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  • Day14

    Day 14: Paris, France

    July 20, 2016 in France ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We got up early(ish), jumped on the metro, and went back to Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite while the city was still cool and quiet. We were able to walk right in (without showing our pass) because they had an 8 o'clock mass. We looked around the beautiful church which was started in the 1200s and took a couple hundred years to finish! It's the best example of gothic architecture in the world and the stained glass throughout is stunning. This is my favorite church we've seen on this trip. We return to our hotel for breakfast (the best breakfast we could have hoped for in Paris - buttery croissants, sausage, freshly squeezed juice, crepe pancakes, fluffy eggs, apple tart...). We sip our coffee and decide we've had our fill of museums and definitely got our money's worth. We've gone back and forth about visiting Versailles and after I think about it, I'd rather meander the streets shopping and eating than fight the sun and crowds at Versailles. I saw an enormous garden based on Versailles in northern Scotland 4 years ago and had it to myself and am quite happy with that. We decide to go up to Sacre-Couer Basilica on the highest point in Paris north of the city and walk up about 200 or 300 stairs to get to it. It's an interesting church with domes and it looked Turkish to me - like a cross between a mosque and a church. I looked up the architecture and it's considered Romano-Byzantine- aha. We walk down the main steps which was a mistake. The vendors thus far have been relatively harmless, but this time they were in a line so you had to go through them. I don't mind them trying to sell something, but if you touch me, I will hurt you. One of them grabs my arm and I twist out of it and slap his hand hard. He jumps back and says some colorful language. Pickpocketing is an enormous problem here in Paris and a tactic they use is distract you while the other person grabs your wallet. Of course, you don't need to slap them, just hold on to your wallet, but sometimes they need to be gently reminded that it's not ok to grab. My blood boils and I decide I deserve a macaron. We go into Le Petit Musee Du Chocolat and I pick coconut, blackberry, and rose flavors and feel better soon thereafter. We decide to metro down to Boulevard Haussman for some shopping which is similar to London's Oxford street. We peruse a few stores, smell Chanel perfumes you can't smell in the states, and purchase some delicious Mariage Freres Tea. We run into the Palais Garnier (their opera house) and peruse the beautiful gift shop and get a little glimpse into the famed foyer where Phantom of the Opera was inspired (there was an actual lake underneath the building which also inspired the book). We continue back to Champs-Elyses to revisit a couple shops that were closed before, but didn't find anything. We metro back to our area and I pick out a box of macarons from Laduree. No trip to Paris is complete without macarons from this store- after all they invented them. It's beautiful, delicious, and very overpriced. At least I now have a reference point to taste other macarons and decide if it's worth it and it is ;-) We return to our hotel for our usual rest and shower before going back out. Joel wants to find the official Tour de France store so we walk that way bobbing into shops as we go. I see a kitchen store that looks interesting and we go in. It's french cookware meant to be sold to commercial kitchens and I want to buy it all- the copper cookware, the chef knives, the ramekins. I end up with a rolling pin I've been wanting for $6. We have a fun conversation with the employees with the English they know and say bon soir. We find the Tour de France store and they don't have what Joel's looking for, but it takes 3 employees and a couple of customers trying to help us and a brit translating. We're all laughing, especially the brit... it was really comical. Biking brings people together. Something Joel and I noticed during this week was that everyone is quite nice and polite... after you get off the beaten path. The main attractions and stores don't always give you the best impression because they're working with tourists and in service day in and day out, but the random shops further away have all been very pleasant. We grabbed a cheap dinner and went back to our hotel to enjoy a quiet night in.Read more