I couldn’t think of a better reason to take a trip than celebrating a birthday! While Ben’s only desire on his was to stay home and relax, I definitely wanted to check a destination off my list. Paris ended up having the best airline prices for the day surrounding my birthday, easy choice!
I took 2 years of French in high school, and the very thought of going here brought back memories of that class, what we learned, and my teacher Mr. Teahan! He was quite an interesting character, and I heard his voice and remembered the lessons he taught throughout the entire trip. He told our class once that when he was young and broke, he backpacked through Paris, and used to beg in the streets. I could picture it when we were there! Just like every other big city we’ve visited, the beggars were numerous. But of course the trip wasn’t tainted by that. There was so much to see and do, we could definitely go back. Probably not to live, but definitely to visit!
First thing we saw and did when getting off the plane in Paris. mmm Starbucks! Anything to get a little taste of home.
To the right we took some money out of an ATM, where a homeless man aptly begged for money in French, of course we didn’t understand him, but I give kudos on his choice of location, it was the first time we were solicited near an ATM, but it wouldn’t be the last because other french people had the same idea.
I thought it was fitting that a pizza place was right next door to our hotel. Italy tries to follow us everywhere we go. We never ate there though. That’s a strict rule when we go to another country, no Italian food! Mostly because there’s no possible way they could do it better than the Italians.
“Paris Hotel” Catchy right?! haha Probably the original name of the hotel, though they looked to be changing the name to Villa Margaux as evidenced by the banner outside. There was also evidence of ongoing renovations going in the lobby and stairwell that meant “cheap” (by Paris standards) hotel price for us! woo hoo!
the middle of our hotel. it was a courtyard with no roof!
we could’ve eaten breakfast here, but it was 20 euro per person, and we were happy to go out in town instead of paying that ludicrous amount of money for what was sure to be coffee and croissants
winding staircase > tiny elevator so we climbed the two flights each time if only we never enjoyed the food, we’d be skinny from all our trips!
this picture hung on the wall in our spiral staircase at the hotel. I should’ve investigated more on how to take it home
happy to be in our room
standard operating procedure
fancy shmancy price tags at the grocery store. 3.50 euro for a tiny notebook?! really Paris? Definitely a pricey visit but still not as expensive as Geneva, Switzerland! we always pick up a couple staples for the hotel room like water and snacks.
alright, time to walk to dinner. the metro in Paris was gigantic, but easy to navigate, we just had to walk a minute to 1 of 2 stops near our hotel
a beautiful apartment complex next to the metro stop near our hotel. I guess I could live there!
downtown Paris. le huh huh
Hard Rock Paris! What’s up American food!! 🙂 We thoroughly enjoyed some Nachos, I declared yet another ban, this one on eating any type of pasta outside of Italy (regardless of ethnicity), and then had a sundae for dessert. Success. Now time to go to bed.
And the next morning was my Birthday!! 🙂 26 years old. darn it.
grateful to be spending it with my hubby in Paris ❤
off we went for a fun filled day
these french bulldogs hung out in front of a salon we passed on our way to the metro, made me want to get my haircut there! (I didn’t of course)
Fontaine St. Michel (Fountain of St. Michael)
Just like most European cities, drama usually surrounds monuments as famous as this one. The whole story here.
The short informational piece here…
Davioud was himself a trained neoclassical sculptor from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and the large scale (26 meters by 15 meters) and the elaborate iconography he created for the fountain required the work of nine different sculptors. It features:
-Two winged dragons on either side of the fountain by Henri Alfred Jacquemart. -The figure of Saint Michael and the devil by Francisque-Joseph Duret -The rock under Saint Michael by Félix Saupin -Bas-reliefs and ornamental foliage by Noémie Constant
Statues representing the cardinal virtues: 1. Statue of Prudence, holding a serpent and a mirror, by Jean-Auguste Barre 2. Statue of Power, with a lion skin and club, by Claude-Jean Guillaume 3. Statue of Justice, with a scale and sword, by Louis-Valentin Robert 4. Statue of Temperance, by Charles-Alphonse Guméry 5. Statues of Power and Moderation, holding the coat of arms of Paris, by Auguste-Hyacinthe Debay
The fountain was different from most other Paris fountains because it used different colors of stone; columns of red marble from Languedoc; green marble; blue stone from Soignies; yellow stone from Saint-Yllie; and bronze statues
This was the meeting point for our tour of the city. We love the new europe tours. and they’re FREE! http://www.neweuropetours.eu/
The tour guides are usually ex-pats who moved to the city for one reason or another, and they always give a great history of whatever city we’re in.
