Tuesday, February 17

Monday, December 29, 2008

We slept in a bit on our first day in Paris, then headed out to explore. On our way to the metro, we stopped for a pain au chocolat. Mmmmm. So good. We took the metro down toward Ile de la Cité, then walked along the Seine, crossed the Pont Neuf bridge (the oldest bridge in the city), and went on to the Notre Dame. The line was long to get into the Notre Dame, but because it’s free to get in, the line moved quickly. Fortunately, the sun was shining, so even in the lines, we stayed pretty warm (because it was very cold out).

We listened to Rick Steves’ mp3 audio tour of the Notre Dame, which was awesome. He described the features on the exterior of the building, which we listened to while we waited in line, then he directed us where to look and where to go once we were inside. I would definitely recommend this when traveling. It was a bit awkward at times because Andrew and I shared my iPod headphones—one ear bud each—so we’d be hearing the same thing at the same time. So we stayed very close the whole time. I thought it was fun, though, walking arm in arm through Paris. The Notre Dame was very cool, much cooler than everyone said. We’d heard that the inside wasn’t nearly as interesting as the outside, but I liked it. The huge rose window was beautiful. We got in a long line outside in order to go up in the Notre Dame tower. This time, the line was in the shady side of the building, so it was freezing. After ten minutes or so, we hadn’t moved much, so I went up to the front to investigate and make sure we were in the right line. At the front, I saw a sign that said the tower was closed due to ice, and the time they said it would reopen had already passed. So we decided to give up on that. Too bad we didn’t get to see the gargoyles up close, but waiting in a cold line that wasn’t moving wasn’t our idea of a good time.
Don't you love those flying buttresses?

Next we crossed over to the Left Bank and wandered through the Latin Quarter. It didn’t take long before we stopped in a café for hot drinks to warm up. It was probably about 25 degrees out. Rick Steves had an audio tour for the Latin Quarter too, so we listened to part of that. It was a little harder to follow, because the timing of walking from place to place didn’t match up with the audio. But it was still nice walking with Andrew.
Apparently this was the oldest tree in Paris.
What's with all the "oldest trees" we've seen on this trip?

A few things we saw: the Sorbonne, the Cluny Museum (didn’t go in, though), the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Pantheon. Because we were so cold, we decided to go in the Pantheon. We didn’t know much about it, but we figured it was a cool building, and at least we could warm up while we were inside. But we were wrong. It was almost as cold inside as it was outside, and the signs were all just in French, so we couldn’t read any of them. We saw a lot of tombs of famous people, but I’m just not that into tombs. So, eh.
We walked on, saw more of the Latin Quarter. Lots of students here, I think. Later we stopped at a café where we ordered a crepe with Nutella and coffee. It was getting dark by this point (we really did a LOT of walking today), so we decided to head back to the apartment, take a little break, eat some food, and then head back out later. On the way back, we stopped at the grocery store just down the street and bought some wine, a baguette, oranges, and coffee. We ate the bread and oranges for dinner, then changed into our long underwear for more Paris exploring.

I was so excited to see the Champs Elysées and the Arc du Triomphe, so that’s where we went. It was gorgeous. The street was wide, much wider than I had pictured it, and it was beautiful. Full of interesting shop windows and people everywhere. Andrew loved stopping at the Pegeot and Renault stores and seeing their “future cars.” We kept crossing the street, but stopping in the middle to try to take pictures of the Arc du Triomphe. We got some good ones, I think.
We went up inside the Arc to the viewing deck on top. It was so much bigger than I imagined. Just huge! If you’ve never been there, picture it the Arc, then double your imagined size of it. That’s how big it really is. It was awesome from the top. Even before we got to the top it was awesome. We had to climb this narrow spiral staircase that just went up and up and up.

I have no idea what is prohibited in the second picture from the left.

There were a couple of levels to stop at that had some history of the building. There was this neat machine that let you shine a light on a tiny part of a model of the structure, then it would project it on a screen and tell you about what you were seeing. And at the top, the views were fantastic. It was such a clear night, we could see forever. We got our first excellent view of the Eiffel Tower, which was all lit up in blue lights. So incredible. We saw it sparkle with little white lights for a few minutes.
We decided to go ahead and go to the Eiffel Tower. We had been told that it was cool to go at night, and it was night, and we were there and excited, so we took the metro just a couple stops down and walked to it. We passed what could have been an awesome reflecting pool if it hadn’t been iced over. (We were not sorry that we’d put on the long underwear.) I’m sure no one would be surprised to hear it, but the Eiffel Tower was incredible as well. I couldn’t stop looking up at it. It was at least twice as big as I had pictured it to be, and it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, the top observation deck was closed. We tried to find out when it would open, but the guard we talked to didn’t speak any English, and my French was not good enough to communicate that. Since this was just our first full day, we figured we’d come back later to go up in the tower. It was already after 10:00pm anyway, and the whole thing closes at 11, so we didn’t have a ton of time to be there. Plus, the camera battery was low. It was a sign that we should just try again later. So we decided we’d check the internet to see when the top level would be open and then we’d go back.

We took the metro back to the apartment. I was starving, so we stopped for a slice of mushroom and goat cheese pizza from a street vendor before going inside. It was so good. We went to bed relatively early, because we know we want to get up early tomorrow to get to the Louvre before the lines get too long.


Andrew said...

Quite a few fine looking pictures of a fine looking girl in there. I think we need to go back in the summer when we might see a little more skin.

Courtney said...

These Paris posts make me want to go back so badly! Such good memories.

I looked at a map and our Paris hotel was only a few blocks from your apartment! Maybe we even got pain au chocolat from the same bakery.

katy said...

Ok... I know you're just recounting your trip and you have every right to since this is YOUR blog after all. But you really need to stop. You are making me SO jealous! I'm homesick for Paris... I love it so! I can't wait for more pictures! Yay for Paris!!!