Paris, France – July 16, 2010
This trip was Hillary’s graduation from high school gift. We made the trip with our “jellybean” carryon travel bags. They are quite colorful.
After arriving at the airport in Paris, we took a taxi to our hotel. As it turns out, we are just around the corner from the famous Moulin Rouge. So, during the drive there, went through some rather dicey areas. The three-star hotel itself is nice, right beside the Montmartre Cemetery.
After unpacking, we took a taxi to the Arc de Triomphe. Begun in 1806, it took some 30 years to complete. It is massive; about 50 meters (164 feet) tall and about 45 meters (148 feet) wide. That was spectacular. After taking several photographs and watching the seemingly crazy traffic go around the circle, we began our walk toward the Eiffel Tower. On the way to the tower, we passed an odd-looking poster touting an exhibit entitled “Views on Biodiversity”.
Arriving at the Eiffel Tower, we all marveled at the size, about 320 meters (1,050 feet) tall. I can recall being amazed when I first flew to Paris last April. I was easily able to see the tower from the airplane. The Eiffel Tower dates from 1889.
We left the Eiffel Tower, and on a whim, we boarded a boat operated by Batobus. It is one of many tourist boats that ply the Seine River. One of the most spectacular bridges on the river is the Pont Alexandre III. The white color of the bridge really contrasts with the gold-colored accents. The boat stopped at the Musee d’Orsay, St. Germain des Pres, Notre Dame, Jardin des Plantes, Hotel de Ville, and then the Louvre, where we got off.
From the boat stop, we walked to dinner. I took them to the same restaurant I ate at when I was in Paris the previous April, Flottes. It is located at 2 Rue Cambon, Paris. The meal was every bit as good as the time before. I would highly recommend the restaurant.
The next day we took a taxi to the Louvre Museum. We arrived at about 08:10. The museum does not open until 09:00. So, we walked around taking photos for a while, then we stood in line. We were about 50 people from the front of the line, so when the museum opened, we got in quickly and bought our tickets.
Our first objective was to see the Mona Lisa. After getting a map of the museum, we headed straight there. I was prepared for the very small size of the painting since this was my second time at the museum. But at 77cm x 53cm (30 inches x 21 inches), it is much smaller than I had imagined. The painting is behind a large plexiglass screen, making photographs of the painting a challenge. The size of the Mona Lisa seems all the more disproportionate when one turns 180-degrees to see The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Caliari. That painting is an astounding 6.8 meters x 9.75 meters (22 feet 3 inches x 32 feet).
Departing that area, we wandered around the museum. I saw several sections that I had not seen during my previous visit.
Now it is official; the Louvre is my favorite museum on the face of this planet!
Close to noon, we went to the Louvre Museum store. I bought a journal that I had seen on my last trip. It probably was a crazy purchase at 80€ (US$101). Regardless, it adds nicely to my collection of journals and I will be able to use it for many years to come.
When we left the Louvre, we walked across the Seine River. Then we walked along the river and saw all the various vendors. Ultimately, we crossed the road to have a drink and a plate of assorted cheeses. That was a welcome respite after all of our walking.
We departed the café to do what Hillary was just dying to do…shop! About halfway across the Pont Royal (Royal Bridge) I suddenly realized I had left the bag with my brand new journal under the seat at the café. Tyler was kind enough to dash back; fortunately retrieve the bag, and bring it back to me!
With my journal in a secure grip, we walked over to the Rue Saint-Honoré area and did some shopping. Luckily, Hillary did see much that interested her. The shops in that area cater to the very, very rich.
While the women shopped, Tyler and I ducked into the Saint Roch Church. It honestly did not look like much from the exterior. But wow, the interior was really beautiful! Exiting the church, we saw a couple of interesting cars parked on the street.
We made our way over to the Opera area. We sat down at a sidewalk café and had lunch. It was a beautiful day. We sat there, enjoying the weather, and watching the people.
When we got back to our hotel, we decided to walk through a portion of the cemetery. The Montmarte Cemetery is allegedly the oldest in Paris. It definitely looked old. The cemetery holds the distinction of having the most unique gravestone I have ever seen. The gravestone is for a family, but the oddity is that there is a space in the gravestone for the stone image of the face and feet of each member!
That evening, we ate at Corcoran’s Irish Pub, just a few doors down from our hotel. It was good comfort food. After dinner, we slipped around the corner to look at the Moulin Rouge. We decided that at 120€ (US$152.40) per ticket, we did not need to see the show!
The following morning, we decided we would have breakfast at Corcoran’s. It was not open when we checked. It was such a beautiful morning, we all four sat on two different benches in the median of . I sat there reading a book, oblivious to three men approaching. I heard Leslie and Hillary scream out. One of the men had approached them and tried to kiss them. I jumped up from my bench, and using my best ex-cop voice, I yelled, “Hey!!” It was loud enough and forceful enough to stop the men in their tracks. I also apparently stopped a passing car. The driver of the car asked if everything was ok. I said yes because the men had continued their walk on . When they were about 20-meters away, one of the men turned around and apologized.
That encounter put a bit of a damper on the morning. We returned to the hotel, grabbed our bags, and hailed a taxi. We returned to the Arc de Triomphe area. We found the L’Etoile 1903 (The Star 1903) café and had our coffee and breakfast. That helped calm us down.
After breakfast, we walked about one block to the Arc de Triomphe. The bright blue sky made the monument all the more impressive that day.
The Arc is at the top of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Hillary’s next shopping destination. One of the last stores we stopped at was Louis Vuitton. Leslie and Hillary went inside. Tyler and I waited on the sidewalk. When the two women exited the store, I was shocked to find out Hillary was the proud owner of a 300€ (US$381)!! I suspicion that wallet will never carry that amount of money!
A little spooked, I hailed a taxi and had the driver quickly take us to the airport before any more damage could occur.
Our return trip home was uneventful.