My Trip toFrance

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Frank and I flew Air France on Friday evening, receiving a nice dinner, which included a prociutto and melon appetizer and had very nice Bordeaux.  We arrived in Paris on Saturday morning at around 11am.  Our driver was a young man named Benoit - a Parisian studying mechanical engineering in Bourges at the ENSIB (Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Ingenieurs de Bourges) - the engineering school where the Robotics Competition was taking place. He took us on a nice tour of the Bois de Boulogne (Boulogne Woods) and through the city, down the Seine (to a little area where he had to pick up some equipment) by all of the houseboats and then north towards Montmartre where our hotel was. We were hungry so we stopped and had the most remarkable cheese and wine Fondue at a small café.  First impression: everyone in France is thin and smokes.
An American in Paris
Our hotel in Montmartre was very like the tiny room Gene Kelly had in An American in Paris.  The elevator was so tiny that you could only fit in two people or one person and some luggage.  We had a great view from our 5th floor room.  The bathroom was so tiny you can't imagine.  We dropped off our things and walked down the lovely streets past all of the open air markets (where I took photos of the gorgeous vegetables!), butchers, cheese shops, sausage shops, roasting butchers, gourmet shops, flower stalls, wine shops….to the subway.  Our first stop of course was the Eiffel Tower.  Rain had been predicted and it had rained for a minute while we were eating lunch but the sun came out and it was a clear 70-degree day.  The Eiffel Tower is such an engineering delight!  The line was not too long and we stopped at the second landing and then rode the lift to the top!  What a view!!  This is a great first place to go because you can see all of Paris (and much more) and look at all of the places you want to visit and get a sense of direction.  We could see the Sacre Coeur cathedral on the hill in Montmartre, our home…all of the gardens, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Cathedrals and Museums and the beautiful Seine winding it's way through the most beautiful city in Europe.
The Statue of Liberty
Our next walk was to the small island where the small version of the Statue of Liberty is kept.  It is a great little place, a tiny tree lined walk off one of the (36!) bridges, but as we approached we noticed that the statue was not there -only a box saying that it was in Tokyo for the year! We continued to the other bridge and over to have a bowl of onion soup and some more Bordeaux (always the cheap house Bordeaux that is better than any wine you have ever tasted!). We walked back along the Seine to the parks across from the Eiffel Tower as the sun was setting.  The fountains in the parks were marvelous and just as we arrived the lights on the tower came on and soon after the lights in the fountains.  We walked up the stairs to the landing where the skaters, soccer players, kids, and souvenir salesmen were and took some pictures.  It was very romantic.  When we arrived back in Montmartre the Moulin Rouge was all lit up and busy (we were going that Friday night) and we got a baguette, cheese, tomato and basil sandwich before climbing up the hill, and back to our room.
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