It took just a wee more than four hours to travel by train from Cologne, Germany to Paris, France. It was smooth and easy and included not just one but two very pleasant meals along the way. Each meal also came with a choice of wine, very good wine. Now that is traveling in style, French style.
Upon arrival our family split up with daughters Kimberly and Kari and granddaughter Somaya heading off to an Airbnb very near the Eiffel Tower while my wife Nenita and I headed more to the south and the Kyriad Hotel in the trendy Bercy Village. But the plan was set and the next morning not only would our family reunite but we would also be joined by Nenita’s niece Liza Padua and Liza’s daughter Nika Padua visiting from Singapore.
Now this was a true extended family and wildly international holiday. So that was the plan, I, the only man in the group, would soon tour many of the highlights of Paris, the City of Love, with five beautiful women and one super sweet granddaughter. Oh the things I will endure just to bring you a great travel adventure.
Our meeting was set for the late morning at the Eiffel Tower located on the Champs de Mars where it has been reaching 984 feet into the Parisian sky since 1889. It is a magnificent tower indelibly linked to the grand city of Paris. To visit inside the tower requires payment and a long wait in line and it is not covered by the Paris Pass. But thanks to modern digital technology we organized our meeting at a location across from the tower and just above the River Seine.
First we were joined by daughters Kari and Kimberly and most granddaughter Somaya. Not long after a joyous shriek from my lovely lady Nenita signaled the arrival of Liza and Nika Padua.
Our now very happy group strolled across the River Seine on the Pont d’ Lena. We then chose one of several high end restaurants to take lunch, The service was excellent as was the food and the price reflected all of that. Well fed, we began our journey on Avenue d’ Lena to the Arc de Triomphe, yet another classic Paris landmark built between 1806 and 1836 and located on the western end of the Champs-Elysees.
Next came the spell binding 2.7 mile hike down the Champs-Elysees from the Arc de Triumphe to the Lourve. Much of the journey was marked by a plethora of the highest of high end high fashion stores. One such store was Louis Vuitton where Liza had on back order a purse that cost 30 times what I paid for my first automobile, Given that I suggested to the manager that at least we should have some champagne while we waited. I was joking but two minutes later he arrived with a tray filled with glasses of Moet. Viva la France!
A little further down the road we came upon a facility highlighting Renault automobiles in general and their racing cars in particular.
Then there was something truly bizarre. There was a very beautiful and ornate entrance to an establishment well known in America but never to my experience in the manner expressed in Paris. The store was and is Abercombrie and Fitch, but look at the doorway accompanying this article. I don’t remember seeing anything like that in America, how about you? Paris has that effect on people and businesses as well.
As our walk continued on the Champs-Elysees the store fronts were replaced by a beautiful park and several classic buildings, many of them museums of one kind or another and then we arrived at a spectacular giant Ferris wheel that marked the transition from Champs-Elysees to the entry way of the Louvre. Statues, awe inspiring statues, were everywhere woven into the fabric of abundant natural beauty.
Our immersion into the Louvre left us hungry so once again we crossed the river Seine. By this time we had walked at least 5 miles yet no one, not even our beloved but not particularly athletic granddaughter Somaya complained, Could it be perhaps that being saturated with great beauty eliminates pain? Yes I believe that’s it.
As we walked by dozens of attractive but rather high priced restaurants it occurred to me that location controlled the food prices much more than the food quality. I suggested that if we turned inland we might find a restaurant with equal food at lesser cost so we turned left and three streets down we came upon Cafe de L’Empire a very charming cafe, bar and brasserie located at 17 rue du Bac, Paris 75007.
The service was top notch, the duck was the best I’ve ever had and the rest of food satisfied every lady present — and the price was very reasonable. So lesson learned: not only in Paris but in every major city worldwide, just step off of the main tourist track just a little and you will spend less and possibly enjoy even more.
Not only that but if part of your reason to travel is to meet other people of a culture different from your own this is a great way to accomplish that mission. We were clearly the only non-French present at Cafe de L’Empire making it just that much more interesting.
It had been a truly beautiful day in every imaginable way, but now the time had come to say au revoir. We each went our separate ways but not before agreeing on a time and place to reconnect the next day for a family visit to the Palace of Versailles and more. But for now — Bon Jour!
Photos by Ron Irwin
Top photo: The Louvre
Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author.