Category Archives: Paris

Paris Day 7: The Sacred and the Profane

I know it’s been a little while, but I wanted to finish my Paris trip recaps.

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6:1 and Day 6:2 if you’ve missed the previous posts. 

I was sad for our last day in Paris.  We decided to do a few different things but not pack the day too full so we’d have time to relax at the end of the day. We decided to go to the Musee Jacquemart-Andre based on a friend’s recommendation and then to do the guidebook’s Montmartre Walking Tour which included the Sacre Coeur Basilica AND the Museum of Erotic Art (We thought it would be a nice contrast.)

First we had to make a few stops, including at the Pharmacie because I had a slight cold and needed some medicine.  I did online research about how to tell the pharmacist I had a cold, but luckily she spoke English.  (In France, you don’t just buy the medicine, they ask about your symptoms and your allergies and give you what you need.)

The day was going to have a variety of metro rides and connections.  I had written all the directions out on a paper, and we were “prepared” for a bit of trouble navigating the streets, as I’d been having trouble all week.

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This museum is a private house that belonged to a couple who were avid art collectors in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. At times their yearly budget for art exceeded that of the Louvre!  The phrase “theirs was a marriage of reason” was used at one point.  What do you think that means?

We used the audio tour as recommended and it was very interesting.  No photography was allowed inside the house, but it was an amazing mansion with great art, and possibly our favorite museum.  It isn’t covered by the museum pass, which was fine because ours had run out.

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After the tour we took the metro up north of the city to Montmartre.  Well, to the north part of the city that is.  We had our first metro problem—we ran to catch the train and after we just barely made it on we realized we were on the wrong train.  No big deal though, we just got off a little later and transferred to another one.  (Generally I found the metro system amazingly eager to navigate.  Europe.  Rocks.)

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The Basilica is on top of one of Paris’s only hills (which really makes me want to run the Paris Marathon—imagine how flat it must be in comparison—who wants to sponsor me for this?) and so was naturally quite crowded.  It’s in a slightly more seedy area of town than we had experienced so far on our trip, but it wasn’t bad, and it was jam packed with tourists.  (Weird combo:  seedy yet really touristy—it’s like the Myrtle Beach of Paris?)

You can climb up a ton of stairs or take the funicular up.  I was sick and was pretty tired and out of breath so I insisted on the funicular—you know ordinarily I’d have been running up and down the stairs.  The funicular cost a metro ticket but I felt was worth it under the circumstances.

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I think Chris was tired of having his picture taken.

Anyway, after we rode up the hill we were starving and needed to seek out lunch.

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Quite the view!

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I’m a little annoyed that THIS was the only picture of me in view of this view.  I guess Chris was tired of taking pictures of me by this point too…or simply tired of me?  😉

We found a little cute Italian place nearby.  We were a bit apprehensive, but it ended up being GREAT.

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Delicious meat and cheese plate, delicious pizza.  We never got used to how much delicious cheese you get on a cheese plate in France! And for less than cheese plates in the US.

Then it was back to sightseeing.

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There was a violin player outside the Basilica.  He was a gypsy fiddler and sounded pretty decent.

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Quite the view of Paris!

We ran into a couple of friends of ours outside the Basilica after we toured it.  Paris is, seemingly, as small of a world as St Louis is!

After chatting a bit we continued on the Montmartre Walk.  Now.  I don’t know if it was the fact that I was sick or what, but I couldn’t follow the directions and kept getting lost.  Finally we gave up and missed several steps and then caught back up, but basically, I have no idea what happened…I’m guessing because, in addition to the regular challenge of Paris streets, we had to contend with steep hills?

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My purple pants.  Chris was being silly and trying to take pictures of my butt, I think 😉

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Cool Paris street view…

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We loved the rounded buildings.

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We managed to get back on track with the tour in order to see Van Gogh’s old house.

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And we saw the Moulin Rouge.  Lots of tourists there—this is basically the red light district.  And by basically I mean, this is the red light district of Paris.

