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Yesterday (or was it last night? isn’t it now morning?) I returned from a 10ish-day journey in France and Italy: Paris, Giverny, stopover in Lyon, Milan, Venice.

For a transportation planner, it was an exercise in logistics that worked out well on paper and worked in a geekily thrilling variety of public transit experiences.

For a human with an aging body in need of more than fleeting moments of restorative stillness, it was an ordeal.

For a dreamer in love with beautiful old buildings, cobblestones, flowering gardens, winding passageways, lyrical languages, and 19th century ballets featuring enchanted ladies in white, the journey was overflowing with delight.

The Paris part of the trip

Sunday, July 2: Boarded a plane in Seattle. Sleep did not happen during the 10.5 hour flight.

Monday, July 3: Disembarked at Charles de Gaulle airport. Waited two hours in the border police immigration control queue, served by a single station (surrounded by closed stations) that was itself closed for 20 minutes. What was this, border patrol strike day?  (Note to self: accept that parting bottle of water offered on the plane because there will be no fountain nor cafe nor vending machine to procure a beverage until after passport stampation.)

RoissyBus to the Opera Garnier. Slow hot walk to the Hotel 3 Poussins (near the Saint Georges Metro). Lunch at a small Himalayan restaurant nearby (momos!) until check-in time. I had booked this particular room for the view from the terrace and was not disappointed.


Can you spot the opera house?

First outing: a quick visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie to revisit Monet’s nymphées.

First ice cream: a gelato from a cart near the Pont des Arts, staffed by a friendly young woman who took great pride in sculpting the gelato she served. I should have photographed the lovely flower of ice cream she created. This sustained me for the walk to dinner.

Determined this time not to subsist entirely on food in boxes from the Monoprix, I had reserved a table at a fancy Italian vegetarian restaurant called Sense Eat, near the Mabillon Metro station. The food was exquisitely prepared and served, though not aligned with my flavor preferences, except for dessert.


second gelato of the trip

So I put down two gelati on the very first day, and successfully stayed awake until sunset. This felt like an achievement.

bon soir, Paris

bonne nuit, Paris

Tuesday, July 4: I explored the Gare Saint-Lazarre to get my bearings for upcoming train travel, the kindness of a Parisian lady on the street directing me to the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Musée du Luxembourg (Pissarro exhibit), Monoprix (mais oui, as there would be no time for a real dinner tonight), and the ballet La Sylphide at the Palais Garnier. Seeing this ballet in this theater was a dream. I sat very close to the stage, in a box on the extreme side, so didn’t get to see all the specially flying effects, but still.




Hugo Marchand and the sylphs bask in the applause

Back at the Trois Poussins, I enjoyed some wine with the Eiffel Tower before a good night’s sleep.


That’s the moon in the upper left corner.

To be continued…



  1. That’s a fine spoon at the fancy vegetarian restaurant. Did you think to yourself, “Gee, Michael’d really like this spoon.”

    • Oops, no, sorry. But I did have that thought for several disposable takeaway gelato spoons.

  2. Ah this all looks so fantastic!!

    • The Paris part was! This trip I felt like I could enjoy being in Paris (at least the familiar spots and streets) without having to work to hard at it.

  3. How did you do it? I’d probably collapse in a hotel room and lie in a coma, missing all the wonderful sights and shows. I have to pace myself when I travel now, otherwise I end up too sore or exhausted to move.

    I’m glad you made it to the Palais Garnier. But the sylphs didn’t just fly by themselves? :D

    • Physically I didn’t do it all that well, especially after bashing my ribcage and knee in Giverny. Not sure how I managed not to get sick. But staying up the whole first day to get on track time-zone wise really helped with the going-to-sleep part. On the flipside, the first few days after getting home have been really weird sleep-wise, and I’ve been moving very, very slowly. Feels like I aged considerably on that trip.

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