09/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 71 °F
The big trip!
09/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 71 °F
Our final full day in France 9/2
09/03/2015 - 09/03/2015 71 °F
We woke up very excited this morning. Our friends from Germany, Mathias and Caro were coming to visit us and take us by car on the rest of our trip. We woke up at 6am to get ready, expecting them at 7am. We got a message that traffic into Paris was delaying them, so we relaxed and went to get some breakfast. A nice cafe down the street from our hotel had omelettes and we sat outside near the road to watch for them. Around 10am they finally arrived. We got their car parked and took their stuff upstairs. We had planned to go to the Catacombs, but the line was far too long at that point. Bummed we will miss seeing them, so, maybe next time!!
We decided to walk into the city. It was kind of fun to show them around, since we had walked the city quite a bit and knew the way. Neither of them had spent much time in the city, so we went back to Arc de Triomphe, up Champs Elysées, past the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, through Luxembourg Gardens, Plaza de L'Concorde and to the Louvre. During our traipse down Champs Élysées, we saw a Citroen car dealership (dealers in the city are in buildings) and they had a giant, 5 story high slide. For just €2, you could ride! Of course we had to do it!!
The weather for the day was nice and cool in the shade and warm in the sun. A nice change from the blazing hot that we had been experiencing. We finished the evening with a trip up to Sacre Coeur. The Montmatre neighborhood is hundreds of years old. It is on a hill with the Basillica Sacre Couer at the top. In various wars it has served as a military stronghold due to its elevation and excellent view. The streets are narrow and filled with cars and pedestrians and many bicycles. Caro had visited once before and recommended a Creperie for dinner. We did it right this time and ordered savory and then sweet! The biers came in big mugs and Mathias and Eric added to our stein/glass collection!
We climbed to the top of the hill and enjoyed the night's view. We took the long stairs down the hill. The picture of the steps is not mine, it was far too dark! We rode the subway home, hoping we could see the Eiffel Tower sparkle one more time, but alas, we missed it by minutes.
Another great day and night of touring. Tomorrow, we head out on a road trip to Belgium and the town of Brugge!
Tuesday 9/1. (We had to look this up because our very vacation days are starting to blur together, just as they should!)
09/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 71 °F
As promised, this blog entry will be much shorter! If you read yesterday's, you'll know what we mean. After compiling in the wee hours of the night, this morning's re-read prompted some revisions : ). More pictures and a little less text...
First of all, we woke up at 10am. Could not believe we slept so late. Guessing we really needed the rest. We've put nearly 40 miles on our shoes in just 2.5 days!
Today we had awesome gallettes and crepes. Still trying to figure out the ordering thing. I guess the proper breakfast is a buckwheat gallette with savory fillings, followed with a crepe with sweet fillings, all while drinking tea. The Kemnitzers don't fully understand this and he orders a sweet crepe with Nutella and she orders a savory gallette with spinach, cheese, bacon and a fried egg. We also order cafe, thinking we are getting coffee, but instead end up with a tiny cup of espresso! Oh well. It was such a beautiful cool and overcast morning, all we could do was enjoy it. Did you notice we mentioned showering a lot in previous posts? It has been so hot and humid that we have been a tad uncomfortable. Today we packed light jackets and even got to wear them!
We are quite proud of ourselves when we figure out the denominations to leave for the checks. Unlike the language (that changes in each country), at least our comfort with the currency will continue to improve as we go! Every night we find ourselves with pockets full of change. €.01, €.02, €.05, €.10, €.20, €.50, €1,00, €2,00 are all coins. Each day we trade them in at the front desk into more manageable denominations.
Our server was not too excited that we were there. I don't think it was because we are Americans and don't know how to order, but more so because she was not a delightful person! We didn't care too much, we had big plans for the day. We were headed to the cemetery! Within a short walk of the hotel, in the Montparnasse district is a lovely Cimitaire du Montparnasse. We had seen it from the tower on our first afternoon, and planned to visit. It appeared very old, but when we got there, we found that there were some interments and sites from the 1800s. Not much older than that. The crypts, tombs and statuary were beautiful. Many are moss covered. It was such a peaceful stroll and it gave us a chance to reflect and slow down.
Back into the city for a stroll. Lots of great architecture and design.
Headed to see Notre Dame. Here is some neat art in the subway. Most stations are pretty sterile, full of advertisements and such, but the Saint Michel/Notre Dame station was a little different,
Construction started in 1163 and it opened in 1345. We waited in a short line and had the opportunity to tour the church. Absolutely stunning. You tour in silence out of respect. Unbelievable stained glass windows, wood carvings and murals painted hundreds of years ago.
