1.) The Roof at Printemps.
Printemps is a department store. Department store sounds so...plebian in English. It's a very beautiful, very old department store in Paris. It has a giant stained glass dome and some gold leafed turrets. (This is not any old department store.) On the roof there is a cafe. The cafe has some of the best views of Paris. The cafe sells wine. What more could you possibly want??
é in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower in the background and therefore we just don't care!)
2.) The Love Locks
There are a couple of bridges in Paris mysteriously covered in locks. The locks are known as the "love locks" and tradition has it that a couple will attach a lock to the bridge and throw the keys overboard to seal their romance. However if it goes badly, the only way to escape your love is to get back the key and remove the lock from the bridge, nearly impossible if the keys are at the bottom of the river.
Apparently, the Pont des Arts is for your committed love while the Pont de l'Archeveque is for your lover. So, on the night after we went to the Eiffel Tower, we went over to the Pont des Arts and hung our lock! We picked up a plain brass lock from the local hardware store and we etched our initials in with a pocket knife. It's a little hard to see but here is our lock:
Fred placing our lock with the Pont Neuf in the background:
Me kissing the key before throwing overboard!
This was a lovely and sweet tradition and I'm happy we got to take part in it. Long live the locks!
Dehillerin is the mother of all kitchenware stores. Julia Child used to shop here when she lived in Paris. In her autobiography she describes the lovely rows of copper cookware and how she made friends with the owner.
If you're in Paris I highly recommend going here. It's very authentic and you almost feel like you could run into Julia around every corner.
4.) Rowing on the Grand Canal at Versailles
By far and away one of my favorite things we did on our trip was going for a rowboat ride on the Grand Canal at Versailles. Between all the movies set at Versailles and the previous trips here made at critical times in my life (like age 16, hello teen years), I have had romantic notions about boating on the Grand Canal for about a decade. On this trip, I made my teenage girl fantasies come true. I was rowed out on the canal by a handsome and debonair gentleman who brought out tiny bottles of wine when we got out to the middle, and you guys, we totally kissed! (I know, OMG!) It was exactly as thrilling as I wanted it to be!
So handsome, so quick with the wine!
5.) The Travel Miracle - Diner en Blanc
This one was totally unplanned, it was just one of those travel miracles that sometimes happen. (So I can't really recommend it for other travelers, but if you run into it, just go with it.) One night while wandering along the bank of the Seine, we suddenly found ourselves completely surrounded by people in white clothing. There were probably 200 people in the street and tour buses were dropping off a continual flood of more. We got swept up in the crush and wound up in the square in front of Notre Dame. The square completely filled with a crowd all in white.
Turns out, this is the phenomenon known as "Diner en Blanc". It was started by a Parisian guy in the late 80's, who had just returned to the city after several years spent living elsewhere. He was living in a tiny apartment but he wanted to have a big party to celebrate with all his various friends so he told them all to meet in the Bois du Boulogne for a fancy picnic and to wear white so they could recognize each other. The event occurred annually ever after and has grown to huge proportions in Paris.
Each participant or each group of participants is in charge of bringing their own table and chairs, linen, china, glassware, silverware, food, wine and preferably some candles or an arrangement of flowers. Every. single. person. has a tablecloth. This is my kind of party!