Note to self… do not arrive in Paris on the afternoon the Tour de France ends, esp when your apartment is in the area of all the road closures! Otherwise, you end up having to park and then walk, wheelies in tow, the 20 minutes to the place. Luckily, the driver took his job of “getting us to our apartment” literally and insisted on walking with us. It was definitely a lesson in going with the flow! After settling in, we found a place for dinner and then decided to do one of the nighttime boat tours down the Seine. It was a very cool way for Syd to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time!
Today we set out on a bike tour of Paris. Luckily, I upgraded to electric bikes because what I didn’t realize was that it was a 6-hour tour! (we only did 5 1/2). We pretty much saw all the major sites, climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and had a huge picnic spread lunch along the Seine. I think we both did remarkably well considering we had been in Paris for less than 24 hours!!! And now I feel like we have a much better sense of where things are.
Tomorrow we visit the Eiffel Tower and maybe some museums….
I think it is safe to say that Syd is outfitted for the new school year. Between visiting monuments and museums (the Eiffel Tower and the louvre being the main ones), there’s been quite a bit of retail therapy going on. My feelings are mixed on this…. On the one hand, we are in Paris! There’s culture, and history, and so much vibrant life…. Is Paris REALLY the place to go to Brandi Melville or Urban Outfitters???? (this is a very rhetorical question as the answer is “yes” because in fact, the clothes sold here ARE actually different than those sold in the US). But on the other hand, this trip is just as much about time with Syd as it is about the city we are visiting. So I have embraced this bonding time whether we are at the top of the Eiffel Tower or sitting in a dressing room and I’m counting my blessings that while this girl loves to shop, she is all about thrift stores (there are many here) and inexpensive clothing.
Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, we got there right when it opened and so got to enjoy the whole experience without many people around us. Going up to the very top was a little hair raising for this gal who’s scared of heights, but you can’t visit the Eiffel Tower without going to the top, right????? As many recommended, we chose to hike down from the second level so we could really see the inside support structures.
Today, we visited the spectacular St. Chapelle with all of its brilliant stained glass then checked out Notre Dame (even though it is closed). I watched the movie, Notre Dame Brûle (Notre Dame Burns) on the plane, which I HIGHLY recommend, and it gave so much more meaning to our visit today.
After a long break, we met our tour guide for what was a “highlights” tour of the Louvre. I’m not sure Syd will ever be a lover of art museums, but I think these museums are important and who knows, maybe they will grow on her. She powered through and in the end, the verdict was that Winged Victory was her favorite (I’ll take it as a win that she even HAD a favorite) and she was underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa. She thought it was preposterous that people would stand in line for an hour to take a selfie with it! I concur.
As you will see from the pics, we have set a goal of taking a selfie at each of the monuments/sites we visit
Tomorrow we visit the Musée D’Orsay, then go to the Montmartre area where we will end the day with a show at the Moulin Rouge.
Well folks, we did it! We finally managed to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night. All week we’ve been on a mission to see it. What am I talking about???? Every hour from 11pm-2am, thousands of lights on the Eiffel Tower twinkle for 5 minutes. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s supposedly cool and we both wanted to see it.
We should have seen it our first night here, but we missed the 10pm boat tour that would have put us at the foot of the Eiffel Tower with a perfect view of the 11pm twinkle. But we missed that boat and had to take the 10:30pm boat. Well, THAT put us as far away as possible and all we saw was the tippy top of the tower twinkling for a few seconds in between two buildings as we cruised by.
Three nights ago, our Moulin Rouge show got out at 10:30pm. We figured “Awesome! We’ll totally make the 11pm twinkle.” So we got an Uber and through the wonders of Google translate, explained our mission and asked the driver if it would be possible to detour to a bridge that had a view of the Eiffel Tower. He agreed. By then, it was 10:50pm. Only 10 minutes till twinkle. The guy seriously drove like a maniac, for some reason totally committed to our mission and getting us our view. Arrival time? 11:08pm. We just missed it (but he got a nice tip :-)).
We decided to make our last night in Paris special and made reservations at the Brasserie on the first level of the Eiffel Tower…. More for the experience than the twinkle, but strategic nonetheless. Well, the prix-fixed dinner ended at 10:40pm. We only had 20 minutes to get off the tower and far enough away to actually be able to see it twinkle. Not willing to risk waiting for the elevator, we ran down the stairs, then ran all the way to the Champs de Mars with minutes to spare and sat with the hundreds of other people watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle…. It was special being there, not because the twinkling was spectacular (it was not) but because we were ending a phenomenal week in Paris right where we began.
What else has been going on since the last post? On Thursday morning, we went to the Musee d’Orsay. It was definitely a better experience than the Louvre, but I have a museum-averse child. Her goal? To find the impressionist painters, cruise through the exhibit in 10 and find Van Gogh who she knows and likes…Me? I love the D’Orsay. So I conveniently forgot to tell her that Van Gogh was POST impressionist, to slow things down…..She ended up really liking Monet’s water lilies and pretty much all the Van Goghs. This is why I still make her go.
We spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Montmartre, visiting Sacre Coeur (which I thought was truly remarkable), and got suckered into having a portrait done of Syd. It’s truly a beautiful portrait that has only SOME resemblance to Syd…. Especially after a whole lot of wine….LOL.
The most exciting part of the day? The Moulin Rouge show, not because it was a lovely, fun show (it was) but because I didn’t realize that when it said there were “passages with nudity” that it was actually code for “the women will be topless for the ENTIRE show!” Even the over-the-top costumes had holes strategically cut out so they could remain exposed. After the initial surprise, we settled in to enjoy the show which was a lot of fun and very entertaining. Though truth be told, the highlight may just have been the fact that the waiter served her champagne without asking her age! (Which she then proceeded to knock over onto the guy sitting below us… oy!)
On Friday, we visited the Paris catacombs which were totally intriguing and disturbing all wrapped in one. We finished the day on a light note, learning how to make macarons, a process likely impossible to replicate at home, but delicious nonetheless.
Saturday, we spent the day biking the grounds of Versailles and visiting the palace. I was a little worried about how interesting it would be for Syd based on our experiences at the Louvre and D’Orsay, but the day went off without a hitch and we both agree that the whole day was fun, even the palace which had the potential to be long and boring. Best of all, we had a superstar guide who not only made the palace interesting by telling stories, but he also timed our entry so that we were there when it wasn’t horribly crowded. You’ll see what I mean in the pics. And for those of you who’ve never gone beyond the immediate gardens, I highly recommend renting bikes and biking around the main canal and the rest of the grounds. The trails were gorgeous tree-lined roads with no cars and we got to picnic with nobody else in sight. (A special shout out to Boutique Bike Tours and our two amazing guides this week, Lola and Claudio!)
Right now, we are on a Eurostar train on our way to London. Au revoir Paris!!