Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Super fun girls' trip to Paris!

Let me first just say that I totally recognize how crazy my life is... it is certainly not how I imagined my life would go, and the nomadic thing has its ups and downs, but the travel is FOR SURE one of the best parts in my opinion. This past weekend Charlotte and I took the train to Paris. We rented an apartment with a few other women from our church, but then we mostly all did our own thing while we were there.

After dropping off our stuff, we headed directly to the Eiffel Tower.

It was a beautiful and super cold day.

The very top floor was closed for maintenance, but the second floor was plenty high up, and windy.

On the first floor there was an ice rink set up.  And most shockingly, it was free to rent skates and skate. It was a small rink, and crowded, but Charlotte and I both loved skating to the music as the sun set.

We rode down the elevator just in time to see the Eiffel Tower start to twinkle at us. (It lights up every hour for about five minutes.) Then we took the metro back to our apartment by way of Chipotle where Charlotte and I got a burrito bowl to share for dinner. It is an odd thrill to find American (or Mexican) food from some of our favorite places when we travel in Europe.

Saturday morning we made a beeline for The Orangerie art museum. We were there pretty early and actually got to sit alone with Monet's waterlilies. There are two oval shaped rooms filled with his huge paintings. 

We sat in the middle of the room and just looked.  Charlotte said, "It's like we are in a boat on a lake." I loved it.

After the Orangerie we went to the Musee d'Orsay. The building used to be a train station and has these fabulous clocks.

But the real treasure is the Impressionist collection. We spent hours there and I loved hearing Charlotte's awesome observations and getting to share with her why some of the works are considered so significant.  My little dancer with Degas' little dancer.

 Next stop was Shakespeare & Co. I love this funky English bookstore.  I know it is as much a tourist stop as anything these days, but I love the bohemian history of this place

I sat and read some poetry, Charlotte read in the children's corner, and we both listened to a guy play the piano upstairs for a little while. It was a great rest stop in our day.

Right across the bridge from Shakespeare & Co. lies the beautiful Notre Dame.

I always love sitting in these awesome cathedrals. Notre Dame was built over nearly 150 years, beginning in the 1100s. There was an exhibit of an artist's works focused on the beauty of the creation. It was lovely.

Our next stop was another cathedral.  I had never been inside Sainte Chapelle before because of the simple reason that you have to pay an admission and there is so much that you can see in Paris for free. The chapel is to the rear left in the picture.  Unlike Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle was built in about 10 years in the 1200s. It is quite a bit smaller, but still hugely impressive.

Above the doors is this beautiful Madonna with Child. I love that the baby Jesus is holding a bunch of daisies and looks about to pull Mary's hair. That is a little kid I recognize!

We walked in the chapel and were impressed by the beautiful ceiling and windows.  But honestly, it was like, "huh... what's all the fuss about?"

Then we saw a stairway and thought we'd check out the upstairs.  At the top of the stairs I said, "oh WOW!" and Charlotte said, "Now this is what I'm talking about!" The stained glass in the upper chapel is truly breathtaking. And the sun shining through it is spectacular. I took many, many pictures and walked in circles staring at the windows.  Charlotte quickly became bored with this and told me that there was nothing to do but look at the windows.  To which I responded, yeah, but LOOK AT THE WINDOWS!!! So glad we went there.

To finish off the night we went to Hard Rock Cafe for a big meal and a milkshake. Most of our meals were speedy crepes, pastries, or splitting takeout. We are not gourmands, and Paris is expensive y'all. 

The next morning was Sunday and we found the local congregation of our church and attended Sacrament meeting. They were clearly used to visitors and provided headsets with live translation of the service. I was delighted to run into a family that we knew from last time we lived in Germany as well! It is a small Mormon world.

After church we returned to sightseeing. We took the metro to Pigalle and saw the infamous Moulin Rouge before walking up to Sacre Coeur.

Sacre Coeur was built right around 1900, so it isn't nearly as old as many of the cathedrals in Paris, but the history of the location is really interesting. And obviously, the place is gorgeous.

We grabbed a bite and got on the metro to the Arc de Triomphe.

We had fun taking some photos and crossed under the ginormous traffic circle to get an up close look.

It is a beautiful monument.  The French sure do know how to do fancy! After the Arc de Triomphe we strolled down the Champs Elysee and popped in a few stores to window shop.  Of course there is Tiffany's, Cartier, Louis Vitton... but we spent the most time in H&M and the Disney Store.

Monday morning we had to check out but had most of the day to wander the Rues and Avenues.  We started in the Latin Quarter and headed toward St. Sulpice. We couldn't go in because we had a carry-on with us, but it just reminds me how much more I could still go see in Paris.

After that we walked to the Jardin du Luxembourg. This park was established in the 1600s as a royal garden but is now a public park run by the French Senate that meets in the Palace.  The playground there was awesome- but not free- we actually had to pay to play. Paris you guys. But, that is also probably why it was so nice. Charlotte played with two very gentlemanly French boys. I was impressed by how kindly and cooperatively they played. I also spoke with a family from Atlanta, GA... the mom was from New Jersey originally and we had a nice chat.  Have I mentioned the smallness of the world lately?

On our way back to the train station I thought we'd hunt down this cafe.  The Le Procope opened in 1686 and has run continuously since then. I wanted to go have a hot cocoa where Voltaire enjoyed his coffee and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin would dine (as well as a ton of other famous characters.) But sadly, they were only open for dinner, and we didn't have the time.

We arrived at the train station fairly early because it was so cold and we were pretty worn out.  On the upside we were finally able to get a couple of cups of hot cocoa and find a table to sit, read, draw, and talk and just be very Parisian about it. I loved traveling with Charlotte.  We had some good talks. We read our novels. We made a lot of memories, and I am thankful we had the opportunity.

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

This is the most precious trip I have ever read about, and I've heard about A LOT of trips in my day! There's definitely something special about having one daughter. Cannot wait to travel with my girls...when Annie is a bit bigger. :)