Whenever Therese and I return to Paris, France – which is rather often in our traveling life, seeing as how I have been to Paris on four trips in seven years with her – I usually try to see something new, something I haven’t seen before. However, the pull to re-visit some places I have already been to can be very strong. At the end of our week in Strasbourg, we had a day-and-a-half to spend in Paris before flying back home to Charleston, and we had ample time to pursue a mix of the personally old and new.
In the summer of 2016, when we did our three-week stay in Rouen, we passed through Paris several times, staying at a Hilton “curio” hotel called Astor Saint-Honore that was a short taxi ride from Gare Saint-Lazare, the station where trains from Rouen terminate. After we had already made our reservations, we found out about Hilton Paris Opera, which was even closer to the train station and had better reviews as I recall. Therese entertained the idea of switching to this other hotel, but I reasoned that we should give Astor Saint-Honore a chance. We did, and it was not bad, but not good enough to persuade us not to stay at Hilton Paris Opera the next time we were in Paris. So on this visit, that is where we stayed, and we enjoyed this hotel.
Hilton Paris Opera apparently had an arrangement with Lego, with the result that there are a couple of Lego creations displayed in the lobby. The one above evokes the bustle of the big city. The view from our window was directly on to plaza in front of the train station, complete with the Consigne á Vie sculpture (that stack of bronzed suitcases on the left).
After dropping off our luggage, my idea was that we spend most of the day in the Sixth Arrondissement. Specifically, I wanted to see the Abbey Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. We had been there on my first visit to Paris in 2010, but for some reason I took not pictures (maybe because the interior can be a bit dim and gloomy). I wanted to have another shot at maybe capturing a bit of its Medieval glory.
The church was under renovation, but we still managed to see so much of what makes it a singularly beautiful church – the early stained glass windows, the painted columns, the sea of stars on a blue background that covers the ceiling.
Directly across the street from the church is the famous Cafe Les Deux Magots, and while we intended to eat lunch there, it was a bit early for lunch, so we explored a little bit. Namely, we walked the few blocks to the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Therese knows it because of its connection to Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code.” I had heard it to be one of the largest and most glorious churches in Paris.
Big it is, yes, but it did not impress as much as Saint-Germain-des-Pres. My favorite detail was the two shell sculptures by Pigalle that serve as holy water receptacles for the faithful to cross themselves with as they enter the church.
Now it was time for lunch at “Deux Magots”, and though it was a Saturday, we got an outdoor seat pretty quickly. Our lunch was decent, but Therese could remember more than one place in Paris where she has had better omelets. My salad was nice, but a bit on the pricey side. Not to quibble, though – we were there to drink in all the famous-ness (fame-osity?). And in that regard, it was a very nice time.
I had to remind myself now and again that Therese had been cooped up with work most of the week, while I had been sightseeing. With that in mind, I thought her idea to make our way toward Jardin du Luxembourg, keeping our eyes open for good shopping along the way, was a great one.
This little boutique called “Joie de Vivre,” for example, was a lucky find. Therese found a table cloth (similar to the one hanging in the window that you can sort of see above) and a couple other pieces to bring home.
The day was feeling a bit hot, so when we got to Jardin du Luxembourg, my first impulse was to find somewhere to sit down in the shade. Luckily, there were a couple empty seats next to the pond in front of the Medici fountain.
After refreshing ourselves watching the ducks swim in that pond, we explored the northern sector of the park. We passed by the Delacroix fountain, and the park’s Orangerie (mainly an art gallery – I don’t remember any orange trees). When we had had our fill of the park, we found a taxi stand and headed back to the hotel, where we ordered some room service for our dinner and settled into a quiet evening of lovely relaxation.