Monday, April 18, 2011

Last full day in the City of Lights

We woke up bright and early on our last full day in Paris.  I was super excited since we were heading to the Palace of Versailles.  Alas, the French workers' strike changed our plans.  There were no trains running to Versailles that day and I was very disappointed.  So close, yet so far away...

Since we had to change our plans last minute, Mr. J and I decided to do a leisurely stroll around some shops and sights.  We spent some time looking for souvenirs as well.
The best shopping street in Paris, in my opinion, is actually Avenue Montaigne.  Yes people, it's better than St-Germain.  Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, oh my.
We passed by this lovely beauty, which was parked on the street.  Every man who walked by it was drooling.  lol.  For those who aren't into cars, meet Mr. Aston Martin.  ::sigh::
My bestie was in Paris 6 months before we went and highly recommended this restaurant, Angelina.  It's on Rue de Rivoli right near the Louvre and Tuileries.  Unfortunately, we only passed by the place and never had a chance to dine in it.  I hear the chocolat chaud (aka hot chocolate) is freaking amazing.  It's supposed to taste like a melted chocolate bar.  Although the chocolat chaud is offered in many places in Paris, apparently Angelina's is one of the best. 
The reason we passed on Angelina was because I wanted to head to a neighborhood in Paris called Montparnasse.  It has the tallest skyscraper in France, called Tour Montparnasse.  We weren't too impressed by the neighborhood right around the building and didn't bother to go to the top.

We did, however, head to a restaurant called La Coupole.  It's a fav hangout by some of literary history's big names, like Hemingway.  I had their chocolat chaud and my heart was in love. 
By the time we made it back to our hotel for the evening, we were exhausted.  I never got a chance to buy the LV bag I planned on purchasing in Paris.  Why?  Because they were sold out at every freaking store I went to, including the major department store.  It was not meant to be :-(

Anyway, for our last dinner in Paris we went to a place called Le Bistro St-Ferdinand (275 Boulevard Pereire).  It was right around the corner from our hotel.  We really lucked out since we were seated right before the big crowds arrived.  It's supposed to be one of the harder reservations to land in the area (who knew?).

I only remembered to capture the top of the menu before we delved right into the food and wine that night.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the restaurant!
One of these days, Mr. J and I want to return to Paris.  We fell in love with the city and cannot wait to go back again.

Jusqu'à la prochaine fois :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Latin Quarter, St-Germaine, Napoleon, and Tour Eiffel

Mr. J and I were exhausted from all the walking we did the previous two days, so we didn't get up very early on our third full day in Paris.  Once we finally get ourselves out of the hotel, we headed to the Latin Quarter, which is one of the most popular areas in the City of Lights.  It houses the Sorbonne, the old University of Paris, which is  now a group of different universities.  Before we did much walking around the area though, we ate lunch at a fast food Japanese restaurant near the Sorbonne.  lol.
After the Sorbonne, we walked to the Pantheon, an old church that is now a secular mausoleum.
This pendulum was used in an experiment in 1851 to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth.  Pretty cool, huh?
One of the more famous people buried in this building is Victor Hugo.
After the Pantheon, we walked down Boulevard St-Germain.  It's great for shopping (think NYC's 5th Avenue), and it was so much fun to window shop.  In my excitement to shop, I forgot to take pictures of some of stores like Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
I wanted to buy one of these massive bottles of wine so bad, but it was impossible to bring back home.  lol.  Keep in mind that Mr. J is 6'2!
I took a pic of this Paraguay embassy since it looked more like a chic museum than an actual embassy.
Since we could see the Tour Eiffel from Boulevard St-Germain, we decided to keep walking there.  On the way, we stopped by L'Hotel National des Invalides, which is a group of museums and monuments dedicated to the military history of France.  Napoleon is also buried here. 
We checked out the weaponry museum quickly since we only had an hour left until closing.
This is the shrine above Napoleon's tomb.  Fancy!
Napoleon's tomb:
Napoleon III's tomb isn't as fancy, he just got writing on the floor:
The building that houses Napoleon's tomb, from the outside:
After we finished looking around Napoleon's tomb, we decided to walk towards the Tour Eiffel.  We also stopped by for coffee and a quick snack at a restaurant close to the park right before you get to the tower.  Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of it.   It was a fantastic people watching spot too.
I know this is a very typical Paris picture, but I love it.
The line to get to the top was deceivingly short.  This was the only irritation we experienced the entire week.  Mr. J was not happy.
Don't look down during the elevator ride if you're not too fond of heights.
View from the platform, where you switch elevators to get to the top:
The line to switch to the second elevator was quite annoying and long.  We were cold, starving, and impatient at this point.
By the time we reached the top level, it was already dark.  Listen to the guidebooks and avoid the super long lines by going first thing in the morning or towards closing.  If it was this insane in October, I can't even imagine how much longer the wait is during peak tourist season.  Eek!
We were famished after another long day of walking around.  Like the first night, we decided to have dinner close to the hotel and chose La Casa di Sergio (77 Avenue des Ternes).  Once again, I didn't take pictures of our meal but check out the website for some photos.  We ate on the terrace despite the rain that night.  Tres romantique!

Friday, April 15, 2011

From Ile St-Louis to Montmartre

We spent day 3 in the City of Light the same way we spent day 2, which meant lots and lots of walking (and food).  Before we left for Paris, I purchased a guidebook that gave suggestions for walking tours.  Since that was in the backpack that was stolen, I had to improvise.  Frommer's online saved our butts and gave a great itinerary for Paris in 1, 2, or 3 days.  We used the day 2 itinerary and improvised as we went along.
After we grabbed our customary breakfast near the hotel, Mr. J and I hopped on the Metro and got off the stop near the Louvre.  We walked by the river again and headed to Ile St-Louis.  The island is filled with beautiful antique homes and mansions and very cute shops.
View of Notre Dame from Ile St-Louis:
After a pretty walk around the island, we head to Musee D'Orsay.  The museum ended up being one of our favs from the trip!  The building itself is beautiful and we were told it's an old train station that was converted into museum space.  Too bad they wouldn't allow you to take pictures inside (and the Louvre did, weird).  I did sneak in two pics while we were taking a break inside the cafe :-)
We grabbed lunch at a nearby sidewalk cafe.  The space was so tight that I couldn't even break out the camera to take pics of our food.  Heh.  After lunch, we hopped on the Metro and headed to Montmartre to check out the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur.  This church is located on top of a hill in a suburb of Paris.  Part of its beauty is its stark white color. 
The views were breathtaking, especially with clear skies.
This kid was amazing with a soccer ball, especially given the height.
We were going to try and climb up the tower of the church to get an even higher viewpoint, but once we were told just how many steps there were to the top we decided to pass :-)
Instead, we walked around Montmartre.  Such a pretty little area with great shops.
I bought some yummy macarons in this shop and wish I shipped some home!
Since we took our sweet time walking around Montmartre, we decided to have dinner in the neighborhood too.  We picked a place called Le Chinon, 49 Rue des Abbesses.  I thought I took pictures of our diner but apparently not.  However, I do have a pic of the wine we drank :-)
Ah, a great meal to end another day in Paris.