Christian and I didn’t take too many pictures in Paris. We didn’t even bother bringing our video camera. We wanted to enjoy the sites and soak them instead of worrying about the perfect photo op. But we did take a few pictures (26 to be exact), most simply because they were things that we knew weren’t available in a postcard form or available online like the photos I snapped of two sculptures / headstones in Cimetiere de Montparnasse.
I started to write some quick highlights of the things we did but found myself wanting to elaborate so here’s a brief summation of our trip:
1st Day – Took a bus from the airport and checked in to the Hotel des Artistes. Walked through the Luxembourg Gardens and had our first Parisian dining experience with no problems. Christian’s high school French got us bemused, appreciative smirks.
2nd Day – As the sun was rising, we walked through the Cimetiere de Montparnasse which, although not the more famous one with Jim Morrison and the like, was amazing and houses the most beautiful, touching, sad, haunting sculpture. We tried to visit the Catacombs – the site I was most interested in seeing, actually – but it was closed for renovations. Bummer. We had coffee before heading out to our first walk with the aforementioned Paris Walks book that took us from St. Germain-des-Pres to the Musee d’Orsay. We stopped at Deyrolle, a 170 year old taxidermy shop that is surreal. I bought a gorgeous blue morpho butterfly of the lepidoptera order that I can’t stop staring at. Then we hit the museum to feast our eyes on an impressive collection of paintings by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, et al. You know…the usual.
3rd Day (Christmas Eve) – We embarked on our longest walk of the trip by starting at the Louvre (the Paris Walks book gave us a useful tip about a relatively unknown entrance to the museum that let us avoid all the lines) where we saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Both, while lovely, were difficult to enjoy because of the ridiculous over-use of cameras of every size and shape. I wanted to snatch them away from everyone and make the people just stop for a moment to savor the view. The museum really should do something about this…something along the lines of the Hope diamond. I recall seeing it by filing up to it in a single file line, having my solitary moment with it then moving on.
We moved away from both and went to the more quiet exhibits of amazing sculptures and Egyptian artifacts. But the most beautiful thing of the Louvre, in my opinion, is the Louvre itself. There were moments where the building, the ceilings the courtyards were dizzying. Also in my opinion, the glass pyramid constructed above the main entrance is hideous. Apparently many others agreed but some have come to appreciate the merging of modern and ancient design, including Christian. From there we continued a Paris Walks walk that took us off and on the Champs Elysees till we reached the Arc de Triomphe.
After a short nap, we ventured out again to the Eiffel Tower where a full moon shone. It was a bit too cold to stand in line to travel up to the top and, as we had found at other places, due to the clouds we weren’t sure that we’d see anything from up there anyway. Instead we walked along the Seine and had a leisurely meal at a bistro where Christian was served the saddest salami and pickle sandwich. I think the kitchen was mad at our late arrival (it was due to close in 10 minutes) and decided to scrimp on his meal as punishment. I hope Christian has the photo of it that I can share. It was hilariously bare of meat and pickles.
4th Day (Christmas Day) – We had a cozy breakfast nearby our hotel where the most ridiculous U.S. couple confirmed all those stereotypes about rude, loud Americans. They were so awful they were an exaggerated caricature of the stereotype. Christian snapped a pic on his iPhone that I’ll have to post later but the pic will not do any justice. They were absurd. So absurd we apologized to our waiter on their behalf.
We trekked to Notre Dame where we partook in Mass. It was lovely –both the building and the Mass– but religion is baffling to me. Stand up, sit down, chant in unison…it’s all very cult-like and creepy. The heeby jeebies set in after a few minutes so we skedaddled over the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, on which the above photo was snapped. We completed two walks from Paris Walks that day and just generally enjoyed being out and about with no agenda.
Christmas dinner was at Villa Spicy near the Champs Elysees which was bustling. You would never have known it was Christmas. The sidewalks were packed as if it were any other shopping day and the trees along the street were brilliantly lit with blue twinkle lights.
5th Day – We doubled back to the Conciergerie (really not as interesting as a museum as it could and should be as the prison that housed Marie Antoinette among others due to much of the building still being used for the Paris law courts) and the Pantheon which had been closed for Christmas the day before. We somehow managed to time out longest and most difficult Metro experience with rush hour which made for squeezing into the train car an experience in itself.
We finished our day with the Arts and Tarts walk in Paris Walks. This was, by far, our favorite as it was the most romantic and quaint and uniquely Paris walk of those we had completed. It took us to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart which was breathtaking. The views were spectacular and we were constantly delighted at seeing the domes of the church suddenly appear again as we walked around the winding, hilly roads. We vowed that if and when we return to Paris, we will stay in this area or arrondissement.
Our last meal in Paris at Sensing was our most decadent and was a fun experience. A man’s job was just to stand and watch us eat. If a crumb fell, he was there. Water? Of course. Last bite eaten? Plate promptly removed. It was weird but fun and delicious and adventurous. We had a nightcap at a pub where a regular was trying to make moves on every woman in the room. He convinced one to dance with him and as their dancing continued she clearly became uncomfortable and abandoned him as he tried to tuck his obvious boner into a less apparent position. Awkward and awesome.
Lots of little details have been left out, but this sums it up nicely, I guess. The next time we visit will definitely be in Spring or Summer where we can truly enjoy the gardens and outdoor cafes. But for our first time and as a way to spend Christmas, we had an amazing time.
Ready for ’08!