France
Paris 02 Ancien - Quartier Palais-Royal

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  • Day22

    Notre-Dame Cathedral

    April 16, 2017 in France

    Despite staying so close to the Notre-Dame Cathedral I had not yet been inside. So it was that I found myself doing it on Easter Sunday (I had checked it was still open to the public). There were some signs saying Mass would going on throughout the day and that visitors were allowed but needed to be quiet and no flash was allowed. As I walked around taking photos with the lovely rhythm of the Mass being sung in Latin and French by the priests and a group of Nuns, it felt a bit surreal (and a little disrespectful). I found myself shushing the groups of tourists ignoring the signs in multiple languages to be quiet. However my sympathy for the church waned a little when I came to the shop (inside the church) which was still open and selling. Obviously tourist business was trumping religious activity.

    The cathedral is truly stunning and the music and mass made the visit even more special. I had come to think of it as my special place after staying so close for the past five days.
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  • Day22

    Notre-Dame Tower

    April 16, 2017 in France

    The visit to the Notre-Dame Tower is a climb of around 400 steps and only costs a few euros (or is included in the museum pass I bought). The downside, besides the stairs, is that they only let 20 people up every 10 minutes so only a small queue can mean a long wait. I waited for just over an hour and passed the time chatting with a lovely couple from Ottawa behind me. We tag teamed and went to the toilet and got coffee etc so it passed quite quickly.

    The climb was pretty hard with the steps getting steeper and narrower the higher we got. The first level saw sweeping views and the chance to get the classic shot of a gargoyle looking towards the Eiffel Tower. Tourists before me had ripped holes in the netting to allow easier picture taking. On this level you got to see inside the bell towers and admire the luckily inactive bells.

    The next climb was even narrower and not for the claustrophobic but led to the very top viewing area. The views were from this high point stunning. It was nice to be able to see all the parts of the cathedral from this angle. The climb down was almost as tough with the spiral downwards making you a little dizzy.
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  • Day2

    Bordeaux!

    April 28 in France

    LOVE this city! Had a jet lag adjustment, forgot my camera the first afternoon in, but I think I got this. Yesterday when I was buying a tram ticket at the kiosk, I finally felt like I had found my feet.

  • Day12

    Day 12: Paris, France

    July 18, 2016 in France

    Today we had a later start than we would have liked. It feels like we've been traveling for weeks and our bodies are tired and losing stamina. The sun didn't set in Scotland until 10:20 and it rose at 4:45 so we feel like zombies in the morning. Now that we're in Paris with AC, blackout curtains, and a comfortable bed, all we want to do is sleep, but we want to see everything, too. The good thing is that everything is closer in Paris than it was in London. Paris may be sprawling, but the main attractions and neighborhoods (or arrondissements) are incredibly close and the metro stops are very close together if you need to use them at all. Some other differences between the metro and tube is that the tube was used by everyone (businessmen, tourists, locals) where the metro seems to mainly be poorer to average locals and some tourists. Paris' boulevards are much wider (thanks to Napoleon) and therefore driving is possible where in London it was not. Today we walked to Ile de la Cite where Paris began in the 50s AD. It's a fairly small island in the middle of the Seine next to Ile de St. Louis. On the Cite there are several iconic places including St. Chapelle church (didn't tour), Conciergerie (where it was first a palace then a prison especially during the French Revolution where Marie Antoinette stayed) and of course Notre Dame. Notre Dame is the most visited monument in France (that's what the brochure said) and is stunning with it's 2 towers, rose windows, flying buttresses, and is the best example of gothic architecture standing. We took some pictures, but with the heat and long line, we decided we'd try early another morning. We walked across the bridge to the Latin Quarter (oldest quarter with iconic Haussmannian architecture) to Shakespeare and Company bookstore. This little independent bookstore is famous for the people who frequented it like Fitzgerald and Hemingway during the 20s. It was opened by an American and houses all English books. I bought a Madeline in Paris book and received their official stamp in the front cover. We then went to the Musee de Cluny. This is a medieval museum in a monastery most well-known for the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry ("I've come to see the tapestries" keeps running through my mind) which is shrouded in mystery since it's unlike anything else made at the time. Nice museum with few people. The building itself was really neat with it's gothic medieval architecture. We then walked to Jardin du Luxembourg and had a salad and cold tea and people watched. This is probably the most famous garden in France where people come to lay in the grass, eat, and let their poor cooped up city children run around. Kids also rent little sail boats to put in the murky fountain in front of the palace. We then walk to the Pantheon where King Louis XV built a secular building to the Saint Genevieve and where thousands are buried in the crypt below with lots of famous French people (like Rousseau, Voltaire, Hugo, Dumas, Braille, etc.). I found it amusing that the godless were buried here because they couldn't be buried in a church. After cooling off there, we headed back to the island, grabbed a chocolate crepe made fresh, jumped on the metro and headed back to the hotel to shower, cool off, and give our feet a rest. Some side remarks: I read in several places that everyone under the age of 35 knew English- that is so untrue. Except those at front desks, I'd say most do not know English here. They may know a few words, but they cannot carry on a conversation or understand anything specific. I'm totally blown away. I didn't learn French before we came here, so we've been going off Joel's high school French and it's saved us several times already ordering food, maneuvering the streets, and reading placards (which are all in French even in the museums). The children at church didn't know English (and their grandmother is American) and a teenager at church last night began in English and switched to French when he got too frustrated. Anyways... After our rest, we made our way down Champs-Elyses where they are getting ready for the tour de France next week. We decide to grab a cheap and healthy dinner at Pret-a-manger because last night's dinner was super annoying with our waiter not understanding Joel explaining allergies so he gave him more potatoes, not no potatoes. Sometimes our French is better than their English- and that's bad. We decide we're going to do 2 nice dinners with reservations and pre-explain the allergies and do pret the other nights. After dinner we walk to the Arc du Triumphe (walked under the street to get to it) and then used our fast pass to walk right by the line again. Joel thinks we're going to save ourself an entire day of waiting when this is all over. We walked the 200 or so steps to the top and we got an awesome view of the entire city as the sun sets. Everything is so close- you can see the modern downtown to the west, the eiffel tower to the south, the champs-elyses and the ferris wheel to the east and sacre-couer church NE. Totally worth it. We walk down and walk the other side of the boulevard until we want to take the metro the rest of the way to the Louvre to take some awesome night pictures. We're super tired and go back to the hotel to rest our weary little legs.Read more

  • Day14

    Day 14: Paris, France

    July 20, 2016 in France

    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

  • Day47

    Paris

    June 5, 2017 in France

    We have been blessed with beautiful weather on this trip. Reservations for a nighttime visit to the Eiffel Tower was the best idea ever! Today we are being lazy tourists by riding around on a bus. My bad knee finally decided to scream at me after all this traveling but I am hobbling around quite well. Not posting pictures because I cracked the screen on my phone. I guess this means that it is time to go home. We are ready! Au revoir.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Paris 02 Ancien - Quartier Palais-Royal, Butte des Moulins

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