we were early of course. thanks for that trait dad 😉
and then later when it was time to start the tour, as well as when the rest of the city woke up 🙂
patiently waiting for the tour to start after a much needed cup of coffee and the most delicious croissant we’ve ever had
ready to go, it’s comfortably hot at 11am!
from the fountain, this is the famous Seine river and a view of the Notre Dame Cathedral. It felt so surreal to see these things in person.
skyline on the other side
the cathedral from far away
first stop on our tour. This building is called the Conciergerie.
A former royal palace and prison located on the west of the Île de la Cité (literally island of the city), near the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. It is part of the larger complex known as the Palais de Justice, which is still used for judicial purposes today. Hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from La Conciergerie to be executed on the guillotine at a number of locations around Paris.
The bullet holes on the facade are from World War 2. Our tour guide told us this was the only place in Paris touched by the war, no other place has bullet holes because Hitler was a fan of Napoleon Bonaparte and the city of Paris. The bullets came from Parisians who tried to fire at Nazi’s who were occupying the building.
on the “island of the city” This area is the oldest occupied part of Paris, Romans came to take over this area.
hundreds of years later and we’re freely strolling along the influential river. crazy.
The “pont neuf” or new bridge, happens to be the oldest bridge in Paris standing with all it’s original components. Started by Henry III and finished by Henry IV, was constructed because the bridge near the Notre Dame was overloaded. That bridge still stands, but has been destroyed and reconstructed while this bridge hasn’t.
The story our tour guide told us to explain the faces on the bridge went like this- Henry IV had to raise taxes quite significantly to finish the bridge, so the common people didn’t want to use it when it’s construction was completed. So he threw a party where everyone danced and got drunk. Afterwards he had another architect construct the drunken faces of those at the party and place them on the bridge. The original Facebook!
I researched this. One theory is that they are all possible human expressions (from violence and joviality to mischief and salaciousness), or they allegedly represent satyrs, sylvans and other river gods with characteristic charm. Or they are mascarons, an ornamental face, whose function was to scare away evil spirits. Another says they are caricatures of the husband’s of the king’s mistresses.
I can’t find a straight story, so I guess it’s as good as any!
a statue of Henry IV at the end of the bridge. It was built after his death at the request of his wife.
The statue was destroyed during the French Revolution but rebuilt using casting from parts of the original statue in 1818. Inside the statue, the most recent sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot put four boxes, containing a history of the life of Henry IV, a 17th-century parchment certifying the original statue, a document describing how the new statue was commissioned, and a list of people who contributed to a public subscription.
The Institute of France. The language committee meets here and makes decisions about the French language. It took them months to come up with a word for the iPod. They even tried to make an original word to replace the English word weekend that Parisians and other French people had started using. It was unsuccessful! They still have a newspaper with a section on what to do for the “weekend” just like we do in America. haha.
Just outside the courtyard of the Louvre!
the Musée du Louvre! buildings that make up the square
there it is. the iconic pyramids. we were so excited!
of course the outside grounds of the Louvre were part of the tour, so we weren’t able to go in to the museum yet. We heard about the Mona Lisa inside, secret entrances to avoid the line, and the Rosetta language stone which isn’t at the Louvre anymore but was discovered by the French.
and then it was time for a break. our guide directed us to Le Cafe Starbucks…
the best guess at my name in any country we’ve been to so far. Last time they spelled it “Justin”.
Jardin des Tuileries! the garden area outside the Louvre
The Tuileries Gardens get their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries in 1564. The famous gardener of King Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre, re-landscaped the gardens in 1664 to give them their current French formal garden style
In the background, the first arc erected by Napoleon. For himself. Cocky SOB.
