Brace yourselves… we have arrived! No delays, smooth flight, nice weather here (cool but clear), no sad faces at all. First impression? The locals here are really nice, stopping to help with directions and most speak English and smile, ammused at my very bad French.
We found our apartment where Timothe, Violet and baby Sarah were waiting for us. We settled in quickly and set out on foot to explore the neighborhood. First up and right around the corner from our apartment, the magnificent white Sacre Coeur church. Built in the 1800s on the highest point in Montmartre, it is essentially a circular church with 360 degrees of stained glass, sculptures and painted frescoes. We climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the dome for a breathtaking view all across Paris. Wonderful! Although busy enough, the massive crowds of summer tourists have not arrived yet so we could move around easily.
Next we strolled through the art district enjoying the artists interacting with tourists, past the Moulin Rouge burlesque club in the red light district (totally respectable, at least on a Saturday afternoon), past beautiful gardens in full bloom, all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. Here, Napoleon gloriously marched his army after conquering most of Europe and declaring himself Emperor in the early 1800s. The Arc is a stunning structure with incredible sculptures inside and out. The Champs Elysees (main Paris thorough fare) runs under the Arc and straight to the Louvre Museum 4 km east in the heart of the city.
We strolled back toward our apartment, purchased some fresh fruit and pastries, found a pizza takeout, bought a nice bottle of wine and turned in for the day… tired and happy. The forecast for tomorrow looks great for more sightseeing.