Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wine, Cheese, Haute Couture, Perfumes.. say FRANCE!

La Tour Eiffel! 
So K and I are back from the most amazing trip ever to France! I mean we reached a point where we just didn't want to return and had serious discussions of migrating there permanently. It's usually me that does all that drama when a trip is ending but I can see I am beginning to have an effect on the hubby :P With no further delay, I shall do my best at summarizing our lovely trip to France.
Pre Departure : I live with THE most organized person in the history of mankind. No jokes. Our itinerary was so brilliantly drawn up.. all thanks to him. And the best part was it all went to plan. We researched the net fully.. blogs, tripadvisor ratings, wiki links, iPhone apps which were super useful etc. As expected, K was fully packed 3 weeks in advance while I was still packing 3 minutes before we had to leave to the airport. It helped that K had packed a bag full of general medicines.... thank God for BP tablets ;-) 

Sept. 29th : We left to Paris via Frankfurt and the flight was pretty boring. Not a single good movie. Frankfurt airport was the usual - thousands of people running around to catch their transit flights, grumpy immigration officers and sleepy us. The excitement really kicked in when I heard a flight announcement to Charles de Gaulle in French. That's when it hit me that I'm really headed to a place where I've been wanting to go since I was a teen. I stepped foot on CDG and  I started clicking random pics, went to get our museum and metro passes at the airport counter and started rattling away in French. Not bad. We took at taxi to our Hotel which was in the Marais area, very neat coz it had 2 metro stations close by. You don't need a cab or bus in Paris, the metro goes just about everywhere! And we got a hang of it in no time. First day we did the Bateaux Mouches ride on the Seine. I was told it's called so because the people and the boats(Bateaux) look like ants(Mouches) from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The ride was nice, it was a cloudy, windy evening... we took nice pictures around the place. 

An evening view of the Seine - Bateau Mouches 
We passed out early that night, thanks to a tiring flight journey. 

Day 2 : We stepped out around 8ish. We discovered a lovely Croissanterie next to our hotel. We grabbed some freshly baked croissants, chocolate eclairs(which then became a routine each morning!) and set out to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Bright and early next morning 

It was breathtakingly beautiful. 
Inside view of the Notre Dame when the Mass is in progress 
The best part was the choir. Their voices sounded heavenly!! Don't know if it was extra special coz it was Sunday but it was so amazing. We waited in line and walked to the top and got another lovely view of Paris. And what does K end up loving... The silly gargoyles!! He loved them so much that he kept hunting for table coasters throughout our trip.
The cute gargoyles that were all around Notre Dame 
And in case you're wondering, no they weren't available :-)  Had a hot chocolate at the famous Angelina :) Then for Thata's sake, we did a tour of the "Les Invalides" museum which has Napoleon Bonaparte's tomb, a World War museum etc. When Thata visited Paris many years ago, he had stayed at this particular locality and his wish was that we visit this place.
Napoleon Bonaparte's tomb at "Les Invalides" museum 
We then headed to see the Rodin Museum with its famous "Thinking Man" sculpture. 
Goofy K! 
In the evening we went up the Montparnasse Tower from which the Eiffel view is fabulous! 

The beautiful view from Montparnasse 

Day 3: Our destination was the Louvre museum.  I can see why it's so highly rated.... Fantastic place to spend an entire day. You leave your bags, coat etc at the front desk, grab an audio guide and you embark on a beautiful journey of paintings from different parts of the world. 

The sign says it all! 
Of course the Mona Lisa is very overrated, she's like tiny compared to so many other beautiful paintings :P 
The Mona Lisa 

I particularly loved the one of Napoleon's coronation, the audio guide told me a funny story about how his mother was annoyed that she wasn't invited to be a part of it more so because his wife, Josephine was present!! So finally she was invited and she is depicted with a sullen face in the paining. Cute na? These saas-bahu sagas are world over I suppose! :P Unfortunately, the painting was too huge to be captured on camera. We headed outside, the weather was just perfect. We lazed around a bit by the lovely fountains.
Outside the Louvre

We then headed to the Eiffel.This time we were taking the elevator up the Tower. The Eiffel experience is a must do, but just once in your lifetime is alright. Windy and cold, we got up there and felt on top of the world. Had a nice rose wine while I was up there ;-) 

Day 4 : I woke up much before K could shake me out!! Guess why? We were visiting Euro Disney!

 Like 2 kids on a picnic, we scampered around the entire park, quickly finished all the rides, there was zilch queuing up since it was a working day and then felt as if the park was too small :-( I especially enjoyed riding the roller coasters(fully American style with hands up in the air only to get yelled at by K) sitting in close proximity to my hubby with the cool wind blowing on my face :-) My most favorite ride was the Space Mountain: Mission 2.. We didn't know where it was headed and totally unexpected thrills! 

Day 5: We woke up late and it was a lazy day where we were just going to be strolling to a couple of gardens. The Luxembourg gardens are a MUST SEE! 
Fall colors at the garden 
So beautiful, the flowers, the lawn, the colors and tranquility in the place... Loved it. K took some amazing pics in his D7.. his new lens was the hero!
Amazing colors captured beautifully by K's new lens 
 The Tuileries garden was also nice in its own way. 
I don't get tired of posing :) 
We then crossed across and walked to a row of shops. This area is what "Paris' T Nagar"! K went absolutely crazy.... he had found the perfect place to buy souvenirs. Ok now I need to tell you, he took about 100 Euros just to spend on those crazy stuff. magnets, tees, coasters, beer mugs and medallions!! Each and every place we visited he would buy and at one point I lost it and told him he needs to get a grip!! But I will agree, they had some of the cutest stuff.. Paris bags, coasters, medallions.... they were all super cute. We ate at a pizza place close to our hotel called La Massarra and it was fabulous! Cozy, warm, yummy.... a perfect end to a perfect day.

