrots. I selected the Beef Fillet à la Rossini with Rossini sauce, pan-seared foie gras, gratin dauphinois, and seasonal vegetables. In the distance, we could see the Eiffel Tower coming into view.

Cheese Course

The French way to serve a cheese course is after the main course and before dessert. The chef selected the cheeses. I haven’t met a cheese I didn’t like on this trip. Such a variety of flavors! By this point, we had a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. And we arrived perfectly at the top of the hour so we could see the tower’s sparkling lights.

This Statue of Liberty was given to France by America in 1889

Final Gourmet Moment

While the Eiffel Tower sparkled as a backdrop, we received our sparkling desserts. I selected the Paris Lemon Cheesecake with spéculoos crust, lemon cream, Limoncello, and lemon sorbet. Mark opted for the Chocolate Lava Cake drizzled with custard and Madagascar vanilla ice cream. It was so good. The entire dinner and cruise were fabulous!

Evening Stroll

After eating all that wonderful food, we decided to take a leisurely walk before heading back to the hotel. The boat was docked right across from the Louve. Unfortunately, the Louve turned off its lights early, but the other buildings in the area were lit.

We walked 8.5 miles today.

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