Paris – A First Visit

Earlier this month, Joyce had a business trip to Saclay, a suburb about thirty minutes outside of Paris.  On a whim, I decided to go along and stay in the city of lights for three days alone.  Joyce would rejoin me later in Paris for some much needed rest and relaxation.

I love visiting challenging destinations… destinations that are in a state of transition, locations in an early adoption phase of tourism or places that are simply less traveled by tourists.  You know… the trips that require multiple flights, boat rides, rugged 4×4 trips through jungle streams and overnight train rides where you’re more likely to find your fillings rattled out of your teeth than any semblance of sound sleep!

My wide angle shot of the Eiffel Tower at night.

While I have spent some time traveling Europe, I’ve bypassed trips to destinations like England, Spain, France, Germany and so on. (My family rags on me for this sometimes.  Being quarter German and quarter British, I have yet to explore the many countries that make up my heritage.)  It’s not that I don’t have an interest in these places.  I reason that while I’m still relatively young and mobile, I’ll trade in relaxing travel for adventurous travel.

Shame on me!

My experience in Paris was amazing and very much an eye opener.  Being alone for several days in this beautiful city, living in an apartment (no concierge to rely on!), attempting to avoid speaking English at all costs and armed only with the remnants of my grade school French lessons, navigating Paris was both exhilarating and daunting.  A true fish-out of-water experience!

I instantly fell in love with the food, history and architecture of Paris. Oh.. and did I mention the food?!  (It’s worth mentioning twice!)

What truly amazes me is the depth of Parisian history. Having grown up around New York City, the overall big city feel of Paris is very familiar.  In New York, I often look at the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883, as a wonderful architectural structure and historic landmark. It’s a structure I’ve set eyes on many times, with a sense of wonder that a bridge so old is still in use today and is very much a part of modern New York City.

Visiting Paris’ most popular bridge, Pont Neuf, I couldn’t even begin to grasp the concept of history behind a structure that was built in the year 1578.  This shed new light on the word “old.”

Paris is adorned with this sort of history – some that are even centuries older.  It’s a city that achieves an amazingly romantic integration of this history and storied architecture with modern life.

Most importantly, this trip has expanded my notion of what ideal travel is for me.  The only downfall?  My list of places to see in this world has just grown longer.

Over the course of the next few days, I’ll post about a few of our most memorable experiences in Paris.

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