The checkerboard marble floors were worn on the edges and concave in places where people had stopped to pray. A reminder of how many people have passed through the building.
The arches are marvelous and we took so many pictures! I took the next two pictures for Lauren. : ) in 1909, Saint Joan of Arc was beatified and there is a shrine to her.
On to the gardens that surround the cathedral... There is a charming chapel that is over 500 years old, and a small park behind it. We sat in the shade, under a tree, and just enjoyed the moment.
An accordion player began to play and from our bench, we could see the Love Lock bridge. Thousands and thousands of lovers have placed locks on the bridge's rail and in a symbol of unbreakable love, tossed the key into the Seine. It is now illegal, as the locks have become so heavy the rail is becoming compromised. But it provided a nice view for us! The part that makes me laugh are the people that have placed combination locks on the rail. Does that make them less committed??
After some time relaxing and then paying to use public toilets (€.80 each) we decided to go to Luxembourg to visit the palace and the gardens. Such a nice walk around. People were sitting all over the grounds enjoying paninis and bottles of wine. The hot, pressed sandwiches are all over and very delicious. They're usually pre made in a display case and heated up when you order. In France, most people enjoy their food in the cafe and most places have a patio or "terrasse". There are small tables and chairs that are packed close together and extend right out to the street.
Pictured below are an assortment of things we saw during out walk. Again, we couldn't stop and photograph everything. There were so many interesting spots of architecture, grandeur and interest.
The beautiful Luxembourg Palace and gardens!
We finished the evening with a "climb" up the Arc du Triomphe. Some things as we learned with the Eiffel Tower, some things are even better viewed at night. We paid €9,5 each and took 284 stairs to the viewing platform on top. What an amazing view of the city!!
War Eagle Auburn friends!! You know we couldn't leave you out of a trip like this!!
Paris is a very romantic city!!
Thank you for sharing another great day with us!! Tomorrow, our friends Mathias and Caro arrive from Munich and we tour together. Cheers!!
The daily facial hair chronical continues!
8/22 - Day One
8/23 - Day Two
8/24 - Day Three
8/25 - Day Four
8/26 - Day Five
8/27 - Day Six
8/28 - Day Seven
8/29 - Day Eight
8/30 - Day Nine
8/31 - Day Ten
9/1 - Day Eleven
9/2 - Day Twelve
9/3 - Day Thirteen
9/4- Day Fourteen
9/5 - Day Fifteen
Our first full day!
08/31/2015 - 08/31/2015 90 °F
What a treat to realize you've woken up in Paris! Too bad it was at 6am and we knew we wouldn't fall back to sleep. Sooooo, we decided we would get up and go find some breakfast and see some sights.
We used our 3 day pass for the Metro to head to the Eiffel Tower. The station is right down from the Marriott and on a very convenient line. We are so happy with the hotel choice. It is in a great neighborhood, on a street lined with trees.
I was so excited to get my first real glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. I'd seen it for the Montparnasse tower, but we were up so high and it was far away. We were kind of taken aback when we got onto the grounds and walked under the structure. Everything was covered in trash. The large lawn extending to the southeast was totally trashed and there were what appeared to be homeless sleeping everywhere. We continued walking up to Trocadero and were very disappointed in the grounds there too. Everything was littered with bottles, cans, and all sorts of other debris. While there were sanitation crews "working" all over, it seemed like maybe there had been more than just a regular tourist weekend at the monument. We hoped and assumed there must have been some sort of festival or concert over the weekend, but it left kind of negative feeling about the city. Since much of the Trocadero was under construction, we did not really take any pictures of the location. Instead we simply took pics of the Eiffel Tower. By the time we headed off to breakfast, we were pretty disillusioned with the city. It was hot, hot, hot and if it really was this dirty, we'd already determined we likely would not be back again.
We trudged on to find some breakfast. We walked over to Avenue Kleber, on our way to see Arc de Triomphe. We found a little cafe with wi-if, service continu (which we learned to mean that the restaurant did not close between breakfast, lunch and dinner) and on a day like today, more importantly, it included climatise, also known as air conditioning. The place was called La Copernica and we were excited they served petite dejeuner. Or "small breakfast". For €11,00 each, we got a hot drink, fresh pressed orange juice, a plain omelette, and toast. Quite a yummy breakfast. Our server was also our chef and host and cashier. The place was cute and on a busy street. We enjoyed watching people going to work. Other than all of the smoking, it seems like a healthy city. Lots of people walking and bicycling to work.
Something interesting about the city is that most establishments have their bathrooms (locally referred to as "toilettes") downstairs from the main floor. Usually down narrow or spiraling steps. The water closets are very small rooms and the toilets flush with push buttons. The hand washing sinks are usually communal.
