Attitudes about Paris are very divided. Half the people we talked to when planning our trip urged us to skip the “dirty & overrated” place. The other half lit up with starry eyes.
We now fall in the second camp (although my eyes reflect chevre cheese and baguettes).
We were in Paris for the spiciest heatwave of the year. We bought a 6-pack of 1.5 liter water bottles every day. We sweat a lot. But we loved it and left wanting more.
I’m convinced the place you stay has an enormous impact on your opinion of any place you visit. We struck gold in Paris (ok, maybe silver, Air conditioning would have been gold). It was a 5 minute walk to the Eiffel tower park, but a 15 minute walk to the base of the tower. We were close enough to walk by it everyday and see it outside our window, but far enough away to purge the rif-raf.
The one downside as they were doing construction on one of the major rails nearby. Compounding the issue was the fact that google didn’t know about this, so finding a route that would actually work was tough.
On our first day in Paris we were pretty exhausted because we took the earliest train out of Amsterdam. Once we got to our Airbnb, we took some time to relax. Then, we decided to see how many times the line to the Eiffel wrapped around. We were lucky! The line was very short. And, as soon as we got our tickets they stopped selling tickets to the top. Very happy it worked out.
I underestimated the height of the tower. It’s tall! The view from the top was amazing (if a bit cramped). Stella loved running around the second deck and then walking down the stairs.
By the end of our time in Paris, it was clear to me why the Eiffel Tower has become the unchallenged mascot of Paris. It truly is a spectacle and so iconic.
Versailles was so busy. The line snaked across the courtyard 3 times before we hopped in. It moved pretty quickly which was a blessing when we were outside. Inside, it felt like our experience in the Vatican on Easter weekend. Lots of people, not lots of space. We saw the palace and learned a few things, but mainly were excited to escape to the gardens.
In fact, Stella would look out every window and say “go Play!” She was excited to go run around and play.
Le Arch du Triumph was a fun stop on our was to Sacre Cour. The highlight for me was looking straight from the center of the arch and seeing the tree-lined blocks leading to the Luvre. Standing in the middle of the massive traffic circle is fun too. Stella was most intrigued by the letters in raised gold on the ground paying homage to French heros. “S” is her favorite and she yells it with vigor when she spots one.
Sacre Cour offers a view of Paris to rival the Effiel tower. We paid to go to the top and the vista was even better. Of course, we found that they weren’t kidding about the 300 steps up and 300 steps down in a cramped spiral staircase. I was a bit dissy by the time we finished.
The inside of the cathedral itself was impressive in a different manner from most. It was missing the gaudy holding and ornate statues. Instead it was filled with careevnous domes and simple motifs. The structure told the story instead of the adornments.
We lucked out at the Lourve and got same-day tickets for the exact time slot we were there. They were turning people away at the door. I’m not sure how it worked out, but Lindsay secures them. We wandered around the halls for a couple hours. Of course we checked in on Mona Lisa (she’s still smiling) and looked at lots of the other renesaince art. I was looking forward to the Egyptian display, which happened to be closed the day we visited. The most impactful piece for me was a sculpture in the Mesopotamian area that was rated at 6000 years old, the oldest piece in the Luvre. It struck me how art has been a mainstay since the very beginning of human history. It’s clearly an important part of our culture, storytelling, and progression.
Lindsay’s mom gave us a tip that Monet’s garden was her highlight of Paris. We decided to make the hour or so trip. The garden was indeed picturesque and transported you right into one of the impressionist’s paintings. It had a wild beauty to it, displaying countless breeds of flowers and foliage in a very natural, borederline overgrown, ambiance.
The place was packed with tourists and Stella was a bit more boisterous than normal, so we didn’t linger long. Seeing the gardens will give me a new perspective on Impressionism.
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