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Checking in to Paris

The Hotel de Rivoli where I stayed in Paris.

If you remember my post “First time traveling to Europe”, the train ride between Berlin and Paris came with some adventure. I arrived at Gare de Nord a little drained from my worry but not too run down. It was near le Marais (4th district), the area where my hotel was, Hotel de Rivoli. The train station was quite massive but easy to navigate to leave. I pulled up a map to figure out where to go to get to my hotel, which ensured I got right there without any turn arounds. Finally, I felt like I could get around more easily.

Paris map by neighborhood – see more

Checking in to my hotel

When I arrived at my hotel, the desk clerk was a little occupied. However, it didn’t take long for him to get to me. I spoke in French and told him I had a reservation. I remember he asked me if I preferred to speak in English or French. I said I preferred French. He described the usual things, like check out time and meal times for their in hotel café, but I caught very little of it. It was still cool and helped me gauge how much French I thought I might use while there. I immediately committed to speaking French only when ordering food or in those spontaneous moments when it seemed like there would only be a quick exchange of familiar conversation.

Once I was done checking in, I went up to my cozy room and settled in. Of course, it was close to diner time, but I relaxed for a short while. After resting, I was excited to go out and check out Paris. I mean, I was in fucking Paris! Dinner was on my mind, and what better place could I get dinner than in Paris.

Le Gribouille restaurant just down the street from my hotel.

My first Parisian dinner and seeing Americans

On my way out, I talked to a gay couple who were staying there. The one guy I talked to most was Robert. He and his husband were from Miami. They got married in DC between legal events that allowed gay marriage for a short while. That was after the Supreme Court struck down sodomy and before Florida overturned the law within the state. His husband works at Disney World, so they went to Euro Disney on their trip. I can only imagine what that must be like to be able to travel the world because of your job. What a perk.

Parlez-vous français, garçon?

I walked around a little to see what my options were for eating. There was a group of restaurants only a few blocks away from my hotel, but I walked around a bit before deciding to settle on the choices so easily within my grasp. I ended up eating at Le Gribouille, a quaint brasserie with patio dining and picnic like decoration on tables.

A host directed me to a small table facing out into the street but inside. I went through the menu and found it difficult to pick just one dish. However, I also felt like I needed something healthy, so I went with a delicious salad with some flavorful creamy toast on top. I saved the less healthy option for dessert: a coated poached pear. Mmmmmmmm.

The Seine river that runs through Paris.

As I ordered, the server realized instantly French was not my first language. He spoke to me in English, but I replied in French. It was like that nearly the whole time I was there. However, at the very end of the meal, he was speaking to his coworkers in French. I turned and asked for the check, and he replied in French. I think he either gave up or just finally preferred to stay in French at that point.

My first glance at Paris

I spent a little time walking around to look at where things were. I found the metro stations nearest me, which I used later. I also found amazingly skinny streets and electric cars you could use similar to the Car2Go program here in Portland. I made my way to a bridge to take a look at the Seine that runs through Paris. It felt so awesome to be there in person. Of course, the river looks like a river, but the architecture that runs along it makes it feel more ancient than other rivers.

After a short while, my exhaustion took over, and I headed back to my hotel. I could hardly wait to get up the next morning and begin my adventures in Paris.

First time traveling to Europe post – read more

Le Gribouille brasserie – visit their site

Autolib (Libre comme l’air) car rentals – read more

My cozy room (#201) at the Hotel Rivoli.

The beautiful salad with toast I ordered.

Sugary pear dessert

One of the tiny “streets” I found in the area I stayed.

Electric car rental with Libre Comme L’air (As free as air) along the side of the car.

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