Paris, France: Day One – Left bank and the Trocadéro

At some point I should get started on those two-year-old France/Italy posts I promised, right? As I was writing out these posts, I was planning to spend a little time on each of the sights we went to. I quickly realized just how big of a task that was, as it’s been two years ago and a lot of the details have gone.

What’s left are impressions and emotions connected to those two weeks I spent just discovering new places.

So I’ll stick to full day recaps of my France and Italy trip with my good friend Ellen.

Église Saint-Sulpice

On our first full day in Paris, in the morning we went to hear Mass and listen to the organ concerto at Église Saint-Sulpice. Church of Saint-Sulpice. We walked from the metro stop, going down Rue du Vieux Colombier before hitting Place St Sulpice.

We didn’t get to see the fountain Fontaine Saint-Sulpice as there was some construction work ongoing and the area was walled off.

Eglise Saint-Sulpice towers

Eglise Saint-Sulpice

We said hello to Saints Peter and Paul, guarding the entrance.

Paul Peter

We took many photos.

Ellen in Eglise Saint-Sulpice

As the first church we visited in Paris, it was amazing and memorable in a special way to me. So much vastness; I felt both small and insignificant, and expansive and one with everything, while I was inside.

Saint-Sulpice interior People trickling in for Mass

Saint Michael slaying the dragon.

Saint Michael slaying the dragon

The church tabernacle and statue of Mary, by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle.

Saint-Sulpice tabernacle

The Saint-Sulpice pulpit.

Pulpit Under the pulpit

It might be the hour we chose to hear Mass, but it was one of the most peaceful Masses I’ve heard. Everyone was quiet and reverent, the very air seemed to calm me. The others would turn to us and shake our hands warmly, friendly smiles on their faces, as we exchanged tokens of peace.

I remember thinking it was the best way to start our Paris adventure.

We listened to the organ recital after the Mass. I think it is an acquired taste.

Saint-Sulpice organ

Afterwards, we had a lovely brunch at Cafe de la Mairie, Place St Sulpice. Chocolat chaud, ham and cheese omelette, and half a salad.

Chocolat chaud


Jardin du Luxembourg et Palais

After our brunch, we walked back up to Jardin du Luxembourg and Palais du Luxembourg. Luxembourg Gardens and Palace.

On the way to Luxembourg Gardens

This was the first public park, in my experience, where I was completely content to just sit around and do nothing. That’s not tough to beat, though: I’ve lived my whole life in tropical Asia where the heat and humidity just kills you. This time, the sun was high and there was almost no cloud in sight, but the cool breeze was refreshing and kept us from feeling like we were baking under the sun.

Which, of course, we actually were.

But it was a perfect day for relaxing anyway.

Jardin du Luxembourg Reading

Or sailing model boats.

Jardin du Luxembourg

This is Palais du Luxembourg. Luxembourg Palace is the seat of the French Senate.

Palais du Luxembourg

Palais du Luxembourg

The garden itself is properly sprawling, and we stayed a good while. Even so, I didn’t quite realize just how much we didn’t discover on our ramble.

One day, I will visit this garden again.

Luxembourg Gardens and Palace


Initially I thought this area was simply the abbey and the church. Ah, the ignorance of youth (cough). The abbey gave the area its name. It is Paris’ oldest church, and it stands where an earlier church was destroyed by the Vikings.

Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Inside, the colors and gilding took me by surprise. It is still painted in the medieval manner, and I didn’t quite expect it after coming from St-Sulpice.

Inside Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés Saint-Germain-des-Prés organ

Tombs and statues abound inside. There is Rene Descartes’ tomb, and I know I saw it when I was there, but I don’t have any decent photos of it.

So, here, have someone else’s.

John II Casimir Vasa

Sainte-Marguerite by Jacques Bourlet

Towards Île de la Cité

After the church, we continued walking on towards Île de la Cité, taking photos here and there, sitting down to people-watch and rest. Some streets were very crowded. Some where empty. We got lost. It was okay.

Door Alley walks L'Academie Francaise Fountain

We did find ourselves some delicious gelato. Amorino. I had salted caramel and amaretto.

Amorino queue Salted caramel and amaretto

We eventually found our way to the Seine.

Seine Île de la Cité

And just wandered around, heading to the Île de la Cité metro station to start our way towards Place du Trocadéro.

Lamp post

Île de la Cité

Île de la Cité

Place du Trocadéro

The Trocadéro is popular because of the view of La Tour Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower. There were plenty big tour buses that would come and go while we were there, mixing the tourists with people hawking souvenirs as well as pockets of performers here and there. We watched a group of breakdancers for a while. The sun was setting and made for difficult photographs.

Eiffel Ellen Eiffel

We discovered just how late the sunset is as we waited for the Eiffel lights to go up. The sun set a bit past 9 o’clock. We were so pleased to find out we had a lot of time to do some sightseeing, although in the days to come the long days made us very tired.

I had a very non-French hamburger (steak haché) for dinner at Schwartz’s Deli nearby. It was the only place that did not look too intimidating. At least Ellen had a more adventurous (and more French) beef tartare.

Pix b4 noms

No, I do not recommend trying to photograph food right in front of you with a 35mm lens.

You should also check out my friend’s posts about our day:

Thus ends the first day.