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Monday, May 16, 2011

April in Paris ~ Day 1

April in Paris. While it’s true that I arrived in the City of Light on the last day of the month, I still feel I can claim this joy. Ah a moment to reflect~ followed by happy sighs. I had spent the day prior to my departure scrambling with last minute packing and of course spent the night watching the Royal Wedding. I boarded my plane shortly after the balcony kiss. Sleep eluded me, as it often does on planes, trains and automobiles. By the time I touched down in Paris I had been awake for over 30 hours, yet it was as if the city itself was a cup of magical French espresso.

This was not my first trip to Paris. I had been to Paris in the deep winter when it drizzles. My memories of that January 2000 trip are a perfect Parisian gray influenced by the wide streets and graceful Neo Classical architecture created in the 1850’s under Napoleon III. It was then I climbed the landmark of Paris~ the Eiffel Tower, which was built as a temporary monument to showcase the architectural engineering feats of Paris for the 1889 World’s Fair by Gustave Eiffel. While most choose to ride the elevator to the top, there is something about climbing each step that truly makes the Tower ones own. After two hours and two tiers I felt as if the Tower was truly mine.

Later that night while on a cruise down the river Seine the Tower magically lit up just as we passed by. While this memory is now eleven years old it continues to burn brightly in my heart. A perfect piece of Paris captured forever in my mind. Because of this I had no need to visit my friend up close, and was happy to gaze from afar this gentle metal giant that is truly Paris.

The same can be said for the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. I had accomplished a pilgrimage to these sites on yet another trip to Paris in the summer when it sizzles. I was content to rest on my laurels and discover something new.

As it was Saturday morning Andrea and I made our way to the Paris Flea market. Which if you imagine this as a typical flea you will soon find that it is instead a series of twisting and turning alleyways and narrow streets which feature stall after stall of the crème de la crème of French antiques.

One could easily get lost within the midst of these hidden gems. Each stall is owned by a different dealer. While some appear to be temporary and perhaps even fly by night, many have remained in one spot for several years. The trick is to master the maze and compile your list of favorites. I imagine that this could take weeks, or perhaps even years.
Sadly, I had to leave behind this lovely Duchesse Brisee. I envisioned myself transforming this piece by swathing it in a creamy linen.

After concluding that I could afford only one small confit pot (images later) we stopped at a small bistro for a bite to eat. I had a tiny salad, Croque Monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich) and a coke. Price? ~ 20 Euro (or $30). Welcome to Paris.

Afterwards we traveled to Versailles. I had been to the Palace with its dazzling Hall of Mirrors during my trip in January of 2000.

At that time it was overcast and freezing. We viewed the gardens from a second story window and deemed it a frosted wasteland. The Palace seemed as if it was solely ours. It appeared no one else wanted to venture out to Versailles in winter. 

Versailles in the Spring is vastly different. Floral abundance at its finest. Everything was lush and green.

But my personal Versailles was gone. I had to share it with others. Too many for my taste.

I was happy that I had no desire to see the Palace and could perhaps find solace in the garden. Alas it too alluded me. But it was still lovely. 

We made our way deeper into the garden and found Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon. I have written about this marvel in great detail HERE.
In the small gift shop I purchased a china mug with her crest and a jar of rose petal jam so that I could recapture on a morning such as this what it felt to travel through her gardens.

By then the sun was setting and time and energy began to allude us. We had to race by the Queen’s teahouse.

As well as the Temple of Love.

But as we approached the Queen’s Hamlet (Hameau de la Reine) time stopped and for a moment rainbows, unicorns and Disneyland appeared all in one fell swoop.

I left a piece of my heart in this magical place and it can only be returned by another visit sometime in the future. Fall perhaps. In a few short minutes we began a race back to our car. We had to reach Paris by 7pm  to claim our apartment. As we crossed the cobblestones of Versailles at breakneck speed I wrenched my right ankle horribly.
With a throbbing ankle and approaching 40+ hours of no sleep I was eager to return to Paris and our rented abode. I was dreaming of our Paris apartment…

I will say that reality fell somewhere in between my vision and Ratatouille's apartment. At least he had a view.

But that is a story for another day. This concludes April in Paris.
Next up, La Fête du Travail or “How the French celebrate May day”.
As I returned home to a broken dishwasher and microwave, piles of laundry and of course a huge gift of jet lag I hope you will understand that it may be a few days before I can respond to comments. 


Debbie @ said...

Wow Laura, what amazing pictures. How wonderful to get to do all that you did, get lost and found on those streets. Those gardens, those structures...all priceless beauties. I love it. What a beautiful little trip you have taken me on. thank you.

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Hi Laura, I hope you had a wonderful trip and I am excited to see more.

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

I just hope your ankle wasn't a problem while you were there. I did that once and it was painful. Can't wait for the next edition!!

Auntie Em said...

How beautiful! The blossoms on the trees and the gardens. The air must have smelled so sweet. I am like you, I don't enjoy crowds when I go somewhere that needs to be really savoured.
Hope your ankle wasn't too bad and you were able to enjoy the rest of your trip.
Thank you for sharing such a romantic trip through your gorgeous photos.