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We decided to go to the Museum of Erotic Art to end our tour.  I won’t share my pictures from there, but it was a very interesting (not family friendly!) place.  Oh, and I slipped down the marble steps—my feet flew out from under me and I landed on the ground about 4 to 6 steps down.  Chris was concerned but he said it was actually quite funny, because I just sighed and said “REALLY?”  I remember the pain but mainly I remember being annoyed that instead of slipping I had actually really fallen and made a fool of myself…at the “porn museum” (take that, search engines) no less.  Hence, my “really?”  I was in shock.  Luckily I wasn’t seriously injured—I had been holding on to the railing so I didn’t lose control too much.  It was more my pride that was injured, and my hand got a little bruised and my legs and butt were sore the next day.

Anyway, after that I was ready to get out of there (luckily we were basically done) and get back to a nicer part of town.  We hopped back on the metro and headed to our neck of the woods for our last evening.

We had a few happy hour drinks before deciding on dinner.  We ended up at a restaurant on the Place du Marche Ste. Catherine called “La Marche.”

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We liked the menus.  We ordered a bottle of red wine and tried to decipher the prix fixe menu.

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It was not easy to do, and in fact, I ordered parts of my meal not sure at all what I was going to get.  I was feeling adventurous though, and I’m really not a picky eater, so it worked out.

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Our meal was okay.  I guess we should have gone to a more expensive place (I didn’t think every night needed to be a $$$ meal but I think Chris thought I was being cheap on occasion!) but it was decent, and the wine (as always) was nice, and the ambience was really pleasant.  I thought it was a wonderful evening and a great ending to our week.

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Night from our apartment window.

I’ll do one more wrap up/travel post 🙂  in case you wanted more!  If you have any Paris related questions, please ask!

Paris Day 6, part two: Marie Antoinette was Insane

We all like cake.  But really.  Here you’ll see part two of my Versailles post (here’s part one if you missed it), in which we visit the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s home and the fake peasant hamlet she had built, the main Chateau, and then we did more stuff too.  No wonder I’m still exhausted.

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The guidebook gave us a nice walking tour of the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet. (We had already followed the tour for the Gardens and the Grand Trianon, so we were just continuing along.  We saw various buildings—not all are pictured.

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The Belvedere, Rock, and Grotto.  We were following the directions, and said to ourselves, hey, what’s a grotto.  The answer is it seems to be a cave, because that’s what we found ourselves in.  You can all see the Belvedere “palace” which is really just a glorified gazebo, I think.

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It would be a cool place to play a gig, or have a wedding though.

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Ok.  Here’s my favorite part of Versailles, and frankly, in my opinion, the most ridiculous.

From the guidebook:

“Marie-Antoinette longed for the simple life of a peasant—not the hard labor of real peasants, who sweated and starved around her–but the fairytale world of simple country pleasures.  She built this complex of 12 thatched-roof buildings fronting a lake as her own private “Normand” village.

“The main building is the Queen’s House—actually two buildings connected by a wooden skywalk. It’s the only one without a thatched roof.  like any typical peasant farmhouse, it had a billiard room, library, elegant dining hall, and two living rooms.

(I imagine you picked up on the sarcasm?)

“This was an actual working farm with a dairy, a water mill, a pigeon coop, and domestic animals.  Nearby are the farm and menagerie, where her servants kept cows, goats, chickens, and ducks.  The harvest was served at Marie-Antoinette’s table.  Marie-Antoinette didn’t do much work herself, but the “supervised” dressed in a plain, white muslin dress and a straw hat.  Though the royal family is long gone, kid-pleasing animals still inhabit the farm, and fat fish swim languid circles in the pond.”

To me, THIS is what really explains the difference between the royalty and the regular people, and the sort of just craziness that makes you want to revolt.  Palace, well, sure, everybody needs a fancy palace.  FAKE PEASANT VILLAGE JUST FOR THE HECK OF IT??  That’s the true waste of money.  Though, it’s actually a pretty cool place.

