Back in Paris! Edouard left us in the apartment while we freshened up. For over an hour, we had the apartment all to ourselves. We definitely had a blast while taking some photos inside and outside in the balcony. Edouard had a haircut and he also bought lunch in a nearby Carrefour Super Marche (supermarket) -- baguette, pasta, some sort of pizza and cheese. We told him that we would go to the Champs Elysees and at the Eiffel Tower. He took out a map of Paris and gave us instruction on how to ride the Metro. He was so worried but we told him that we would be alright, and that he should take a rest, and we agreed to meet him for dinner.
Juliette balconies are cute. This one's at the Macnab's apartment.
The apartment's receiving cum office room
We took the Metro and I couldn't help but notice the little structures over and around the entrances, mostly found over stairwells. We learned that those are called edibles. We managed to brave Paris' amazing metro system. We had a minor trouble, which was more funny, than problematic. When we were inside the train, it was quite obvious that it was "against the law" to smile or show any sign that we were happy. And yet there we were right in the middle of it, "lawbreakers" constantly smiling and talking about what we had seen for the past 2 days. We found the Paris Metro to be fun. It was new and different to us and it was part of the Parisian culture that we grew to appreciate. Was the Paris Metro intimidating and scary? Yes, a little bit. But it was also an amazing part of our Paris experience.
So this is THE Champs Elysees?
One of the things that we were eager to do during our visit to Paris was to walk the Champs-Elysees. I had read that the avenue had become the spot for high-end shopping; in reality, it has become a shopping hot spot for tourists. Several other up-scale brands were there including Louis Vuitton and Cartier. But it's also the home of what the British calls "High Street" fashion with stores like Zara, Marks & Spencer, Promod, and Astradivarius.
Considered as the world's foremost fashion capital, and perhaps the most famous avenue in the world, Avenue de Champs-Elysees also houses British and European High Street brands like this one -- the H& M store.
… and American brands too.
And America is well represented too -- The Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Disney, and Nike. Even car companies such as Mercedes, Renault, and Toyota have elaborate showrooms. There was even a McDonalds plopped right in the middle of the other attractive but overpriced cafes.
That's LV -- as in Liweng Virutiao, and oh yes….Louis Vuitton.
Can you believe that? Photo-ops right in the intersection of Champs!
Behind us are some of the pretty but overpriced cafes along the Avenue.
I have to admit, even though I had read that the Champs-Elysees had become a location frequented by tourists, it was far more commercial than I anticipated. We checked out some of the shops and the Galerie Des Arcades and we continued our stroll.
Inside Galerie Des Arcades
Souvenir shops along the Avenue
Our stroll was splendid. We walked past more stores and cafes before eventually hitting the end of the avenue near the Arc de Triomphe. We crossed the street and headed to Avenue Klieber. There we sat in one of the benches, and rested our sore feet. We talked about what we do the next. We sat there for a few minutes and then had a late snack at Pomme de Pain cafe.
The Arc as seen from Avenue Klieber
More Juliette balconies! The Hotel Baltimore at Avenue Klieber.
Time to rest those sore feets...
…. and fill those tummies with food!
Walking Around the Trocadero and Eiffel Tower
After snack, and armed with a madp, we continued to walk along Avenue Klieber at the 16th Arrondissement until we reached the Trocadero. The Trocadero houses the Palais de Chaillot which is composed of two buildings shaped to form an arc. The buildings are separated by a wide esplanade offering a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower across the river.
Yeeeey….we found the Trocadero.
The Esplanade at the Trocadero
The Eiffel Tower as seen from the Trocadero
Below the Esplanade is the Jardins du Trocadero. Built within the center of the Trocadero is the famous Warsaw Fountains with a remarkable display featuring 20 water cannons and eight levels of waterfalls. After admiring the gardens and plenty of photo ops, we walked down the marble stairways, passed one of the carousels, crossed the bridge, and headed to the Eiffel Tower.
The gardens of the Trocadero and the Warsaw fountains behind VG.
The carousel at the Right Bank (near the Trocadero)
Having fun walking under the Eiffel Tower (we returned after 3 weeks and went to the topmost level).
We spent some time walking below the tower and then we headed home because Edouard was already calling Knoll's mobile phone and asking where we were. We took the bus home and we met Edouard near Avenue Lesueur and we all returned to Champ de Mars. Vg, Liweng, and I picked a spot in the garden facing Eiffel Tower and waited for Edouard and Knoll who took an evening jog around the park.
Riding the Paris bus en-route to Avenue Leseuer. The bus is not full but we chose not to sit…..best view in the bus!
Yup! That's Liweng beside the lady who really doesn't care. :-)
Uh oh….THE gaze tells it all.
It was already 9pm and the sun was just starting to set behind the Eiffel Tower and it was breathtaking. While waiting for 10pm when the Eiffel Tower would begin to sparkle like a giant diamond, we saw vendors come and go offering cheap wines and souvenirs. When it came time for the tower to illuminate, it was beautiful! We sat and watched it for the full five minutes that it sparkled before returning to its normal night time glow.
The sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower
Ecstatic! That's how I will describe our feelings when we saw the Eiffel Tower lit for the first time.
Last night in Paris and a Bittersweet Goodbye
Ben, Edouard's best friend who we first met at La Tuilerie, arrived later and we all went for a walk again to have dinner. As we were walking, I realized why Paris is called the "City of Lights" -- the city under the lights showcases an entirely new appeal -- the streets shone, the buildings glowed, the cafes burst with light and excitement -- there were more smiling faces, and more cuddling couples. It was a real attraction, a seduction that grabbed you from the moment we experienced Paris under the lights. And one of my biggest regrets is that we didn't have more time to experience it even more. But that's one of the great things about Paris, that's part of its magic. We never felt as though we had seen it all. We never felt as though we had experienced enough. We ended the night by having a wonderful dinner at Le Pierrot.
Dinner at Cafe Le Pierrot at Avenue de la Motte-Picquet with the cutest French guy I have ever seen -- Ben. My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw him. Haaaaah……sigh…!!!
We woke up early the next morning because we had a train to catch going to Amsterdam. It was raining and we struggled to get all our luggages behind the car. We still had time to spare before the train departs. And on our way to Gare du Nord (North Station) of the SNCF (France's national state-owned railway company), Edouard took us on a mini-tour of Paris at 5 in the morning. The streets were very quiet and the streets glistened because of the rain and the lights and yet I found it very romantic. We passed the Pont Alexander III bridge and drove into the grounds of the Louvre. The pyramid was lit and what a sight it was. Edouard accompanied us inside the train station and when it was time to say goodbye, we were all teary-eyed specially when he talked to VG and wished her luck in her retirement. He was blushing and so we were. He hugged each of us tightly and we felt like we didn't want to leave. Separation anxiety. But we had to move on.