6:45am – arrive at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport. Get through customs with barely a glance at our passport and no declaration form whatsoever.
7:30am – After retrieving our one checked bag, we decide to take the long way to our hotel – we will brave public transit rather than hailing a cab.
7:40am – I am feeling utterly confident after navigating a full exchange with the information booth guy en français, with very clear directions for getting to our destination with nothing more than a metro ticket.
7:50am – The ticket machine won’t give us a ticket.
7:55am – Some helpful English-speaking tourists inform us that we have to use cash, not credit – none of the machines are taking credit. No problem. We get our tickets.
8:00am – Our metro tickets don’t work.
8:10am – Very helpful man in very long info line at the train station explains that we bought the wrong ticket – we need a “ticket to Paris” before we need a “metro” ticket.
Traveler’s Note: The lettered trains (A, B, C, D, etc.) are on a different system than the numbered trains (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). This is why our tickets didn’t work – we’d bought number-train tickets, but we needed a letter-train ticket. Easy to solve once we figured it out. Also, train transfers between trains on the same system seem to be free at the connecting stations, but if you are switching letter-to-number or number-to-letter, you will need to buy the other ticket to make the transfer.
8:20am – We are on a train to Paris!
8:40am – We change trains. Our metro tickets don’t seem to work, but one of the turnstiles is broken anyway, and everyone else is walking right through for free, so after hemming and hawing for 5 minutes, we decide to walk through sans payment like everyone else.
9am – After 2 train transfers (our hotel is a little out of the way), we come to our station. We exit the station. We realize we cannot find the Avenue that our hotel is supposed to be on. This neighborhood looks like it could possibly be sketchy.
9:05am – Very helpful guy on his way to work checks his GPS and explains en français that our hotel is on this road, but very far and past several highway intersections. Big crazy knot of highways on the GPS. We discuss taking a cab.
9:15am – We decide all the cabs look sketchy and decide to walk it anyway.
9:20am – We come to our first highway intersection and have no idea what to do, but there are quite a few other pedestrians there also, so we don’t feel completely crazy, even though we are the only pedestrians hauling serious luggage.
9:25am – Very helpful local asks us if we are looking for a hotel (what, we look like tourists? really?) and tells us to go straight.
9:30am – Another very helpful local volunteers exactly the same info.
9:40am – We are across the highways. No hotel or even correct avenue in sight. My kingdom for a street sign…..
10am – Still walking on this road, hoping for a street sign. We have seen several hopeful signs that include little bits of either the avenue name or the hotel name that we are looking for, so we know we are in the right neighborhood…….
10:10am – We cross the street and ask a nice Turkish lady (or she was working at a Turkish restaurant anyway) if she knows where Avenue du President Wilson is. She says “Ouiiiiiiii…..” like I’m crazy or something, and asks her neighbor which way we should walk in order to get to 212, the number of our hotel. We are apparently walking in the right direction.
10:20am – Artisan Bakery!! With unbelievable chocolate croissants. Neighborhood is looking less sketchy and more college-y. We break our fast on a bench.
10:30am – It occurs to me to ask the bakery people if we have completely accidentally ended up on the correct avenue by mistake. Because that would explain why Turkish lady thought I was pulling her leg when I asked her if she knew where Avenue du President Wilson was.
10:40am – We have! We are totally ON Avenue du President Wilson and we never even noticed! We just have to go from 112 to 212. No problem.
11am – We check in! Our hotel is totally cute and modern and the staff are extremely friendly and mostly English-speaking. The elevator has a giant flower graphic on the back wall, and our hotel room is adorable.
11am-4pm – Nap. No comment.
4pm – We better get out of here if we want to see anything tonight.
5pm – After changing, etc., we decide to not have a plan, we just want to walk around historic Paris for a while and find some great place to eat.
5:45pmish – We arrive at the Jardin de Tuillieres, which is conveniently off our train line. Wicked.
6pmish – It turns out the Jardin is right next to the Louvre. Now we have a plan for tomorrow.
6-8pmish – We walk. We walk around the Louvre, along the Seine, watch the sunset, find locks on a bridge (Lock it for Love, Throw the Key in the River!), walk along the Champs-Elysees, get very hungry.
8:20-9ish – Looking in earnest for a good place to eat. Hooray for the Berkeley! Super shi-shi, but they require neither reservations nor jackets 🙂
9-11:30ish – Dinner – gazpacho, rack of lamb (I have suspended all vegetarian rules for myself for my honeymoon because, well, it’s my honeymoon), grilled chicken, a pile of excellent bread, 3 superb glasses of wine, and a creme brulee later, we are satisfied and head home. But decide we want to see the Arc du Triomphe first. And on the way we stopped in at the Virgin Megastore (alive and well in Paris), where we buy a guidebook to replace the one I completely forgot back in NYC, and where I fall deeply in love with a sketchbook.
The Arc du Triomphe ends up being closed, so we go home.
But it turns out the buses have stopped running, so we have to hail a cab. But we’re going the wrong way, no cabs want to stop for us. Until a very nice Punjabi-looking gentleman pulls over.
1am – Back in hotel, where we discover the fantastic complementary coffee/tea/hot chocolate machine. Good night 🙂