Friday, December 2, 2011

Our Paris Trip: Day One Tour

The Hotel du Pantheon was our fortunate hotel choice. Nestled in the heart of the Latin Quarter, in a charming 18th century building, we arrived before check in, yet were generously accommodated with two out of our 3 rooms.

We were delighted by the country French style lobby and the warm welcome and assistance we received from the extremely helpful staff.

Our rooms were utterly charming, though small. I had excellent clothing storage, and the bathrooms were roomy, modern, beautifully tiled and immaculate.

The girls rooms could have used better lighting, but I find that to be true in many hotels. The beamed ceilings, traditional French fabrics and sensational views of the Pantheon and its lively square, made our little nests a true home away from home. Our rooms averaged around $258.00 per night, which we found to be completely reasonable.

Our mission was to join sister #3 and share her Paris highlights while she was on her Junior semester abroad. We charted a path to lunch on the Ile Saint Louis, via Notre Dame to meet up with our precious girl. Alba Rosa from Brilliante blog recommended the Brasserie de l'lle Saint Louis, for its terrific views of the Seine and the flying buttresses behind Notre Dame. Alas, it was shuttered so we selected the Cafe Saint Regis nearby and caught up.

Believe it or not, this was our path for day one--all five and a half miles of it! The red marker is our hotel, the gray marker is our lunch spot, followed by le musee de l'Orangerie and the Cafe de Flore. We proceeded to the right bank marveling at every turn. 

Before we crossed over to the Islands, this pair of intellectuals posed in front of the Chapelle de la Sorbonne, the University's domed church, which was built between 1635 and 1642. It was commissioned by Cardinal de Richelieu who employed the architect Jacques Lemercier to build the church, dedicated to Saint Ursula, in Roman Baroque and Renaissance style.
Crossing over the bridge from the Boulevard St. Michelle in the Latin Quarter, the uniform Haussmann facades create a palatial illusion. Blocks resemble one grand edifice versus the reality of many smaller buildings. It is believed that Haussmann rebuilt 60% of the city of Paris, a dramatic feat of urbanization. Here are some of the dictates of the Haussmann aesthetic:  
  • Ground floor and basement with thick, usually street-lateral, load-bearing walls;
  • second, "noble" floor with one or two balconies;
  • third and fourth floors in the same style but with less elaborate stonework around the windows;
  • fifth floor with a single, continuous, undecorated balcony--eaves angled at 45º.   


 "The Haussmann façade is organised around horizontal lines that often continue from one building to the next: balconies and cornices are perfectly aligned without any noticeable alcoves or projections. At the risk of the uniformity....the rue de Rivoli served as a model for the entire network of new Parisian boulevards."  Wikipedia

Napoleon III, engaged Haussmann to renovate Paris after visiting London. Impressed by the vast parks, and open spaces, he wanted to rid Paris of its unsanitary Medieval, narrow maze-like streets. Politically, it was duly noted at the time, the military advantage to the government, in the creation of long, wide boulevards. The military could easily defend these grand transits and control a city chronically plagued by insurrection. The vast and famous sewer system was simultaneously installed, with exquisitely engineered  aqueducts and reservoirs for fresh water. Train stations were linked strategically throughout the city. After lunch, we tumbled beneath square of Notre Dame to see the excavations of the original settlement of the Parisi. 

On the square in front of Notre Dame you can take a look at km 0 (“Kilometre Zero”), from which all distances in France are measured, and nearby, you will find the entrance to La Crypte Archéologique – Archaeological Museum.

This original, subterranean settlement of the Celtic Parisi, is a logical beginning. It takes about 30 minutes, and gives you a sense of the ancient roots of the city and the strategic aspects of the island.

We head along the right bank, and our Parisian girl strategically walks us through the beautiful flower markets.
Is the look familiar?

Contemporary Parisian shops look a great deal like the stalls at High Point.

Our tour guide tucked us in a side entrance to the Louvre for this dramatic view of I.M. Pei's pyramids.

I'm not kidding, Mr. Potato Head, kept jumping us throughout our stroll through the Tuileries

The Louvre was an overwhelming challenge for day 1, so we headed over to the Musee de l'Orangerie to see the spectacular Claude Monet water lillies. Monet gifted the paintings to the city to create an oasis in a chaotic modern world. Two oval rooms are dedicated to Monet's obsession with shifting light and reflection. We were completely stunned out of our exhaustion.

