Bonjour Paris 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our American Airlines flight arrived on time at Charles de Gaulle International Airport after a nine-and-a-half-hour flight from DFW Airport. We gathered our luggage and hopped on a private van for a one-hour ride to our hotel, the Ares Eiffel. Autumn is definitely in the air as the temperature was cool and leaves have started changing colors. The city is bustling with traffic and people hurrying about their daily business.

Our hotel is located on rue du General de Larminat, a very quiet street. It is about ten-minute walk from Paris' most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, and a couple of blocks away from restaurants, shops, bakeries, and a metro station.

Linda, Danh and Martine were given a room with two beds and Lee and I took a single-bed room on the same floor. Martine and Danh found this hotel after months of searching and I am glad they did. What struck me about the hotel and its rooms is the decorations.
Hotel Ares Eiffel, Paris
Our room was painted with a light moss green color, its new marble bathroom incorporates materials designed by Versace, and its ceiling is outlined with intricate moldings. It has a very comfortable bed, flat screen TV and free Wi-Fi service. We paid $280 a night for our room and it is definitely worth the price.

After a quick rest, we proceeded to see the City.
Linda, Lee and Martine in hotel lobby
Quick lunch at a cafe on Ave La Motte Piquet
Martine, her husband Danh, Linda and Lee
Linda, Lee and Martine in front of a flower shop near the hotel
Posing for picture at a boulangerie

After a quick lunch at a café on Avenue La Motte Picquet and window shopping at the local flower shop and bakery, we took the subway to the Trocadero Station to see the Eiffel Tower.
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At the Trocadero Plaza looking toward Eiffel Tower
Danh and Bo near the Eiffel Tower
Rockettes in the making?
Lee, Martine and Linda near the Trocadero Fountain
Eiffel Tower
Before we left the US, we had bought a Paris Pass that includes 4 days of visits to all major museums, unlimited metro rides, a cruise on the Seine River and round trip rail tickets to the Versailles Chateau.

After milling around the Eiffel Tower, We then boarded a boat to tour the Seine River and were amazed of the elaborate bridges and buildings crossing and lining along the river.

Martine and Danh soaking in Paris scenery
Getting off the boat, we took the subway to Arc de Triomphe, a monument constructed to celebrate French war victories, then walked down one of the most prestigious avenues in the world, Champs-Elysees. Here, the tree-lined boulevard is packed with sidewalk cafes, restaurants of all ethnicities, and high-end shops. We had a dinner of steak, kangaroo meat, scallops, shrimps and fish and they all were delicious.
We're at Arc de Triomphe
Taking a break from site-seeing on Champs-Elysees
The Louis Vuitton Store on Champs-Elysees
Our first day in Paris has ended. We went back to the hotel to get some rest and get ready for a big day tomorrow when we will be touring the Louvre.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Waking up after a night of restful sleep, we were ready to hit more Parisian sites. Martine and Danh (who had already done a 7-mile run along the river), and Linda met us at the hotel lobby and off we went. Around the corner we found a crepe place and had a breakfast of jambon and mushroom crepes. They were good.

Interesting "POINT WC" Store
Meeting at hotel lobby
Egg & jambon crepe and dessert
Danh and Martin having crepe breakfast
Suzette crepe place on Grennell Street
From there we took the subway to the Louvre Museum. This incredible museum houses over 35,000 pieces of art. We spent almost three hours there and were able to see the four best known pieces: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, The Raft of the Medusa; and Odalisque.
From the subway to the Louvre
Enormous vaulted chamber inside the Louvre
Danh and Martine are excited
At the Mona Lisa, one of our four must-see pieces
Bo, Lee, Martine and Danh admiring the Mona Lisa
They came to Paris for the arts
Venus de Milo, the Greek goddess of love and beauty
"The Raft of the Medusa". A huge painting that depicts the wreckage of French battleship, the "Meduse"
Coming out of the Louvre, we went up to the ground level through IM Pei's glass pyramid and were amazed of the Louvre immense size. I'll just let the pictures speak for me.
"Odalisque", the Ottoman female slave
By the way, outside the Louvre is a shopping center in which Danh found a private shop called "PointWC" that provides clean, high-end restrooms to customers. The restrooms are decorated with fresh flowers, and sprinkled with soft lighting and music. If you ever come to the Louvre, you would want to try this.
Inside the Grand Pyramid
Bo and Lee at water fountain in front of the glass pyramid
Danh and Martine
Different colored tissue papers
After the Louvre, we went to St Paul Area of the City and this area is also full of shops and restaurants and we had lunch at a quaint little place called La Maison
Street scene in the St Paul Neighborhood
Bicycles for rent
Lunch at La Maison
We spent the rest of the day at the Garden Tulieries near the Louvre, the Notre Dame and the Left Bank where we had a dinner of escargots, mussels, salmon and steak. We then went back to the Trocadero Neighborhood to see the light show at the Eiffel Tower. That was a good day!

Linda and Martine in Garden Tulieries
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Lee and Martine in Garden Tulieries
We are at the Notre Dame
On the side of the Notre Dame
Restaurant Row in The Left Bank
Meat being cooked everywhere
Dinner in The Left Bank
Escargots and mussels
Martine and Danh in Trocadero in front of a lit-up Eiffel Tower
Bo and Lee
Linda and Martine
I am signing off now. Danh will write on my blog about our activities during the next two days but for now, good night from Paris.
Martine, Bo, Lee and Linda

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