In 2020, we had planned to visit Portugal, Spain and France while meeting up with a group of Gunners who were celebrating the 100th anniversary of my husband’s Artillery Regiment. Well, that never happened. The idea was still very much alive so seeing how we were going to be in the East this summer, we thought it was a perfect time to fly to Paris from Montreal and spend a whole month in France. The trip was so full of adventures, I barely had time to put up the odd Instagram post. Then when we returned to Canada, our agenda was still full with a milestone birthday celebration for me and a work trip to the Kingston area. After that, we just about flew back West so we could get to know our house again before flying off to the Mayan Riviera for a week of family fun. I’m glad these milestone birthdays only come around every 5 years of so, because I’m having trouble keeping up with myself.
Here’s a recap of our travels in France.
The flight from Montreal was uneventful except that our Air France plane had great on board entertainment, not the least of which were the underbelly cameras that allowed us to watch ourselves land! We never did get a wink of sleep that night!
Just to take you back a bit, in September, we were required to wear masks in the airport and on the plane unless in our seat. That all changed once we arrived in Paris! I wore a mask on all public transit and in crowded areas for almost a week, but we quickly lost our aversion to being around other people. And by the way, masking was no longer required when we flew home on October 1, so we quickly removed our masks at the airport as soon as we realized no one was required to wear them in Canada anymore. Other than the post-Covid masking thing, Paris was a beautiful and charming as I remember it.
On August 31, we landed at CDG airport and made our way to our hotel in the La Villette district. We love this area because it is ethnically diverse, not too pricey and easily accessible via Metro from the major city sights. It didn’t take long to find our new favourite bistro where we could sit with a glass of wine and look at the hubbub around us.
Since we had a few days before our rental in Normandy was available, we stayed in Paris and visited the most popular museums. We spent 6 hours at Le Louvre! There were a lot of tour groups that would get in the way of some of the exhibits, but generally, things moved along and I was able to have another long look at Empress Josephine’s jewels – probably my favourite object in that museum. We also discovered that we quite liked sculpture and spent a few hours just wandering around some of the galleries that contained some major works. I love the 3 dimensional aspect of sculpture and did everything I could to resist touching the smooth marble.
There was a lot of walking each day. On day 2, I believe I walked over 26,000 steps! We walked from the army museum, Les Invalides, to some place past the Notre Dame cathedral (it’s still surrounded by cranes) as we headed to the tour cruise on the Seine. That cruise lasted about 90 minutes and took us past some of the most photographed sights in Paris, including La Tour Eiffel. I have to say though, on the very last day of our car rental (much later in the trip), Leon followed a route that he could have charged hundreds for. I had fun counting all the museums and monuments we passed as we followed La Seine! And all from the comfort of our own Mini Cooper. Well I saw the sights. Leon was watching the road.
It’s funny how you run into people you know in the least expected places. While we were visiting Les Invalides, we heard someone call out to Leon. “Sir!” “Sir!” There stood 4 young soldiers on vacation who originated from Leon’s regiment in Vancouver. We took a photo to prove this unlikely occurrence and moved to the next exhibit.
Through this part of the trip, we took time to stop for a drink at a nearby bistro. My drink of choice was Aperol Spritz. It seemed everyone was drinking that on hot, late summer evenings. As for food, Leon indulged in plenty of bread and pastries while I usually ordered the chicken caesar salad then proceeded to pick away the cheese and croutons. French gastronomy is not very gluten and dairy-free. Thank goodness wine has neither of those ingredients!