Paris – the City of Love, the center for fashion, the place you go for exquisite and quite expensive gourmet dining. What are the first images the word “Paris” elicits for you? Is it the world famous Eiffel Tower? Notre Dame? Or is it the Mona Lisa in the Louvre? Maybe you dream about open air cafés and sipping on coffee as you people watch, or strolling down cobblestone walkways as you window shop for things you would never in a million years be able to afford.
We enjoyed exploring Paris and some of the surrounding areas for about ten days, and still felt like we barely scratched the surface. There is just way too much to see and do, and we were determined not to drive ourselves crazy trying to fit it all in. We wanted to just be and explore slowly, at our own pace. We do hope to return one day. Below are some of the highlights we experienced.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower! Fantastic, iconic symbol of France, and most recognized and visited monument in the world! But… tourist beware. This is one of the most frequented areas for pickpockets. The problem has gotten so bad, workers at the Eiffel Tower actually went on a short strike the day after our visit, to demand additional police presence and supervision. The problem, they say, is that thieves used to work in groups of 2 or 3. Now, they arrive in groups of 20 to 30, fan out, and buy tickets to ascend the tower. They then linger and wait in areas where tourists are most likely to stop and snap a few shots, or by the long elevator lines, where tourists are more susceptible. Other high traffic tourist spots like the Louvre are also vulnerable.
Even being careful, Ryan still had tickets for the catacombs stolen right out of his pocket. He didn’t feel a thing. Thankfully they let us in with our receipt, but please, keep your money and valuables safe and stay alert.
Mona Lisa at the Louvre
Ah, the Mona Lisa. I have to admit, this is definitely not one of my favorite pieces, but the thrill of standing in front of it for a few moments was definitely real. Of course, there was also a lot of shoving and pushing, and unfortunately we even had to put up with a few selfie sticks, as people tried to capture a shot of themselves cozying up to Mona Lisa. Crazy but that’s the world we currently live in. Sometimes you just have to take it all in and laugh silently to yourself. If I have time later, maybe I will create a separate blog on just the Louvre. So beautiful and worth the time to visit, even if you’re not that into art.
I have no idea why the Musée d’Orsay is not as well known as the Louvre. I would have to say it rivals, if not outshines, the Louvre in many ways. With pieces from Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir (one of my favorites), Van Gogh, and so many more, it is just stunning.
When we embarked on our journey, we asked each person in our family to figure out a few things they absolutely wanted to see when in certain countries. The Catacombs were Mikayla’s idea, as she had learned about them in school in 8th grade, and thought it would be neat to see them. I knew nothing about the Catacombs until I started to do the research. Here are a few photos as an introduction. I will try to follow up with a more detailed blog post later.
Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe
What a great area to spend a few hours strolling around, window shopping, and then dining while watching the crowds saunter by. The only disappointing moment we had was when we found a wonderful restaurant with six seats in the front section of the restaurant, with lots of fantastic window views. It was exactly what we had been hoping for and were excited to splurge a little for the memories. That said, when we were being seated, the staff brought all six of us straight to the back of the restaurant, a totally separate part of the restaurant and not half as pleasant. Apparently the “prime-viewing” seats in front were only for couples and adults to enjoy. My husband was not too happy about that, and only in that moment, did we realize that, wow…there were NO kids in the restaurant anywhere. Come to think of it, we hadn’t seen many children out and about either. So strange.
Well, long story short, a conversation ensued and thanks to my husband’s persistence, the wait staff finally conceded and allowed us to be seated in the front. We feasted on a wonderful dinner including authentic French Onion Soup and then Crepes with Chocolate for dessert. It was a wonderful way to end our stay in Paris.
Like I said, there is so much to see and do in and around Paris, it’s hard to fit it all into one blog post entry, so please be patient. I may or may not add a few more entries before I move on to Switzerland. In the meantime, below is one of our rooms that we rented for our stay in a Paris apartment. Cute, isn’t it?
And last but not least, the Eiffel Tower at night. What a gorgeous scene with the Siene River and lights! Paris, we will be back.