Named Arc de Triomphe du Carousel, it was built in 1806 to represent his victories, but he decided it wasn’t big enough, so the Arc de Triomphe was built in 1830. (We visit that later).
I love that this is a classic Parisian pastime. So relaxing!
the Obelisk in the background is in place of where the guillotine used to stand. This was the place of the death of Louis the 16th who funded the American Revolution while the French people suffered. His wife Marie Antoinette stayed in her palace, so when she asked why the French people hated her and received the answer, we get the famous line “let them eat cake”. Obviously that’s probably not what she said, but it’s the source of the historic quote.
behind the trees you can see Grand Palais (The Great Palace) It’s at the end of the Champs’ Elysees. Definitely a place that brought up memories of French class and Mr. Teahan! I remember learning about this street over and over again.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a street in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Champs-Élysées is arguably the most famous street— and one of the most expensive strips of real estate—in the world. Several other French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. According to a much used description, the Champs-Élysées is la plus belle avenue du monde (“the most beautiful avenue in the world”).
Ben and I, however, did not walk down it. There was so much more to do, and we knew we couldn’t AFFORD anything they sold on that street. So next time Paris, we’ll at least stroll down and window shop. Mr. Teahan would be so disappointed.
there it is again. some of our first glimpses of the Eiffel Tower
A kind person in our tour group offered to take this for us. I’m very grateful, definitely one of our favorites!
THIS guy’s job. I want it!
this is where we concluded our tour. Our poor guide made an embarrassing argument to the group of us for why we should “tip” him the same price we would pay for a professional tour. We usually tip pretty well, 20 euro, sometimes more if they did a really good job and made us laugh. This guy was pretty good, but he probably lost more money by making a 10 minute speech at the end asking for us to reach “deeep down into our pockets” I get it, you need money, but this is advertised as a free tour, so you have to expect some broke backpackers or budgeters to pay you kinda stingily. Yes I made a new word up, stingily, someone who pays for things and is stingy about it.
whatever. we were done, more enlightened, and ready to explore on our own
first up after the tour was lounging in one of the garden chairs. what a great idea. good job Paris
these ones were designed to lounge. Surprisingly comfortable!
doesn’t that sculpture look a little suspect… :X hahaha
well spent 20 minutes of our vacation
and with that we were on our way back to the Louvre
lots of sculptures around the garden. It kind of reminded me of Vienna, the grounds outside the palace
and then we saw a goat! Who needs a lawnmower when you have goats?!?!
he was too busy to pay attention to us
realllly good ice cream sold in the gardens. yum!
this statue was questionable at first and then turned hilarious. those people put a camera in her hand like she was taking a “selfie”
nice. i wonder what the sculptor would’ve thought
closer to the Arc de Triomphe du Carousel
though it’s smaller, I think it’s prettier
don’t ask me, i don’t get his pose either 🙂
I always love the unity of fellow tourists willing to take your picture for you. Though Ben was on alert, he thought this guy was going to run off with my phone.
the line really wasn’t that long to get in, we travelled down the escalator inside the pyramid, fun view.
the pyramid was supposed to be see through. fail. but still cool!
Figuring out how to get in the museum from the atrium at the bottom of the escalator was a little overwhelming. But we eventually figured it out. This place was gigantic and we only did one of the parts of the museum, we were exhausted by the end.
for some reason this sculpture was hilarious to me. it makes me think of a bird bath while the heads all talk to each other.
is he holding an iPhone? look at the evil eye from that monster
what exactly is going on in this sculpture?
tiny arc, grand entrance for the next exhibit
Ben is a great statue model
this is a coffin. very intricate
this statue must be from Italy, there’s no head!
