December 12, 2017

Four Days In Paris

This is going to be another long journal entry with lots of cell phone photos of my trip to Europe so feel free to skip ahead if travel posts aren't your thing. If they are your thing, you can read about my first four days spent in London here.

On Wednesday, we woke up in London and headed to Paris via train. We stayed in a hotel in Monmarte with a sketchy elevator and a long winding staircase with windows that opened outwards towards the street. It felt very Parisian. Our first stop was the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, most commonly known as the Sacré-Cœur. It's a beautiful white church on top of a hill and once you manage to get up all the steps, it offers gorgeous views of Paris. Once we finished there we wandered the streets of Monmarte and went in several churches and watched the artists paint at Place du Tertre. After we found some dinner we walked to the Moulin Rouge then called it a night.

Our next day was a bit of an adventure. We took a train to Versailles, but when we got there, the Palace of Versailles was closed due to a worker strike. We were told that they were in talks and a decision would be reached within an hour so we decided to wander and see what else we could find. We found the Norte Dame of Versailles which was gorgeous and spent some time there. When we got back to the Palace of Versailles there were still no signs of it opening so we took a train back to the middle of Paris. Once back we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. The history of how it was built was amazing and the stained glass windows were beautiful. After touring the inside, we walked across the bridge to find lunch on Ile St. Louis and couldn't pass up some ice cream from Berthillon. Once replenished, we took on the challenge of taking the stairs to the top of Notre Dame. Those spiral stairs seem like they're never going to end and just when you think you're near the top, you find a new set of stairs to climb. There was an older man in front of me and by the sound of his breathing, I was sure it was only a matter of time before I was going to have to catch him. I wasn't doing too much better myself so the two of us would have probably tumbled down that infinite stairway together. Luckily we both made it to the top without any casualties and the views were incredible. It was well worth the effort to get to the top. I didn't think much could top that view, but then we entered Sainte-Chapelle, a 13th century chapel. It's small compared to other well-known churches, but it is the most stunning chapel. It seems like you're standing in a jewelry box. The next stop was the Conciergerie which was a prison during the Revolutionary War and housed Marie Antoinette. After that, it was endless wandering around the Louvre trying to soak in all the art and history. Our final stop was the Musée d'Orsay which is an art museum in a former railway station. I'm getting tired just typing this day out - I didn't realize how much we did that first full day until I wrote this up.

On Friday we started our morning by stopping by a boulangerie. I got a pain au chocolat (my absolute favorite pastry that I will never stray from). We decided to begin with a cheery activity by touring the catacombes de Paris. It was crazy to think that we were underneath Paris with the remains of over 16 million people, and the history of it all is super interesting. Google it. Once we joined the land of the living, we walked through Tuileries Garden and then on to Musee de l'Orangerie which houses Van Gogh's water lily murals. Next was the Musée Rodin, which was formerly the Hôtel Biron where Auguste Rodin had lived. It holds the largest Rodin collection, with more than 6,000 sculptures and 7,000 works on paper. I really enjoy Rodin's work so I especially liked this museum. We did some shopping on Rue Cler, a pedestrian only street with lots of little market shops. I bought some candy to take home and stopped in the cutest little French bookstore. We headed to the Eifel Tower. We rode the elevator to the top for some epic views of Paris. Then we spent twenty minutes trying to get a semi-decent picture of us jumping in front of the Eifel Tower - who knew it was so hard?  

On Saturday, our last full day in Paris, Steph and I decided to take the train back out to Versailles. Lucky for us, the worker strike had been resolved and we were able to get in. I was actually a little disappointed in the Palace of Versailles. It's a rather short tour and Marie Antoinette's chateau was closed for some restoration work. Maybe I was just burnt out after seeing so many other grand palaces. Haha. We made our way back to the middle of Paris and had some lunch then wandered around Place du Tertre again. Brad and Michelle had stayed in London for a few extra days and they joined us in Paris that evening. Once we were all reunited, we went and found some delicious Caribbean food. I was exhausted so I ended my day by being in bed by 9 o'clock. 

We woke up early the next morning to head home. We grabbed a bus that took us to another bus that took us to the airport. Our flight from Paris to London was delayed which made us almost miss our flight back to the U.S. We were rushing through the airport and then my bag got stopped for an extra security check. They went through everything, even opening up my make-up products to check for any secrets I might be hiding. After watching them go through every item in my bag painstakingly slowly, we had to sprint through the airport to make our flight. I hope I don't have run to catch a flight again anytime soon because that was not a fun experience

Again, cell phone pictures and my fading memories don't do the trip justice. It was all amazing and wonderful and I'm grateful I was able to take a trip like this. I'm especially grateful for the fun group that I experienced it all with. 

I'm also grateful for a husband who watched the kids by himself for 10 days without complaint. I don't think the kids missed me one bit because Andrew planned fun excursions for them every day. I left being Olive's favorite and came home to Andrew being the favorite. I think this trip was all a ruse so he could steal the title from me. Well played Andrew. 

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