Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paris - Day 1

We booked an extremely last minute trip to Paris.  The last time I went to Paris it was 2000 and I was 16 and on a school trip.  It was my first time out of the country and I thought Paris was so wonderful and magical.  10 years later, several continents, and many trips, I wondered if I would be disappointed with Paris the second time around.  And I was not.

As soon as we exited the Metro in our hotel's neighborhood I saw shops devoted to bread, cheese, and pastries and knew I'd love it all over again.

We used up some of our hotel points to stay at the Holiday Inn St. Germain des Pres.  We loved the location.  The hotel was located very near the St. Placide metro stop on metro line 4 which was very convenient to get around the city.  The area the hotel was located in wasn't very touristy which was nice.  They had a lot of local restaurants, patisseries, and fromageries.

The rooms had recently been redone and were very modern.

First stop was the Musee D'Orsay, housed in an old train station and known for it's Impressionist collection.

We walked along the Seine and saw the famed booksellers open for the day.

The weather was crazy.  It went from beautiful to ominous to hailing in 15 minutes.

Next we went on to Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture.  Mass was taking place as we were there at the start of Holy Week.

We met up with some of our good friends at Notre Dame.

Next was Sainte-Chapelle, near Notre Dame on Ile de la Cite.  Sainte Chapelle is a two story chapel and was built to house the crown of thorns in the thirteenth century.  Sainte Chapelle is one of the lesser known sites of Paris but it was stunning. 

We continued our tour of the city by walking over to the Louvre.

By now the weather is nice again.

We had bought a 2 day Paris Museum Pass.  The Paris Museum Pass provides free entry to over 60 museums and monuments.  The 2-day pass was 32 Euros.  The pass is likely not a good deal if you only want to do one museum per day.  Since we were on a quick trip and squeezing everything in, we were going from museum to museum anyway so it did work out as a good deal.  Museum passes can be at the museums, certain tabacs, and tourist offices.

The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world and also one of the largest.  You could spend days in the Louvre so it's best to come with a plan.  By this point jet lag was hitting.  So our plan was to see the 3 main attractions in the Louvre - the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory.

The museum is a former royal palace and the architecture is just as interesting as the art within.

The Mona Lisa is actually a tiny little painting.

Winged Victory

Venus de Milo

Now for the real reason we came to Paris...the food.  We tried foie gras and escargot for the first time.  Okay I tried escargot, Nick wouldn't touch it.

My friend's younger brother was spending the semester in Paris so he knew all the hot night spots to go to.  This is a tiny hole in the wall sangria bar in the 5th arrondisement.