The iconic Paris attractions 

Thursday we visited two of the biggest paris attractions: Notre Dame and Le Louvre.

We contemplated doing the tour at Notre Dame, but the line to get into the main section was the shortest we had see it all week so we just went for that.  Some day I would like to go up the towers too, and follow more of the history of the building, but it was pretty amazing just seeing the main section.  Once again, the audio guide kept Laura interested for a longer period of time.

It rained most of the night and the forecast was for rain all day, but we were fairly lucky.  After leaving Notre Dame, we walked the 25 minutes to the Louvre without needing umbrellas, and the skies brightened a bit in the afternoon.  Our museum pass allowed us to bypass a ridiculous line, and the crowds at the musuem were unlike any I have ever seen. Fortunately the place is massive, so we didn’t have much trouble moving around.  We wanted to see the Crown Jewels, but that wing was closed, so we headed over to see Napolean III’s apartments, and along the way saw a lot of French history.  The kids favourites were the sculptures, and the pictures show you why Laura liked them.  (Okay, everyone liked the “first selfie” statue.)

I wanted to see the Michaelangelo just so I could say I had seen it.  Along the way,  we found a room where you can touch the statues (reproductions), and this really caught Laura’s fancy.  Including lunch, we were in the museum for about 4 hours, although bunch of that time was spent just getting our bearings. The kids just had to go on one more ride a the Tuileries, so we acquiesced.  A quick metro ride took us back to Le Marais and Berthillon.  I’m writing this in Square Jean XXIII, a park next to Notre dame, while the kids play on a climbing structure.  After all the walking we have done today (about 10km), I am amazed that they have enough energy to play in a playground.  Our next task is the difficult one of finding a place to eat.  With no network, it is hard to do research, and we are usually too tired to look very long.

Edit: So tired, in fact, that I forgot to write yesterday’s blog post.  We did end up having a lovely Basque dinner tonight, with a pretty good Basque beer.

Day 3

We had a slow start to the day.  Irving and I both slept 9.5 hours, and the girls had between 10 and 11 hours of sleep.  We had a bit of a tough time finding some breakfast/brunch, but ended up at a patisserie with excellent quiche, pain au chocolat (I’m taking Laura’s word for it), and the best baguette so far.

We then walked to a playground/park that Laura spotted, and Irving went off to buy a SIM card for the spare phone, while I enjoyed a bit of wifi time.  Many of the parks have free wifi during business hours.  Our flat, which was supposed to have wifi,  gets such poor signal as to be useless.  (That’s why the posts aren’t as frequent as I had hoped.)

A longish walk, that included passing the Sorbonne, the Cluny ruins and museum (closed on Tuesdays), and a curious encounter with a public toilet (it washes itself in between uses, and was a bit confusing to use), we found ourselves at the Musee D’Orsay.  We made the right call and went straight for the Monet, Degas, Renoir rooms, and bought the kids audio guides, so we saw my favourite paintings first.  The rest of the museum we saw in a bit of a rush because we were rather tired.  It was pretty amazing to see so many paintings and sculptures from that era, and the building itself was quite spectacular.  After the Palais D’Orsay was looted and torn down during the revolution, a railway station was built on the site.  It was an early building built using metal beams, but because it is across the river from the Louvre, the architect covered the outside in stone.  It was turned into a museum only recently.  The giant clocks were very interesting.

The weary gallery viewers rest their feet.  Laura spent a long time listening to stories about paintings on the audio guide, and Ellen spent quite some time drawing.

We came back to our neighbourhood in search of an early supper, and discovered that restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7pm.

Day 2 

Today we went to the Sainte Chapelle church. The stained glass windows were amazing!  -Ellen 

Our apartment here in Paris is tiny! The kitchen and bathroom are on the first floor, the ‘living room’ is on the second, the single bed is on the third floor, along with the sink-in-a-cupboard, and on the fourth floor is just a bed. We’ll send some pictures later. – Ellen 

We walked all the way to the Tuileries after lunch where the kids had great fun at the amusement park.  Ellen’s favourite ride was an extreme ride where she sat in a roller-coaster type seat on end of a very long arm. Laura’s favourite activity was the magic bubbles.

The kids also went on an obstacle course sort of “ride.”  It would never be allowed in North America without parents singing waivers, because the operator had switches to randomly move pieces such says turning on, speeding up, or reversing a conveyor belt.  The kids though it was excellent.

The museum of the day was Musee de L’Orangerie.  We got there just before 5pm and waited in the museum pass line with some frustration, as they let in many people without tickets before they let in our group about 20-30 minutes later.  The museum pass allows you to bypass ticket queues in most of the museums.  The main feature of the museum is two oval rooms, each with 4 large Monet murals of waterlilies.

Then we raced back to our flat via the Metro, to put on warmer clothes before heading to the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t have time for a proper supper, so it was more baguette and pain au chocolats.  Fortunately, we made it in our allotted time and did not hae to wait too long for the lift.   It is a pretty amazing view, even with the hazy weather we had at the time.  It was striking to me that the buildings are so uniform in colour, and that there is not a lot of trees, aside from the big parks.

We met a family from Winnipeg when Irving offered to take their picture, so we returned the favour.

This view shows many of the famous sites.  The large green space in the middle is the Tuileries, with the amusement park along the top edge.  To the right of the park is the giant Louvre.  It is hard to believe just how big it is until you walk the length of it outside.  We haven’t gone yet, but I’m hoping to spend at least an hour or two there. The smaller long building near the bottom of the park is Musee de L’Orangerie.  Across the river, on the right side if the picture in the centre, is a long building with a rounded roof is Musee D’Orsay, which you will learn more about in the next post.

We found a pizza place near the Eiffel Twoer, and finally rolled into bed after 10:30.  The day was a little too long but we had to by the tower tickets before we arrived. 

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First day in Paris!

Today was our first day in Paris. After a taxi ride from the airport, we dragged our suitcases around with us as we waited for our flat to be ready.  Laura had the most sleep uof us all because she could sleep on me wherever we sat.  We found a little park with a view of Notre Dame just when the rain had let up.

 Our flat is so small that we can’t even get the big suitcases to the second floor. 

After a rest, we set out walking.  We walked around Notre Dame, and had “the best ice cream in the world” at Berthillon.

We had a dinner of charcuterie, potatoes, and salad. After a final wander, we packed it in.

Adding photos

I’m going to try adding a photo because I’m sure our readers will want to see some of the great sites that we will visit.  Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos on my iPad right now, so here is something Laura made.