 

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After the Hamlet, we went to visit the Petit Trianon, a smaller palace than the Grand Trianon, primarily used for “storing” Louis XV’s mistresses.  Finally it was time to trek back to the Chateau.  We decided to shell out for the “Petit Train” rather than walk another 30 to 40 minutes.

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You can see Chris was thrilled.  The “best” part of the tram was that they played Classical Music from the time, loudly.  For instance, music that faintly like bad Rameau (implying that there is good Rameau) with lots of recorders.

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Finally we made it back to the palace.  We had a little trouble getting into the Chateau because the guard insisted we had either a) already visited the Chateau because “she initialed our museum passes” or b) we had obviously been given our passes by someone who already visited.  I was about ready to lose it, but we finally convinced her that neither of those were true.  What’s really weird is that I can’t find anything to say that even if we HAD visited already that day, that we couldn’t visit again on our pass, so I’m going with: the woman was an idiot.

The Chateau wasn’t as crowded as I thought it might be, but it was still annoyingly crowded.  You all know how I hate crowds though—I love my off-schedule in life and am used to grocery shopping when no one else is, for instance.

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The fireplaces were pretty big.

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You can see the walls and ceilings are pretty decorated.

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Where the King slept.  Not too shabby, really.  My bed is practically that fancy, but not as much gold.

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I believe this was the queen’s bedroom.

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Anyway, we greatly enjoyed the tour and generally our visit to Versailles.

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We wanted a drink and a snack then, so we stopped at a little place that served crepes and gelato.

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Then it was time to catch the train back to Paris!

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The train station.

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We decided to take the train to the Eiffel Tower, wander around that area again, and eat dinner nearby.

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The sky was gorgeous so we tried to get some pictures with the Tower, to varying degrees of effectiveness.

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Some guy saw us and asked us to take a picture of him with the tower, so we had him return the favor.

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The ground was a little damp so we just walked around enjoying the view and the weather, trying to work up an appetite.  We decided to visit a guidebook-recommended restaurant for dinner called Le P’Tit Troquet.  We got there at 6:30 pm (American dinner time, ha!) and the restaurant was totally empty.  The hostess said we could eat there if we were done by 8 pm because the table was booked then.  We knew it would be no problem as we were already exhausted so we wouldn’t want to loiter.

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My camera battery died after that—unfortunately it went from indicating practically full to completely empty in a 20 minute period of time.  I wasn’t able to get a picture of our meal, but I had the Escargot special (on the above board as a special) and Confit de Canard.  The restaurant had three courses for one price, so I had that and then cheese, and Chris had an entree, plat, and a sweet dessert (aka not cheese) so we split a little bit.  I found I really enjoyed cheese for dessert.  Chris didn’t as much.  Naturally we also split a bottle of wine.

The weird thing was: right after we got there, another couple came in, same thing, done by 8 pm.  No problem.  The restaurant was really quiet so we were talking quietly, and we realized after awhile, the other couple wasn’t talking AT ALL.  It was super weird and awkward.  Chris thought it seemed like the guy was just really uncomfortable being out at a “fancy french restaurant”.

After dinner, we headed “home” to relax and plan out our last day in Paris.  I was already feeling nostalgic!

Have you read all my Paris recaps so far? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.

Paris Day 6, part one: Versailles Gardens and Grand Trianon

Have you read all my Paris recaps so far? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.

We were told by more than one person that if we visited Versailles, we would completely understand the French Revolution.

Arguably I already did.  I definitely do now.

We decided to visit Versailles on Wednesday.  It’s about a 30 minute train ride outside of the city, and you have to buy a special ticket for it.  THIS was a bit of a hassle.  In retrospect, it would have been easy—we really just needed four tickets to Versailles from Paris, but by the time we figured that out, the machine went out of order.  Both machines.  Luckily the information booth lady took pity on us and sold us the tickets!

