The Gates we passed each day to and from our Metro stop
The last time Rach was in Paris she was eight, so we have to hit the obligatory sites again. First up Notre Dame. The concierge told us to walk down to the Charles DeGaulle Etoile to catch the metro to Hotel de Ville, obviously thinking we had no clue how to get around on the Metro. While we hadn't been here in a while, it's like riding a bike...comes right back to you...as long as you are walking in the right direction to find an entrance. With map in hand, we managed to miss the closest (Courcelles,) and kept walking, the wrong direction all the way up to Periere. Well...it was a lovely walk, bitterly cold, but lovely...and we got to see the Place du Marechal Juin before going underground.
Full day ticket bought, we hopped the 3 to Villiers, then changed over to the 2 to Charles Degaulle Etoile, and then the 1 to Hotel de Ville. Easy as pie. I LOVE the Paris Metro. It only took Rach one trip to figure out how to navigate the system.
Luckily, on the walk from the metro to Notre Dame there were shops open, and displaying scarves and hats. The wind had picked up and the measly one scarf each of us already had, wasn't going to cut it. New hats and scarves securely wrapped around our faces, eyes only showing, we followed the crowd to the front of the Cathedral. It is an AWESOME sight. A few pictures outside and then into the warmth for a bit. We were hoping to climb the last bit of winding, claustrophobic stairs to the very top this time, but alas...the towers were completely closed due to weather. Bummed.
We got there at 11am, just as the Sunday service was about to begin. Non-flash photos were allowed inside, but my camera is total crap in low light, so these are all the usables I got. :-( . . . but it WAS beautiful.
Once back out the front, we took the walk along the Seine to get some side and back views...
By the time we got to the back of the Cathedral we were soooooo frozen, that we decided it was time to thaw out at the Louvre. We only took a few random shots on the way back to the Hotel de Ville metro. Too hard to work the camera with gloves on, and too cold to take the hands out of the gloves...oh well.
An epiphany!....His name is WOODIE. Get it?...TORCHWOOD Gnome...Woodie. OK...OK....moving on.
It was a short hop back to the Palais-Royal Musee Du Louvre stop...so short in fact, that now when I look on the map, I see we could EASILY have walked it...well, not easily, with the wind chill and all...but you get what I mean. AND, there were metro stops MUCH closer to Notre Dame than the Hotel de Ville. Next time I'll STUDY the map before I let the hotel concierge, who thinks all Americans are utter dolts, incapable of finding our way on the metro, lead us astray. Guess he figured since I asked him for a map and directions, I must not have a clue. ;-)
The frozen fountain next to the Pyramid on the Place du Carrousel was beautiful, but luckily I'd bought my ticket at the hotel, so I didn't have to wait in the outside pyramid line to get in. (Teenagers are free, so no ticket needed for Rach. Nice.) We took a few pics and then headed for the warmth of the covered entry for people already holding tickets. Just a quick walk through security and we were in. Time to find a place to sit, thaw and have a bite to eat. Cafeteria De La Pyramide...Perfect.
One baguette and a delicious chocolate something later, we dropped our tray off with a shocked busboy, (I gather he wasn't used to anyone clearing their own mess,) who thanked us warmly, and we were ready to begin our hunt for the iconic pieces housed within these walls...
First up, first floor Denon section...We followed the signs...and the Immense CROWDS to....
Then we wandered around a bit until we came upon...
Then over to RICHELIEU for....
Which was how we were beginning to feel....
We were both getting a bit giddy, so I won't even tell you what ran through our heads whilst walking through the French Sculptures...Suffice to say it had something to do with SIZE. (Seeing the Louvre through the eyes of a teenager is really quite a different experience than with an eight year old!) ;-)
Rach had actually remembered Napoleon's Apartments (bypassed)... And most of the Egyptian section.
Even on full batteries, this museum takes days to see, so we finally gave in to our fatigue and took the metro back to the hotel. We thought....
We got back to our stop alright (Courcelles) but then took a wrong turn out of the exit and got a bit lost. Tired and cold, we hopped into a waiting taxi and asked to go to the Hilton Arc de Triomphe. Two mistakes here...first, DON'T use the name of a famous landmark in the name of your hotel (Should have just said HILTON)...second, and more importantly, DON'T take a cab in Paris. We ended up at THE Arc de Triomphe, only three blocks down from where we started, for which the driver insisted the fare was a minimum...5 euros. When I asked him to please take us to THE HILTON, he acted as though he'd never heard the word before and again insisted on his 5 euros. ASSHOLE! A few choice words later, I jumped out and we were standing in front of the Arc snapping a few shots and digging through my cavernous handbag to find the map we must have lost along our way.
We began walking back in what we thought was the direction of the hotel and decided it best to stop in another hotel for a map. I still had the key slip for the room at the Hilton, which luckily had the hotel address on it, so the gentleman at the front desk was able to point us in the proper direction. Map in hand, about fifteen minutes later, feet sore and frozen, we found our way back to the hotel...Which as it turns out was just two blocks from where we'd gotten off at Courcelles. OY! Well, now we know. It was an adventure, and we did get to see the Arc de Triomphe...with Gaza protesters and police in front of it and everything (sorry, my camera failed to get a decent shot)...so, not a total waste of time.
A short rest, and checking of emails and myspace, before putting on our long undies, covering ourselves in five layers and walking back out into the night toward, the now thankfully familiar, Courcelles metro stop for Bir-Hakeim and Tour Eiffel.
We walked around underneath a bit and asked a security guard when it would next begin sparkling. About five minutes...Perfect timing. (Every hour on the hour for five minutes, is the current schedule) So we crossed the bridge toward the Trocadero and waited for the moment. BEAUTIFUL...
Once it was over, we headed back toward the the Bir-Hakeim metro, but decided to check out some of the side streets for dinner.
The Cafe-Brasserie le Bailli de Suffren was our choice, and it was lovely. We sat at a teeny table in the front by the window and watched the crowds go by while enjoying a couple of tasty hot sandwiches...with fries...and a glass of chardonnay. The restaurant atmosphere very french, but the menu... obviously catering a bit to the tastes of the western tourists that come through their doors each day.
An uneventful metro ride back to Courcelles.
Rach immediately got on the computer with friends, while I turned around and went back out to the Monoprix down the block and around the corner to get some soda and late night treats. Big day tomorrow...Disneyland...on my birthday. :-))))