Magnifique!!!! Holy moly – what a beautiful city.
Day 1 – Exploration!
We landed in Paris at 8am on Sunday morning April 28th and checked into the hotel (Holiday Inn Saint Germain des Prés – 6th arrondissement), took a 2-hour nap then went off to explore our neighbourhood. We strolled along the streets of Saint Germain des Prés past cafes, patisseries, boulangeries and shops. We came across St. Sulpice and the fountain in front of it.
We continued to walk through the Quartier Latin and ended up having lunch at the Creperie Cluny – we both had crepes. When travelling I like to eat all the local foods and vowed that at every meal I’d choose typically “French” foods. Crepes with a nice Bordeaux wine – we were off to a good start!
We walked all the way to Ile de la Cité and visited the Conciergerie which was the jail back in the day where they held prisoners before they went to the guillotine. Marie Antoinette stayed there. A guided tour started 5 minutes after we arrived so we did that and it took about an hour to visit.
Salle des gendarmes – beautiful structure:
Office in the jail – this is not a cell.
No climbing the walls to escape:
An interesting tidbit we learned was that prisoners had to pay the jail for a better quality cell. The poorest would share a small cell that held 10 people with nothing but hay on the floor. The next level would get you a cell shared by 5 people with very minimal amenities. The higher level would get you a private cell with minimal furniture. Chris and I thought this strategy was worth considering for today’s prison systems where criminals are often treated better than people on the street or the elderly in old folks’ homes. But I digress. We got to see where Marie Antoinette was held – that was a pretty nice cell considering the meager alternatives.
I should mention that prior to the trip, I had purchased 2 Paris Combo Passes (4 days) which provided unlimited access to transport and priority entry to 60+ attractions where we got to skip the lines to enter – that was amazing – highly recommended since the lines can be discouraging. But not for us. 🙂 I bought them from here and they came with a free sight-seeing boat cruise (more on that later).
We took the Metro back to our hotel (2 minute walk from 2 different metro stations – the Metro system is absolutely fantastic).
Day 2 – The Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe
On all mornings we had breakfast at the hotel which was a buffet with lots of hot and cold options. Then, we were off to the Louvre! We took the Metro and entered from the Pyramid (passed the line – woohoo). It was very busy but we took our time – we had picked the areas we wanted to visit and stayed close to the plan. The building itself is phenomenal. We also followed a Louvre audio tour that we had downloaded from Rick Steves’ site which had some interesting info.
Here she is!
In front of the Louvre:
Inside the Louvre
Fantastic ceilings near the Greek Antiquities area:
Then off to Italian sculpture and Venus de Milo!
Seeing famous works of art in person was very surreal for me – I loved it.
Samothrace – you often see her on the bough of ships with her right arm extended in the air – signifies Victory. Fabulous.
On our way to Italian painting.
There she is – the Mona Lisa. 🙂 From far
Closer… She’s behind a glass wall to protect from all the flashes.
This was one of my faves:
Then we were off to visit the Napoleon III Apartments – this was a really cool section in the museum. I lost count of all the chandeliers.
Interesting conversation chair:
We then began our walk from the Louvre all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. We sat in the sun for a while in the Jardin des Tuileries, people watching and resting our feet…
Walked across the Place de la Concorde – oouuu the Obelisk:
We then started our trek up the Champs Elysees and stopped at the famous Laduree for lunch.
Both Chris and I had the Salade Concorde which was spinach, cucumber, chicken and an amazing mustard dressing. For dessert, Chris had a baba au rhum and I had a lemon tart. There was an older French couple next to us who ordered a small salmon entree, then had 3 pastries each – they were adorable. 🙂
I couldn’t help but take a pic of the line of people waiting to get into Louis Vuitton. Hehehe
Continuing our walk up the Champs Elysées to the Arc – which was closed! Cops blocked the whole circle so we couldn’t go up but since the street was blocked, we got to stand in the middle of the street to get some good pics. 🙂
We took the Metro back to our hotel and stopped at the Bon Marché grocery store where we picked up fixings for supper: baguette, Camembert and goat cheese, an assortment of charcuterie, wine and some Valrhona chocolate. I would have liked to move into the grocery store – they had a huge selection of products and everything looked amazing…
More to come for Day 3 and Day 4!