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We took the metro to the RER station, and then had a little trouble because we found ourselves on the wrong platform.  Then I started panicking and thought there was NO way we could find our train (I’m a little dramatic…sometimes.)  After a slight moment of panic I took a deep breath and carefully studied a (french) timetable.  I realized we were simply on the wrong platform, and we just needed to go up another flight of stairs.  We were just in time to catch the train—a double decker train so we went up top for a better view.

The train followed along the Seine for awhile, and did you know there is a Statue of Liberty in Paris?  We passed it, but I didn’t know it was coming up so I didn’t get a picture.  The ride was nice and fairly uneventful.  I was a little nervous the whole time we were on the wrong train, but we ended up at the right station so that was great.  We got off the train, and turned right, then left, and then we saw the palace glittering in the distance.

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I guess we were heading the right way.  Oh, and before we left the house we checked the weather report for Paris and it was clear…we failed to check the weather report for Versailles.  See those clouds?

The guidebook recommended if we didn’t get to Versailles in the early morning to see the Gardens and other Palaces first and then return to the Chateau. It was around 11:30 when we arrived so that was definitely our plan.

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Evidently we walked behind that couple for a few blocks…

Anyway, the Gardens are amazing.  We started out on the guidebook’s tour of the gardens.

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During certain times of year the fountains are on.

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The wind was picking up yet we forged ahead.  (I’m really pleased with how my hair looks in this picture, for some reason.  Maybe I should have a wind machine follow me around?)

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Looking towards the Grand Basin.

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We had one small umbrella with us.  At this point we were trying to decide what to do—i.e. should we return to the Palace and do the indoor portion of the visit first.  But for some reason we decided to go ahead.  Naturally that’s when it started raining.

BUT we ducked into a cafe that was fortuitously right there, and was fortuitously covered.  (The cafe of requirement?) We decided to have coffee and lunch there.

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Isn’t my husband handsome in his rain jacket?

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Aren’t I creepy holding my cafe creme? (Don’t answer…)

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Name this sandwich? (This was the least good version I had all week.  The one good thing about the cafe, other than it being a nice respite from the storm, was that it wasn’t as overpriced as a similar cafe in the US would be.)

By the time we had finished eating the rain had let up and we headed back out to the gardens.  Well, after stopping by the bathroom, which was one of those that you HAVE to squat in.  It was clean enough, but I was thankful for all the squats I’ve done over the past few years—I had no trouble at all.  (My motto on the trip was: use the bathroom when you see it.)

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You can see the skies are a bit clearer.  We weren’t convinced we were out of the woods yet, so to speak, but we wanted to continue on our tour.

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The Colonnade.  Basically fake Roman ruins.

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A statue of Cleopatra.

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After the gardens, our next destination was the Grand Trianon.  This is where Louis XIV went to escape from the big Chateau (which was originally to escape from Paris.  Being a King is HARD.)

I loved the look of this Palace.  I think the main palace is kind of tacky, what with all the gold.  I love the pink on this one.  I would be happy to live there, thank you.

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It still had gold gates, thankfully.

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Pretty!!

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I love this picture so much.

I’m going to break this day’s recap into two posts since I’m posting so many pictures.  Next:  Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet, the Petit Trianon, the Chateau, and a repeat visit to the Eiffel Tower!

Paris Day 5: Visiting the Orsay Museum on a rainy day is a bad idea

Don’t forget to read Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 if you haven’t already!

It was raining when we woke up on Tuesday.  Our plan was already to visit a few museums so we figured that was fine.  We realized we needed to buy another umbrella though (we’d only brought one) so we did that and headed to the metro to go to the Musee d’Orsay.  It was pouring rain and the line to get in was really long—I suppose everybody had the same idea to go to a museum on a rainy day, plus the Louvre was closed.  The museum pass line was long as well which was strange.

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I think Chris was starting to tire of getting his picture taken.  Or he was tired of waiting in line in the rain.  Who doesn’t love getting their picture taken??

