When you're through reading about my trip or if you decide it's just too much and quit in the middle, at least check out the other Show and Tells for this week at There's No Place Like Home.
We decided to book out own flight instead of flying with the group, so we were able to get in almost an entire day of sight seeing once we got checked in to the hotel. Just imagine, we arrived in Paris at 6:55 a.m. and were checked into the hotel and into a room by 8:30 a.m. I really thought we'd probably just have to stash our luggage in a closet.
In Atlanta we found that Joe from Fayetteville was also on our flight. We had met him a few years ago on our trip to Ireland. So the three of us shared a taxi to the hotel and then set out on the Metro for the day. The two-day Metro pass that we bought for 14,40 euros turned out to be a great investment. We had printed Metro maps off the internet and found the system very easy to use.
Our first stop was at the Musee d'Orsay. Housed in an old train station, the Gare d'Orsay, it is the home of many works of the impressionist painters like Van Gogh and Monet. Among the more famous paintings in the Orsay is Whistler's Mother.
I was particularly fascinated by the clocks at the Orsay and had been looking forward to seeing them after reading this post from Sue at Rue Mouffetard. I don't think my picture is quite as artistic as Sue's, but at the time we were tired and hungry. Also keep in mind that I was with a couple of men, who weren't as interested as I in finding just the right angle. Here is another clock that I thought was just beautiful.
From the Orsay, we walked a few blocks to the Rodin Museum, located in the former Hotel Biron. Many of Rodin's sculptures can be found in the museum gardens, including perhaps his most famous sculpture, The Thinker. We bought a combination ticket that allowed us entry to both the Orsay and the Rodin Museums, which was a better bargain than buying two separate tickets. I had read that you could get into the gardens and see The Thinker without a ticket, but that was not the case, and I was glad we had purchased the combo-ticket.
Back on the Metro, we headed for our first look at the Eiffel Tower. I took lots of pictures, but this is one of my favorites. The structure is massive, and it's hard to capture the whole thing when you're up close.
On the second day we boarded a coach, the European term for bus, with the rest of our group. The first stop was The Louvre. Our guide was great, and I think we hit all of the high spots--The Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo. The pyramid entry and inverted pyramid were designed by American architect I. M. Pei and completed in the '80's and '90's.
Our next stop was the magnificent Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame, with its flying buttresses that support the structure and allow for larger windows to let in more light. At the front of the cathedral, we all set a foot on point zero, which guarantees our return to Paris.
After lunch at a bistro near Notre Dame, Joe, Larry and I headed back to the Eiffel Tower for a scenic cruise on the Seine. Unfortunately, the weather was too chilly to stay on the uncovered deck for very long, and it's hard to take good pictures through glass, but I did get this one of The Louvre just as we passed under one of the many bridges that span the river and connect the Left Bank and the Right Bank.
Wandering around the Left Bank, I was excited to happen upon Shakespeare and Company, a famous English language bookstore that features used and antique books. I had seen a picture of it on Sue's blog, so I recognized it when I saw it.
We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling the streets of the Ile St. Louis, the smaller of two islands in the Seine. There we had a delicious dinner in a small restaurant.
The first part of day three was a tour of the high points of the city aboard our coach. I must say that the European tourist buses are very comfortable. Once again, it's hard to get good pictures through the windows of a moving bus, but we did make several stops for photo ops.
Our last stop of the day was at Montmartre where I could have spent hours looking at the original works of art by the artists who hang out in the square. At Montmartre we also had the best French onion soup of the entire trip in one of the small bistros.
Later that afternoon, Joe, Larry and I hopped on the Metro again for an upclose look at the Arch de Triomphe and finished our Paris visit with dinner at a quiet restaurant in the Latin Quarter.
I must say that the people of Paris were very friendly and helpful. This lovely lady was our waitress that night. She understood very little English, but when she found out that we were inquiring about a particular dish, she brought it from the kitchen to show us. It turned out to be a type of sausage, which Larry ordered for dinner. At the end of the evening Joe and Larry each got a big kiss.
Now if you're not too tired from your trip to Paris, come back next week for the sights of the French Riviera.