Day 6: Another early start as we had to take the first train out of Paris to Normandy. Took about 2 hours, I just gazed at the beautiful countryside on our way while K snored. We had booked a full day guided tour at Normandy to take us around the D Day landings, explaining the history of it and so forth. Roelle(pronounced "Rule") was fabulous. I must rate him on Trip advisor, haven't got around to doing that. He chatted non stop, K felt he was putting too much mokkai. But in his defense, he was so passionate about the D day history, in fact he left Netherlands and moved to a place like Normandy just to be close to it and started a business out of it.. this was the first one hour of his mokkai talks! We also had a bunch of others in our van, all of them Americans. No offense, but as expected they asked a zillion questions, 50% of which were so lame! :P Until Roelle finally made up rules and said "Wait to ask your questions coz I will be covering them a little later"! The D day history is not something I was too familiar with nor passionate about. But just standing on that Omaha Beach sort of gave me a weird eerie feeling.... 
The historic Omaha Beach in Normandy

Like he said the day after June 6th, the entire beach turned red in color. Wow..God bless them. And the winds were so strong.. I can't imagine them fighting in that chilly, ice cold water. The German soldiers are crazy. Period. The memorial was serene. The first parts of "Saving Private Ryan" were shot here. And I ensured I came back and watched it and wow! 

The US Veterans Memorial at Normandy 

Post our picnic lunch, we also visited the "Pointe Du Hoc" which was the second series of attacks by the Allies against the Germans during World War II. 
Pointe du Hoc

The beach was lovely. The waves were fierce and it felt so poignant knowing that I was standing on historic 

I took a shell from there as a souvenir, will definitely share this with my kids and grand kids. Before we knew it the day had come to an end and K and we had a late night train into Paris. So we walked around town, ate yummy apple tart with ice cream in honor of Sneha and Mosh's birthdays!! :D 

Normandy's famous apple tart with cream 

Day 7 : My most anticipated day ever.. We were visiting the Chateau de Versailles!! I've learnt and read and watched and heard so much about the place that I've been dying to visit. And let me tell you, it's worth every single minute we spent there. It's massive, it's beautiful, it's fabulous and it's got so much history! 
Front view of the Versailles Palace 

Another view of the sprawling lawn 
The gardens, the paintings, the little nuggets of information you gather.... they all make your visit worthwhile. And I walked so much. First we covered the palace.. The famous Hall of Mirrors included.
Inside the palace 
 Then we walked all the way to visit Marie Antoinette's estate. And then finally to King Louis's private estate.. Apparently this is where he would go to relax.. I'm like dude!!! Trust me, it is gorgeous! 
A view of the garden on the way to the private estate 
I loved being there, reading all the sign boards and enjoyed myself thoroughly. The best part is that I noticed school teachers bringing in kids and explaining France's history via an interactive session. Wow. I would have loved to learn Indian history sitting in front of the Taj or the Qutub Minar.. how interesting does that sound? K spent half the time taking so many pictures, I'm telling you no camera would do justice to this palace. 

And it's no wonder Mr. Mittal chose this palace for his baby girl's marriage.. Lucky Vanisha!! Very reluctantly, I left the palace. I vowed to go back someday :) We ate at Hard Rock Cafe, Paris that night! Wohoo!! 
HRC, Paris!! 
Day 8 : By now, I had seen most of what I wanted to see and I was getting grumpy that it was time to head back to Chennai. Our last day in Paris was here and I didn't want to go back!! The only thing that cheered me up was that K said I was free to blow some money shopping. Yay! First we visited the Orsay Museum which was nice.. but the problem is I'm not much of an art lover so a little hard to describe what we saw!! But if you like art, seriously visit this place.. It was phenomenal! And then to my delight, we headed to Boulevard Haussman to shop which houses some nice brands such as H and M, Mango, Galeries Lafayette etc. I bought 5 bags, 4 shoes, lots of make up and some clothes(most of the clothes out were sweaters/jackets etc and hence didn't do much justice in that section). K also got himself some tees. We were nice and bought stuff for friends and family as well. The finale was at Champs Elysees... 
The most famous avenue in the world! 
Again shopped a bit for others and it started raining so we decided to head back and start packing :-( Dinner was at our favorite Pizza Pino where a waiter chatted with us in Tamil(yup you heard that right!). He thought we were Sri Lankans and he mumbled off a few words in Tamil. We quite enjoyed listening to his prattle. We went back and started packing up.... Oh boy. Paris was too good to be true. I didn't want to come back. And I'm convinced I was Parisien in my previous birth. Reasons :
- I've always had an affinity toward this country... more so when I learnt the language really well. 
- I love shopping. It seemed like the people(note : both men & women) there are always shopping!! 
- I've always had a thing for perfumes and makeup... and needless to say half the good perfumes come from France. 
- Cheese..... their French Onion soup had so much cheese, it's not even funny! 
- They seem to have a thing for history and in case you didn't know.. I love it too. 
Oh so you get the drift right? And I tell you K was German. For sure... Like he loves his automobiles, he can guzzle beers nonstop and he fights with me all the time... German Vs French.. u get it? Iyyo. Ok I'll stop this nonsense. Had a fabulous trip!! This country brings out the romantic in you... whether you are romantic or not! I'm definitely going back there again! Au Revoir Paris.. A bientot! =) 
PS Thanks a ton, K for doing everything possible to make this a super comfy trip for us! Muah! =) 
The world's best hubby!! Thanks a ton!