By Laurie | October 14, 2011
|It’s was our 7th wedding anniversary on Sunday, and I woke up early and excited for another adventure. We had spent the first two days traveling non-stop by foot and metro, so today we decided to try the Batobus (which is essentially a hop on hop off boat that takes you to eight different sites of Paris along the Seine).|
We continued with our ritual of grabbing a quiche from one of the vendors in Rue Cler and heading on to the ATM down the street. We took our second walk down to the Eiffel Tower and noticed it was crowded with runners, and quickly discovered some sort of marathon was taking place. I noticed their bibs said Paris-Versailles, and later discovered that this is an annual event where runners make their way from the tower to the palace. Quite impressive! It was a very different experience at the tower than it had been on our first day when I was surprised how few people were there. The roads were somewhat blocked off and people were everywhere getting ready for it to begin.
We finally made our way across to the Seine and the Batobus booth and purchased 1-Day passes after I posed for a few photos with the beret Nikki had gotten me for my birthday. We didn’t really have an exact plan, but our main idea was going to sites where the museum pass is accepted since the passes were only good for four consecutive days from the date we purchased them. We knew that the boat would give us transportation to D’Orsay, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Notre Dame all of which are covered without additional fees beyond the initial cost of the pass. We figured we would make our way around the circle and get off at each stop to experience that area.
Musée d’Orsay was first, so we got off with a small crowd of people. It wasn’t too far from the water, but was a small walk up a cobblestone hill and down the street. We took the opportunity to take a few photos before hopping in line. One of the benefits of the pass is that you get to “skip the line” at some places. It wasn’t really obvious which line was for what, so I left Dave to see if I could find where we should go. I found the special shorter line, but we still waited quite awhile outside before being allowed to enter. We listened to some other Americans in front of us compare their experiences and talk about restaurants and bike riding which made me a little bummed that we didn’t get to do the night bike ride I had originally planned.
This museum did not allow photography, but most people seemed to ignore that, though I didn’t take any photos inside so I borrowed this painting image from the Internet.
|D’Orsay was previously a train station, so the venue itself was very pretty and interesting to look at. It holds 19th century paintings by Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Renoior, and van Gogh among others. When I was in high school I went to an special exhibit at the Kimball in Fort Worth, and many of these painters were included. I personally found this museum much more enjoyable (and less crowded) than the Louvre.
I thought this painting (Dante and Virgil in Hell) was very striking and was one of my favorites. We were amazed with the size of many of the paintings both here and at the Louvre, and later at Versailles. They literally took up an entire wall floor to ceiling and were quite stunning.
Our feet were tired and we saw pretty much everything there was to see over the course of a few hours, so we decided to head back to the Batobus. Saint-Germain-des-Prés was next and not far, so we didn’t get to rest for very long. From my previous research, my understanding was this was an affluent area with many high end shops and I had learned that the church was the oldest in Pairs and holds the tomb of philosopher René Descartes (I think; therefore I am.) It was very pretty although very small inside, and had some lovely stained glass windows. It was quite a long walk from the boat to the church, and also very warm in the sun. Being Sunday, most of the shops along the way were also closed. This was also the case for my second chance at a Louis Vuitton trip, which seemed not meant to be.
After standing in line and walking the entire D’Orsay as well as the adventure to this part of town, I was tired and hungry and we couldn’t decide on a cafe to go to for lunch because everywhere in the area was crowded and had a wait. We gave up and headed back for the boat and decided we simply did not have any more sites in us and chose to save Notre Dame for another day. We finished the full circle of the boat tour, but it took quite awhile. I wouldn’t recommend it as a fast way of transportation (we also waited a long time for them to return to pick us up), though it was fun to experience the city by water for one day.
Once back where we started at the Eiffel Tower, we bought baguettes filled with ham and cheese (and ugh… more fries) and had a picnic on a bench near the river. We fed leftover fries to some pigeons and watched them shake them and try to fly off. It was entertaining and nice to finally be off our feet. We made the walk back to Rue Cler and stopped into the local grocery store to replenish our supply of water, cookies and other treats for the room. We had reservations up to the summit of the tower that night, so we had time for a quick nap before we had to head back over.
Our reservation was at 9:30 PM and we were early, so we bought an ice cream cone from a vendor and did some people watching on a bench. We took a few more photos of the tower and a nice Italian couple asked if we would take their photo and they did the same for us. We still had time to buy a few souvenirs from the “official” shop and then we went to queue at the North Pillar of the tower a few minutes early.
Since we had reserved tickets (I bought them a few weeks before we left home), we got to skip long ticket buying lines. There was still plenty of waiting though to take the elevators up. The view was nice and it was fun to do, but it was hard to walk around and really enjoy it since there were so many people. After walking around the 2nd level, we made our way to the line for the lift to the summit which also took quite awhile. Once there, we celebrated the achievement (and our anniversary) with a €15 glass of champagne from the bar. We enjoyed the view from the very top, and waited for the tower to twinkle (which it does for the first five minutes at the top of the hour at nighttime). C’est magnifique! It was special to experience it, and another of those wow– I am really here moments even though I had already seen so much of the tower the previous days.
|On our way back to the hotel, we realized that we never had dinner. Most everything was closed since it was very late (we never felt unsafe or in danger by the way), but we made our way to Rue Cler and stopped for gelato at Amarino. It was yummy, and they shape your cone or cup into a flower. You can also have a bunch of different flavors at once (I had strawberry, mango, passion fruit and coconut) which makes the presentation even more impressive. Quite a sweet ending to another memorable and special day.
To be continued…