A One Way Ticket to Paris, Please

If you know me well you know I am utterly totally in Love with Paris.
Since my first visit in 1993, I have totally fallen in love with this charming,
beautiful and captivating city, and can truly say from the first time I saw
Paris, it truly changed my life.
Now just returning from an 11 day stay, I want to share with you some of
my journey and photos.

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After a great flight on Delta, with an upgrade to an economy seat, row 11,
which was two rows right behind first class with extra leg room, it made
the long flight much easier for me. We landed on time and after clearing
customs and gathering our luggage it was a quick ride to our hotel where
we would spend the next several nights.

The Grand Hotel des Balcons is located in the 6th Arrondissement in the
heart of Old Saint Germain, steps from the Odeon theatre, between the
Luxembourg Gardens and Notre-Dame. I have stayed here several times
and always happy with the hotel and services.

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The rooms are on the small side but they are extremely clean and they
offer a wonderful breakfast that includes eggs and meat, along with the
wonderful breads and croissants that you can only find in France. The
location of this hotel makes this a real gem with affordable prices.
As our room was not ready yet, we stored our bags in the baggage room
and hit the streets of Paris.

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We first walked over to the Seine River to the beautiful statuesque
Cathedral of Notre Dame. It is a historic Catholic cathedral on the
eastern half of the Ile de la Cite said to be widely considered to be one
of the finest examples of French Gothic. Construction began in 1163 and
was completed in 1345, making this Cathedral a cherish part of French
history and tops the list of sites for visitors from around the world.

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Stopping on boulevard Saint-Michel at Paul’s for a cafe creme and a
pain aux raisin. So good. This would be my breakfast or snack for the
entire time I was in Paris.

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Along the quays of the Seine you can find stalls of the “les bouquinistes”
or book stalls selling old and rare books, posters, newspapers, and
even small souvenirs. It is just a part of the atmosphere that makes
Paris so enchanting.

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This tradition of selling second-hand books began around the 16th century
with little market peddlers. After a time of being prohibited, in 1859
the city of Paris gave permission for these stalls at fixed points along
more than three kilometers of the Seine, and is now declared a Unesco
World Heritage site. I always love walking these green stalls and poking
through the books and posters. It’s just a must when visiting Paris, at least
for me.

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Continuing our walk down the Seine reminds me of my first visit to Paris
in 1993 and why I first fell in love with it. The architecture is like no other.
The buildings are so unique and beautiful standing proudly along the
Seine, all with so many stories to tell from its history through the centuries.

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After walking back to our hotel and settling in our room to unpack, we walked to Jardin du Luxembourg a couple of blocks from the hotel.
This is one of my favorite places in Paris. It was created in 1612 by Marie
de Medici, the widow of Henry IV of France, for a new residence she had
built the Luxembourg Palace. The garden and palace are now owned by
the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. This is the Medici Fountain
located inside the park. The long basin of water was built and surrounded
by trees, and sculptures added to the grottos rockwork. It is one of the
many beautiful and serene places to just sit and relax in this popular park
in Paris.

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The Medici Fountain up close. I loved the beautiful sculptures of the giant
Polyphemus surprising the lovers Acis and Galatea, by French classical
sculptor Auguste Ottin.

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The Palace where the French Senate meets and also hold various art exhibits open to the public.

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Just some of the many statues in the park representing the history of
France.

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One last stop before going back to the hotel to end of first day in Paris, was
to jump on the Metro and see the Eiffel Tower. This is the number one
site in Paris that is most visited. It is truly spectacular. Built in 1889
as the entrance arch to the 1889 Worlds Fair, it was criticized by many for
it’s design, but has become a global cultural icon of France and is one of
the most recognized structures in the world.

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There is nothing that is more spectacular than to see the Eiffel Tower at
night. The lighted tower can be seen from almost all areas of Paris and
it sparkles every night on the hour for ten minutes. It really is a sight to
see.

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What a great way to end our first day and night in Paris. Back on the
metro to our hotel for a good nights sleep as we know tomorrow will be
another fantastic day in Paris.

More photos and tales of Paris to come – Au revoir

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