VISITING PARIS—Part One
After over a year of planning and anticipation, we have finally begun our Grand European adventure! Over the next seven weeks, we will be visiting France and the Netherlands; taking a 15-day Eastern Europe river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest; and taking trains to Prague, Vienna, and Munich. From there we will fly to Iceland (in the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights). Then back home in early December. We were very pleased with our Norwegian Air flight–their fares are so reasonable that we were able to travel Premium Economy for about the cost of economy on other airlines. The seating was comfortable–two seats together that had footrests and leaned way back–and the food and drink were good, including wine or beer and an offering of cognac or Bailey’s after dinner. Plus we had premium baggage care, which meant we could carry on a heavier bag (they weighed carry-ons at check-in), and received our checked bags in the first batch at our destination.
We arrived in Paris three days ago and settled into our lovely little apartment in a 17th century building on Ile Saint Louis. We spent the first day getting acquainted with our new neighborhood and dealing with jet lag—it’s nine hours later here than at home in California.
Ile Saint Louis is one of two natural islands in the Seine River (the other, nearby, is Ile de Cite on which Notre Dame is located). Connected to the land by four bridges to both banks of the river, it is easily walkable from end to end and side to side. The streets and sidewalks are narrow, many of which are cobblestone. Though mainly residential, there are a number of upscale retail and eating establishments. Best of all, though, are the food-related stores—boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shoppes), chacuteries (meat markets), and wine stores, as well as a couple of “super”markets. Just minutes to Notre Dame and public transit by foot, and close to many of the city’s major attractions, it’s a great location from which to explore Paris.