Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 2 - June 30 : Paris, France

The next morning we headed out around 9, stopping at a patisserie on the way to the metro. There was a chain, Brioche d'orée, at the foot of our street and the pastries were excellent. Of course, I had to get pain au chocolat. Even though you can get them here, they are so much better in France! We got on the metro and headed to Ile de la Cité to visit Notre Dame and Sainte Chappelle.

When we got to Notre Dame, it wasn't too busy yet, so we were able to get inside pretty quickly. After we did the tour of the inside and out, we headed to the Archaeological Crypt that is under the square in front of Notre Dame. While some work was being done to the square, the remains of old buildings were discovered under the parvis. Some of the buildings date back to the 16th century, while others date as far back as the 4th century BC. It was a neat way to see the history of Ile de la Cité and Paris.

Notre Dame in the early morning light

One of the east facing stained glass windows - they open!

Inside Notre Dame

The remnants of houses and buildings from Antiquity in the Archaeological Crypt

After the Crypt, we headed to the other side of the island to visit Sainte Chappelle. As there was last year, there was quite a long line- I didn't think we'd make it in by lunch, but somehow we did. The security to get into Sainte Chappelle is very strong, I'm assuming because Sainte Chappelle is attached to the Palais de Justice, so the line was a little slow going. Luckily we made it in with time to spare. The church is beautiful on the inside; the entire inside is decorated with bright colors (floors, ceilings, walls) and there are tons of stained glass windows. It is one of the most unique churches I've been in.

Downstairs at Sainte Chappelle

Downstairs at Sainte Chappelle

Upstairs at Sainte Chappelle

Intricate designs on the walls upstairs at Sainte Chappelle

Balcony doors at Sainte Chappelle

Next on our list was lunch and then the Musée d'Orsay, about a mile away. We walked along the Seine to the museum, looking for lunch as we went. A couple of blocks before the museum we noticed a neighborhood that had a lot of little restaurants and shops and found a little sandwich shop that looked pretty good. We all got sandwiches and ate them on the steps of the museum. Mine was super good- it was a smoked ham, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes that had been steeped in an olive oil mixture of some sort. It was the best sandwich of the trip!

Walking along the river

After lunch we headed into the museum to check out the Impressionist art. Unlike the other museums in Paris, this museum allows no photographs, which is a shame, because the building itself, an old train station, is absolutely gorgeous. After seeing the paintings plus a special exhibit on Manet, we headed over to Place St. Michel to do a little shopping and have dinner.

The first stop that we made was at Maison Larnicol to get some macarons. They are little sandwich cookies that come in a variety of extremely colorful flavors. They are very delicate and not like traditional American cookies. We had a hard time choosing, but we each eventually settled on a bag to savor later. I went with chocolate, chocolate réglisse, grapefruit, raspberry, rose, salted caramel, ripe blueberry and coconut milk. Our next stop was the book store, where I grabbed a coloring/sticker book for Emma and Petit Nicolas puzzle book for myself. Then we headed to the Rue de la Huchette neighborhood where every possible kind of restaurant imaginable is found. We saw Tunisian, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Moroccan, and of course, French. We choose a little French restaurant and settled into a table on the street, Parisian style. I had a delicious French onion soup, steak frites and chocolate mousse for dessert. It was exactly the meal I had been waiting for!

Mémé and Melissa trying to decide

My macarons got a little crushed walking around; they still tasted good though!

Restaurants near Place St. Michel, off Rue de la Huchette

After dinner we headed over to the Eiffel Tower, to see the sun set. There was still a long line at 9ish, so we just caught the tail end of the sun set. It was neat to go up the Tower when it was basically still light out and come down in the dark. Since it was a windy evening, we didn't linger on the Tower too long! We were still able to make it back to the hotel in time to get a good night's sleep for our road trip the next day.

Sun setting over the business district

The Eiffel Tower on the way out

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