France, Day One: Paris

When Ramsey and I got married last July, we went on a short honeymoon in New England. We stayed at a bed and breakfast staffed by British interns in Chatham, MA and consumed most of the seafood within a ten mile radius. We then moved on to Boston where we walked the Freedom Trail and ate more seafood on a breezy patio on the waterfront. It was a relaxing getaway, but we had a plan for the following summer: using wedding gifts from family and friends, we’d embark on our first European vacation.

We considered a multi-country trip—perhaps England, France, and Spain—but as it was our first trip across the Atlantic, we didn’t want to stress ourselves too much. We decided to limit the trip to France, drawn by classic tourist sites and elegant pastries, and planned two days in Paris, two days in Lyon, and then two more days in Paris. We booked a red-eye flight for the evening of our first wedding anniversary, six nights at French hotels, two high-speed train tickets, and packed our bags.

Our flight took off from JFK around 9 PM on Monday, July 9th and we landed in Paris on Tuesday at 10 AM. Running on a few stolen hours of sleep, the highway and Paris streets zoomed by in a blur outside our taxi car windows. The driver dropped us at our first hotel by the Pantheon, and instead of taking a much-needed nap, we walked the two and a half miles to the Eiffel Tower, with detours along the way.

Fighting sleep at the hotel.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Fountain at the Jardin du Luxembourg

Go karts by the Eiffel Tower

Le Tower

We ended our walk with macarons on the steps of the Pantheon. I had salted caramel and Ramsey had chocolate.

That night, we had a late dinner at a bistro near our hotel. I ordered a fish special and Ramsey ordered the andouillette sausage. He soon learned that andouillette is not quite the same as spicy andouille sausage popular in Cajun cooking, which has a texture similar to most sausage you find in the States (i.e. course ground filling). No, andouillette sausage is filled with coarsely chopped pig intestines with a very distinct odor. (I didn’t have my camera with me, but the photo on Wikipedia provides a good idea of what was on Ramsey’s plate.) The smell was tough to handle, especially after being awake for almost 36 hours, but when paired with a little spicy mustard, the sausage itself wasn’t bad.

The bistro was also our first experience with Parisian restaurant service. Unlike the restaurants we’re used to in New York with hosts, waiters, and bussers, most of the restaurants we visited in France only had two or three waiters handling every aspect of service. They balanced dirty dishes and tiny mugs of espresso while swiping credit cards at tables, Apple store-style. Despite this set up, our meals came out at record speed. It took longer than usual to get the check, but we were still operating on New York time. The waiters weren’t concerned with turning tables, and neighboring diners talked for hours over bottles of wine and half-finished plates of frites.

We returned to our hotel and fell asleep to Law & Order: SVU dubbed in French (a.k.a . New York, Unité Spéciale)

View from our hotel room

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