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Once we entered the museum the signs said not to take pictures.  Lots of people seemed to ignore this but I am a rule follower so I didn’t take any pictures.  (I also had no desire to end up in a French prison or something, I saw that movie with Claire Danes.)  The museum was GREAT except that it was so busy that we just couldn’t deal with it for more than an hour.  All those people.  We thought it was the day we picked (Louvre closed, rainy) but we talked to some other folks who said in their experience d’Orsay was just always like that.  Too bad, because it probably had my favorite art!  Nonetheless we would return to give it another shot.

Next came lunch.  We found a nearby brasserie (remember, that’s the one you want for a really late lunch) and I ordered a goat cheese salad.  This was amazing!

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Heavy on the goat cheese and toast, light on the salad.  More delicious, less healthy.  I heart France.

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Drinking a cafe crème.

Next we decided to go to the Army Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb.  I plotted a course to walk there that I thought would take about 15 minutes.  Naturally we got totally lost—in fact this was one of the times that I because nearly desperate in our inability to figure out which direction to go, looking at the map every few feet yet still feeling hopelessly confused and lost.  We traveled at least 1/2 miles out of the way and almost gave up several times.  Like an injured kitten, I lashed out at Chris, who had the gall to suggest we hail a cab…the idea of giving up is what really made me get serious and start walking HOLDING THE MAP IN FRONT OF ME.

At this point, Chris pointed out that in fact THIS was the most amazing thing about Jason Bourne, that he could open a map of Paris and within a few seconds know both where they were and where they needed to go and then he would GET there.  Forget the fighting, the driving, and the sprinting.  It’s his navigational skills that most impressed us.  (Yes, I’m aware he’s a fictional character.)

Finally we saw this, which made us feel like we might be near the museum.

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And indeed we were, though we ended up entering in the back rather than the front.  Whatever, we found it.  Chris loved this museum.  They had all different manner of armor and weaponry, from the medieval ages until the more recent.

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Then we went to Napoleon’s Tomb.

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Not too small.

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This is overlooking his tomb.  I don’t really care where I’m buried, but I’m thinking something like this might be pretty nice.  And appropriate.  I am pretty fancy.

After visiting the tomb we headed back into the museum to go over the WWI and WWII exhibit.  It was interesting seeing the history of the wars from the French standpoint.  (Spoiler alert:  both wars were a complete waste—I may be biased as I think all war is a waste, but still).

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The Dome des Invalides—it’s what’s over the Tomb.  Had I read the guidebook more carefully I would have known this already and it would have helped us navigate.  Oh well.

We headed back to our neighborhood then, the Marais District.  We decided to grab a drink somewhere before dinner, and then have dinner at the place where we’d had wine the first day, Au Bourguignon Du Marais.  We had a drink at a Scottish Pub nearby, and then went to dinner.

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We ended up sitting next to another couple desperately clutching the guidebook (They were more hard core than us as theirs was a library copy—oh, and yes, this was a guidebook recommended restaurant).    We chatted a bit with them—they shared some suggestions with us and vice versa.  We saw a lot of people in Paris with the book but often they were older.  I guess it’s the PBS crowd? Or younger people don’t like to follow plans and directions, or don’t have money for actual travel?

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The guidebook recommended the “oeufs en meurette” and “boeuf bourguignon” so that’s what I had.  Well, we split the “entree” and I ate my plat all my myself.  I forget what Chris had for his dinner but he enjoyed it as well.

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We were stuffed after dinner and didn’t order dessert.  Another fantastic day!  Next:  Versailles.

Paris Day 4: Museum This ‘n’ That, plus some Eiffel Tower

Don’t forget to read Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 if you haven’t already!

Today was to be a big day.  We planned to see Musee De L’Orangerie and the Louvre.  After that I figured if we had the energy we’d go to the Eiffel Tower and maybe eat dinner in that area.  We took the metro to the Orangerie Museum and of course got turned around after getting off the stop, which worked well enough because we got to wander through the Tuileries Gardens a bit.  Oh, note to readers: I have heard that people do not run in Paris.  This is not true.  People were running EVERYWHERE, but especially at the Tuileries and around the Eiffel Tower, and in pretty much every park we saw.  Maybe people didn’t run a few years ago, who knows, but they certainly do now.  We saw a woman running holding a bottle of Perrier.  But I digress.

