On Monday morning I woke up and was on the tube at 7 a.m. on my way to Paris.
1 eiffel tower
who KNOWS how many croissants, stairs, and laughs later...
...I was on the tube coming back to the London Center. At the risk of sounding completely cliche/bubbly/overthetophitwithraysofSUNSHINE...let me just say that the city of Paris may or may not have entirely stolen my heart in those three and a half days.
Let's just start from the beginning, shall we?
Upon arriving in Paris, the entire group immediately got on a coach and headed off to Chartres (pronounced just like "shart"...don't worry, I've made plenty of immature jokes about it already). The main attraction there is the cathedral, but we had a little bit of time before entering the cathedral to wander around the small city and practice our French. Just for the record, I'm really, REALLY bad at French.
Anyway, after turning a few corners and getting some euros to burn, we ran into a carousel (eyes open wide, smiles get bigger). And OH YES we made spectacles of ourselves while riding it. So fun, and so worth it.
Most everything else in the city was closed at that point in the afternoon, so we wandered up and down a few streets and then headed back to walk around the cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, and we had the privilege of having Malcom Miller as our guide. Apparently he's slightly famous in the Chartres Cathedral touring world...unfortunately I had never heard of him. Regardless, he was a very informative guide. The main attraction of Chartres (besides good ol' Malcom) is a relic; they have a garment/cloth that is supposedly the item of clothing worn by Mary as she gave birth to Christ. It's been dated to the correct time period, but who knows. Pretty interesting.
West front of the cathedral.
After taking the coach back into Paris, we checked into our hotel. Michelle and I got to be roommates, and I kept telling her over and over again that in the Fall we're going to be REAL roommates, and asking her if she was sure she could handle it.
I mean...after this shebangle, wouldn't you be a little concerned?
"I love HOTELS" - leaps onto bed and knocks over table.
Later, we headed out for dinner. I don't remember what the restaurant was called, but it was definitely a place with French cuisine. I ordered a smoked salmon salad. YUM, but I'm serious when I say that there was about 2 pounds of raw salmon on that salad and I could not finish it. Others in our group did not quite enjoy the whole uncooked-meat experience.
After dinner, we all headed off to work our magic with the Paris metro system.
Destination, Eiffel Tower.
This monument completely exceeded my expectations. It's HUGE, and BRIGHT, and TALL, and....AWESOME. We didn't have time to go up it, so we just walked around and took some pictures, followed by chocolate-filled crepes.
Calvin, Jenny, Mary, Me, Laura, Michelle, Cam
OH! Fun story from the Hotel room. Every time Michelle and I turned on the TV, the Hotel's "home channel" automatically comes on with the song "A Paris" playing. Also, if you use the TV as an alarm, the song starts playing. I had the song stuck in my head the entire trip.
First stop: Versailles as a group.
I'll admit, Versailles was not my favorite, but I think that was mostly due to the fact that tons of people (mainly Americans) are on Spring break this week and the next, so the Palace was packed full of people. It was a little difficult to enjoy it all, but the hall of mirrors was cool, and I absolutely loved the wallpaper. Yes, the wallpaper. I was happy to get out into the sun and walk around the gardens a bit.
Michelle and I ran into a few girls out on the gardens, and we all went to the Musee d'Orsay together. These are some of my favorite artists that I was able to see here:
- Claude Monet
- Van Gogh
...and a few others.
We then walked along the Seine and over to the Pantheon so we could check it off of our Classics "list of things to see in Paris". Things like this make me more and more excited for Rome.
Arrin, Michelle, Me, Rachel
We booked it back to the Orsay to meet up with some other friends, and then crashed on the steps outside of the museum since we'd all been walking all day long. A clarinet street performer started playing right in front of us...he wasn't very good.
After grabbing a pannini for dinner and finally finding our friends, we all went off to get tickets for a river boat cruise. The cruise was so much fun. We sat around the outside of the boat, out of earshot (hopefully) from the people inside...
Next step was hopping over to wait in line to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. By this point most of us girls were suffering for a bathroom, and we'd all been on our feet for about twelve hours, but once we stepped onto the elevator and watched Paris get small and smaller below us, it all became so worth it. The view from the top was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen.
Michelle, Laura, and Me at the top.
View - the Arc de Triumph in the top left corner
Crepes and an "oh shoot the metro's closed" taxi ride summed up the evening.
