Dick’s colossal flight delays left him with just a single day to see Paris before we had to catch the train to London. Fortunately, the Vélib bikeshare system made it easy to see the sights much faster than taking the Metro. Dick had two must-see items: the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but we packed in more thanks to Vélib.
10:00 am Riding along the Seine. We picked up our first pair of Vélib bikes just outside our hotel near the Eiffel Tower. Dick raised the saddle up to its max, I put mine in the middle and we were off. We crossed the Seine and rode the cyclepath along the river toward the Louvre. The air was brisk, but it felt really good to have the wind in our faces since the day before was spent in airplanes (Dick) or subways (me). As we rode past the Place de la Concorde I shuddered, remembering how Michelle and I had accidentally gotten caught in the center of this grand traffic circle on bikes–after dark.
11:00 am The Louvre. After a quick photo opp in the main courtyard we turned in our bikes at a nearby Vélib station just outside the gates, and then entered the Louvre through the Pyramid. The Louvre has an expansive collection and we had little time, so we focused on statuary. I love the grand marble statues in the light and airy courtyards. Since most statues were made to decorate gardens it only seems fitting that the museum has created an outdoor feel in an indoor setting. Strolling the statue gardens was most relaxing, even though the guards had to clear one courtyard when an unattended bag was found. A quick jolt back to the 21st century.
3:00 pm Notre Dame & the Latin Quarter. After the Louvre we made a quick duty free shopping stop and then grabbed another pair of bikes. We pedaled over the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge crossing the Seine, to the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle that is the original village of Paris and home to Notre Dame Cathedral. We made a quick stop to gaze at Notre Dame, then crossed over to the Latin Quarter where we cruised this historic neighborhood’s narrow one-way streets. One way for cars, that is, not bikes.
6:00 pm Eiffel Tower From there we pedaled fast down the left bank of the Seine to reach the Eiffel Tower before the sun set. We dropped off the bikes at the Vélib station and then sat underneath the tower, snacking on sandwiches parisiens from the snack bar as darkness fell and saw the tower’s stellar lights come on. By the time we ascended the tower, the city was fully lit up and sparking, with gentle wisps of fog blowing by.
9:00 pm Dinner at La Fontaine de Mars Finding a restaurant for dinner proved to be a challenge since most restaurants aren’t open on Sundays. But we found one about a kilometer away–certainly walking distance. But given we were tired, we grabbed our third pair of Vélib bikes and pedaled to dinner at La Fontaine de Mars, which specializes in cuisine of the Southwest region of France. That means one thing only to me–Cassoulet–and I was lucky to find it on the specials menu. We shared a Tarte Tatin for dessert then grabbed our fourth pair of Vélib bikes for the quick ride back to the hotel, where we slept very well from our busy day.
If you only had one day in Paris, would would be on your must-see list?