TONS of very religious paintings. They were all gorgeous
dorks listening to our audio guide. this is my favorite way to walk through museums and monuments if they have them. you learn so much!
definitely the first time our audio guide was a Nintendo DS though… Fancy!
what? just what?
there she is. THE Mona Lisa. I can’t believe we saw it in person
the flashes and light were really annoying! and the painting was enclosed in a glass case so the glare was unavoidable. Ben and I both thought that it was wayyy smaller than we were expecting
This was a striking painting. I wish I remembered the full explanation of the meaning. Definitely something to do with human struggle. These people are on a wrecked ship, some already dead or dying, with finally some land on the horizon. Never lose hope. Never give up. Powerful message
and finally a picture of the man himself. Napoleon Bonaparte. That bastard.
delicious lunch inside the museum including some much needed cafe
definitely sexy statue, but isn’t that man half horse?
amazing wood carving of the Passion of the Christ
Life size sculpture of Mary Magdalene.
The saint was originally held up by carved angels. Encased in an oval metal structure, the wooden statue was suspended from the vault of a church, perhaps the church of St. Mary Magdalene in the Dominican convent of Augsburg, which was rebuilt in 1513-15. It must have been seen in the round, since the back is as carefully carved and colored as the front. The statue was later taken down and the angels were removed.
The carnal presence of this life-sized statue must have been very imposing in the church. But the sensual, almost profane image that it offers today, bereft of its carved angels, should be tempered. The languid pose and the meditative expression are intended to convey the penitent’s mystic ecstasy, while her marvelous beauty and glossy golden locks are meant to evoke her holy radiance. The conception of this female nude is thus in phase with the spiritual content of the religious image, idealized in the medieval tradition.
equally as sobering life size statue of Jesus. I think it was taken down off of a bigger sculpture that was either him on the cross or in the tomb
and the cheekiest scuplture we saw. Literally translated “The child goose” Hilarious!
why is this man looking at himself? Our audio guide provided no clues
Aphrodite or “Venus de Milo” – an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture
aka- the other crowded exhibit.
The goddess is shrouded in mystery, her attitude a persistent enigma. The missing pieces of marble and absence of attributes made the restoration and identification of the statue difficult. A whole range of positions have been suggested: leaning against a pillar, resting her elbow on Ares’ shoulder, or holding a variety of attributes. According to whether she held a bow or an amphora, she was Artemis or a Danaid. She is popularly thought to represent Aphrodite, because of her half-nakedness and her sensual, feminine curves. She may have held an apple — an allusion to the Judgement of Paris — a crown, a shield, or a mirror in which she admired her reflection. However she might also be the sea goddess Amphitrite, who was venerated on the island of Milo
could be Ben’s twin?
A statue of Athena, discovered in the city of Baia, Italy (near Naples)!
don’t mind me, just putting my sandals on, no clothes though, that’s unnecessary!
aand we were done. There’s only so much museum you can do at one time
on our way to the next adventure. walking past the bird man
we thought we might eat here. But it was super expensive! and we did not have fancy clothes… so maybe next time. No worries though, I had something even better planned for my birthday dinner! back on the metro we go…
the most crowded metro we’ve ever been on
still room for a puppy though!
we like giving change to musicians, especially Ben. they were playing really good Jazz music!
a Mexican Restaurant! YESS! Not chipotle or qdoba esque, straight up sit down, order mexican food. The guy that owns this place is Mexican, married a French lady? something like that. Anyways. Birthday complete!
delicious and reasonably sized nachos!
Ben enjoyed his burrito
those enchiladas were sooo good!
and our brownie dessert was awesome! The table next to us even had someone celebrating their birthday too, it was a good choice
happy. full. and tired. time to head back
sometimes we’re cute
charming store on our walk back to the hotel.
last full day in Paris. Still lots to do!
We strolled into this touristy looking place next to the metro and had the best breakfast we’ve had in Europe.
Maybe I’m just partial to the croissants because I want to eat those every day all day. The rest was pretty darn good too. And all that food for the best price we saw that whole trip
just some 80’s music playing in the restaurant while we ate. maybe they just got it there? 🙂
tourist shopping after breakfast we finally saw the only pug we would see this trip. and it was on a mug. le sigh. If only there had been a live one 😦
this guy was having a good time
and just a few more crazies on the street leading from the metro to the Eiffel Tower… these bunnies were cute though, and the babies were on the grass just a little past them
not “technically” gambling ben tells me.. so it’s not arrestable
we were excited to finally be so close. However, our tickets to go up the tower weren’t until late that evening, it was good to find our way around so we didn’t have to rush later and miss our reservation
the park right next to the tower. if you look close enough through the trees you can see the tower.
