Paris - Day 1: Metro Jazz Fusion
We landed in Paris about 24 hours ago. Getting off of the plane I was starting to get ready for the trip ahead to the RER and then the Metro and then our hotel, and to see Paris for the first time. The airport is quite nice at CDG, and we didn’t have to go through any additional screening or a passport check when we landed. I thought for sure we would need to get our passports checked again. Oh, by the way, we ended up going through security in Iceland for the EU, which was similar to going through it in the US. Similar enough that I almost ended up dropping my pants for the inspector because I had to take off my belt and my shorts don’t exactly fit snugly anymore.
After getting to the Notre Dame station, I realized that I was entirely confused by the Paris metro signage. I had known on the map that I looked at before we left that we needed to go to the Cluny-La Sorbonne station and then from there on to the next station down to minimize our walking to the hotel, but I couldn’t see the words Cluny-La Sorbonne anywhere and there didn’t seem to be any indication of the correct color-coded on the signage as well. I also was a bit nervous because at that point we were walking down the street with everything that we had brought to paris including our museum passes and all of our clothing. I was feeling a bit exposed. We ended up finding both the way to the wrong metro track (the one that goes by the Eiffel, I found out later) and the other RER track before I finally figured out by the stations marked. I should have paid more attention to the fact that the lines are marked with their terminal destinations rather than their colors most of the time. I also could have figured out the numbers that I was supposed to run, because it was pretty clear once I figured I was supposed to be on line 10 headed toward Gare d’Austerlitz.
So after minor trouble, we finally arrived at our hotel - Hotel Abbatial Saint-Germain, completely jet lagged and tired. Our room is quite small, but the hotel is about a block from the seine and Notre Dame, so I think it is a good location. It is also clean and everything seems to work, which was a problem the last time that I decided to book a hotel in a metro area in Europe. It will be a good base of operations. We unpacked and put the importants into the safe, and promptly took a 3-5 hour nap.
After we were a little more rested, we changed for going out to our first Paris meal. I was a bit worried that I would get everyting wrong, picking up the wrong forks, sitting down at the wrong spot, ordering incoherently, and such. I steeled myself for being horrible at Paris. We walked down the street to the Cafe du Metro which is fairly nice and open to foreigners with an english language menu even available outside. I ordered the beef steak with fries and Diana got ham sandwich with cheese on top. I’m not exactly sure that she was supposed to have cheese on top as well, but it was definitely delicious from her review. She also got some fromage on a plate which was very delicious (she kindly shared).
After dinner, we decided to walk around the neighborhood a little. I wanted to see our first monument as Notre Dame was definitey within walking distance. As we walked toward the Seine, some people were behind us and seemed to be in a hurry. Diana asked “sorry, are we in your way?” Immediately the response came back - “I don’t know, what is your way?” from a quite happy it seemed Frenchman. He explained quickly that he was headed to a jazz club to see his friend in a jam session, and would we like to come to see his friend? Normally I am quite wary of people being this friendly so quickly, so I was wary, but I figured that I still had my wits about me. So we walked along the Seine and around the neighborhood looking for the bar that his friend was going to play at, and got to know his friend Lisa, who was really happy to be meeting someone from Chicago originally.
We ended up in the La Guillotine Pub, or more specifically, downstairs in Le Caveau des Oubliettes. True to the man’s word, there was a bunch of Jazz being played in the basement, which was a 19th century cellar at least, and it had a lot of stuff on the walls. We each had a beer and listened to the band play out the rest of it’s set. Somehow, we had accidently stumbled on one of my goals of visiting a jazz bar while we in Paris. Still a bit tired so we did not stay long, also the drinks were quite expensive (€ 7 for a small beer).
Afterwards, we walked and saw Notre Dame up close at night. I took some pictures with my phone. It was a successful first day in Paris, I think I’m already going to like it here.