Monday, September 26, 2011

Paris: Day 3

Finally! Day three in Paris! Probably one of our more low key days on the trip, but still fun. We started out at Notre Dame after getting a large cappuccino and pastries (pain au chocolat for me, of course). We got there right at opening time and there were no lines. It was also free to get in! Notre Dame was very different than the churches we saw in London. For one, it was Catholic, which automatically gave it a more serious, solemn feel. Another difference was the style - very Gothic architecture and very dark inside. It also had the most amazing stained glass - huge round windows on either side of the altar. Everyone was very quiet inside and I was frustrated with some groups of tourists that didn't respect that about the church.

After we made our way around the main church, we went outside and stood in line for about an hour (the longest we waited to do anything on our trip) to get up to the top of the Notre Dame tower. We got to the top (check out how worn the stairs are) just in time to hear the big bell chime at 11am.

At the first level, we got to see the awesome gargoyles and amazing city views (probably the best out of the four viewpoints we saw in Paris). Luckily, it wasn't raining on us so we could see for miles. There was caging all the way around on both levels and we also got to see the huge bell (unfortunately, no hunchback though...).

Next stop was the less exciting (and my least favorite stop on our trip) Conciergerie. Apparently there is a really cool chapel - St. Chappelle's - inside, but it was closed. The rest of the building was not impressive. It was basically where they held prisoners at one point, and I think it was also one of the first palaces in Paris. Enough about that. It wasn't that great.

We wanted to go to the Musee d'Orsay, but it was closed on Mondays. So instead we went to the Tomb of Napoleon. You can see it from all over Paris. It's kind of ridiculous. It was a huge dome room with his tomb in the middle and then a crazy altar looking over it. The Chapel St. Louis was closed and we learned later they were prepping for a ceremony the next day for fallen soldiers (we saw it on the French news). Instead, we went to the war museum that was on the back side of the tomb. I was so tired by that point I just sat down while Zach walked through the museum. He really liked it (definitely more for the dudes).

Then we walked back to our hotel, passing the original Bon Marche, and took a 3 hour nap. We needed it after going 110% for at least a week. We got up and I really wanted to go to see the Moulin Rouge (spoiler alert: we never got there) and visit the Montmarte district. We took the metro for the first time and I literally got stuck in the doors. They slammed right on me! It did not feel good at all. But the hubby pulled me in to the metro car and I survived.

We got off the metro in Montmarte and we were not in the greatest of areas. Lots of trash on the streets, it was starting to get dark and I was totally out of my comfort zone. Luckily, we were really close to Sacre Couer so we started hiking up lots of stairs to get to the top of the hill (the only hill in Paris). Sacre Couer was pretty cool. It was like Notre Dame in some ways - Catholic, quiet, and darker inside. There were lots of candles lit in front of the Mary and Jesus memorials. The inside was so pretty with a huge dome over the altar that was covered in mosaic designs.

Outside, there were tons of people sitting on the church steps with wine, hanging with friends and watching the sun go down. From the top of the hill, there were amazing views of the city (although not of the Eiffel Tower). We wanted to go to dinner in Montmarte, but it was getting dark and we decided we'd rather get back to St. Michel/Latin Quarter by where we were staying and where we felt much safer. On the way back to the metro station, we saw a couple homeless guys playing cards on the sidewalk and their friend peeing in the street. Definitely a good choice to head back home. :)

We had late dinner at an outdoor cafe. I love how everything is open late and you can just walk up and sit down, have a glass of wine, and people watch. I had chicken with french fries and it was delicious. Zach got steak and fries with Bordeaux wine and I had it for my second glass - so good.

Then we walked around through St. Michel. The pedestrian only side streets get so lively at night and are so much fun filled with people and lots of cute cafes. Such an awesome atmosphere. Then we got some gelato and sat on the Pont Nuef to wait for the Eiffel Tower light show at midnight. It was a nice to relax and enjoy the City of Light for a bit. The light show was pretty sweet - the Tower looked like it was covered in glitter. Very sparkly!

Without sparkly light show...
With sparkly light show!

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