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh what gorgeous pictures and it all sounds wonderful. So sorry about your ankle, I hope it is better. Can't wait to hear more about your trip. Hugs, Marty

Debra@Common Ground said...

I so enjoyed your first day in Paris. Your photos are wonderful. No need to return the comment, dear Laura, rest and catch up! xoxo Debra

Linda said...

I've been looking forward to your blogs upon your return and this was as I expected, enjoyable and fascinating to read. Please bring us more, more, more. :)


Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Brings back great memories!! I can't wait to see more of your trip. I will have to see if you go to my old favorite Saturday flea market!

Vicki said...

Oooh, I've been eagerly anticipating your Paris posts, how exciting to read this one. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Welcome home!

Vicki said...

Oooh, I've been eagerly anticipating your Paris posts, how exciting to read this one. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Welcome home!

Diann said...

Beautiful photos Laura. I can't wait to hear more about your trip. Rest up!

The Boston Lady said...

Laura, glad you are home safe and sound. Hope that ankle didn't slow you down...wait a minute, nothing slows you down. Your first day was action packed, looking forward to hearing all the rest. Ann

Charlene said...

WOW!!!!!!!! Stunning photos! I so wish I had jumped in your suitcase to join you. Have fun & keep those posts coming. Charlene

Stitchfork said...

Sigh, sigh, sigh...sighing over your beautiful photos!! Looks like you had a fabulous trip! Recoup and tell more please!
xo Cathy

E. Charlotte said...

Oh this was lovely! I enjoyed the pictures and the stories. Keep 'em coming! I am living vicariously through you.

I'm fascinated by the Eiffel Tower. (When the Worlds Fair was held in Chicago in the States, we had to compete with the Eiffel Tower. So we created...the Ferris Wheel!) :)

Pat said...

I hope that you are getting some rest and I can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!

Kelly_Deal said...

Hi Laura! Your pictures are gorgeous! I'm dreaming of Paris right now!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Hi Laura, a belated Happy Mother's Day! I so enjoyed revisiting Paris with you and I look forward to hearing more about your trip.

Couldn't you have carried back that gorgeous horse head plaque? (Pour moi?)

martinealison said...

je suis heureuse que notre capitale vous ait enchantée et merci d'avoir partagé ces belles photos avec nous...
gros bisous.

GARAGE SALE GAL ~ Deb's Earthly Delights said...

Your photos make me want to see Paris!!! So pretty! Hubby has no desire to go :( so I lived it thru your photos!

Debbie said...

Well now, I'm utterly enchanted. All of your pictures are beautiful, especially the ones from Versailles. Just gorgeous!!

And it capped off the post perfectly to listen to my all-time favorite actress/singer.

Can't wait to here more.
And I hope the ankle healed quickly. said...


As I read, I felt like I was alongside you the entire day! Thank Goodness too, who else would help Andrea carry you back to our humble abode? (We each grabbed a hand and foot.) I adore Hameau de la Reine, so simple, yet so breathtaking. Hope you are rested and the home front is restored to "normal". You were missed, my dear friend.


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

What amazing photos!! I am glad you had a good time! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

April said...

what a whirlwind day! so glad you're home--i was missing you! :)
can't wait to hear more, but as i MUST, i will do so patiently . . .

Little Leslie said...

welcome home. Looks like you had a gorgeous trip Thanks for posting them. Have a good sleep!

Shirley said...

Dear Laura,
no lines form to enter my garden and one can stroll from garden to garden without saying excuse me...I like that..but I would die to see some of these most amazing gardens and structures. Love all your photo's and you sure must have some photo album on your coffee table! Welcome home..

laxsupermom said...

Ouch! A wrenched ankle on your first day. I hope it healed quickly. Hobbling through the Paris flea wouldn't be as much fun. Paris in the springtime is always crowded, but the gardens at Versaille are so pretty, it's worth it. Love that photo of Hameau de la Reine! How absolutely perfect! Thanks for sharing.

Sheri, Jess, and Nel said...

We just wanted to stop by and say hi from California! Your Paris photos are GORGEOUS! Paris is one of our favorite places in the world, and these photos make us want to visit during the Spring. We just started a blog where we will be photographing events & travels, & writing about the things in life that bring us happiness. We'd love to have you drop in & say hi! Thanks, and have a wonderful day :-)

The Polka Dot Closet said...

OMG How did I miss this post! I will be hanging on your every word as you take us along on your trip


Karena said...

Laura I am working my way backwards through your accounts of this amazing trip. I hope you finally slept.

All of these images are so wonderfully authentic.

Art by Karena

Karena said...

Oh and Laura I hope your ankle is healing, I was in a walking cast for several weeks, that might help.

Art by Karena

Maureen said...

Hello Laura,

I stumbled on your blog a few weeks ago as I searched for others who were as excited as me about the royal wedding. We are soul sisters! I appreciate your humor and love the "Somthing's Got to Change" comment.