Here’s why we love the Tuileries.  This awesome movement from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Every time somebody says “Tuileries” that’s what I think of.  Things I did not know until I visited Paris:  The Tuileries are a garden.  And used to be a palace.  (For more information, you can google it.  I could tell you more or even link to something, but hey, that would just be me googling, and why don’t you just do your own google? 😉 )

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Chris in front of the Tuileries.  They weren’t super great—had lots of sand around and I’m not a huge fan of sand.  (What a weird thing to say, right? I feel like this is one of my weirder Paris blog posts so far…must be the NyQuil talking…)

Chris is not a navigator—that’s my role in the relationship.  Normally I am really good with maps and directions, but Paris…I was GREAT with the RER and metro, but the walking just was a disaster.  We’d go one way and it would turn out to be the wrong way, but then the other way would turn out to be wrong TOO and I’d have no idea what happened.  We’d eventually find what we were looking for (until Montmartre, when we just gave up entirely, a story for another day) but I’d have no idea why it was so hard and what went wrong.  At first I’d be embarrassed to be walking around with a map in front of me, and then I realized even WITH the map I would still occasionally be hopelessly lost.

I realized the issue was that the Orangerie Museum just wasn’t that big.  Not like the Louvre.  You can’t fail to find the Louvre because I believe it is visible from the moon.  But we did find the museum (back up plan was, skip the museum.  I’m glad we found it because it was delightful.)

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The museum was very nice.  Lots of Monet and other stuff like that. Some really awesome HUGE paintings that he made specifically for the museum. We were there about an hour, and then needed lunch.

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Mmmmmm…Croque Madame.  This may have been the tastiest one I had.  The yolk ran all over the place, and an open faced sandwich was better because there was twice as much cheese!

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After lunch we walked through the Tuileries again to get to the Louvre.  It was very sandy, like I’d said, but the statues were fun to look at.  We are definitely statue people.  We are also really immature as we giggled QUITE a bit at the nude statues.

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Anyway, the thing you should know about the Louvre is that it is huge.  All of that building is the Louvre.  Crazy, right? If there were less tourists around that would be a way better picture too.  Or not.  The direct sunlight doesn’t make for great pictures.  (Yeah, I know, one little mini-lesson with Sarah Crowder and I’m a photographic expert.  But honestly, I did learn a few things from her. Yet I still took this next picture and posted it.)

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Oh, and you get to skip all the lines with the Museum Pass.  We went in a side entry for groups and pass holders and before we knew it, we were in the Louvre!  Things that don’t help:  maps of the Louvre.  Or alternately, when I get tired I am just unable to read a map?

Unrelated: The Mona Lisa is overrated.

And here’s some Louvre pictures:

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Chris and I realized we both prefer sculpture to paintings—we never realized this before, and decided to try to hit up the Rodin museum before we left Paris (this didn’t happen, but oh well.) Anyway, after hours of museum-ing (is that a word? I believe so…) we finally left.  We were tired and hungry and I figured we needed a snack, a coffee, and somewhere to sit down.  (Do you know how much your feet hurt after several hours of museum going? Lots.)

Oh, did you see this Onion article about visiting museums?  VERY FUNNY.

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We saw this awesome metro stop.  VERY decorated!

We left the Louvre in search of food and found a little Italian place with “cheap” coffee (under 3 euros).

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I looked at the map and realized we were really near the Opera Garnier, a very fancy opera house (we were also within sight of it, so that helped us navigate.) We decided to go see it closer, then catch the metro and head to the Eiffel Tower, hang out there, then eat dinner.  Our plan was in motion!

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Opera Garnier.  We didn’t go in but we walked around it.  VERY FANCY.

