Friday, May 04, 2012

Paris, Day 2

We woke up in Paris... (sigh...we really did wake up in Paris. So amazing.) And even got to sleep in a little bit since our previous day had been so productive!!

Those European shower/tubs are so strange with only half-doors. That first day we flooded the bathroom with overspray! But Dan figured out how to get the door "just so" and I put towels down "just so" and after that we we didn't make such a lake on the floor!

We stayed in the historic Hotel Raphael. The rooms were very large with lots of closet space and a sitting room as well. Dan likes new and modern so on first glance he wasn't sure what he thought, but the rooms were big with high ceilings, crown moldings and lots of charm and the bathrooms were large and newish and we loved the place.  And the rooftop garden was beautiful!

We started our day taking the Subway to Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame. We'd read there was a separate entrance to Sainte-Chapelle with the Museum Pass, but walked around the whole area and didn't see one.  Went back to the original line and after only 5 minutes a guard came out and said they had to close early for an undisclosed reason and we'd need to come back later.

So...we walked down to Notre Dame. Because it was later in the morning, there was a long line to go up the towers at Notre Dame, and then it started to rain. So we skipped that line and walked around the grounds, taking pictures from every angle. Such amazing architecture!

The rain came off and on throughout the day but we were prepared with an umbrella and jackets so we just enjoyed walking in the rain.  We walked over to Ile de la Cite and had lunch at a cafe on the corner overlooking Notre Dame. So picturesque!  Lunch was an omelet with french fries--not a typical combination, but I never turn down french fries and these were delicious. After lunch we window shopped the main street for a couple of blocks.

Eventually we made our way to the Latin Quarter past the book sellers along the Seine. (Loved strolling past each shop and finding treasures like original Tin Tin comic books and posters, and Le Petit Nicolas (Dan read the English translation to Nicholas).

Houses dating back to 1400's!

Shakespeare Books
Just something about it...
There were so many chocolate shops each with different and beautiful offerings that it was hard to not go in each one. 

We found Le Deux Magots and Le Cafe de Flore which were hangouts of Picasso, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. (It was fun to have read The Paris Wife last year so I could actually visualize these authors "hanging out." We also watched "Midnight in Paris" on the plane home which we'd liked ok and was interesting after I'd read The Paris Wife, but we loved it after we'd actually been to Paris. If you've got the time and are going to Paris...)

Back to Cafe de Flore, we had THE MOST delicious hot chocolate there EVER! Yes, it was expensive (I think $8 a cup) but soo worth it! Just to sit in that crowded, yet somehow cozy cafe on the street and have something to order and then to love it so much. It was the experience.

After, we made our way to Luxembourg Gardens. They were expansive and beautiful! A great place to take a picnic and sit and enjoy being outside in a beautiful spot.

But by the time we got there I was exhausted! The travel had caught up to me and I hit a wall!  It was 3:30 Paris time by then. We sat for a bit and then decided to go back to our hotel to rest, which became a routine for us -- take a nap at 4:00 for a couple of hours and then we'd feel refreshed and excited about going out again for dinner and more sight-seeing.

That evening the Louvre was open late and when we arrived there wasn't a single person in line and the museum wasn't crowed at all. We had great luck hitting the museums in the evening!  We entered in the glass pyramid and our main goal was to simply see the Mona Lisa and enjoy whatever else we passed along the way.  We were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed what we saw along the way.

We saw even more than we anticipated in our search for a bathroom. But in the farthest, lowest point of the museum we did find one.  We've heard the Louvre can be crowded and you can use up a lot of precious time there, but we enjoyed every minute we were there and everything we saw.  Of course we only explored one wing but will see more the next time we go to Paris.

After The Louvre we headed out for dinner thinking we'd just stop in a cafe on the way home. We discovered the area North of the Louvre is a business district and everything shuts down by 5:00. So again we walked and walked and walked. We did get to see some very important statues and buildings that I can't remember the significance of anymore.

Finally we arrived at the Champs and again had the dilemma of not wanting to eat at a restaurant that wasn't amazing. So my husband pulled out his phone and Googles fancy restaurants and before we know it we are sitting in a Michelin-starred restaurant in our every-day, just off the streets, tourist clothes. But guess what? They didn't care and we got over the awkwardness and enjoyed the most delectable meal after a hard day of touring.

Once again we dragged ourselves home at the end of a long day and fell into bed. (But I didn't go to sleep yet because I spent a long time trying to figure out how to upload my photos to my iPad so I could blog. After much researching I figured out my camera was too old. And THEN I probably looked at a map for the next day and read the reviews on different chocolate shops and checked Facebook and THEN, I went to bed.)

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