A crisp autumn in Paris! Colorful fall leaves during the day and festive shop and street lights at night contrast with predominantly chic black outfits worn by nearly every adult.

Bonjour et bienvenue! It’s been easy to find our way around this beautiful, exciting city since Pete and I were warmly welcomed by the cruise reps. Except for a short walking tour on Saturday morning, we have explored Paris on our own. It’s easy with the must-have map–for the streets aren’t parallel here, the underground metro, and what I can recall from the French study in school a very long time ago.

We have walked and shopped till we dropped. A “walk around the block” on the first night led us to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees boulevard where by chance we found the Peugeot Avenue store where Pete could buy the pepper mill he’s wanted for as long as I have known him. Uh-huh, go  figure. Apparently Peugeot designed and makes the best grinding mechanism on the planet. The mill even came filled with Peugeot peppercorns!

In the morning we saw how the Seine winds through the city. Tree-lined banks and several bridges like the Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts invite one to cross over to the other side.

Before leaving Hawaii we made reservations online for lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant on the lower level of the famous tower, and for dinner at a modern French restaurant called Spring (recommended by Electa, a well-traveled friend) that served the most amazing food at an amazing price. Why not? First things first. We play now and pay later!

For visitor attractions we chose the Musee Marmottan Monet to view its permanent collection of at least 40 oil paintings by Claude Monet over the Musee du Louvre for a more intimate and relevant experience, as I am a plein air painter. What an experience to see the originals! To get there we took the metro and walked through a pretty park.

Did you know that under main center courtyard of the Louvre is a modern shopping mall called Caroussel du Louvre? So, we did go for gifts, and while there found the glass pyramid.

We’ve heard some good music, from the musicians who set up for tips in the corridors of the metro, to the music at Notre Dame cathedral coming from the largest pipe organ during evening mass last night.

Now we’re checking out of L’Hotel du Collectionneur Arc du Triomphe to board a bus that will take us to the river boat Viking Rinda that is docked at Le Pecq downstream. It is too big to reach Paris. I have photos, of course, and hope I can share them with you in my next post.