July 14–18, 2016 - Paris
We had to be up super early to fly to Paris. We luckily had airport transfer so our car picked us up at 4:30am and then we were off to the airport! We were arriving on Bastille Day and so weren't sure what to expect as far as security, etc. when we got there. Luckily we arrived we no issue and were apply to take the subway directly from the airport to our hotel. We were staying near Luxembourg Gardens which is conveniently a blue line stop just as the airport is! Win.
We left our luggage at the hotel in storage as our room wasn't quite ready when we arrived and headed around the corner to grab some lunch. Getting up so early we had some munchies at the airport but found ourselves pretty hungry after the flight and travel to hotel. We found a cute little cafe (ironically the only place where they spoke just French during our entire time in town) but Jon managed to order and pay without issue. That French translation book came in handy! We also visited the Pantheon since it was right across the street. I had not seen this the last time I was in town- it was a magnificent place, really beautiful architecture and art. We also popped down to the Gardens for a quick walk around before checking into our room, freshening up a bit and then deciding where we go for the day!
I had left our Paris itinerary entirely in Jon's hands. I felt like he should get to choose since I dictated our entire Ireland trip! So our first stop was to Musee Rodin. Again another place I had not visited so I was looking forward to what it had to offer. We got to see The Thinker (under a little reconstruction) as well as some of Rodin's other lesser known works. The grounds were beautiful and we got some nice photos as we walked around. We followed this up with a visit to Les Invalides. I should have prefaced saying that on Bastille Day all museums and monuments are free. Which is great but that also means they are super crowded! At Les Invalides we were able to see Napolean's tomb as well as all the intricate gaudy architecture Napolean had wanted. It was quite the sight. We ventured over to the Eiffel Tower as there was supposed to be a free concert and fireworks in the evening to celebrate Bastille Day. Well- after seeing the guard presence and finding out no food or drinks were allowed inside we opted to listen to the dress rehearsal and then headed back toward our hotel for dinner. From the Pantheon you can see the Eiffel Tower so we thought if we could find a good spot there we would be able to see the show without all the hassle of being down there. We had a tasty dinner and then settled in to watch the fireworks. Of course accompanied by nutella crepes and Rose! When in Paris :) And the fireworks were amazing!! So much better than 4th of July in the states. They also went on forever. I'm glad we were able to experience that and on our first day in town!
We had a cute french breakfast at our hotel and then it was off to experience more of Paris! Our first stop was to the Louvre. I had been previously in 2009 but as it had been awhile I was looking forward to showing it to Jon and letting him take it all in. As I expected he was in awe at the sheer size of the place. But we were able to see quite a bit (some on purpose and some when we got lost!) including the Mona Lisa of course. We followed the Louvre with a trip over to Musee d'Orsay. I had not been there previously as we got there after they closed. It had a lot more of the art I enjoy and so I had a really nice time walking around this museum. Plus we got great views of the Seine from the room AND I got to see some of my favorite Degas paintings. Our next stop was over to Notre Dame. Paris is so iconic with all its fantastic sights. Last time at Notre Dame I had an allergic reaction. This time it was a little toasty out but we were able to walk around inside and take in the greatness of the space. Our last stop for the day was over to Saint Chapelle. Again something I didn't see previously. The stained glass in the light does not disappoint and is worth every penny you pay to get inside. It was a really really cool place.
After wandering all day, we stopped back at our hotel (which was decorated for our honeymoon) to enjoy the chocolate and champagne. So nice! And then we headed back across the Seine to eat at Les Marches. In 2009 when Ethan, Elizabeth and I were traveling we stumbled upon this cute cafe and ate one of our best meals in Paris. I was eager to return and conveniently it is right across the river from the Eiffel Tower- so perfect views! We started with wine (of course) and then had a delicious dinner and dessert! Dining al fresco with near perfect weather. I couldn't have asked for a better evening. We finished it off by walking across one of the bridges and enjoying the eiffel lit up like the French flag. The view was absolutely amazing.
We had another delicious breakfast at our hotel before embarking on a day of monuments and museums! First stop was to the Arc de Triomphe - and we got to go up! There are a lot of stairs but the view at the top of the city is quite nice and much less crowded than going up the Eiffel Tower. We got some great photos at the top, took a quick breather and then headed back down the stairs to our next location. We walked the length of Champs-Élysées ending up near Musee de l'Orangerie for a beautiful exhibit on Monet's Water Lilies. Two whole oval shaped rooms are dedicated to his art. It was truly breathtaking and I'm so glad we got to experience it.
We headed to a different neighborhood after this. First stopping at Sainte-Trinité which is Messiaen's church, one of Jon's music idols. You are able to just walk in so we wandered around a little, saw the organ he used to play at, and read some of the history. This was Jon's happy place. Afterwards we headed up to Montmarte to visit Sacre Coeur, and hide from pick pockets. This time we got to walk up to the dome in the top- amazing views of Paris. SO MANY STEPS. And a little claustrophobic but the views were worth it. I took a few shots as we were walking down but then we basically booked it to the bottom as the area is rampant with pick pockets. Then we stopped by Moulin Rouge, had a wine and cheese break, and the ventured to the Montmarte Cemetery. I had briefly walked past this last time in town but this time we got a map and wandered around to look at some of the famous graves. There are A LOT of people of note buried there, especially those of the arts and humanities. It was pretty cool (and creepy).
One of our last stops that day was to the old Opera House, Palais Garnier. They were closed but we were able to visit the gift shop and get some really fun ornaments for everyone! We stopped by the hotel to drop off our goodies and then after a little yelping found a nearby restaurant that had fantastic ratings and was definitely off the beaten path. Le Petit Prince de Paris. There are not any words to describe how amazing this meal was. I almost forgot to take pictures of our food but did grab one of the apple tart we had at the end. It was fantastic. An american lady at the table next to us said she came there all the time, but that people found it by word of mouth and it should be kept that way! We agreed. SO GOOD.
Our final day of the whole trip. It dawned late for us (travel fatigue is real and it was rearing its ugly head at this point). But thankfully we had covered almost everywhere that Jon had wanted to see so we were taking the day easy. We wandered the streets, stopping in Shakespeare and Co (because you have to right?!) and walking by the Pompidou. We picked up some souvenirs for friends and family as we walked through Le Marais. Even some macarons! We had a little adventure getting cash out for a gift for Jon's brother... as someone (not me) forgot to bring the check card with him so we got to run back to the hotel, grab it and make it back to a street vendor just in the nick of time. And one of our last stops was to Rosa Bonheur to have tasty cheese stuffed with figs and a bottle of rose while floating on the Seine. We relaxed for a bit and then found a nearby cafe (Le Petit Cler) for a quick dinner. Still tasty- and we talked with some nice Americans from Charlotte, NC at the table next to us. A quality dining experience. And finally we headed back to our hotel to pack and I had delicious gelato one last time at sunset. Just nothing better. Paris you're lovely.