What a beautiful time to be here - although not sure there is a bad time to be in Paris! The trees are blooming and the grass is green in the parks - although the temperature here is pretty chilly. I thought we had changeable weather in the Midwest - but it's been in the 30's in the morning here and then the temperature swings 30 degrees up and down throughout the day. So I wear layers and then just take them off throughout the day. This will be kind of a two part post - as I had a great but long day yesterday so just went straight to bed when I got back. It's early here so I thought I would write about yesterday - and then add day 3 when I get back tonight. Trying not to be sad that it's my last day here - just focusing on how grateful to have had this experience - the whole trip has been exceptional!!
So started the day with breakfast at a little cafe on the way to the metro.
First place on my list was the spectacular Musee d'Orsay - the home of France's national collection of Impressionist, post impressionist and art-nouveau Art. The building itself is a work of art - and was originally a train station. I have wanted to visit this museum for years as I love the Impressionists. Thank you museum pass - I walked right in!
The collection of art is really overwhelming - it definitely did not disappoint. They also have a large sculpture collection by Rodin, Degas and Gaugin to name just a few - but I will have to save that for another trip.
Next stop was lunch - and thank you Lonely Planet book again for getting me somewhere I never would have found on my own!! Not far from the museum in the charming St-Germain area is Treize! In a courtyard off a beautiful little street and through almost an alley - Ta Da! Can't believe I found it!
It was amazing! So tiny I felt like I was eating in someone's kitchen. There are tables to seat maybe 16 people all scrunched in a small space that are reservation only - and then a community table for 8 that I was lucky enough to get a spot at. There were 2 cooks that were literally right behind me cooking and talking to everyone. I had the artichoke and mushroom tart with a side salad of mixed greens and berries. It came with a biscuit also which is apparently their signature item. It was fantastic! I will think of it often when I am home eating my turkey sandwich every day! The people were so friendly - I asked if I could take pictures and they said absolutely!!
The St-Germain area is so cute I decided to walk the streets and browse in some of the shops. I decided to only buy things that are actually made in France - and found a cute store called Gab & Jo that sells only that!! Also Cire Trudon - the oldest candle maker in the world - since 1643! And Le Bon Marche department store - build by Gustave Eiffel! Also stopped at Laduree and picked up a few macarons for later!!
How about seeing the tomb of Napoleon? I think I will! It is at the Hotel Des Invalides and might look familiar to you.
This is actually a pretty big complex of buildings - not only the tomb of Napoleon but the largest French military museum, a church and more. I am going to admit I just went to the tomb - I will have to come back another time for the rest. But definitely worth seeing especially if you like war history. One thing worth mentioning is that security everywhere is very tight. Screening at every museum is almost like an airport - bag checks and X-ray machines and metal detectors. Even department stores have security with scanners at every entrance. Security was especially intense at this spot - soldiers with machine guns. It's just the way we live now - and actually does make me feel safer.
Well I had one more museum on my list so I needed to be on my way!
Hello Musee de l'Orangerie! Might be my most favorite museum here! And I almost didn't stop as I was feeling a bit worn out. So glad I did! It could be considered small by Paris standards but absolutely exquisite in my opinion. The 2nd floor was specifically designed to showcase 8 - yes 8 of Monet's enormous Water Lilies seen in natural light. 2 rooms and 4 in each room. Wow!!! Unreal!! And then the first floor is the private Impressionist collection of Paul Guillaume which is about 144 amazing paintings!! Sigh........so tempted to go back again today.
Then a walk through the Tuileries again - this time with lots of Parisians enjoying the park.
A quick stop to drop my purchases at the hotel before heading to dinner. A request was made for me to post a picture of my room - so I will oblige!! I'm staying at the Hotel Elysees Flaubert - a very cute boutique hotel that is very reasonable and close to a great metro stop right by the Arc De Triomphe.
Well I've had chicken and fish for dinner - what's left?? Beef!!
My last stop of the day was the Arc De Triomphe. I saved it as I wanted to go up to the top at night and see the lights of Paris. Well the one thing that didn't go according to plan was that they closed the top 2 hours early for no apparent reason - so didn't get to do that. Just a paper sign that said closed early - sorry!! But it might be just as well. It's quite high and height is not really my thing.
To end my day in Paris I walked up and back the Champs-Elysees to see the lights. Looks totally different at night! Lots of fancy stores, not so fancy stores, restaurants and expensive car show rooms. Another great day in Paris! And now to start Day 3!!!
This morning started with a laugh. I was in the mood for a good old Starbucks latte so started my day there. Apparently in Paris if your name isn't French enough they just give you a new one! I clearly told the woman my name was Patti - she looked at me, nodded and said Melanie! Wrote it on the cup and passed it over to be made! OK! Going with it! All day I have felt like a Melanie!
My museum pass was finished yesterday so today I definitely took it slower. This is my last full day in Paris so wanted to savor it. Took the metro to Place De La Concorde. This is the city's largest square and a pink granite obelisk sits right in the middle that is 3300 years old! A gift from Egypt in 1831. The square is midway on a straight line from the Louvre to the Arc De Triomphe and has 2 identical fountains on either end. From that spot you have a great view of the Eiffel Tower, the Seine and straight up to the Arc. You can't see the Louvre because of the Tuileries but it's a great spot.
From Concorde Plaza it was an easy walk to two of the biggest department stores in Paris and in the world!! Galleries Lafayette and Le Printemps. Each one is massive - and by that I mean multiple blocks and extending even to across the street. Top of the line designer clothing, jewelry, handbags, housewares, cosmetics and on and on. Merchandise wise I don't think there is a huge difference between the two. Le Printemps appeared to be doing some serious remodeling - so for right now Galleries Lafayette was quite a bit prettier inside. Galleries Lafayette has this AMAZING stained glass dome that is over 100 years old - that alone is worth a stop. I'm not a big shopper but it was fun to just walk around and ride the escalator to see all the floors.
I had lunch at Angelina's in Galleries Lafayette. The original restaurant that is very old is in the Tuileries but this was more convenient and I was hungry!
My last museum of the trip was the Musee Jacquemart-Andre. I saved it for today as it is not covered by the museum pass, but I had heard great things so put it on my list. It was actually pretty close to my hotel, and more a tour of a gorgeous mansion filed with beautiful art from all over the world. There are 16 rooms and the furnishings are spectacular. They had an impressive collection of art from artists like Rembrandt and Van Dyke, and an unbelievable collection of 15th century Italian Renaissance art. That all makes me sound way more knowledgeable then I am. I just listened to the audio guide!!
And they have a restaurant and tea room!! Had a fabulous dessert to wrap up my afternoon.
So that leaves just dinner tonight and then the travel day home tomorrow. Sigh......
In case you are scratching your head about 4 places I didn't go to - The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versailles and Sacre-Coeur, it's because I have already been to all of them. I highly recommend them all but on this trip I wanted to do things I hadn't done. It's been a great trip!! Really exceeded my expectations!! I'll do one more post about this trip when I get home - kind of recap things - but thanks for coming along! I never felt alone! Have a wonderful weekend all!!