Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bonjour, Paris

We woke up to sunshine on our second day of Paris and couldn't wait to check out the city.  From our short cab ride between the train station and the hotel, everything about the city looked beautiful already.

Based on our friends' recommendations, we decided to drop by a bakery near the hotel to grab breakfast on the go.  Mr. J got a fresh baked croissant and I chose the chocolate version.  Talk about heaven!

Anyway, we used the Metro to head to the Musee de Louvre in hopes of beating the crowd.  I wish we woke up just an hour earlier since we still faced a line once we arrived.  Whatever you do, do not miss out on this museum.  It's massive and can be overwhelming, so be careful.  We decided to see some highlights and come back again one day to see the rest of its treasures.  There's just so many things to see, so little time!
I read somewhere to pay homage to the Mona Lisa as soon as you arrive at the Louvre so that you can take your time with everything else.  It was great advice since tourists already packed the space in front of the painting around 10am.  By the time we left, the crowd grew.
Bet you didn't know you could take a picture of her, did you?  I was surprised, but I guess the glass case around her is supposed to protect her enough.
We had some major fun around the Louvre.
::giggle snort:: Yes, I am 12.
On the grounds of the Louvre:
The entrance to the Tuileries, the beautiful gardens behind the Louvre. 
We decided to walk towards the Cathedral de Notre Dame based on Frommer's advice on Paris when you only have a few days available.  First up, the pretty Seine River right next to the Louvre. 
View of the Left Bank.  We really lucked out with beautiful weather!
We crossed Pont Neuf, which is the oldest bridge in Paris.   It dates back to 1578.
Square du Vert Galant has a statue dedicated to Henry IV, which was getting a good cleaning while we were there.  Heh.
We were trying to check out Sainte-Chapelle on our way to Notre Dame.  Unfortunately, there was a special event going on that day and tourists were not allowed entrance.  I was so sad since I've heard this chapel is beautiful.

Anyway, we made our way to a random restaurant across the street from Sainte-Chapelle for our first Parisian lunch.  Mr. J just wanted the French onion soup (or is it just onion soup since we were in France?) and I ordered an egg baguette.  Both of us finished every last bite.  Soooo good.

I want to point it out now that I in fact ate a whole loaf of bread in addition to drinking a whole bottle of wine alone every day in Paris.  There's something way better in the food since I didn't gain an ounce despite my large appetite.  I guess the miles of walking we did every day also helped.  lol.

After lunch, we finally made it to Notre Dame.  The cathedral is beautiful inside and out.  I highly recommend paying the extra money for the audio, self-guided tour.
The one of the famous rose windows, built b/w 1210-1250.  I am always amazed at how such grand buildings were constructed so long ago.
After our tour through Notre Dame, we decided to backtrack to the Louvre so we could stroll through the Tuileries Garden
At the end of the Tuileries in the center of Place de la Concorde is the Luxor Obelisk, a gift from Egypt.
From here, we walked down the Champs-Elysees all the way to the Arc de Triomphe.  This part of our walk was about 2 miles alone, so you already know my feet were killing me by dinner time.
It was dusk by the time we reached our destination (no thanks to all of the shops along the way):
The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of a super busy traffic circle.  It took me a few seconds to realize that there are underground passageways to get to the entrance.  lol.
View underneath the Arc:
We walked up many, many, many flights of stairs to get to the top of the monument.  I didn't realize just how many stairs were involved but I do know I was winded by the time we hit the top.  The 360 view of Paris was definitely worth the climb.
The trip back down to street level was probably more intimidating, especially since all I kept seeing were stairs.
After all that walking, Mr. J and I were ready for dinner.  My bestie recommended that we eat at Comptoir de L'Arc, but we were too early for dinner.  Instead of waiting out happy hour, we decided to eat at a restaurant not to far away called Chez Clement.  It's on Champs-Elysees, very close to the Arc.  We didn't know it when we ate there, but it's apparently a chain.  However, it's a Parisian chain and it was delicious to us!

Do you see the pots and pans in the ceiling?  lol.
My favorite course, dessert:
After we stuffed ourselves at dinner, we enjoyed this street performance before walking back to our hotel (I think it was another half mile from the Arc to the hotel).
Lobby of our hotel looked like a club at night:
Somehow, we got into the habit of checking emails before making it back to our room.  There were two computers on our floor (I think we were on a Starwoods Preferred Guest floor since these weren't available on all floors).
Our first full day in Paris was fantastic!


  1. What a wonderful day!

    I, too, am amazed by old buildings. How did they do that without cranes and such?!

  2. We're going to Paris next year, too! We are totally copying your trip. LOL.