We’re finally here!

The first day is always a bit of a mess, and this one has been no different. The plane landed at about 8:40 am Paris time (which is 1:40 am in Kansas City) after an 8 hour flight. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that the Charles de Gaulle airport is not actually in Paris – it’s about 6 kilometers outside the city. There are various ways to travel those last 6 kilometers, but my personal favorite is the RER, a local train which runs to important spots like the airport that are outside the city and connects them to Paris’ Métro (subway) system. By the time we’d gotten to the RER station, bought tickets, rode into Paris, made the connecting subways, and found our hotel, it was already 11:30 am Paris time – and we hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet!

So stop number one was the Royal Bergère café just around the corner from the hotel. The view from our sidewalk table is the featured image for this post 🙂 We had a lovely brunch of coffee, orange juice, tartines with butter and orange marmalade, salads, and omelettes. However…I was really hungry, so I only bothered to take a picture of the first course, sorry!

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But after breakfast, we explored the area just south of our hotel, wandering down to and then along the Seine river (the major river that runs through the middle of Paris). Along the way, we stumbled across this Sunday market street! These markets pop up for very specific times – for example, this one only appears to exist for a few hours in the middle of the day on Sunday – but they are a major aspect of French culture and in fact how many French people do their normal grocery shopping. They will include everything from fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood, cheese, bread, sausage, and more, all made by experts who specialize in making just that particular kind of food.

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Our main focus, however, was the Notre Dame de Paris! Yes, there is more than one Notre Dame…

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The Notre Dame de Paris is huge, beautiful, and of course extremely famous! However, it does attract quite a crowd every day of people who want to see this amazing cathedral. The problem France faces is then how to make sure this huge crowd stays safe every single day? Well, in many busy areas in France such as this, they deploy the security forces:

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Yes, those are soldiers with military-grade weapons patrolling the streets of Paris. Guns are very unusual here, which makes these guys all the more surprising – and intimidating. However, they are generally kind and knowledgable about the area, so they will often help tourists with things like giving directions as well.

There may be another post later tonight – it is only 4:45 here so we are going to head back out for dinner at least. However, jet lag might win out, so no promises! Comment on this post for a chance to enter today’s souvenir drawing and check back later to see if we managed to do anything else awesome on day #1 🙂

And a big congratulations to Rilee Morrow for winning the pre-trip drawing from last Saturday, June 4th! Woohoo! I will try to post winners on each day’s blog post, but you can also find a comprehensive list at the “Winner’s Circle” link at the top of the page.

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