On top of being one of the most famous monuments in the world, it serves as a radio tower and lighthouse!
okay off to see more stuff
finally. The Arc de Triomphe!
Much bigger than the Arc de Triomphe du Carousel. Construction on this arch finished in 1836. It was about Napoleon and his soldiers who fought battles and won victories. He wanted the soldiers to return home through an arch of triumph to honor them (and himself)
Underneath the arc (I’m presuming underground because we didn’t go over there) lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame
okay. next monument
yet another papillon on the metro
and another jazz band. they were awesome! and we gave them money too
finally going to see the Notre Dame Cathedral!
I built a model of this in French class, complete with a stained glass “window” (some crafty plastic I got from Michael’s) that I drew and colored in myself. Those damn flying buttresses were difficult to make. How amazing that ten years later, I got to visit in person. This Mr. Teahan would’ve been proud of
i don’t know. it was a long line
Read facts about the Cathedral in the link below. Do it. It’s interesting!
lighting a candle. saying a prayer for my family and especially for Nana. Love you all!
the iconic window I recreated in my model (as best as i could)
look my model’s on display at the cathedral itself!!!
Haha. I wish!
and after the cathedral. crepes! first and only Parisian crepes we had. they were excellent!
this guy was entertaining a line of tourists (don’t know what they were in line for) standing along the wall on the side the cathedral. He came up and held Ben’s hand while I was eating my crepe. I thought he was trying to pick pocket him at first!
the token seafood picture for mom. What do you think about Paris mom?
Walking past the fountain again. This time on our way to Saint Chapelle. Our tour guide said it was the most beautiful chapel in Paris and 75% stained glass window. It stuck in my head and I had to see it.
the donwstairs. the decor was peeling a little
i was super confused wondering where the rest of the stained glass was!
ahh here it is. Upstairs!
Absolutely one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen, and soo beautiful in the sunlight
explaining all the windows. how to read them and what stories are on them. i would’ve spent hours here
but alas, we had more to see. and we were hungry. thus we took the winding staircase down (another staircase reminding us of Blarney castle)
No idea what these gentlemen were protesting but it was quite loud! and the police didn’t seem to be attempting to break it up
The Grand Palais again. Next time we will go inside! But it’s just as pretty from afar.
This is the building we were interested in visiting. The Invalides.
We were trying to decide between visiting the catacombs and this building. We found out through some googling that the catacombs were reminiscent of the Bone Chapel in Prague. They ran out of room to bury people, and some creative workhands decided to stack the bones in interesting ways, that happened to be underground. We were okay with missing it. I feel like Mr. Teahan taught us something much different about it when I was in class, but maybe my 15 year old memory is hazy.
So we came here. Military histories interest us for obvious reasons 🙂
Les Invalides- officially known as L’Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids), is a complex of buildings in Paris containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France. It also houses a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans (the building’s original purpose). The buildings house the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Doesn’t sound or look like a bad place to retire! I wonder how many ghosts roam those hallways…
i don’t know what’s up with those girl’s hats… they looked dumb up close too. ahh fashion.
I liked this couple, they looked fancy and the guy in uniform looked official. They made me think that they could’ve been a couple from the 40’s, perhaps time travelers.
Free audio guide for this area of the museum. Yes please. Score!
information and history about the world wars always interest me
someone getting married in the courtyard. it felt very royal
at the entrance of the tomb for Napoleon Bonaparte!
there he is. in there. that gigantic wooden coffin. go figure
done. interesting but not as interested as I would’ve been at an American museum!
Best dinner! mmm Cute restaurant near our hotel.
We knew we needed to eat before going to our reservation for going up the Eiffel Tower, and this place was conveniently close, we had an excellent server, and it wasn’t too touristy!
Creme Brulee. Had to do a traditional French dessert. I guess if I was going to fall in love with it anywhere it would be Paris.
