Lovely Paris in November (Part Deux)

January 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Day 4

I’d sampled some hot chocolate at the dessert shop near our hotel, but I wanted to try the really authentic French hot chocolate I’d heard so much about, so we headed to Café Flore for a light breakfast. The café is known for its superb hot chocolate…and its lousy service. Viva la France! The hot chocolate was indeed good, like drinking a Hershey bar, and what I thought was an expensive, paltry cup was in fact just enough. When we finally got our snooty waiter’s attention to order food, we asked for croissants, which he said they were out of, then promptly walked away. Getting his attention again, we settled for buttered toast. A whopping 16 Euros for toast and two teacups of hot chocolate!

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IMG_3311Then we were off to the Louvre for the day! The place is so big and overwhelming, we decided to hit the highlights and points of our particular interest first. We started with the ancient stuff, saw the Venice de Milo and some very cool Babylonian sphinxes. We ambled around the marble French sculpture gallery and got scolded by a docent for putting our feet up on the benches. Stupid Americans! Of course we had to see the Mona Lisa, which unsurprisingly drew a large crowd. The painting itself was a bit underwhelming, and it had me contemplating what it is about a painting that makes it priceless? We’d passed hundreds of paintings from the same era, and they were all equally interesting and beautiful. In particular we liked Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830).  IMG_3318

For a change of pace we took a tour of Napoleon III’s apartments, which were actually located in the Louvre when he ruled in the 1850s. But I think my favorite came at the end of our long, long museum day: the medieval foundation of the original castle that still stands in the depths of the sub-basement. I love this archeological stuff, seeing how history unfolds in the layers of a building.

Suffering from art overload, we headed out for an evening stroll. It had finally stopped raining, so the streets were wet and glistening, reflecting light and adding beauty. The pyramid at the Louvre was all lit up, and behind us we could see the Eiffel tower all lit up as well. We popped by Notre Dame to see it all lit up for Christmas. A splendid way to end our day.

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For the new baby’s room, no?

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Discovering French cuisine in the museum cafeteria. The Bolognaise wasn’t too bad (tomato and cilatro, I guess?), but the chicken flavored ones I could have done without.

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What a sight!

Day 5

We started the morning with the best French street food ever: crepes. How had I been there five days without trying these! I had mine with Nutella, and they were to die for! After that little pick-me-up for my worsening cold, we boarded the train for a long ride to the Basilica St. Denis. The weather remained damp and dreary, but it set the tone for touring such an ancient Gothic cathedral. No heat that we could detect inside, so we left our coats, hats and scarves on as we toured the chapel.

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St. Denis is where most of the famous royalty is buried. We saw a lot of famous tombs from the Clovis and Bourbon periods. And, of course, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, perhaps the most famous tombs of all. We took a moment to imagine the horror they must have gone through during their untimely demise. Fascinating, and sad.

Our next stop took us someplace a little more modern: Sacre-Coeur.

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Up on the tallest hill in Paris, I took one look at the 300 stairs and said, “Hell, no!” My calves had JUST started to recover from our misadventure at Notre Dame, so I insisted we take the funicular to the top. I also turned down the chance to climb to the top of the dome. Enough climbing already! We spied an Irish pub on the way up, just what the doctor ordered! No beer for me, unfortunately, but the bangers and mash proved to be the perfect comfort food. And a scrumptious hot chocolate, of course, but this time less like a Hershey bar, and with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Then we took a gander through Montemartre, a lovely district full of windmills and ivy-covered apartments. We also thought it a good idea to find the Moulin Rouge, where we’d be coming back later in the evening for a show.

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Oh, the Moulin Rouge! Happy Birthday to me! I was glad we opted for the cheaper tickets without champagne. Even if I wasn’t four months pregnant, I was too sick to enjoy alcohol, even just a sip. We were a bit dubious at first – it seemed like the place was filled with American tourists, and the warm up band was playing cheesy, easy-listening stuff. But then the show started and…wow! It was a two-hour, non-stop, Vegas-style/Broadway musical extravaganza with elaborate costumes, intricate dance numbers, roller skating acrobats, clowns, pythons being wrestled in a giant water tank, Pygmy ponies, and a talking dog, almost entirely in French. And mostly topless. I was entertained to say the least. I think our favorite were the roller skating acrobat couple, who spun like mad inches from the front row. Definitely a night to remember!

Look for the third, and final, part of our trip soon!

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