Next stop on the World War 2 (WW2) tour is Paris—my third trip, David’s first. We only have the day, so we decide to see what we can on foot and the Seine River cruise while planning a longer future trip.
The bus drops us off at 9:30 am on the Avenue Des Champs-Elysees for a day on our own. We all look down the avenue to the Arc d’ Triumph and contemplate how different this monumental, vibrant city compares to the small French and German villages we have experienced so far on the trip. Paris doesn’t promote its WW2 history, but we immediately recall the June 1940 photos of German soldiers passing under the Arc in symbolic retaliation for losses in World War 1, and those of the Parisians celebrating in the streets several years later when Charles de Gaulle returned in triumph.
We walk in the direction of the Louvre until the shops on the Avenue Des Champs-Elysees open around 11 am. David is an auto aficionado, so the chic Citroën, Toyota, Peugeot, and Renault showrooms are a must visit. The crowds near the Louvre are large and the lines too long, so given our schedule, we list that for the next trip and meet another couple from our group for lunch at an outdoor café near the Jarden des Tuileries.
The rest of the afternoon is shopping for gifts and then the Seine river cruise. Key sites on the cruise include many Parisian neighborhoods. Paris history, mostly pre-19th century, is pointed out along the way, especially the Ile de la Cite´ where the city was established in the 3rd century BCE. As the boat changes course, we have the opportunity to view Notre Dame Cathedral from several perspectives.
The French Food Of Course!
That evening we experience French cuisine at Les Noces de Jeannette, a favorite of our tour guide, on a small street, Rue Favart. It is very Belle ´Époque. For appetizer most of us choose the Quiche Lorraine or terrine de saumon over the Escargots. Leg of duck in orange sauce isn’t as popular as the Boeuf Bourguignon or the filet de cabillaud au beurre blanc (cod in butter cream sauce). Fromage and pastries are the finishing touch. Of course, red and white wine flow throughout the evening.
Our city of lights bus tour arrives at the Eiffel Tower on the hour as the illumination show begins. Beautiful dancing lights. Daily since 1985 for five minutes on the hour from sundown to 1 am, the tower sparkles. I wonder what Gustav Eiffel would think. Would he be surprised that his artistry remains the symbol of Paris? Built as a monument for the World Exhibition in 1889, the tower wasn’t supposed to be permanent and was threatened several times. But technology saved it. It was a perfect platform for antennas.
Our next trip to Paris will include favorite places we didn’t have time for: Montmartre; Musee d´ Orsay; the Louvre; a tour of Notre Dame Cathedral; a visit to Shakespeare and Company bookstore for David the book collector; and a search for more World War 1 and 2 histories.
Next time: WW1 Battlefields: Verdun and the Lost Battalion
Ann Otto writes fiction based on factual as well as oral history. Her debut novel, Yours in a Hurry, about Ohio siblings relocating to California in the 1910’s, is available on-line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and at locations listed on her website at www.ann-otto.com. Ann’s academic background is in history, English, and behavioral science, and she has published in academic and professional journals. She loves speaking with groups about all things history, writing, and the events, locations, and characters from Yours in a Hurry. She is currently working on her next novel, Little Diamonds, about Ohio’s Appalachia in the 1920’s, and preparing for future works by blogging about a recent World War 2 European tour. She can be reached through the website, or on Facebook @Annottoauthor or www.Goodreads.com.