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July 23, 2019

We spent the rest of our two weeks in Europe in Paris (a bonus of visiting Paris after Switzerland: it makes Paris seem cheap). We again rented an apartment (in the 7th) via Airbnb; I’ve grown to prefer staying in homes and apartments on vacations because it gives us access to a kitchen. That means that we don’t have to eat every meal out at a restaurant, and it allows us to relax over a cup of coffee without needing to first make ourselves presentable. Our apartment in Paris had a view of the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides, it had a small grocery store on the same block, and there was a tasty boulangerie across the street (score!).

We did all the usual touristy things, since it was our daughter’s first trip to Paris and only my second: visit the Louvre, walking through the Tuilleries, see lots of churches (St. Chapelle, Notre Dame – the outside at least, Sacre Couer, St. Sulpice), visit the Pantheon, walk through the a bit of the Jardin du Luxembourg), visit Shakespeare & Co., etc.

You can’t visit Paris and not see the Louvre

The parts that I enjoyed the most (well, aside from the always tasty food) were those that were new to me. On my previous trip I didn’t get a chance to visit the Eiffel Tower, but this time we were within walking distance, so we visited it and the Champ de Mars a couple of times, as well as actually going up the tower.

The Eiffel Tower at sunset

While stereotypically touristy, we did a lunch boat ride along the Seine with Bateaux Parisiens that was a lot of fun (and the food was very tasty). After all the walking around we did, it was also very nice to just sit and relax and enjoy seeing the city without having to move.

Our lunch cruise along the Seine

We also caught a train to visit Versailles. While the palace was impressive, I actually found the grounds more interesting. They were immense; I personally thought the grounds did a better job communicating the power of the king than the palace did. If we go back, next time we’ll have to skip the palace and rent bikes to explore more of the grounds; even walking through them for several hours we only saw a small fraction of them. I’d also like to catch the gardens when they have the fountains turned on (to save water they only turn the fountains on during certain days).

Looking out into the gardens at Versailles

While the weather was cooler in Paris (we only caught the tail end of the heat wave: it was 100 the day we arrived, but otherwise it was mostly in the upper 70s and lower 80s), the next time we visit Paris I’d like to do it in the fall or spring to enjoy some crisp, cool days (and escape some of the crush of tourists). UIST was in Paris in 2002 (apparently the theme of this vacation was revisiting prior UIST locations) at the end of October, and the weather was great (or at least that’s how I remember it), so maybe that’s the timeframe we should aim for (once our daughter goes off to college, of course).

From → Travel

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