My Lilly pads were killing me, so as we strolled back to the hotel through Saint Germaine, the most important of the Haussmann boulevards, the girls tucked me in for a cup of delicious tea at the historic Cafe de Flore. 
On our way to dinner, one of the girls instantly recognized the steps from Midnight in Paris, just around the corner from the Pantheon. We waited patiently for our carriage to the past.

We found the past, at L'Ecurie. Complimentary aperitifs and digestifs were served with fresh bread and delicious aioli. The pate was delicious, and I would say our meat courses were O.K. It is tiny, so you need to go early and bring cash, or be prepared to walk down the hill to the Chinese ATM.

The beautiful view from my hotel window was a magical ending to our first day. 

Dovecote Decor has a huge
Art by Karena

Enter for a chance to win this beautiful chest!

The Chest is Solid Walnut with Oak and Brass
28"w x 22"d x 30"h
Faux Tortoise Fine Cast Brass
$1,200.00 retail value. 


  1. What an awesome day. It's been years since I've been to Paris--I really enjoyed "tagging along" with you and your beautiful daughters!

  2. Liz-
    Thank you for sharing your stroll through paris, lucky lady! Everything looks beautiful, and I appreciated your history lesson. Your accommodations look amazing too.
    Have a wonderful time.

  3. I'm headed to Paris next week for a week's vacation and staying on the Ile St Louis so your recomendations are hugely helpful. Can't wait to see what else you did on your trip.
    PS. it was so nice running into you at Highpoint again albeit briefly! Sorry we didn't get to chat long -next time!

  4. Paris, sigh. How lovely and thanks to you for the little escape from the rush of the holidays.

  5. Wow! What a trip! This is a fantastic post... definitely will save for future reference!

  6. What a wonderful 1st day Liz. I love seeing Paris through your eyes!! Your family is adorable!


    Art by Karena

  7. Bringing us along in your pocket is making Paris come alive. I LOVE PARIS and your trip sounds fantastic. Mary

  8. What a fun and exciting day! Thanks for taking us along to Paris. I am your newest follower.
    ~ Sherry

  9. What fun, darling!
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful pics!


  10. If I am ever blessed to be able to go to Paris...I now know exactly where I'll stay and where I'll visit, it sounds perfect...your images are so beautiful too!! Thanks so much for taking us was just the mini vacation I needed!
    xo J~

  11. Love love my little vicarious visit with you to the city of lights!! Looks like a marvelous family trip. I spy the adorable Liza there too!! Hope to see you sometime soon when you're visiting the two up here in my neck of the woods!!

  12. Ohmygoodness everything looks so beautiful! All of the buildings are gorgeous and I love the flower stand.

  13. OH DEAR. That last little DIVE is so charming, with the wonky and worn beams and tutoring. HOW LOVELY IS YOUR TRIP, reminding me of my Paris days when my husband and I walked from THE LATIN QUARTER TO THE EIFFEL TOWER...what were we thinking?

    THANK YOU for coming to visit me and turning up the music; it plays a big part in my thoughts!


  14. Ooh, what beautiful photographs! The hotel you stayed in is so quaint and charming - love it! :)

  15. I soaked up every word, every photo, with enthusiasm. Thanks for sharing your first day with us all. Still hard for me to imagine I now live just a few hours away via train. Looking forward to your following days!

    En vous souhaitant le meilleur des temps dans la belle Paris.

    x Deb

  16. Oh my gosh Liz! Your Paris DAY 1 was a full one, looked like a great mix of walking, sights, food, history and art! My ideal day. Am very jealous,

  17. The free walking tour of Paris was absolutely amazing! We had Onno as our guide by privatetoursinistanbul, he was knowledgeable about the history, answered all our questions and had a real passion for his job. We are a couple in our early 20s and this was probably our best day in Paris. We got a great back story on all the monuments and it just made seeing them in depth the next day so much more interesting. Its a free tour, Onno worked very hard and we were very pleased with how great it was. Well worth our time. He even ended it at a great authentic French restaurant, that was a great deal and so tastey. We loved it so much, that we did the Montmartre the next night. We got Onno again! Go at night!! He will show you an amazing view of the Sacre Coeur that tourist never see! So amazing and a nice glass of wine at the end. Onno even made sure everyone knew where they were headed at the end of the night, and gave us great directions to the airport for early flight the next day Thank you so much that provide this service to us,made our trip really great.

  18. Liz, I don't know why I just had this pop up on my Feed again but it was worth reading all over especially since I leave for Pari and London in a few days! I wrote down everything you said!


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