Thursday, 26 February 2009

Paris, France!

Before you start this, go put on a pot of tea, and get settled in, because this is going to be a long entry! We covered a lot of Parisian ground in a mere 2 days!

We basically hit the ground running when we landed in Paris on Tuesday. It was a little after lunchtime by the time we got checked into our hotel and upon the receptionist suggestion, we headed over to a restaurant called La Petit Uachon. I quickly realized as we sat in this quaint French cafe that it has been 8 years since I took any French lessons, and upon realizing that, I remembered that when I sat in Mrs. Young's French 1 and French 2 classes, Amber Simpson was in there with me and we did a lot more goofing off than we did paying attention on how to conjugate words and make sentences. Not a good feeling. I could manage to decipher random words, so I could pick out what we were eating at least. I had escargot (snails) and Christopher had some type of delicious fish dish. We had no idea what it was, but it was absolutely delectable.

Looking at the map:

Speaking of food, the bread and pastries in Paris were amazing. The "french baguette's" you get in the grocery store in the states have nothing on real baguette's. It was the best bread I've ever put in my mouth. Perfectly chewy and crusty and an absolute staple in French diet. People would literally walk around holding a baguette in their hands on the street. And the croissants? The flakiest, most buttery, melt in your mouth pastry. Delightful!

We spent Tuesday walking around the streets of Paris. We ended up walking about 15 miles, I'd say. We've learned that by walking around, you get to see so much more of a place than if you just take cabs or buses everywhere. We walked along the Seine River, munched on fresh crepes from a street vendor and made our way to the Eiffel Tower.

Both of us, honestly, were not expecting the Eiffel Tower to be very impressive. We knew it would be kind of cool, but nothing fantastic...boy were we wrong! It is absolutely MASSIVE! It almost makes you dizzy to look straight up at it! We were going to ride the elevator to the top, but the line was so long, so we decided we'd do the stairs. I'm pretty sure weeks of training need to be had before managing the stairs at a decent pace. By about the 175th step, we both were exhausted and out of breath, but we pressed on and made it up 328 steps all total! And that only brought us to the 1st level. We rested at that level for a bit, taking in the breathtaking sights of the city, then we took the elevator the next level, which still didnt bring us to the top. We spent the sunset up on the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower and it was, cheesy as it sounds, incredibly romantic! The line to go to the very top wrapped around the 2nd level twice, and it was getting colder and colder, so we headed back down (luckily on the elevator) and headed back to our hotel.

Kisses at Sunset atop the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower all lit up!

Being only a couple of minutes from the Louvre and having an obvious language barrier, we had our taxi drop us off at the Louvre instead of our hotel and got to lay eyes on the most amazing art museum in the world! Pulling up to the Louvre is a dramatic experience. The building itself was erected in th 12th Century by Phillip II as a fortress. After many additions to the building, the actual Museum opened 10 August 1793 and housed royal and church property. Napoleon managed, through military campaigns, to acquire many works of art, that, after the French were defeated, many had to be returned to their original owners.

The largest pyramid:

The metal and glass pyramid's that stand outside the building were complete in 1988, and they're an amazing site to see! After spending close to an hour just walking the grounds of the museum, we stopped into a cafe near our hotel and got some food to take back for dinner. I got a Croques Monsieur (a fancy ham and cheese sandwich) and Christopher got a baguette sandwich. We got dessert from a Patisserie, 2 lemon tarts that were exquisite!

The next day, on my 24th Birthday, we had croissant's and crepe's for breakfast and then headed to the Louvre. The Louvre we know today is home to 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in 652,000 sq feet. Which, if you can imagine, makes it extremely huge and it is impossible to see everything in one day. I would venture to guess that its impossible to see everything in a month! We didnt leave the ground floor in 4 hours and I know we didnt come close to seeing everything on that floor!

It was amazing to be surrounded by some of the world's best art! To see things in person, to be in the presence of the works of the great master's, was indescribable! Christopher and I both had goosebumps the entire time!

La Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres 1814:

And I think what's taking place as my new favorite painting, The Virgin of the Rocks:

And of course, the Mona Lisa, herself:

Besides seeing some of the most beautiful paintings in the world, we also got to see Statues like:

Venus de Milo:

The Winged Victory of Samothrace:

and Eros and Psyche:

And also lots of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Iranian arts and artifacts. Among them, the mummy of a man, lots of sphynx's & sarcophogi.

And me, standing at the inverse pyramid inside the Louvre on my 24th Birthday!

That night, after a quick cat nap to rest up, we got all dolled up and headed to Montmarte, the city on the hill above Paris that was home to the Bohemian revolution at the turn of the 20th century. Its a place where artists lived and worked and among said artists, Van Gogh, one of my favorites, made his home here for some time. We walked around the streets and quickly realized after counting up all the, shall we say, adult stores, that we were in the red light district of Paris and made a note not to stick around too long after dark.

We had reservations at none other than the Moulin Rouge, for dinner and a show. The Moulin Rouge is one of the most famous Cabaret's, and is where the French Can Can originated! Those of you who know me well, know that the Moulin Rouge movie starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman is one of my all time favorite movies, so this was something I was really looking foward to!

Some of the paintings at the entry way:

We ended up at a long table with 6 other people at it and 4 of those people were from England, so we got to talk to them through the whole show, so that was nice. The show itself was really awesome. I'm not really sure what I was expecting out of a cabaret, having never been to one, but it was bright lights, high energy, great music and costumes, and as Christopher said, Tattie overload! It was relatively tasteful, as tasteful as a French Cabaret can be anyway, and it was really fun. They ended with the Can-Can in the full, ruffled skirts and everything, so that was really neat to see.

After that, we took some pictures outside in front of the infamous windmill that was all lit up and then headed back to our hotel.

We left early the next morning and were sad to go, but excited to head back in the next few months to see more. The good thing about going for such a short time, was that we still have lots to see, like the Arc du Triumph, Notre Dame, and we even passed by a Church claiming to have artifacts from the Passion of the Christ, which we really want to go back and see. So, we'll have plenty to do next time. And poor Christopher, after spending my 24th birthday in Paris, he says he has no idea how to top it for next year's 25th birthday! I do have to say, it was one of the best birthday's ever!

Links to Pictures:
Walking along the streets of Paris:

Eiffel Tower:

The Louvre itself:

Paintings of the Louvre:

Sculptures of the Louvre:

Artifacts of the Louvre:

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE all your pictures! I am so glad you guys had fun and made it home safe! Paris looks AMAZING!