Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 1 - June 29 : Paris, France

I'm one lucky girl- for the second time in two years, I was able to plan a trip to Europe. This past week I went to France with my grandmother and two of my cousins. It was a packed trip and aside from a few minor issues, it was practically perfect.

We left Boston last Tuesday at 6:20pm and arrived at our hotel in Paris the next day at 11:45 am. It was a long flight, but I did manage to sleep a little this year and of course, they have in flight entertainment, so it wasn't that bad. When we got to the airport we had to take the commuter rail, RER, to Paris and then the metro to our hotel. Considering that we were 4 people with luggage, it wasn't that bad.

View of Sacré Coeur from the street near our hotel

As we couldn't check in yet, we left our baggage at the hotel and explored Montmartre for a couple of hours. We were very close to the Sacré Coeur basilica, so we started out in that direction. We went up the funiculaire and then walked to the Place du Tertre first. It was quite busy with tourists, artists and diners. We grabbed some sandwiches and ate them at a nearby park. Luckily the weather was beautiful for a picnic.

Place du Tertre

Picnic lunch

After lunch we went over to Sacré Coeur and looked around the church and at the beautiful view of Paris that its steps afford visitors. We didn't have quite as nice a view as usual because on the steps of Sacré Coeur there was a huge ramp set up with a "Moonbounce" style pit at the bottom- somebody was going to be making a world record rollerskate long jump attempt there sometime last week. If you ask me, that guy or girl was crazy! It looked like they would bounce right out of the pit at the bottom.

Pit at the bottom of the roller skate ramp

After we went down the steps, we did a little shopping before heading back to the hotel. There are a lot of souvenir shops at the base of Sacré Coeur, plus this district is renowned for its numerous fabric shops. Mémé and I stopped in and got some cotton fabric, made by a French company, that is very reminiscent of Liberty of London florals, but at a quarter of the price. I'm looking forward to making some fun summer dresses, skirts or tops with my 4 yards.

Fabric shops

Once we got our things settled in the hotel and washed up a bit, we headed out for more sightseeing. We started at L'Orangerie, an art museum in the Jardin des Tuileries near the Place de la Concorde that houses some of Monet's famous water lily paintings. These paintings are enormous; each one took up the entire wall of the room it was in.

View of the Eiffel Tower from Place de la Concorde

Two of the four walls with Monet's huge paintings

After the museum, we walked through the Place de la Concorde over to the Madeleine church. On the way we passed by a Ladurée pastry shop and admired their macaron displays in window. After seeing the inside of the Madeleine, we headed towards the Opéra Garnier. Since Mémé needed a rest after a long day of travel ,we went into the Galeries Lafayette, where she could sit while we looked around. My cousin and I browsed the enormous shoe department, and when we came back, Mémé was sleeping! Considering that this trip was an 80th birthday trip, she did pretty well!

Display at Ladurée

La Madeleine

Standing on a balcony in Galeries Lafayette, looking across to the other side

The details of the design of the Galeries Lafayette building is amazing

Mémé couldn't make it without a nap

When we left the Galeries Lafayette, we headed over to the Champs-Elysées for a little shopping and dinner. We went into the Monoprix, where I got some Haribo candy and Orangina, and then we grabbed dinner at a Quick restaurant. I had a really good salad with a sweet chevre cheese, pickled beets and pears on top of a base of lettuce. It sounds weird, but it was really good.

Looking down the Champs-Elys

Since we had had a long day of travel, we headed back to the hotel at this point to get a good night's sleep before day 2.

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