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What I Learned From My Paris Vacation

Thursday, October 06, 2011

My DH ( Dear Husband) and I had been planning a trip to Paris, our first trip in Europe, for many years, and always something would get in the way of those plans. Finally, this month, we had our vacation and really enjoyed the city; it’s people, history, and most importantly, each other. After 39 years of marriage I had not been sure we would know what to do with each other for 10 whole days without “work” or kids interrupting us! So this indeed was very much a bonus!

I had been more than a bit anxious in planning the trip because I didn’t want to regain weight that I had already lost. I know it seems trivial in the larger scheme of things, compared against the trip of a lifetime, but it did matter to me!

What did I learn that might help other Sparkers in their travels?
1) Do your home work before you go: There was a message board started on SP about three weeks before we were to leave on eating abroad. It was very helpful!

Several friends had been to Paris and offered their advice: “eat what you want”, “walk lots”, “take a bite of everything”, “go to the fresh outdoor markets and have fresh fruit and vegetables at hand”.

2) Plan for what you are to eat on the long plain ride. I didn’t want to start the trip off on the wrong foot. I wasn’t sure whether the old habit of one bad day might lead to another bad day (with regard to following a healthy lifestyle) as so often had happened before. I packed fruit and vegetables and bought a large bottle of water before boarding, so I had some thing to munch on during the trip there and back. This was really helpful, for airplane food is not exactly known for its nutritive value!!

3) Once we arrived, we walked to all the museums we wanted to see. I had booked the hotel in the 6th arrondissement, which is fairly central. Even with that, we walked a minimum of three miles a day with our maximum at seven. Mind you, this wasn’t exactly cardio activity! There was lots of stopping and starting …

For instance, to look at this window display of beautiful leather gloves…

and another of stockings!

When we arrived, DH was sick with a bad cold and so I ventured out on my own. It was Sunday, and every Sunday the flower Market becomes the March’ d’Oiseau….. Birds from all over the world are there. It’s a bit sad actually…. Notice all the bicycles!

Each day we ventured out and at the end of the day we could hardly move. Some sights we saw were the Notre Dame Cathedral and it’s famous rose window as seen below.

Close by was a smaller church, Saint Chappell, in past days used by the Monarchs to pray. When standing in it, I felt like I was in a stained glass jewel box!

We visited the Pantheon, Temple of the Nation, today serving as the resting place of the great minds and scholars of France.

From there, we walked through the Luxembourg Gardens, in times past meant only for the Royals, but now a most favored place to go on a sunny afternoon!

And at the end of the afternoon, ending up in one of the many café’s!

Below, I’m standing in front of the glass pyramid, entry to the Louvre Art Museum, the largest in the world and exhausting to try to get through in even a day!

The Louvre houses the famous picture by Leonardo de Vinci, The Mona Lisa. She’s behind glass and roped off so it’s difficult to get close. Hoards of people surround her on any given day. Best thing if you go, get there early and run to her!

Above is a picture of David slaying Goliath, painted on slate.

And here is the ceiling of the glass pyramid from inside the museum

On my way out, while crossing a pedestrian bridge, I noticed all these locks attached to the fence, sort of a modern day version of cutting initials into a tree to say you have been there!

Tuillere gardens are formal and beautiful with many statues and sculptures throughout the gardens.

Right beside the gardens is the Muse’e de l’Orangerie, a must see, notable for the wall paintings by Monet, painted on oval sided walls, of the Water Lilies in his garden.

We were walking though the park after going through the above museum and came upon this performance artist, absolutely unbelievable. He/she looked so much like a statue until DH threw a coin in the cup, and then it slowly bowed!

Going up the Champs d’Elyeses, toward the Arc de Triumph, we stop at yet another café.

I think you’re probably noting that there are many café s in Paris and at 5PM everyone seems to suddenly appear, take a seat and talk with their companion, or they seem content to sit facing the street, people watching. The Parisians, by doing this, seem to own their city streets, in that they live in them, in the café s, etc.

We went to the famous café s written up in the tourist guides (le Café’ Fleur and Les Deux Maggots) and, yes, I had a glass of wine, several glasses of wine over the time we were in Paris, but in moderation. So I took the advice to sample every thing, but not in great quantity.

The Arc de Triumph. Hitler’s armies marched through here when they overtook France and where the Allied forces marched through to reclaim Paris!

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies here and if you take the 287 steps to the top, which I did, there is a wonderful view of Paris. It’s very moving to see the names of all the battles fought and Generals, etc. are etched in the stone of the Arc.

We left to the second last day the Eiffel Tower, where I walked down but not up! The point was to walk wherever I could and to sample everything French in terms of food and wine!

Here I am at the second floor!

Now I’m at the very top!!!!

Our last day we went to the Museum of Modern Art, held in the Centre Pompidou. It was fantastic! On the fifth floor is a wonderful restaurant.

Below is a painting by Amedeo Modigliani, now, one of my favorite painters.

I did go out to the market early in the morning as DH slept later than I and so I made sure we had fresh veggies and fruit to snack on. This was really important for me, as I didn’t feel excluded in sampling tastes of the city. It’s just that I left the eating of up to three pastries a day to DH, with me asking for a bite as he reached the chocolate centre or cream filled centre. He was very accommodating!!!

All in all, DH stayed the same weight and I lost a half a pound. There was so much to do and see, I found I didn’t need to concentrate on what I was not having but truly wanted to return home as healthy as I had left. I think I was able to do this. I do think that the type of vacation you are on can make for a less positive outcome, for instance, if I had been at an all inclusive resort, with little opportunity for exercise, I might well have gained weight, but then again, perhaps, as in this case, I would have prepared, had a loose plan, and exercised it. We learn as we go, eh?

In sum, RESEARCH, PREPARE, PLAN, and EXECUTE your plan. Another thing, don’t expect perfection of yourself. After all, you are on vacation, be kind to yourself and enjoy! I did, and it seemed to work without feelings of deprivation!

This experience has been life enhancing, in that I now know that if I do these things, I can go anywhere and have the time of my life! I invite all my Spark friends to do the same. It does’t have to be Paris; it can be a simple treat of a special outing on the weekend. Enjoy! It’s time for all of us to get on with living the best and healthiest life we can! We can all do this!

PS: I hope all who read this blog can get a feel for Paris and the possibilities open to them! Thanks to everyone who made suggestions for my trip abroad!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What a great blog! I love all the pictures and commentary. Sounds like you had a great time and it was a trip to remember. And a bonus is you lost a half pound...way to go!! Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

    2448 days ago
    LOVED THIS BLOG!!! Wonderful photos too! I really got the feeling I was there with you and feel so happy for you that you were able to enjoy your trip and not come back feeling guilty. You did a great job! You did exactly what I did when I went to Disney World for 10 days. I ate small bites or small portions of the less healthy foods, drank my water and ate all the fruits and veggies I could find plus I walked and walked and walked to get those extra calories burned.
    Thanks for sharing your amazing vacation and I am sooo glad it was a success in all ways! Congratulations!
    2449 days ago
    My mom and I went to Paris a couple of years ago. It was a wonderful trip!!!! LOTS of walking opportunities!!!
    2449 days ago
    Paris is a great city to explore and reflect....thank you for sharing.
    2449 days ago
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