Good, but not enough to knock brownies out of my number one spot.
After dinner, it was finally time to go. When I planned this trip weeks before, a friend (I think it was Leah) told me to book a spot for going up the eiffel tower before we got there. It wasn’t expensive. I think 14 euro to go to the tip top, and only 7 to go to the level just below. What amazed me when I went to buy a ticket was the availability! Literally the only spot available (we were probably over a month out still at the time) was for the Saturday we’d be there at 11pm! And we could only go up to the level right below the top, the top was completely booked. I was floored! But I’m glad we booked it then. It was definitely worth it. The line at the tower for people without tickets was awful. Leah said when she waited in line, she waited for over 2 hours!
there were all different kinds of advertisements like this on all the metros trying to teach good metro etiquette. Some of our favorites included the bull human who shoves onto the metro before letting people off and the frog human that leaps over the ticket readers instead of paying. nice job Paris.
our favorite metro musician. he played la bamba. the whole car was singing along. we also gave him money.
Le Tour Eiffel at night. Magnificent.
a nice tourist lady took this picture for us. hooray for tourist unity. not such a bad shot for being an up angle
of course we were early for our reservation. so we sat on a bench, waited, and watched for pickpocketers in the overly crowded area below the tower
all the workings of the underbelly of the tower
see that twinkling light blurb. we get to see that!
after riding up our glass cage. here we are. twinkling lights and all!
that was pretty awesome
looking over Paris from the tower. you couldn’t ask for a better view!
whimsical kissing picture. i guess. my cameras don’t do well in the dark
another dream fulfilled. what a spectacular birthday weekend
back into our glass cage to get down
goodbye Eiffel Tower ride
so pretty. next visit maybe we’ll do an evening Seine River cruise
Love you Paris! Arrivederci!
Other observations about Paris-
-The notion that French people are rude to Americans was just not true. I think it helps that we’ve done quite a few countries already, Paris wasn’t our first, and we knew what to expect from the big city scene. We were treated very well, really no one was rude. The worst interaction we had came from our slightly unfortunate lecture from the free tour guide about paying him as much as possible. The rest of his tour was wonderful besides the end of it. And he was from Ireland.
– I love riding metros. I don’t know why. I hate germs and wash my hands constantly. But something about getting a sense for the routine of people who live in the city, using the system successfully, and hearing the language is fun to me. It’s a fun puzzle. And most of the people don’t stink too bad if you’re lucky (no matter what country you’re visiting)
-The worst part of Paris in general was by far the gypsies begging for money while carrying around babies with bottles in their mouths or sleeping in their arms. Ben told me a story about how sometimes those babies are drugged through what they’re being fed in their bottles, and that’s why they never cry. It hurts my heart.
– The best part of Paris was definitely the croissants. 🙂 Oh and all the history and monuments we got to visit. We have a few more things to see when we go back (as mentioned above)
-As with walking in any crowded city, I think the rule should apply that fast walkers should stay on the left, slow ones on the right. Maybe I was being extra picky, or maybe this was the most crowded city we’ve been to. I think it’s the latter.
-I want to launch a Europe-wide “Cover your sneeze and/or cough” Campaign. I think the pollen was to blame here, but it happens every city we go to. No one covers anything. My germophobia would do much better
-I hate airports. 10 euro for 2 croissants and one small water bottle is highway robbery. And the bastards don’t allow you to bring water through the gate. First world problems.
-I also generally hate the badness in people that comes out on airplanes and at the airport. It’ll be good to take a break from travelling for a little bit
Anyway I’m sure there’s more I can’t think of right now, but that’ll do for now.
The next few months at work are going to be crazy busy, so it’s not a great time to go on trips or leave, (I didn’t ask for any specific days anyway) so my schedule isn’t conducive to any wild trips out of the country. There is an epic baby boom coming, so I will have to play OB nurse now more than ever. Joy.
That means just local trips for now. Ben wanted a break from it anyway, and our bank account will be grateful too I’m sure. This also means more pug snuggle time!
Sunbathing pugs. What a ridiculous and hilarious concept.