This is a LONG post - a lot happened in Paris! You have been warned :)!
Paris - The City of Lights (i.e. La Ville-Lumière). What a beautiful city - modern with the mix of history.
The first day we arrived in Paris was actually the last day of the Tour de France. Nick was pretty excited about that! Once we got settled into the hotel we hopped on the metro. On a side note - the metro was awesome. The Parisians really have it down to a science. The whole time we were in Paris we never waited on a subway train. Ever. The routes are mapped out perfect for you - you can get to every destination, museum, restaurant that you need on the metro. We spent A LOT of time on it.
Okay back to the tour. We took the metro to the Champs-Elysees and once we walked out of the metro station we were surrounded by race fans. Absolutely TONS of people. Constant smashing and banging into people. We were able to find a nice little restaurant and sit down for a quick bite to eat. By this time the race was still about 3 hours away, but once we finished we went to get in position. We scoped out a few areas and eventually found a pretty decent place. We were only two people back so we were able to see pretty well.
The race was pretty amazing. The racers are going by so fast you only catch a quick glimpse as they go by. We were able to pick out the yellow jersey and we think we saw Lance at some point. All in all a great way to kick off Paris. After that, Nick was in the mood to ride :)!
View from Champs Elysee
Blowup racer - they had a parade of sponsor vehicles before the race
We purchased a museum pass before our trip so we could skip the lines and avoid the waiting. Very good idea. Especially in Paris. The second day we spent exploring some museums. We first saw the Pompidou which houses modern art. Interesting building. Nick thought the design was ugly, ha! If I am being honest, it just wasn't our taste. We pretty much walked the whole museum in about 15-20 minutes. Oh well...you win some and lose some! Next, we saw the Louvre. Amazing. Massive. Loved it! Now, you definitley couldn't see everything there. It's just way too big. But the museum did have a map that listed some of the sights you should see on each floor. So that's what we did. We obviously saw the Mona Lisa (with the other hundred people surrounding it), Aphrodite, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and many more! We really enjoyed that museum!
The front of the Louvre with the pyramids behind us
Inside the museum
This was also the day we went to the Eiffel Tower. We were walking on this street and then we are about to turn a corner and Nick says to me, "are you ready?" Because right when we turned the corner there was the tower - great view and beautiful. It's something that I have always wanted to see. Amazing that they built that in 1889. There were TONS of people. Like always. The lines for the lift to the top were probably about a 3 hour wait. Yeah, waiting isn't really Nick and mines thing. So, we went to the pretty much empty line to climb the stairs to the second level. About 680 steps later (Nick counted) we made it! Wasn't as bad as we thought - I guess all the stairs we did beforehand prepared us. It was an awesome feeling being up there. Great views of the city. Now, it was pretty high up. I don't think I could have gone to the top. Plus, they squish tons of people into their lift - definitley not my thing. Second level was just perfect for us! After the downward climb we went into the lawn and just relaxed and napped. Very romantic and Parisian!
Us on the second level
The third day we spent the morning at Versailles to see the Palace of Versailles and the gardens. Loved this - just beautiful. We took a train and arrived right at opening time. Yep - again, TONS of people. There was already a long line for the entrance. We had the museum pass so we just hopped in the line (which moved pretty fast). As we got close to the entrance Nick and I had a woman with her daughter approach us. I think they were French, not sure? Definitely had some kind of accent. Well, this is pretty much how our conversation went...
Unknown Woman: "Do you have tickets?"
Nick and I together: "Yes, we have the museum pass. We are waiting to go inside."
Unknown Woman: "Is there only two in your party?"
Nick and I together: "Yes."
Unknown Woman: "Do you think it is possible for us to join your party? We can make four and just join you now?"
Me: Umm, I'm sorry but no. It wouldn't be fair to those people who have and are waiting..."
Unknown Woman: "It's such a long line..."
Me: "I know but we waited."
Then she left. I didn't see where she went but I assume she either tried this again on another group or did end up going to the end of the line. Can you believe that? Nick and I were laughing so hard. There was an Australian couple behind us that couldn't believe that just happened. Crazy.
We made it into the Palace. Not our favorite. But I only say that because I don't think we could fully appreciate it. This was really the only stop, during the entire trip, that we were just trying to find the exit. There were way too many people/tour groups trying to squeeze through the rooms. I mean it was like a mosh pit...you could hardly breathe. Nick and I quickly found an exit and made our way into the palace gardens. One of my favorites. Just gorgeous! The gardens were massive! It covers about 800 acres and it is housed with beautiful statues and fountains at every corner. I took tons of pictures and Nick and I wandered around. Nick said that the gardens felt like exactly my type of thing. I asked him what that meant and he just said this feels like you. And I agree. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip!
Front of the Palace
Back of the Palace
One of the many fountains
The gardens - the flowers were so pretty!
The afternoon we spent walking around the Moulin Rouge and the Sacre Coeur. Moulin Rouge area was quite interesting. A lot of unique stores are showcased there. A different vibe in that area.... The Sacre Coeur Basillica is at the summit of Montmarte, the highest point in the city. And just like the Eiffel Tower - it offers some amazing views! We headed back home because we had a very nice dinner planned that night. We ate at quaint restaurant that Ernest Hemingway used to frequent. Pretty cool. Dinner was amazing - lobster salad, steak and fries for me, duck for Nick, and a mouth watering desert platter. Yummy!
Street performer - he was absolutely amazing. We took video of him and will have to post at a later time. Quite impressive!
The last day in Paris we spent at a few different sights. First we visited the Museum d'Orsay. It had a lot of artwork by Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. And Nick kept commenting on how this museum was the perfect size, unlike the Louvre. The entire museum is housed in a renovated old train station and was just beautiful!
Next, we went to Saint Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was breathtaking. The stained glass that told the story of the creation to redemption was beautiful. Next, we took a stroll through the Notre Dame Cathedral. These churches in Europe are just so massive and impressive. It really is quite the sight to see. Last we ended our day with a visit to the Paris Opera House. We had some time left to spend and I thought it would be fun. The building is really decadent. It was built in 1875 and was home to the Paris opera until 1989. Really was a striking building. It now showcases a lot of ballet routines. I would have liked to have seen a show had we had more time.
Stained glass in Sainte Chapelle
Inside the Opera House
Paris was just a fantastic way to end our trip. From start to finish this trip has been nothing but fabulous. We both were really able to see and learn a lot. Nick and I have made some wonderful lifetime memories and this really was a trip of a lifetime for us. We could not have been more happy with how it turned out.
It's back home now to start our next adventure. We will be in Dallas for about another week and then we head to our new home - New York City. It's crazy to think that the time to move is already here. Another phase in our life will begin shortly...
Hope you enjoyed our European Adventure!!!
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