Also known as the best day ever.
Started off the day with Notre Dame.
Then walked across the way to Saint Chapelle...known for it's beautiful stained-glass windows.
After Saint Chapelle, ten of us (Laura M, Mary, Jenny, Christina, Laura N, Brittany, Kira, Rachel, Michelle, and me) formed a little group and ended up staying together the entire day. It was great :)
On the way to the Cluny Museum, we passed by the best pastry stand, and I had an almond chocolate pastry. It was so stinking super delicious. The Cluny museum was quaint, and the unicorn tapestries were nice, too.
After taking in a little bit more of the sunshine, we headed off to find a market that has a name...but I'm blanking on it right now. It was great just walking around the streets of Paris.
Luxembourg Gardens: Jenny, Michelle, Me, Laura
The market was more of a street, but we found some pretty cute little shops. Best of all, we found the best savory crepes to grace the planet. I kid you not. Egg, cheese, ham, lettuce, tomato. Right after, we walked up to an ice cream shop (I know mom, I talk about food all of the time, but I promise, it really is important). I had pistachio, white chocolate, and hazelnut. We then hung around the market for a little bit longer, just long enough for a couple of people to get pooped on by pigeons. Perfect afternoon. OH WAIT. It gets better.
Eating our crepes on the curb - CJ, Laura, Jenny, Rachel, and Michelle
All ten of us took the metro over near the Louvre and then walked all 2 miles down Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triumph.
little pond outside the Louvre where little kids use sticks to hit the boats around.
Mary, Laura, Rachel, Me, Kira, Brittany
I didn't know that cars could fly in Paris!!
Climbing up the Arc was quite the feat, after all the walking and climbing we had already done that day (goodness, is this really still the same day as Notre Dame?). I loved the view from the top, especially watching the traffic below. The 10 of us just sort of sat down and hung out for a while.
NO SPEEDOS ALLOWED.
The group (commonly known as the "dream team"): Christina, Me, Brittany, Kira, Laura M, Rachel, Michelle, Jenny, Mary, Laura N
From back down on the bottom.
Next stop: the Louvre. I was a little bit intimidated from the outside, which was completely justified knowing how much wonderful art was inside. I got a little overwhelmed at first, but ended up being able to see some pretty awesome things (yes, including the Mona Lisa). Michelle, Rachel, Jenny, and I ended up staying until about closing time, before heading home after a very, very long day. My feet were throbbing as I fell asleep, and I'm surprised I could stand at all the next day.
Taking a break outside
Touching the top of the Pyramid
Charles V apartments inside the Louvre. Can you say ornate?
Our last day in Paris was spent going to a couple of museums, and then up to the Sacre Coer. The first museum we went to was the Orangerie, which houses the two Water Lily rooms by Monet. Once upon a time I learned about these two rooms and always thought it would be the coolest thing to go see them...well, now I have. Yes, it was as good as I expected. The Orangerie had a few others of my most favorite paintings, including "Two girls at the piano" by Renoir. I literally gasped when I turned around and saw it on one of the walls. SO COOL.
Next stop was the Rodin Musem, the sculptor. Most of the museum is outside, which was an interesting change. I thought some deep thoughts next to "The Thinker", but I was blown away by seeing his marble hand sculptures. Beautiful.
Our last big stop was heading up and out to Sacre Coer Basilica. I had been looking forward to doing this for a while, and am happy to say that it did not disappoint me. The inside of the church was gorgeous, and I loved how open everything was. I've noticed that a lot of cathedrals have tons of tombs and plaques everywhere, and at times I think it takes away from the beauty of the actual structure. After we got out of the basilica, we wandered around the outside, and into a few shops and such. There were tons of people asking to sketch us out on the street, and I had been told that it is a fun thing to do, so once someone offered us a decent price, Rachel, Michelle and I decided to go for it. NONE of them were accurate at all, but we were laughing for about half an hour afterward at the experience. I'm definitely hanging that up in my room. HA.
does it look like me?
Since we had a little bit of time before we had to head back to the train station, the three of us headed back over along the Seine to do some last-minute souvenir shopping from the vendors on the street. I ended up buying a few prints of my favorite scenes. And I love the Seine River. Leaving Paris was sad for me, but when I'm coming home to London, I can't really complain. Paris, thanks for a great week.