European Adventure Day 2 – Bienvenue A Paris

Missed Day 0 or Day 1? Follow the links.

Last night’s good dinner? Not so good. I was sick to my stomach for 5 hours. Yay. Now we’re on vacation.

I felt better this morning, and it’s off to Paris. We got to the train station early, but were on our way soon enough. The Eurostar was nice. Comfy seats, even if they didn’t recline. I was able to eat breakfast – yay for me – and spent the ride napping and looking out at the English and French countryside. Penny and I didn’t take pictures, but this guy did and wrote a good description of the journey.

In Paris, our hotel was a 15 minute ride on the RER B. It was only a couple of blocks from Notre Dame and just off Place Saint-Michel.

Place Saint-Michel

Penny at Notre Dame
Notre Dame interior

After check-in, we headed to the cathedral to tour the inside. We had no Euros at the moment. Something the woman selling audio tours didn’t grasp even after we explained and she said it was no problem, we could leave IDs and still use the headset. She spoke English so I’m not sure what the problem was since she still wanted money in addition to the IDs. Oh well, Notre Dame is beautiful without headsets. Besides, without our good friend Jeremy to talk us through a cathedral, I don’t know if it would have been the same.

We planned to climb the towers the same day, but the line was incredibly long so we headed to the Louvre.

The Pyramid Entrance

The museum was crowded, but not too much so. At least in places where the Mona Lisa wasn’t. By staying just ahead of large tour groups, Penny and I managed to see quite a bit of the museum. We skipped the club-footed boy, but took in plenty of Greek and Roman statues, checked out some Egyptian artifacts and the Book of the Dead.

This will come back to bite us in a couple of days – the Egyptian stuff, not the Book of the Dead. We weren’t cursed or anything, although that could explain the raging ear infections I ended up dealing with on our return home. Hmm.

The Most Famous Painting

Word of warning – if you ever go to the Louvre, be prepared for the Mona Lisa. You have to see it. It’s like going to New York and not seeing the Empire State Building or Philadelphia and not seeing the Liberty Bell or any beach and refusing to look at the ocean because that’s what everyone else does.

But here’s the thing about this painting. No one in the room is really sure why it’s so famous, but they all want their picture taken with it. Picture it – about 75 to 100 people standing in front of a painting that’s smaller than you think it should be. A rope keeps people about 5 feet in front of it. Despite clearly marked exits along the rope line, there’s no indication of where to go in and the exits are merely a break in the rope before the wall of people.

Learn from my mistake (and I think I’ve made this twice). Don’t take a picture of the painting. You’ll capture the glare of the glass and everyone else’s bouncing flashes and green or red focus lights. Take pictures of the crowd instead, and just look at the painting. You don’t need to collect it on your memory card.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Anyhoo, my favorite sections of the museum were the Melpomene gallery full of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses (the statues, not the real deities), the Winged Victory statue and the gardens outside. The weather was very nice so the walk back to the hotel was enjoyable. This will not be true tomorrow.

After the Louvre, it was nap time! Sweet, blessed, recharging nap time. Ah.

Le Ciel from a tower at Notre Dame

Then we walked about 1.5 miles to dinner at Le Ciel on top of the Montparnasse Tower (it’s the tall black square in the picture). Wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower and the city. We got to see the Eiffel sparkle show twice. The food and service were excellent. Penny and I had a great time reviewing our lives. Summation – we’re both pretty happy.

Walking back to the hotel, I realized my heels had stretched a wee bit from how they were packed when I left the U.S. This made them just too big enough that it was annoying. I kept stepping out of them and could tell I was getting blisters. So I took them off and walked a few blocks in my stockinged feet. I could tell you I was soaking up the spirit of Paris through the soles of my feet and giving in to a French bohemian state of mind, but that’s a lie. My feet hurt, ergo the shoes came off. Hygienic and safe, probably not. Comfortable and preventing blisters, definitely.

So now it’s back to bed. Tomorrow as much Paris as we can cram into the time before catching the train for another ride through the Channel Tunnel.

Want to know what happened on our second day in Paris? Check it out here.

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