I'm in Paris...Parlez-vous français?
Over 50 years of dreaming and I am finally in Paris. Pinch me!
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world. I have friends who were engaged in Paris. I have friends who have celebrated anniversaries in Paris. I have friends that came to to see the sights of Paris. And now I can say 'I have been to Paris'. I am more than excited. Yes...here I am and I am ready to explore this romantic city and all it has to offer.
The train ride in from southern France was a snap. Getting around in Europe is far easier than in the US. I love that I can travel from one end of the country to the other in less than 3 hours. It was great to sit back and relax while taking in the French countryside while on the train. Not sure where I got the idea it would be difficult but it is less hassle than flying-even with a train strike going on.
Arriving at the very busy Gard de Lyon station in Paris, France. My apartment was a 15 minute walk from there. Excited to be here, to see & learn all I can about this beautiful city.
The apartment I rented was in the 12th arrondissement. The location made getting to all parts of Paris easy. Though not in the center of tourist areas, it was an excellent base for seeing the entire city and it was more residential than some of the others.. It was perfect for what I needed and I didn't spend an entire years income on rent since it was just outside the central 'zone'.
The large grey door in the first photo is the entrance to the apartment. It opens to what may have been a driveway at one time and goes to a open courtyard in the center of the building. My window opened to the court yard and I loved how tall it was and how much light it let into the small apartment. I kept it open most of the time even when it was raining. I would wake up each morning to the sound of birds singing happily as they sat on the rooftops.
The street just outside the front entry to the apartment was busy during the day and night. I couldn't hear any street noise once inside the grey doors. I got to know all the shop owners on both sides of the street on this block and that is one of the reasons I wanted to stay further from the tourist hotels. Everything I needed was within a few minutes walk. Most days I would grab a chicken baguette to take for lunch and a salad for dinner when I came home in the evening. It is not unusual for French people to eat at 9:00 or 10:00 pm. Many of the local restaurants don't even open for dinner until 7:00, although in the tourist areas they are open all day & well into the night.
The pizzeria right next door had the best pizza. Ristorante Il Modigliani at 172 rue du Fbg St Antoine 75012
Each night around 8:00 the place is packed. We opted for a 7:00 pm dinner.
Next to the pizzeria was the Boucherie Volaille. Every morning a white van would arrive to deliver the fresh meat to be cut by these Bouchers. They also had the best rotisserie chicken for seven euros. That, with a salad & baguette from the pastry shop across the street was perfect for dinner.
Just around the corner is a popular covered market Marché Beauvau Place d'Aligre. There are so many permanent stalls here I could find just about anything I needed for cooking. It is just one of the many markets in Paris and all are unique. I would love to visit each of them but that will need to be another time. Here's a link showing just how many there are: http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/Paris/Shopping/Paris_markets.shtml
There are also many small grocery & merchandise stores in all the arrondissements. Monoprix is the largest of the chain grocery stores so if you can't find it in the smaller stores you should find it there. I enjoyed shopping at all of them and even bought a new pillow at one of the small shops that carries linens.
With all the markets and small groceries in Paris I had little need or desire to eat out. Prices are expensive in the tourist areas but it you go even a block or two off in any direction you will find less costly meals and often friendlier hosts.
Coming up: The 18th Arrondissement, Montmartre & Sacre Coeur