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We passed this place on our way to the Eiffel Tower.  ICE CREAM EMERGENCY!  We walked down a street in the Rue Cler neighborhood that Rick Steves recommended, then we had a quick happy hour drink on the end of it.  Or two 😉 (We actually had a conversation between ourselves about what could we do at 5:00 ish as it was too early to eat dinner.  Suddenly it hit us.  Oh, right, happy hour.  They have that in France too.)

Then it was Eiffel Tower time.  (This is different from peanut butter jelly time, just fyi.)

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We sat and watched the Tower for awhile, and then we decided we’d grab dinner and return after dark to see the Tower lit up.  We looked at a few places the guidebook recommended and settled on a cheaper one (Chris wasn’t too hungry and I figured we shouldn’t spend a lot if he didn’t really feel like eating.  I am always hungry.)

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Steak and frites!  The place we chose had a great fixed price menu (The French call this simply, the “menu”).

After dinner, we took a bottle of wine with us to hang out on the lawn of the Tower.

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The last time I had been to the Eiffel Tower at night was on Bastille Day in 1997.  There were a FEW more people there then…I have only vague recollections, but I recall it was a madhouse and there were tens of thousands of people around.

This was amazing.  There were people around, but not too many.  It was so relaxing and (dare I say) romantic.  We drank wine straight from the bottle and at the top of the hour we watched a sparkling light show on the Tower.  It was one of the best evenings ever.

Oh, and we didn’t go up the Tower.  I just didn’t think that would be a good idea for me.  I might have been fine, but I got really freaked out thinking about it.  Silly fear of heights!

Paris Day 3: Laundry, Notre Dame, and L’Ilot Vache

This is my continuing vacation recap series.  You can read about Day 1 and Day 2 if you haven’t.

Sunday’s plan: laundry (Chris needed to do it as he had been gone a week already), then the Pompidou Center, Historic Paris Walk, and then if time, the Left Bank Walk (both walks from the guidebook.)  Well.  Adding up the time Rick thought everything would take it seemed like a nice afternoon, but it turned out we didn’t get started quite as “early” (10 am?) as I’d hoped, and then laundry took longer.  Oh well.

There was a Laundromat right near the apartment though.  It was easy enough to figure out with the help of a few other English speaking customers.

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Chris was working hard on the laundry.  We’d thought it would be quicker, but the wash load took about 45 to 50 minutes and then the drying was another 20 to 25 minutes, and all in all, we didn’t get going until 1:30 or 1:45.  I decided we’d ditch the Pompidou Center since neither of us are huge Modern Art fans, and just head towards the Notre Dame.

The Historic Paris Walk started with the Notre Dame, which was very close to our apartment.  We didn’t plan to climb the tower (I have this fear of heights that keeps me from doing that sort of thing) but otherwise would be following the plan.

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It was a beautiful, sunny day!  What we didn’t anticipate was how hot it would get.

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On the bridge to the Notre Dame.

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Facing the other way.

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It was too sunny to take really good pictures.  We tried.

So we got to the Notre Dame and got in the line to enter—it moved very quickly and soon we were inside.

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We walked around, and I tried to use the guide to figure out what we were looking at.  I knew on my last trip to Paris we had just sort of wandered around and I felt like I had missed a lot of historical and cultural things, so this time I was eager to understand everything (ha!).

Granted, we were already “failing” on the walk, having entered the church right away without looking up too much and we didn’t go into the Archeological Crypt which probably would have been really cool.  I tried not to get too obsessive about following every step and figured that having a bit of flexibility and following whims was also a big part of traveling.

We came out of the church and figured we should backtrack and find “Point Zero.”  I stood on it for Chris to take a picture—reminiscent of the “four corners” pictures from my youth.

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On the left hand side of the picture is the line to get into the Notre Dame.  I like this yellow shirt because it really showcases my belly button.

The coolest part to me about the Notre Dame is that they started building it in 1163 and didn’t finish until 1345.  Any time you think, man, it seems like that fill-in-the-blank has been under construction for a long time…think of the Notre Dame.  One could have spent one’s entire life building it, and not started nor finished it.  Crazy.

