Last week, my husband and I were able to take a vacation- just the two of us. We had eleven days off that worked with each other’s schedules, and since that never happens, it was time to take advantage. I had never been too interested in visiting Paris or France, mainly because I don’t speak French and I’ve heard the people out there look down on Americans. I could not have been more wrong! The people in France were the NICEST people I have ever met, and from what we saw, this country is incredible! We divided our time into three different parts and in today’s blog, I will share the first part of our adventure- Paris.
We took an overnight flight and arrived on Paris early Monday morning. We rented our Air B&B the night before so that when we arrived, we could took the metro to our apartment in Montmarte, set down our bags, freshen up, then go explore. Montmarte is in northern Paris and was recommended to us by a friend. We loved this part of the city! It is the highest point, so you get great views, like the first picture below, but also, it has a lot of culture and flavor to it. Home to the infamous Moulin Rouge, this area has lots of fetish shops and burlesque. We didn’t go into any or see any shows, but it seemed to be a fun loving, easy going are that was open to all.
Day 1- after we settled in, we decided to walk from Montmartre down towards the Louvre. In all of our research, everyone said Paris is to be enjoyed by foot, and oh boy, day 1 we did just that. It took us about 45 minutes to walk down the heart of downtown. Our first stop was one that I have been anticipating ever since I studied art- Musee Orangerie. Monet is by far my favorite artist, and this museum is home to his epic water lily paintings. They are huge, beautiful, and wrap two whole rooms in the basement of the museum. Seeing these pieces made my eyes swell with tears. I held them back and took a sea trying to take it all in. I could have sat there forever.
When we left the museum, it started to get cold, nothing like Minnesota, but with the wind from the Seine river made walking the Champs-Elysees very chilly. My husband and I held each other tight, stopping to observe the beautiful city along the riverside as we made our way to Notre Dame Cathedral. This cathedral lives up to the hype, beautiful inside and out, and before we left, we lit a few candles for our beloved grandparents. Our feet hurt, we were jet lagged, so we took some time to walk back to our apartment and rest. We ended our first day in Paris with a spectacular dinner at the Wepler. Amazing oysters, delicious seafood, and the best giant macaroon I have ever had. Probably the best dessert I have ever had. To top it all off, our waiters made us a crepe suzette at the end of the meal as a welcome gift. We weren’t ready to turn in, so we found a bar by the Moulin Rouge for cocktails and funk music. Day 1 was absolutely perfect.
Day 2- First on our list was the catacombs, but just our luck that we spent an hour finding it and it was closed for construction. Defeated from our efforts, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. This thing is massive. So hard to see from certain spots of Paris, but once you can see it, it takes up your whole view. I wish it would’ve been warmer, someone told us it was the coldest day of the year so far. We walked underneath, around, and saw as much of it as we could without climbing it. If I could go back again, it would be during a warmer time of the year- it would have been so enjoyable to sit in the cute park around it and enjoy some espresso.
Next up was the Arch Triumph. The walk there was much different then what we had seen coming from the North. Consulates, palaces, and fancy hotels lined the streets. People in business suites, cigarettes, and briefcases walked with a strong cadence between us. We were definitely on a new side of town. The arch is located in the center of a very busy round about, so trying to get the perfect photo was not on my agenda. I loved watching others with their cameras. Walking into the street with a red light, climbing the light poles, so wonderful. We walked through the tunnel and came out on the other side, right underneath the arch. I enjoyed the arch much more than the Eiffel tower. The wind wasn’t as bad, but also, the architecture of this arch is really neat. In the center, there is a fire, a memorial surrounded by flowers. Names and cities are carved into the sides, angels and warriors as well, it is a must see.
We of course walked home, and on the way stopped for a snack, wine, and macaroons. We warmed up in the apartment and ventured to a cute little restaurant down the street from our apartment. We enjoyed the fanciest dinner we had ever had. They started with an amuse bouche of eggplant and caviar, and from there, each course was divine. We passed on dessert and slowly made our way back to rest.
Day 3- Our last full day in Paris started off pretty rough. I awoke at four am feeling kinda weird. I assumed I had too much adult grape juice and pounded a glass of water. Bad idea- next thing I knew, I was in the bathroom. I’m so glad it was about 10 feet from our bed because I spent all night and until about 2pm the next day visiting it every half hour. My sweet husband went to a pharmacy and grabbed me medicine, and when it started to kick in, I knew we had a small window to see the final two things on your dream list- the O’rsay and the Louvre.
I needed fresh air, so we walked to the O’rsay first. I was most excited by this musuem because of its collection of impressionist artists. My paintings are very influenced by impressionism, there’s just something about those brushstrokes. Tons of Monets, Van Goughs, Manet’s, ohhhhh the dream team. So many amazing pieces, I wish I could have enjoyed them more. I felt so natuous the whole time, my mind wanted more art, my body did not. It still was the best museum I have ever been to, best collections I have ever seen.
The one great thing about the timing of my food poisoning was that the Louvre was opened late. We got there just after 6 with no line at the door. This place is huge, and we knew we couldn’t see everything, so we picked a few things. Something I was dyng to see was the The Winged Victory of Samothrace. I like this piece better than, dare I say, the statue of David. The wings, the body language, the boat, it is a masterpiece. Of course we had to see the Mona Lisa. First case of RBF ever documented, this lovely lady is so small and hung on a huge wall all be her self, how lucky. More than all the art, we really just wanted to see the architecture of the place. It once was a palace, and as a friend told me, the king who inhabited it loved to hunt so much that he actually fox hunting inside of it. Try and imagine it if you can next time you visit. One of our favorite exhibits was about the Medieval Louvre that features the original moat and dungeon… it was awesome. After an hour or so, my body said goodnight and we took a train home where I went to bed, hoping tomorrow I would have the strength to leave the city.
Day 4- Our last morning in Paris consisted of packing and cleaning up our rental apartment. Before we left, we wanted tosee Sacre Coeur so we walked uphill just before sunrise toward the cathedral. All the young kids were on their way to school. Their parents held their hands as they crossed the busy winding roads. When we arrived at the top of the hill, the sun was coming straight up from the horizon line. Everything was pink, purple, and orange, what a perfect time to arrive. We watched the sun come up, took plenty of photos, and even hit the tail end of mass- the singing was angelic. We waited a while after to see if we could climb the stairs, but even though it was suppose to be open, no one showed up. We slowly made our way home, soaking up every step, every smell, peaking in every cute little shop before grabbing our bags and heading to the metro.
I will continue the trip next week- so stay tuned for more adventures 🙂