After a relaxing breakfast, we were on to the Arc de Triomphe! It is truly beautiful. So many carvings and such a grand monument.
The Avenue des Champs Élysées is in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris and is maybe the busier of the 12 roads that radiate from the Arc de Triomphe. Famous for its shopping, it was a little lost on us ; ) We did find a McDonalds to pop into and use some free wi-fi. It was decorated pretty cool and featured ordering kiosks. We had seen that in the airport in Amsterdam.
We took tons of pictures while walking. So many buildings are unmarked, or unclear. If you know what any of them are, please leave a comment. There was so much beauty that we felt they needed to be remembered. Certainly could not take every picture worthy of being photographed, but we did our best!
Another picture of the Eiffel Tower, from a bridge over the Seine River. (You're going to see a lot of the Eiffel Tower!) The lamps and cobblestone streets were beautiful.
Off in the distance, we saw a majestic building and decided to walk over and get a closer look. Musee de l'Armee, a military museum. We didn't have enough time to tour it, but took some great pictures from the exterior. I really loved the dormer windows. They were all surrounded by carved Knights. All were in different positions, as if in congress with one another.
Can you call it a distraction in the schedule when it is so fun to explore? Getting sidetracked on the Military museum took us a couple miles from the Louvre museum, so we jumped on a Metro train, (thank you 3 day pass!) and got ourselves to this very popular attraction. With limited time, we knew we would not make it in to visit the Mona Lisa or any of the other treasures on display, but we did enjoy seeing the pyramids and taking in the detail of the building.
We returned to the hotel so that we could get something to eat and take a shower. We had plans with a friend of Eric that lives in Versailles. He kindly offered to meet us and show us around. He and his girlfriend Natacha met us at the hotel and we started all over on our trek through Paris. It was soooo nice to have French hosts. They explained some signage, some culture and gave us some great tips. We started off by heading west on Blvd Saint-Jacques, where our hotel is. We walked for about 1/2 a mile and found ourselves is the cute neighborgood of Place d' Italie. We wandered the residential streets and we finally got to see a non tourist area. Clement recommended some restaurants to return to and we enjoyed the tour.
This fun thing is a large iron toadstool type fixture on the sidewalk. It's function is to keep cars from parking on the sidewalk. They were all the way down the rue, but a few were painted like cyclops! Super fun.
We jumped on the Metro and proceeded to Quai de la Gare near the IFA, a French Fashion school housed in a fantastic modern building. Such a contrast to the traditional architecture of Paris. On the bank are several summer bars, open only during the warm months. We didn't get any photos of the bar. It was super trendy with great seating. Situated on the left bank of the Seine, it was a great place to enjoy a few cold biers. It had been quite warm all day and we had gotten a lot of sun.
IFA Fashion School in its very modern building.
We jumped back on the Metro and our hosts took us to a very cool location for dinner. La Javelle is another special summertime dining option. It features two different food trucks each night and is a bit eclectic. Please forgive us, we didn't take any pictures. I know, I know, but we were distracted hanging out with friends and just taking it all in! I have included stock photos to help paint the picture of our experience! Colorful market light strung up, a disco ball and a lot of outdoor seating. There was a bar "box" and a vino/bier "box" and the two food trucks. Fare of the night was Thai and Goose and Duck. A whole food truck devoted to ducks and geese and all the yumminess they have to offer. With a bottle of white wine in hand and a plate of various winged appetizers we sat down and enjoyed the light of Paris, the boats on the river, a cool and breezy night and some great English/ French conversation! With the second bottle of wine, we decided to go in for an actual entree and landed on Thai. It was delicious! Eric had his regular Pad Thai and I had a crab dish.
Clement ordered an Uber car so that we could get closer to the hotel. He showed us what he called "the best Creperie in Paris" and we committed to trying it Monday and bid them au revoir. So nice to meet them and have them share some of their country and time with us!
While it would have been prudent to simply go back to the hotel, we decided to give the Eiffel Tower another chance, hoping to find the grounds and area in better condition. We were so very glad we did. It is breathtaking at night! We took so many pictures and spent an hour on the lawn holding hands and admiring the light. On the hour each hour, they turn on special lighting and it sparkles. Quite magical. Enjoy the photos. I wish we knew how to upload the video : / It's now nearly 2:30am and time to go to sleep. This morning (9/1) we woke up at 4am and thought the jetlag must have our sleep off a bit. We ended up sleeping in until 10am. Why am I telling you this? Because we got such a late start, I promise the blog entry from today will be muuuuch shorter!
Until later, Bonsoir!