I’m pretty sure that I still have jet lag because I woke up this morning at 5am Paris time and was wide awake. I was thinking that in Paris I might experience a nice change of waking up to birds chirping. I occasionally hear birds but today I also heard the bells from a cathedral sound at 8am. How lovely!
So today, I headed out for my first walking tour of Paris (one of many which will soon follow). My brother was in Paris last year and told me about a free 3-4 hour walking tour that takes you around all the main sites and you just tip at the end. Sounds like a good deal to me and what a better day to do it than Easter Sunday when practically everything is closed. I think alot of other people thought the same thing because when I got to the meeting place for the free tour, there were over a hundred people gathering. They split the crowd into groups of 15 and I had an energetic and friendly guide by the name of Filipa.
We covered a lot of sights on our tour and learned about the history of Paris with the monarchy and the revolutions. I read up a lot on Paris before my trip so I was asking Filipa specific questions about various museums and which ones were worth going to. There is nothing like having a local liason who knows the ins and outs of the city to answer all your questions. Ultimately, you can save a lot of time. For instance, she told me about a Museum Pass that I can buy that will allow me to go to over 60 museums in Paris (with in and out privileges over multiple days) and will let me bypass the line to purchase admission tickets each time.
Here is the list of things we saw/learned the history about: Latin Quarter, Notre Dame Cathedral, Point Neuf, the Seine, love padlocks, the Louvre, the Palais Royale, le Jardin Tuileries, the Grande Palais, the Petite Palais, Place de la Concorde, l’Hotel des Invalides and Napoleon’s tomb. We also caught views of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.
Although I am not a big fan of tours in general (I find it hard to manoeuver and it’s impossible to just blend in and be inconspicuous) I understand the necessity and I did a learn a lot. At the end of the tour, there was the option to have dinner at a nearby brasserie which gives a discounted rate to the group. It seemed like a pretty good deal – 13 euro for an entrée (duck, ravioli, steak or chicken) with fries, salad and a drink (wine, beer, pop) plus water. And the fact that the majority of restaurants are closed today because of Easter Sunday, it made it a very appealing deal. However, because there were so many people who had taken the tour today, the restaurant was at capacity by the time our group finished the tour. At first I thought it might be a good idea as I could continue to ask my guide specific questions about Paris. But after waiting about 10 minutes (but it was really when I saw the food start to come out) doubt started to settled in. I thought to myself – I still have that sea bream that I cooked at Cordon Bleu yesterday and it looks w-a-y better than the stuff that is coming out of this kitchen. (The food looked one step up from cafeteria food and two steps down from casual bistro food). Initially I had thought that steak frites with wine at 13 euro would be tough to beat but I didn’t want to chance it. I do not want to have a disappointing food experience in Paris. I decided to go home and have the fish that I fillet and spent 2 hours cooking! So I headed back to my apartment and had my sea bream with sautéed spinach and zucchini with saffron potatoes. Ah, bliss!