Thursday, October 20, 2005
Our anniversary trip to Paris
So, for our 2 year wedding anniversary, we went to Paris for 5 days. It was FAB! Here's a rundown of what we did (and a link to pictures at the end):
We arrived and after settling in at our hotel, the Renaissance La Defense, and relaxing for a short while, we ventured out into the city. Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe. We decided to just check it out from the ground today and come back later for the climb to the top... We then strolled down the Champs-Elysees and found a great spot on the bank of the Siene River to watch the sunset by the Eiffel Tower.
We decided to do one of the walking tours outlined in our Lonely Planet guide book today. It was quite laid back and a good way to start the day. We ended up at this little garden square thingy and saw Victor Hugo's (the author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame to name a couple) home and listened to a small classical music orchestra play on the street.
After that, we decided to walk over to check out the outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral (saving the inside for another less-crowded day). Saw the infamous "flying buttress" architecture that we all got earfuls of in college and then strolled to the Latin Quarter (the academic district) for a coffee before heading back back to the Arc de Triomphe to make the climb to the top.
After dinner that evening, on the walk back to the hotel, we stopped to check out the outside of the Musee de Louvre and that big glass scupture thing in front of it (which I think is heinous, personally). You can see in the pictures what a few glasses of champagne will do for one's architecture appreciation.
Today, we stared things out with possibly the best lunch/brunch experience of my life (many thanks to one of Jason's French co-workers for the recommendation). It was a souffle restaurant, La Cigale Recamier - the kind of place where one needs a reservation even for lunch and according to said co-worker, also where French celebs chow down - exciting! You gotta love having a bottle of wine with your first meal of the day. After an approximately a 2 hour meal, we headed back to the Notre Dame to check out the inside.
I had no idea that some of the oldest known stained glass in the freakin' world was in there. Original and in tact, with only minor restorations. Amazing... Then we decided to do the ultimate tourist thing and go to the Eiffel Tower. It was tres tres crowded and honestly, much prettier from the ground. We did get some nice photos of the view from the top though... Coincidentally, it was Euro-Mullet central here and we got two really good ones on camera (just for you, Tim)!
This night, we had the most amazing dinner (and most-expensive... OUCH!) of our lives thus far at Maison Blanche. Words cannot do this meal justice so I'll just stop there.
Today was supposed to be our Louvre day but we got there and found out it is closed on Tuesdays - DOH! So, we decided to check out the Musee d'Orsay, which is more my style anyway because I really like the Impressionist/Post-Impressionist stuff like Van Gogh, Toulousse-Lautrec, Degas, etc... Yes, I know it's cliche for my favorite painter to be Van Gogh, but what are ya gonna do? I like what I like and I think his techniques were pretty cool... It's pretty weird to be face-to-face with an actual Van Gogh or Monet, Matisse, etc. You study them in college and you probably had a poster-print of one in your first post-dorm apartment, but to see the real deal like a foot away is pretty breathtaking.
Anyhoo, after we'd finished at the museum, we decided to head over to my Graceland, the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre. My absolute favorite movie of all time is Moulin Rouge (which is big, because before that, it was Breakfast at Tiffany's) so I absolutely had to visit the area of Paris that served as the inspiration for the story. As well, anyone who was at our wedding knows that our first dance was to "Come What May" from the movie... The actual Moulin Rouge is on the main street running through the area and it's pretty funny because it's now basically one sex shop and peep show after another. But if you follow the sign to Butte de Montmartre (Montmartre Hill), and head up the San Francisco-like STEEP streets and gazillions of stairs, you get to the heart of it. The originiation of the famous Bohemian movement of the late 1800's. Tiny cobblestone streets, old-fashioned windmills (just like in the movie), artists selling paintings... And the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart church) is just beautiful. It sits at the summit of the hill and the views of Paris are unbelievable.
Later that night, we got all fancied up and went back to the Moulin Rouge for a show. It was so fun! The can-can (a staple of the old-fashioned burlesque shows) actually originated there and they, of course, still do it there to this day. It was my fave part of the show. A very exciting way to cap off our last evening in Paris.
Last day here - we decided to check out the Louvre. There is some really old stuff in there!! Among the most amazing things we saw were the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo sculpture, and Hammurabi's Code - the original "law of the land". Um, wow. WOW. There are pictures of all those except the Mona Lisa (it's not allowed).
So, after that, we began to make our way back to catch our taxi to the EuroStar terminal. The EuroStar was actually pretty nice. Especially if you have champagne. And a Kit-Kat. And some Peanut M&M's. After some thought, I realized that I had at the very least, two glasses of champagne every night on this trip. Now that's livin'.
Here are our pictures if you want to see them!