Paris, Day 3

Our third and last day in paris was beautiful! We woke up and had breakfast in the hostel (it was provided – and very good!), and then we set out for Notre Dame. On the way there we passed through a little outside market selling chickens, bunnies, and canaries.

We took some pictures outside and then we realized there was a service going on, so we went inside for it. The inside of the cathedral was gorgeous, and the music was wonderful. 

(this is the paris palais de justice – in Quasimodo, this is where Frollo chases the gypsy mom up the steps)

After that, we went to Berthillion – an Ice Cream place that my cousin, friend, and Rick Steves recommended. I have never had ice cream as good as it! Our waiter was so nice and gave us free truffles. He looked just like Barack Obama too. 

Then we headed over to Champs Élysées, the 5th Avenue of Paris. We saw the Arch De Triomphe, and then worked our way down the street. We only saw Louis Vuitton because it was chilly and we were running out of time. We did go inside though, and it was amazing! There were antique initial trunks everywhere… Sarah checked the price of a new one, $36,000…ridiculous. Next time I hope to see Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Longchamp, etc etc…

We went into the section of Montmarte I had been to the previous day for dinner. We picked a cute restaurant where I got delicious chicken and lentils. After that, we went back to the hostel to finish packing to get up at 6 the next morning for our flight!

Paris, Day 2

Saturday Morning we slept in a little, as we did not have anything scheduled early in the morning. Lauren & Sarah were going to the War Museum (L’Hôtel national des Invalides) and I was meeting Melissa at a flea market in the Montmartre district. I LOVED Montmartre, it was very neighborhood-y and had a lot going on. There were shops full of cheese, fruit, wine, bakeries, boucheries (a butcher shop basically), pâtisseries (pastry & sweets) and cute little cafés. There was one cute florist outside the métro station, which was the one and only picture I took that day, because my camera battery died right after. 

The flea market with melissa was alright, it had less homemade items and more fake purses/clothes/coats. I bought a cheap sweatshirt because I was so freezing. After that, I met Lauren & Sarah in the museum they had been visiting. I ended up getting off at the wrong metro stop and had to walk about a mile, but I was able to find them. I was most worried that because I was late, they would think something happened to me, or would leave the place we were supposed to meet. But they didn’t; good friends. 

We then went over to the Eiffel Tower and went up in it. The top was closed for maintenance (freaks me out) but the 2nd level was still open. I knew the Eiffel was big, but it is massive. The 1st and 2nd level both have restaurants, and the 2nd level additionally has 2 floors, shops, and a huge viewing area. 

Lauren didn’t want to go up so Sarah and I got in line. It moved very quickly, and I didn’t notice in my book until later that you can actually make reservations and skip the line. We got into an elevator, which was powered by a pulley system and hydraulic pistons. They have a mannequin sitting precariously outside the elevator where someone actually used to operate the car (yikes). It goes up to the 2nd floor first and we got off there. I could not believe how high up we were!! You could see everything! But it was about 10 degrees colder up there – to the point of it being miserable. We took a few pictures and ran into the gift shop while we waited for the elevator. I bought a little bottle of brandy in an Eiffel-shaped bottle. They had one filled with olive oil but it was twice as big and twice as expensive… I’ll probably never drink it (gross) but I really liked the bottle. 

After that, we took the elevator down, where we had the option to go on the 1st floor, which we passed on. I was so cold and we had left Lauren down at the bottom for almost 2 hours! We quickly found a little french restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was delicious, I got a croque monsignor, because I thought it was so delicious when the girls got it yesterday. Lauren got a croque madame, which has an egg on top of it, and Sarah got a cheeseburger. Everything was reasonably priced, except when we got the bill, our drinks (coffee, hot chocolate, tea) were 5 euros each! Sneaky Tourist Trap. 

We got on the métro and went to Musée d’Orsay (a museum I wanted to go to.. art from 1880s-1920s, including van Gogh, Rodin, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Cézanne) It was closed, so we walked back to the métro to go back to the hostel. On the walk back i ducked into a little pharmacy to get chapstick. It was fancy! It reminded me of the store Rouge at home (they carried L’Occitane soaps-so pretty!- and Proraso shave soap). Of course, they didn’t have cheapo Chap-Stick so I ended up buying this fancy italian lip balm, which I am obsessed with now! 

Anyway, we went back to the Hostel for a bit and got a little dressed up to go out to Montmartre for drinks. Once we got there, we stopped in front of Moulin Rouge for some pictures!

We started looking for somewhere to go, but everywhere seemed to be an Irish Pub! Why would we go to Paris to drink Guiness? We ended up in this fancy bar that was way overpriced (rail drinks were about 7 euro) and only stayed for one drink. Then we got a fresh made banana/nutella crepe from a little stand on the street. It was yummy!

Then we finally went back to the hostel to get some sleep for the next & last day!

