We finally left Schiphol after a 5 hour lay over. Most of the time was spent in the very comfortable though crowded KLM Crowne Lounge but that quickly became boring once the initial forays to the refreshment bar (stroopwaffles!) had lost its novelty. By the time KLM1233 started boarding at 12 noon, I was so ready for Paris!
Thankfully, the sun was out the afternoon we arrived. It blazed through the clouds as we traveled from Charles de Gaulle -- warming me with its welcome.
Crossing the Seine on the way to the apartment, I took this quick shot -- perfect photo statement for my favorite city in the world ... Paris is for lovers indeed!
Amidst a backdrop of a quickly darkening winter sky, Notre Dame -- my iconic symbol of this lovely city -- was awash in the soft rays of the mid afternoon sun. It was my first gift from Paris -- I am sure there will be many more on this trip.
This year, we decided to venture out of our comfort zone and rented a different apartment. That's the something new in the title.
For the past 3 years, we have always stayed in the Rue Mouffetard area, in the Latin Quarter.
Our first year in Paris, we stayed at Rue L' Homond.
The past two years, we stayed at 7 Rue Bertholet and deluded ourselves into thinking that yes, it was actually our own apartment -- albeit only for the Christmas time.
But this year we wanted to explore another area.
We found this cozy place recommended by Vacation in Paris at Rue St. Andre des Arts.
As someone once said ... location, location, location. This apartment put us much closer to the Notre Dame and to a lot of other places -- St. Germain, St. Sulpice, the Seine ...
But would it be as wonderful as 7 Rue Bertholet?
If Rue Bertholet made us feel like the bourgeoisie -- as it was a middle class, quiet residential neighborhood, Rue St. Andre des Arts made us feel like rich Parisians -- who own a place right in the middle of a busy, bustling yet historic neighborhood.
The apartment is just a few steps away from Place St Michel and the Seine and also within easy walking distance of almost all the monuments in Paris.
While I missed the little balcony of Rue Bertholet, my window opened up on this view -- a creperie! Hmm, perhaps this would be a great place after all!
It took me just a few steps from the apartment to cross the street and come upon this view -- standing by the Seine at dusk -- Pont Au Change welcomed me with my initial -- emblazoned on the bridge for all eternity. I know the N stands for Napoleon but for me, it will always stand for Nonna!
In the deepening twilight Notre Dame stands golden, floodlit by soft lights that are reflected on the Seine. We were on our way to Saturday evening mass -- the best way to start our Paris adventure. In 2013, the Notre Dame celebrates its 850 Jubilee Year and the festivities are to be launched this December -- how fortunate for us to be here at the same time.
Paris is truly gorgeous and yes, the city of light. A sightseeing boat chugs by and we make plans to catch an evening cruise before we leave. Perhaps knowing that this could be my last Christmas in Paris, my mind is crammed with things I have to do, places I have to revisit, new discoveries I have to make.
It's dinner time! What better way to celebrate our first night in Paris by having a meal in a traditional bistro -- and Rue St. Andre des Arts is just lined with so many choices. There are creperies and traiteurs galore but I don't want to spend my first night in Paris with take away food -- no matter how tempting the smells from the creperies are.
I wanted a good sit down meal, in a place that reeks of atmosphere.
Perhaps the food would be mediocre but my first glass of 1664 was definitely excellent!
It's hard to go wrong with soupe oignon -- done the classic way with melted cheese and slices of baguette. We ate at Bistro St. Andre, just around the corner from the apartment. Red tablecloths, french garcons, good bread, hot soup... an ideal first meal in Paris!