We stayed just across the river from the Latin Quarter, in the Marais and managed to make a couple trips to this area on our short trip to Paris. Once we left the Louvre, we decided to head over to Saint-Germain-des-Pres for lunch and then work our way to the neighboring Latin Quarter to see Place St. Michel, the Sorbonne, Musee de Cluny and the Pantheon. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any of these things, but we did have a great time exploring this area.
We crossed the river near the Louvre and wandered around the tiny winding streets peering in the windows of so many (closed) art galleries. These galleries showcased modern paintings and photography and not classical pieces -- which was quite refreshing. I love the classics, but we all know there is more to art than pre-19th Century pieces. Some of the photography was quite amazing - many "slice of life" pieces that focused on the contemporary architecture and how modern life related to this architecture -- right up my alley.
We wandered down one of the streets that we visited on the bike ride the prior day. We knew there were tons of restaurants, some high end, some low end, but most looked tasty and reasonably priced. We spent a decent amount of time reviewing menus and trying to find the "right" restaurant for us. After about 30 minutes of trying to track down the perfect restaurant we settled on a little crepe place off the main road we were exploring. The waitress didn't speak much English, so I was able to use my limited French (again without any real problems).
While we ate our crepe and drank our wine I saw a business acquaintance of mine walking down the street. I popped out of the restaurant and tried to catch up with him, but we never connected. I was 99% sure it was him, but didn't actually confirm this until we returned to Chicago and I chatted with him. What a small world, eh?
After lunch we popped over to a gelato shop -- we tried to eat there on the bike ride, but the line was too long. Today the line was non-existent so of course we had a few scoops of heaven. We continued through St. Germain and walked over to the Latin Quarter. I wanted to swing by some little tourist shops near Notre Dame because I wanted a few scarves for fall, which I managed to pick up (white, black and purple). This is where we ran into so many loud, obnoxious Americans demanding everyone around them speak English. I was quite embarrassed for my countrymen. Perhaps Americans shouldn't have passports if this is how we are going to act while abroad.
I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the art galleries in this area. There were a few restaurants that had quite extensive wine cellars, which I would love to explore as well. I will definitely be spending more time in St. Germain next time I am in London.
When you travel do you just pick a neighborhood and explore without any thought/care or research -- just see where the day takes you? Do you find yourself drinking more wine when you are on vacation than you do in the US? What about wine at lunch--do you find it a requirement while abroad? What about back home, do you miss wine at every meal here?