I’ll try to get some photos from Lauren & Sarah to add to this post asap

Paris, Day 1

We left for Paris thursday morning, around 12:15. We were running about 30 minutes late, which was very frustrating, because we were pushing it by leaving at 11:30. One bus stop, tube stop, and another bus later, we made it to Luton Airport, in north London. We practically ran to the EasyJet counter, but we were too late (by 4 minutes). The check in time had ended at 2:30 and we were there at 2:35. They wouldn’t let us check in, as I guess that is how cheap airlines make their money… not to mention their motto is something like “if you’re late,we won’t wait”. We decided shilling out £40 more was worth it (instead of travelling back to school, and losing the money on the hostel and return flight). We took at 6pm flight and got there at 8. It only took an hour to get there (8 because of the time difference). We found the RER train and took that to the métro. 

We walked to our hostel easily, and got our keys, padlocks, and settled in. It was much nicer than I had expected! There were 10 people in our room, co-ed, and a hall bathroom. We looked into an all-female dorm, but they had filled up quickly. Anyway, the hostel was very secure: we were given cards (like hotel keys) which we had to use to get in, get onto the elevator, and into the room. The elevator wouldn’t let you swipe your card for a floor that wasn’t yours, and if you took the stairs, the card only worked at the door to your floor. The room had 5 bunk beds, each with lockers underneath for storage. I did sleep with my wallet every night just because I’m a worrywart but I think it would have been fine in the locker. 

Friday morning I woke up to a beautiful view out of the window:

We then hurried over to Place Saint Michel, where we were meeting Melissa and the tour group. Our tour guide’s name was Jacq (short for Jacqueline) and she was from Melbourne Australia. She gave a fantastic tour! It was really funny, but full of information and side stories about Paris. We first walked by Notre Dame (where Lauren, Sarah and I ventured later)

and over to “New Bridge” where we our guide told us a funny story. New Bridge, which is actually the oldest bridge in Paris, was commissioned by Henry III and finished by Henry IV in the late 1500s. According to tale, King Henry held a party one night, and people got incredibly drunk off of red wine and champagne. The king found this funny and ordered sketch artists to come and sketch pictures of the party. The next morning, King Henry finds the sketches and sees what everyone looked like the previous night. After seeing this, he orders that all of the faces be carved into the new bridge that was currently under construction. 

We then walked past a statue of King Henry, and over the Pont des Arts bridge, the one with all the padlocks. From there we walked right into the Louvre, which was the Palace before Versailles was built.

(Louvre)

Across the street from that was another palace, where Cardinal Richelieu lived.

(Consiel d’état)

After that, we walked through a park toward the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs Elysées. There was a ferris wheel still set up from the holiday season. Notice the fountain on the left of the picture – our tour guide told us that a lot of people pose in front of these fountains as if they were peeing into the pond. 

We also walked by an egyptian obelisk “collected” by Napoleon, and two fountains, one of which is in the movie Devil Wears Prada. We then walked toward the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais, where the exhibition of 1900. They are both used as museums now. 

(grand palais)

(doors to petit palais)

Then we walked to L’Hôtel national des Invalides, originally built as a retirement home and hospital for war veterans, but now a war museum and the place of Napoleon’s Tomb. 

From there, our guide took us to a cute little french restaurant where we ordered a late lunch. I got quiche and Lauren and Sarah got a croque monsignor, which is a ham and cheese sandwich with cheese melted on top. It was delicious! After warming up for a bit (It was freezing the whole weekend, about 20 degrees!) we ventured back over to the eiffel tower to take pictures, and then we headed to the Louvre. 

(inverted pyramid inside the louvre)

(view looking up out of the glass pyramid)

The Louvre was gigantic (the largest art museum), and was hard to maneuver. It was a labyrinth of rooms and galleries, with floors in-between floors. We started out slow, and then realized it would take us years (literally) to go through the whole thing. So we went and saw Venus Di Milo and began searching for the Mona Lisa. On the way to the Mona Lisa, we saw quite a few other famous paintings, including a famous Louis XIV portrait, Champaigne’s Last Supper, and Liberty Leading the People (cover art from Viva La Vida). 

(some paintings were huge!)

(Louis XIV – Hyacinthe Rigaud)

(The Last Supper – Phillipe de Champaigne)

(La Liberté guidant le peuple – Eugene Delacroix)

As we were walking, I couldn’t get over the fact that the museum at one point was someone’s house (well, palace). I thought I knew how big castles and palaces were, but this was unimaginable! According to Wikipedia, it is 632,000 square feet…

(Beautiful Ceilings!)

We finally found the Mona Lisa, and she was extremely underwhelming. I’m glad we saw it though.

The last thing we did was to go through Napoleon III’s “apartment”, which, although it was called an apartment, it was probably bigger than my parent’s 3 story house. (brief history of Napoleon III – he was the nephew of Napoleon I, and was heir to the throne, where he ruled as the last monarch of france until he was voted president by popular vote in 1848. He attempted to create a military alliance with the Confederate States of America during the civil war, but none was actually made.) Anyway, his apartment was beautiful! 

(Lauren & Sarah)

(grand salon)

(large dining room … yes there was a ‘small’ one too)

We ate a reasonably priced and delicious dinner at the Louvre and returned to the hostel happily exhausted.

Stereotypes

I met a french kid in one of my classes who said that he hated Americans because they were fat and loud and ate too much McDonalds. He was wearing a black & white striped shirt, black pants, and a beret. Enough Said.