July 20 : Arrive in Paris

Amazingly, I have flown on a plane and we’ve made it to Paris. We jet through the airport and pick up our trusty steed at the Charles De Gaulle stables. He is small, he is weak, he is quirky but he has a giant heart so we will call him Andre. Andre will carry us to amazing sights over the next three weeks. He will humm queitly over bucolic landscapes and through ancient cities. He will provide us shelter on some nights and a sleepy siesta slumber nook during some late afternoons, but Andre will never complain. His first job is taking us into Paris.

Ahhh, Paris. So much to see. So much to do. But Paris is not the purpose of this trip. It’s simply a place to rest for one night, to get our legs and prepare for the long road ahead. Of course, Andre will take us on a short tour around town. Some things have to be seen – even if it’s just a glimpse.

We make our way through town toward Montmartre and the Boulevard de Clichy and our lodging for the night, Hotel Le Chat Noir. Yes, that Le Chat Noir, home of the very first, modern cabaret and, of course, the famous poster.

We’ll make our way down to the famous bar – perhaps try a chartreuse or absinthe – then walk the seedy neighborhood, a weird mix of tourist traps, porn shops, historic buildings, artists lofts and upscale restaurants. We’ll find a great place to eat and walk the boulevard down to Moulin Rouge. Maybe we’ll see a show. Maybe I’ll just serenade you.

All the while, Sacre Coeur will peek at us from it’s perch atop Montmartre. We’ll catch a glance here and there past trees and buildings, standing like a white palace bathed in soft light. Sacre Coeur has winked and flirted at us all night long so we decide to climb the long stairs to see it in full glory before we end our night, tired and sleepy but buzzing about the magical weeks that lay ahead.