Paris is always a good idea

After spending time with Nanci’s family in New York, we headed off for our next destination – Paris, France!  American Novelist James Baldwin said of Paris – “It is perfectly possible to be enamoured of Paris while remaining totally indifferent or even hostile to the French.”  While I was not really indifferent or hostile to the French, my sense of being was certainly questioned while there due an unfortunate event.

We arrived in Paris around 7:00am local time on Monday morning.  After being on the long flight from New York, we were both looking forward to finally stretching our legs and dropping our bags off to start exploring.  Before heading to baggage claim, I popped in my travel SIM card in my cell phone so I could use a local plan for coverage for our Europe travels.  We collected the luggage and then finally figured out where to meet up for our pre-arranged transfer.  As we zipped along towards Paris, I started checking my emails.  After flipping through some work emails, I spotted a peculiar email titled “Urgent-Luggage at CDG” on my personal email account.  Upon opening it, I discovered the sender was reaching out to me because I inadvertently picked up the wrong suitcase (we both have green Away suitcases – side note that Away bags are AMAZING bags!).  I could hardly believe what I was reading!  In all the times I’ve traveled, I’ve never picked up the wrong bag before!  I was mortified!  I immediately responded to her that I would verify that I had her bag once we arrived to our hotel.  Once there, I was able to confirm the mistake I made!  She assured me that she had waited for my response before leaving the airport so she had my suitcase and provided the address where she was staying so I could meet her to exchange our bags!

Nanci dropped her bags at the hotel and we hopped in an Uber to the address she gave us.  It was only about 20 minutes away but I was definitely still in shock over my mistake!  It was cold and rainy and we spotted the Eiffel tower on our way but I was still freaking out a little.  The address was at a fairly nondescript building (not a hotel) so I emailed her that I had arrived and was outside.  She was still in route but after a few moments, a young woman came to the door to let us in to wait.  We discovered there was a group of friends in Paris to celebrate a birthday and the owner of the bag was arriving today for the festivities!  As bad as I felt for making such a stupid mistake, I was very relieved that I had chosen to add my email address to my luggage tag.  About 30 minutes went by and we were finally able to exchange suitcases as I apologized profusely for my mistake!

Proper luggage in hand, we headed back to the hotel to drop off that bag and were lucky enough to get an early check-in.  We opted to take a power nap so we could be fresh for our first booked site since neither of us had much sleep on the flight from New York.    While I’m not usually much of a napper, I will say a 3 hour nap did us a world of good!  With our invigorated energy, we headed off to see the Eiffel Tower.

I think I enjoyed our trip to the Eiffel Tower the most during our time in Paris.  We had tickets just around sunset so it was beautiful seeing the colors in the sky change as we ascended the different levels for the lifts to the top.  Nanci wearing her UGA hat (was cold and very windy that evening) quickly made friends with some people from the US which helped pass the time in the queue.  Once arriving at the top, we were rewarded with some amazing views!


After staring at the tower all lit up, we headed off to get a proper dinner before calling it a day.  The next day, we headed to the Palace at Versailles.  One word to describe the palace – excessive!



Hall of Mirrors


After grabbing a bite at a little cafe, we decided to rent a golf cart to check out the gardens.



Our fearless driver!

After Versailles, we had a fun evening planned to see the Féerie show at Moulin Rouge.  We decided to buy Metro tickets so we could get around without relying solely on Uber.  So we headed down to Moulin Rouge early so we could take some pics of the outside.


Pics aren’t allowed inside the venue but I snapped this one from the outside.

We were seated at a table with 3 professional Australian football players.  They were really nice guys and were excited to see the show.  My naïve self really didn’t believe there would be nudity – I was wrong.  But topless dancers aside, the show was truly amazing!  The entire cast was very talented and I would definitely recommend to anyone!

We were hungry after the show let out and decided on a little Indian place right down the street from Moulin Rouge.  We had a great meal then headed back to the metro station to make our way back to the hotel.  This is when the day took a sour turn….

We were on the on the metro with about 20 other people in our car.  It was after midnight.  I was scrolling on my cell phone looking at Instagram.  When we came to one of the stops, a young man (he was probably in his early 20s) snatched my phone out of my hand and ran off the train with 2 other guys.  It happened in a split second and yet it felt like an eternity before my mind registered what had just happened!  Some locals on the train asked if he had just stolen my phone and I recall one remarking “welcome to Paris” in a sarcastic but sympathetic tone.  They assured me that thieves also frustrate them and that they give Parisians a bad name.  Still in shock, several of the other commuters helped us figure out where we needed to go as we had a transfer coming up.  Once we got to our next train, we spotted a couple of police on the platform so we quickly got off the train to talk to them.  That proved to be a mistake as 1) they really did not seem interested in assisting me at all (they told me to go to my hotel and ask which precinct was closest so I could file an incident report) and 2) we realized we got off the last train for the evening headed where were needed to go.  Once again, a local was very kind and assisted us getting us to an alternative stop to get us as close to our destination as possible.

Once back at the hotel, I used my iPad to immediately lock the phone under my iCloud account.  In speaking with Apple, they assured me that as long as the phone stays in a locked status on my iCloud, the phone would not be usable, even if the thief somehow figured out my password lock.  While this made me feel a little better, it was still little help to the fact that I was thousands of miles from home without my cell phone.  And the reality that I would have to spend money to buy a replacement phone set in.

The next morning we talked to the front desk clerk at our hotel who was shocked at what happened.  She said she could tell us the station for the police but that in reality, I’d never see the phone again and I would probably spend many hours waiting to make a report. I decided to just count my blessings that it was just my phone that was snatched and we made our way to the Louvre (via the Metro) since we had a 9am scheduled entry time.  The queue was slow and we didn’t stay very long (we actually spent the majority of our time seeing the Leonardo DaVinci special exhibition).

After the Louvre, we grabbed an Uber to the Apple store on Champe-Élysées.  After dropping way more money than I wanted, I had a new iPhone and we were back in business!  We then checked out the Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful Sacre Coeur (which offers amazing views of the city).

For our last evening in Paris, we had dinner at a place (Le Relais De L’entrecôte) recommended to me by a friend.  It’s a little restaurant that serves only salad, steak and fries.  People wait outside for the restaurant to open (we stood in line for nearly an hour and we made it into the first round of people seated).  The waitress only asks how you want your steak cooked and then the rest is automatic.  The steak, which is a cut of sirloin, is served in small strips covered in a secret sauce which is absolutely delicious along with homemade french fries.  It’s an experience and the food is remarkable!

Full from dinner, we headed back to the hotel to pack for the next part of our adventure – London!