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My Trip to Europe: Paris

For the complete trip, check out Dublin ->Paris -> Athens -> Rhodes -> Santorini -> Rome -> Dublin return!

We arrived in Paris from our adventures in Dublin late at night and after struggling to figure out how to get tickets and the RER train system (complete with scary guys onboard knowing we were tourists and cops touring the train). But soon, we were at our stop in Marais. Fortunately, it was a nice part of Paris, so we were no longer scared as we made our way through the rain. We got to our hotel room (again, with no elevator) and watched French television, which is some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. I like shows that are so bad that they’re good, though, and these were definitively that.

Tour du Sainte Jacques

The next day we saw sights along the way to Notre Dame such as Hotel de Ville and Tour de la Sainte Jacques and then the legendary cathedral.

Notre Dame Cathedral

It was perfectly gothic inside and out.

The Last Judgment

It’s also the site of one of my favorite love stories: Abelard and Heloise, which was one of the first things I thought when I walked inside.

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral

After much admiration of the legendary cathedral, we walked Ile de Cite, finding the cheapest croques, which turned out to the best we would find in Paris.

Sainte Germain l’Auxerrois Church

We then strolled by Pont Neuf and made our way north to St Germain l’Auxerrois Church. Like Notre Dame, it’s also ornately gothic on the outside, but much lighter on the inside.

There are priceless paintings and statues inside, which are much brighter than Notre Dame and the organ and stained glass windows also shouldn’t be missed.

Palais du Louvre

After taking in the much lighter splendor of this church, we moved across the street to the Louvre.

Pyramid, Louvre Museum

It was the most amazing museum I’ve ever seen. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever see a museum that can compare to it.

Code of Hammurabi

One of the very first things I saw was Hammurabi’s Code (and even touched it).

Napoleon’s Apartments

We also saw Napoleon’s apartments, which were were the most ornate rooms I had ever seen in my life up until then. They were only topped by the Chateau de Versailles.

The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese

We also saw renowned works such as The Coronation of Napoleon, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, Leonidas at Thermopylae, The Love of Paris and Helen, The Oath of Horatii and many more that I had learned about for years.

THe Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

We also saw the most prized painting, the Mona Lisa behind guards, ropes and several inches of bullet-proof glass.

Other than the magnificent sculptures, paintings and other collections, the Louve has some of the most elaborate rooms I’ve ever seen (as it was the king’s palace before). After a few hours and a few thousand steps later, we collapsed, ate, then were ready to move through the Tuileries Gardens.

Strolling in the Tuileries Gardens

The cool thing about most gardens in Paris is that they are big and meant to be places where you can simply sit, relax and enjoy the day.

At the end of the Tuilleries Gardens is the Musée de l’Orangerie where we admired Monet’s water lilies and works by Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso and more.

There were walls full of Monet’s water lilies, and there are even more in the Musee d’Orsay.

Girls at the Piano by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Portrait of Madame Cezanne by Paul Cezanne

Next to the Gardens and the Museum is Place de la Concorde. This is where King Louis and Marie Antoinette were beheaded.

Egyptian obelisk built by Ramses

It now has an amazing Egyptian obelisk built by Ramses along with a beautiful fountain. After more wandering by the Petit Palais, Grand Palais and our first view of the Eiffel Tower, we went home, got cheese (which is extremely cheap), bread and wine (also ridiculously cheap). We actually wanted to watch more French TV (mainly Largo Winch) rather than explore the French nightlife.

Luxembourg Gardens

The next day we finally got the metro system down and could now get around. We went to the Luxembourg Gardens first and it was the perfect way to start the day. We actually saw some people throwing a football, which they don’t play. Soccer is their football. We then heard their American accent though, and it made sense.

The Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon

The Pantheon came next and it was bigger than I could have imagined. Not only is it beautiful, but it houses the tombs of many famous Frenchmen throughout history.

Sainte Suplice Church

We then moved onto many more churches. The first was Sainte Suplice across the street from the pantheon.

funeral at Saint-Germain-des-Prés ChurchNext was Sainte Germain des Pres, where we accidentally walked into a funeral.

Rodin Estate

Moving west, we took the metro to the Musée Rodin. It was the residence of Rodin, which is now a museum dedicated to him.

