The French earn their reputation

It’s hard to sleep your days away in Paris. So, we get up, and guess what…. it’s time to eat again.

We decided to cross the Pont Neuf, walk through the Îlle de la Cité and head for Îlle St Louis, looking for a restaurant. On the way, we passed by the Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

The cathedral builders let you know just how small you are in the face of God. You don't have to be religious to appreciate that. The building simply imposes its will.

Crowded as usual. We took a minute to go in – hard to resist – and did a quick walk around. This is one of the challenges of Paris – there is so much to see, that you either have to consciously decide to take a pass on some things, or you spend just 10 minutes on something that really deserves a few hours. The Notre Dame is like that. It’s really the history of Paris in one building. Scholars have spent a lifetime studying it. We gave it 10 minutes and then kept walking. We were hungry.

We crossed the little Pont Saint-Louis and walked down Rue Saint-Louis en l’Îlle, which is essentially the island’s main street. We were looking for a casual restaurant. After passing many of them, we settled on one. We were still somewhat tired and just wanted to eat.

Ille de la Cité & Ille St Louis

Somewhere on the island on the right is the restaurant that didn't want to serve us.

We walked in, were greeted and seated and brought a dish of olives and then totally ignored. It was the most peculiar experience. It was a small place, with a few other tables occupied, but the waiter was busying himself with a lady friend who had dropped by, and the owner also seemed pre-occupied. No offer of a drink, or desire to take our order. Maybe we were too obviously tourists. Did we forget to say hello (very important in France)?

Who knows. After at least 10 minutes, we simply got up and left. We walked looking for another restaurant, and by this time we were both getting cranky. Finally we were rescued by a wonderful little take-out place with ham and cheese baguettes, salads and beer. Within 5 minutes we’d found a bench on the Quai d’Anjou on the banks of the Seine where we sat down and had our picnic. All was right with the world.

Paris - Picnic by the Seine

If you look closely you can see the cans of beer. Feels risqué when you're from Toronto.

What better place to spend a late spring afternoon on your first day in Paris? How civilized that you could have a Heineken with your sandwich. The Right Bank was across the river, looking out towards the Bastille, and to our left, the graceful arches of the Pont Marie.

With our cans of beer, we toasted the tourists gliding by on the Bateaux Mouches boats.

Getting sandwiches to go and sitting on a bench was something we would repeat a few times. There is nothing like a quiet, and relatively inexpensive little picnic in a park or on the banks of the Seine.

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