WOW! My first time in Paris. What a beautiful city! I did NOT find any of the people I encountered to be rude, even though I heard that warning from so many people before I traveled.
My boss at the embassy agreed to send me to Paris for a greening and environmental workshop. Part of the workshop was to be at the American ambassador’s residence. When asked if I wished to attend, it took me about 0.002 nanoseconds to answer yes!
The flight to Paris from Madrid, Spain was uneventful. While descending to the Paris airport, one could easily spot the Eiffel Tower from the plane.
After landing, it took about an hour to get to the hotel by taxi. That was due in part to traffic and in part to distance. When I got to the Hotel Regina Louvre (it is directly across the street from the Louvre Museum) and checked-in, the desk clerk asked if I was alone. That seemed to be a rather odd question, but I responded that I was alone. She said I was lucky because my room had been upgraded.
When I entered the room I discovered what she was talking about. The room was actually a suite! Walking into the room, one is in an entryway. In that entryway were three armoires, side-by-side, one of which contained a minibar. Leaving the entryway, one comes into a large sitting room or parlor. Off of the sitting room is a large bathroom complete with his and her bathrobes. Off of the other side of the sitting room is the bedroom. It is very large, with a king-size bed. off of the bedroom is another full bathroom, even larger than the other one.
After I got myself settled, I went out to walk around. Little did I know my walk would end up being 11.6 kilometers (7.23 miles). Note for anyone considering a similar march; wear something other than deck shoes! By the time I returned to the hotel, my feet were killing me! Tennis or walking shoes would have been a much better choice.
The march began as I crossed between the Louvre Museum and the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens), walking south toward the Seine River. I crossed over the river to the left bank via the Pont du Carrousel (Carrousel Bridge). There I found many street vendors selling copies of famous art, postcards, etc. I ended up buying a map of Spain and Portugal dating from the 1890s. It is printed in French. The price of 10€ (US$12.40) made me very skeptical of the authenticity, but that did not deter my purchase.
I continued along the left bank to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris Cathedral). From Notre Dame, I crossed the island, Île de la Cité (City Island) and stopped at a sidewalk café on the other side of the Seine. I sat there, had a glass of white wine while I caught my breath, and watched the people. After some time, I decided to get something to eat. I ordered a bowl of French onion soup and an assortment of cheeses. The cheeses included bleu and brie, neither of which I really like. Regardless, I did eat quite a bit of each. I ended up having another glass of wine to wash everything down.
When I finished my “meal,” I began my walk to the Eiffel Tower. There are many sights to see on the left bank. One of the odder sights I happened across was a boat wedged against one of the piers of the Pont d’Léna (Léna Bridge). I can only assume the boat lost power and ended up stuck at the bridge. There were several first-responders on the scene. Since they did not seem frantic, I hoped there were no significant injuries in the mishap.
I continued on to the Eiffel Tower. I was quite tired by the time I got there. That may have influenced my decision to merely look at the tower from the ground and not to go up onto the tower. The other part of that decision was the length of the queue of people waiting. I wanted no part of that.
Crossing the Seine again, I began my march back to my hotel. It seemed I might never make it back! Regardless, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and was finally able to collapse in my hotel room.
Tomorrow I plan to go to the Louvre Museum. Note to self; wear more comfortable shoes.
After buying my entrance ticket, I made a beeline to the Mona Lisa. I wanted to try to get to that very popular painting before it was mobbed by other tourists. It was quite spectacular to see the Mona Lisa in person; although, one can get no closer than about 25 feet to the painting.
The Louvre is by far the largest I have ever been in, ever! In fact, the Louvre is the largest museum in the world. I may break my record of 11.6 kilometers yesterday just in the museum!
After walking through many of the wings of the museum, I had to sit down near the main entry. I was absolutely out of gas. I decided to take a quick look at the bookstore and then head back to the hotel for a well-deserved nap.
The next morning, breakfast was a little strange compared to what one might expect in the U.S. Instead of sitting at a table of my own, the server directed me to a table with six chairs. Another couple was just leaving that table. So for a short time sat by myself. Then the server sat another gentleman beside me. He happened to be from Washington, D.C. He is in the energy business with Lockheed Martin, here for the same event I am attending. We had a nice conversation, but it was just a little strange to be seated with a stranger.
That evening, after the workshop, I met up with four of the other attendees to go out to dinner. We went to a small restaurant about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The name of the restaurant is Chez Flottes. It was tremendous. I had a wonderful, delicious steak. We all shared a bottle of wine.
It was interesting to discuss issues of common concern with some more seasoned facility managers. In situations such as that, I always try to take in all I can for future use and reference.
The following day, when I returned to my room from the workshop, I discovered the hotel staff delivered a bottle of wine and some various candies. I am not sure that I could have gotten much luckier.
In the evening the workshop attendees met for a mixer at the 1357ish Paris City Hall. What a striking municipal building that was!
On the final day of the workshop, we met in the ambassador’s residence. Another striking Parisian site. One bit of history of the residence that was shared with the attendees is that the home was used as a Nazi SS officers’ club during World War II. The home looked to me like something directly out of the movie The Dirty Dozen. It is also huge, about 6,689 square meters (72,000 square feet). Certainly not as nice as the Louvre or City Hall, but it was not bad.