Did you ever have a day when everything just went perfectly? When the stars aligned and you got everywhere you needed to be 10 minutes before everyone else? Well that's the day I had today. I had an aggressive plan for what I wanted to do - but realistically I thought I wouldn't be able to get it all in - that places would be crowded and I would need to wait in line. Well - it didn't happen. Tomorrow might be different but today was incredible. Let me share one tip for when you visit Paris - because of course you must!! Buy the museum pass! If you will be here for more then one day and plan to see any museums it's the best deal in town. I bought mine at the airport as it doesn't get activated until you enter your first museum. Then it's good for almost every museum in town (not the Eiffel Tower) for how ever many days you buy. I bought the 2 day pass and used it 4 times just today! Planning on 3 or more stops tomorrow and it already paid for itself today. Plus it enables you to skip the lines and enter ahead of those buying a ticket. Because you will stand in line twice without it - once to buy your ticket and again to enter the museum. Worth it's weight in gold!!
First of all let me share that I had a mini panic attack last night after leaving the restaurant. I was literally 2 maybe 3 blocks from my hotel and I got lost. I could not find the hotel and it took me 45 minutes to get back. So I was afraid that today I would get totally lost and spend half my time trying to figure out where I was. Well I will chalk last night up to travel fatigue because today went great!!! I started the day by not only figuring out what metro train I needed to take, but how to get to it and how to buy the ticket! Once I was on the train I knew the rest of the day would go well. I started with breakfast at Cafe Saint Regis located on the little island of Ile St-Louis. That's just east of the island that Notre Dame is on. It's been there forever and the waiters wear long white aprons - looks like something out of an old movie.
First stop was Notre Dame De Paris. I planned to see the inside of the church first and get in line to climb to the top of the Towers right when that opened at 10 AM. Worked out perfectly!! The church was began in 1163 and completed by the early 14th century. Incredible!!
After I saw the inside I went to get in line for the Tower. They let people up in groups and I was lucky to be in the first group! We walked up 400 spiral steps to get to the top!! Worth it!!
What an incredible view of Paris to the west from the Tower!!
My next stop was the incredible Saint-Chapelle Chapel. It's very close to Notre Dame and while the lines are usually long with the museum pass I sailed right in. The oldest and finest stained glass in all of Paris are in this chapel build in 1248. I had heard and read how beautiful it is but I was really unprepared for how stunning and overwhelming it really it. Luckily they have chairs as I needed to sit down and just enjoy it for awhile.
Next stop was right next door at the Conciergerie. It was originally a royal palace in the 14th century but then was converted to a prison. One of the most famous prisoners was Queen Marie-Antoinette. I didn't really take any pictures. It was interesting but kind of depressing.
After a walk across the Pont Neuf - the oldest bridge in Paris that linked the two sides of the river I headed for lunch.
I located a cafe recommended in my Lonely Planet guidebook (thanks Tom, Keeley & Matt!) called Cafe La Fusee. It was wonderful! Had seating for maybe 24 people? I started with the pumpkin soup and then had one of my favorites - the Croque Monsieur with salad. The Croque Monsieur is my default French meal - I could eat it every day. It's basically the best grilled ham and cheese sandwich ever!!
Next stop was the Centre Pompidou. It has the most interesting and radical architecture! It contain's Europe's largest collection of modern art - but worth seeing just for the building even if you don't like modern art. It's basically an inside out structure with the plumbing, pipes, air vents and electrical cables forming part of the external facade. And it is enormous as far as contents! I was there over an hour and a half and saw half of one floor!! And there are 6 floors!! But I was on overload - my head exploding with Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Kandinsky!! I will get back there again one day and see more.
Hey I didn't have dessert yet!! Time to make a stop. So I headed over to what is supposedly the BEST ice cream in all of Paris - Berthillon. Once again it was totally out of a movie - waiters in long white aprons. When I entered the head waiter asked me if I was there for lunch or tea? I said ice cream!!! But I'll have some tea too!
To wrap up the rest of the late afternoon I decided to walk up the Champs-Elysees and do a little browsing. It started to get very overcast and sprinkle just a tiny bit so I decided to postpone the trip to the top of the Arc de Triomphe till tomorrow when it is supposed to be a clear day. I headed back to the hotel and checked my miles - almost 14!!!
I asked the concierge here at the hotel for a recommendation for dinner and he suggested a place right around the corner called Le Bistro D'A Côte Flaubert. He said there is a very famous chef by the name of Michel Rostang that has a restaurant that is very expensive and you can't even get a table there - but he opened up this brasserie in the neighborhood and that it was excellent. He did not give me a bad steer! It was fantastic! I wanted to take pictures but it is very small - almost like eating in someone's living room - only about 10 people dining - and I was right by the head waiter!!! Drat!!! My first course was chicken liver pate, course two a delicious fish with almonds and capers served with rice, and for dessert - yes - another dessert - I had fresh strawberries with cream and a little pastry crisp!!! Also a great wine - and when I asked the waiter what it was he went out of his way to bring over a computer and show me on a map where it came from in France! And they say the French are rude!!! Not so!! I know I lost weight in Spain but I'm pretty sure I gained it all back today - and then some!!!
Well thanks for coming along!! Another great day planned for tomorrow! Bonne Nuit!!