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The flying buttresses.

Next we went to the Deportation Memorial.  We were allowed to take pictures, but asked not to put them on the internet.  I’ve decided to respect that for my blog here.  I believe if you have read Sarah’s Key that that helps you to understand what the Deportation Memorial is about (somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that is at least part of it.)  There were 200,000 French victims of the Nazi Concentration Camps, and there was a room with a light for each of those.  It seemed to go on forever.

After that sombering experience, we needed a pick me up, so we decided to go in search of gelato.  Lots of people recommended the Berthillon ice cream store, but we wanted gelato, so we went to look for Amorino Gelato on the Ile St. Louis.  We first went over the wrong bridge though, and came across some “locks of love.”

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Being the hopeless romantics we are, we decided we needed our own lock.  Luckily the souvenir sellers nearby sell them!

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I decided to write our wedding date and just our initials since it was a small lock.

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We locked it on.  We kept the keys though—I learned later that you are supposed to throw them into the river, but isn’t that littering?  I suppose putting the lock on is as well, but hmm.

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That’s where it is.

After that we did find the gelato place.  It was a perfect treat.  We stood in the shade and ate. The gelato serving lady was one of the only stereotypical “French” people we ran into.  I was trying to order a flavor called “L’Inimitabile” and was having just a little trouble pronouncing it, but I was gesturing to it as well, and she just refused to look at where I was pointing and made me suffer through.  It was actually pretty funny.  I got that flavor and Speculoos flavor, and Chris got (I think) Chocolate and Caramel.  All was good.

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We continued along the walk after that.  One of the most interesting things from the bit about Medieval Paris: (from the guidebook)

“Along rue St. Séverin, you can still see the shadow of the medieval sewer system. The street slopes into a central channel of bricks. In the days before plumbing and toilets, when people still went to the river or neighborhood wells for their water, flushing meant throwing it out the window. At certain times of day, maids on the fourth floor would holler, “Garde de l’eau!” (“Watch out for the water!”) and heave it into the streets, where it would eventually wash down into the Seine.”

For the rest of the trip, every time we walked down a street that sloped to the center we thought of that.  City living today is much nicer isn’t it?  WAY less sewage in the streets.

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The organ at St. Severin.  Somebody was practicing it while we were there and it was a strange modern piece, very spooky seeming.  Especially because they were practicing, and kept repeating the same part.

We continued on the tour and got to Sainte-Chapelle.  Originally I had planned for us to buy a four-day museum pass at the Pompidou Center, but now we were getting it here instead.  I had been stressing over how to fit the museums into two days, and finally I realized that we should just splurge, buy the four day pass, and not stress.

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The stained glass was amazing!

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We finished the Tour, and decided we were too hot and tired to do anything else except go sit in a cafe and enjoy a coffee and a snack.

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We did, and then we took the metro home.  We were trying to figure out what to do for dinner and I remembered a friend had tweeted about a restaurant called L’Ilot Vache on Ile St Louis that she said was fantastic.  We decided to head out and see if we could get a table.

We found it and were seated immediately.  We were quite early for dinner (probably before 7 pm) but the restaurant quickly filled up.

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Oh, and I should mention there was a lot of cow decor.

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Part of the twitter conversation that led us here…

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There was a “menu” which means a fixed price menu.  Four courses for a set price (can’t recall—36 euros maybe?  maybe 40?).

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That one picture is a huge pail of sour cream for the tart tatin.  The most “fun” part of the menu was that it was entirely in french and we didn’t want to seem like complete idiots (or ask the waiter to translate EVERYTHING for us) so parts of what we ordered were surprises.

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We agreed (later) that this was our favorite meal in Paris.  We were also impressed by how the waiter served all the tables in the restaurant (maybe 12?) and had no problems at all.  He was amazing.

Thus concludes our third day in Paris.  After dinner we walked (slowly) back to our apartment, and shuffled up the 5 flights of stairs.