Saturday, February 6, 2016

Final Day of Being a Tourist

Guess what was first on the list for our last day? We were actually quite lucky. The Eiffel Tower was closed for a few weeks for refurbishing or something, but it reopened for our last day in Paris. It was a cloudy, foggy day, so the view wasn't marvelous, but it was still a wonderful experience. We're glad we were able to share it with Brad and Cody.
From the bottom. This monument really is massive.
Taking the elevator up!
Exploring the second level.

All the way at the top!

Coming back down.
More time at the 2nd level.
We loved this perspective of the tower.
Exploring the first level.
Back on the ground again.
Heading to the bus stop for our trip across the city.
One final destination - the hills of Montmartre.
Looking for the perfect painting to help them remember their visit. (Check their blog to see which one they chose.)
One final church/cathedral visit - Sacre-Coeur.
We had a wonderful time in Paris, so much so, that I'd love to go back again. Maybe someday we will.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday in France

We'd done our research to know that there is always a long line to climb the tower at Notre Dame Cathedral, even mid-week in January. So we got an early start and headed over, stopping to take a brief tour of Sainte-Chapelle, since it was also included in the museum pass. The stained glass was gorgeous, and this is also worth a future visit when we have more time to figure out all of the 1,000+ biblical stories they depict.
Notre Dame is just a couple of blocks away.
When we got to the tower line (good thing the guide books tell you it's around the corner to the left because it isn't very well marked) there were only a couple of people in line.  Because they only let a limited number up at a time, even though we were near the front of the line, we still had a wait of a half hour or so. I can only imagine what it would be like in the summer! It also wasn't very clear as to where you purchase your tickets to go up, so in case you ever need to know, it's after you go through security and up the first set of stairs. There happens to be a little gift shop there, and we decided Brooke needed a Quasimodo to accompany her up the stairs. He was happy to see his bell at the top, where the view was great, even if it was obscured by ugly black netting. (FYI, strollers aren't allowed up these stairs either, but at least they had a place to store them at the bottom.)
Once at ground level again, we walked through the inside of the cathedral.
The artwork and details are amazing and mind-boggling, but I still like our temples better. I think a lot of that is due to light. These old cathedrals are kind of dark and damp. Wayne detoured to see the treasury; maybe the rest of us should have as well, because he said it was quite fascinating.
We did took a few minutes to check out the crypt. I thought it would be filled with coffins of old priests, but it was really a series of exhibits on how Paris was founded.

Then it was time to cross the bridge and walk through the Latin Quarter on our way to the Jardin du Luxembourg so that Brooke could play on the playground.

She was kind of disappointed that there weren't any swings. We thought it was interesting that you had to pay to go inside. However, because it was damp and misty and cold, she had the huge playground all to herself. That probably wouldn't happen in summer either.
By then it was raining a bit harder and we were all hungry, so we found someplace to eat lunch and then we visited the Musee de l'Armee. First up was Napoleon's Tomb, and then we walked through the World War I and World War II exhibits.

Once again we stayed until closing time. While it might have been nicer without the rain, we still had a wonderful Friday in France.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Museums and More

One of the things that intrigued me during my research of things to do in Paris was the Passage Jouffroy, a covered shopping mall. Many of these passages were created 200 years ago to help the shoppers of the day avoid mud and rain. Because it wasn't on our "top ten" list, we didn't explore these passages when the stores were open, but we did walk through them one morning, and decided we'd love to come back and spend more time there some day.
Thursday morning's museum was the Musee de l'Orangerie, which was originally designed as a showcase for Monet's Water Lilies paintings.
However, there were other paintings as well.
After going through the displays at the museum, we left to meet Brad's family. We showed Brooke our view of the Eiffel Tower and then left to catch a bus.
Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe.
After we arrived we discovered that strollers aren't allowed to go up to the top; it was a bit disappointing to not be together at the top. We also learned that if you want to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower you should go in the afternoon so the sun doesn't interfere. At least, it was sunny and not rainy!
The detail on the arch was amazing. 
Robyn had a grand time exploring the tunnel under the monument.
Afterwards we strolled along the Champs Elysees, which included the must-do tourist stop at Lauderee for some macarons. We tried chocolate, salted caramel, raspberry, vanilla pecan, pistachio and rose petal, cutting them into teeny tiny pieces so everyone could try each flavor. Salted caramel and raspberry were the favorites.
We made it to the end!
We walked through the Jardins des Tuileries and actually found some green grass. When we walked through it that morning (on the way to the museum) I was surprised at how brown it was, and that most of the walkways were dirt. It's still a beautiful park, though, just different.
At the far end of the park we stopped to take some pictures of the Louvre, or the Ecole du Louvre.
Then we crossed the Seine River using the Pont Royal bridge, on our way to the next museum.
This time it was the Musee d'Orsay
They did a great job of turning an old train station into an art museum.
It's possible to have an overload of art, but I'm still glad we went.
Once again we stayed pretty much until closing, and then we walked over the famous "love lock" bridge, Pont des Arts, although it was too dark to really see anything.
After dinner we helped Brad's family check into their hotel. Don't you just love their cute little elevator?