The Thinker

He had a large, green, beautiful estate and his works are now displayed  throughout the house and his gardens, including his most famous work is The Thinker.

Les Invalides

Les Invalides

Next was Les Invalides right next door. Les Invalides houses museums of the French military throughout history.

Inside Les Invalides

Napoleon’s Coffin

It is most famous though, for being the site of Napoleon’s massive tomb with his oversized coffin that matches the size of his ego.

Top floor of Sainte Chapelle Church

Saint Chapelle Church followed and it was one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. With 15 tall, ornate stained-glass windows, its picturesque and I could stand in there for hours.

Eiffel Tower

Finally though, we reached the best of the best: the Eiffel Tower. On the way, we encountered more gypsies than I knew existed in the world. And, the gloomy skies turn into an absolute downpour forcing us to bargain with a gypsy for an umbrella.

Police standing guard to keep gypsies away

After much argue for an umbrella that could fall apart at any minute, we paid €4 for what they wanted €10 for and then the cops started chasing them away.We then checked out the Trocadero across the street, waiting for our time to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Thankfully, we bought out tickets in advance online, so we didn’t have to stand in lines for tickets, then in the lines for the tower for hours in the rain.

View of Champ de Mars

Looking up from the first deck

We just rode the gondola to the first deck, which is enough to take your breath away. Then, after fighting with people cutting lines, (most Europeans have no qualms cutting you) we took the second gondola to the top. It was amazing.

View of Trocadero from the top of the Eiffel Tower

View of the Seine River

Eiffel Tower shadow

You are told to not stick cameras outside of the wire, but how I could I resist? So, I chanced dropping my phone from the top of the Eiffel Tower and got some pretty amazing views of Champ de Mars, the Trocadero, the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, and the rest of the span of the city.

After the rainstorm, the sun was beginning to go down and the sunset was perfect. We didn’t get see the sunset at the Eiffel Tower, so we would see it at the next best place.

Arc d’Triomphe

After a quick ride of the metro, we came out from underground to see the giant Arc de Triomphe. It was sunset and picture perfect.

Bride & Groom at Arc de Triomphe

We watched a bride and groom take photos on Champ de Elysee in front of it, making us witnesses to a wedding and a funeral in the same day.

Once we figured out how to get to it was to go through an underground tunnel and not not across the biggest roundabout I’ve seen in my life, we were right in front of this massive structure.

View from the top of Arc de Triomphe

View of Champ de Elysee from the Arc de Triomphe

We then climbed the few hundred steps to the top. The cool thing about this arc is that it’s at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, where 12 streets converge into a roundabout.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arc de Triomphe

After a day that we were sure was complete, we headed back home to Marais to crash for a few hours before heading out at night. Seeing the Eiffel Tower during the day made us want to see it lit up at night, and there’s also a light show every hour as well. But, we fell asleep, woke up at 3 AM and realized it was too late to go out and that our body clocks were still really off.

The next day, we woke up early to get to this bakery that had been closed when we walked by it everyday in the afternoon. So, we got there with the morning rush, bought some delicious croques, tarts and cake and went our way to the Chateau de Versailles.

Chaeteau de Versailles

We had some entertainment on the train and an overcast walk to the greatest home I’ve ever seen in my life.

Gates of Chaeteau de Versailles

Inside the gates of the Chaeteau de Versailles

Not only was it massive, it was covered in marble and gold from the outside in.

Each room in a different shade

The rooms were all different shades complete with some of the country’s finest statues and paintings. Other rooms not covered in colorful wallpaper were composed entirely of marble and paintings that covered the entire span of the wall.

Me in front of the fireplace

One room even had a fireplace taller than me. The chapel was also beautiful beyond words. It was 2 stories tall and each floor was amazing.

Bottom of the Chapel of the Chaeteau de Versailles

Chapel ceiling in Chaeteau de Versailles

The roof though was pure art. Throughout all the rooms, painting decorated the ceiling. Gold and sculptures covered the corners and walls on top fo the beautiful wallpaper and marble.

Hall of Mirrors

Then, we came to the Hall of Mirrors. It was one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen in my life in person or otherwise. In fact, the only rooms that could rival it could be the bedrooms that came after.

King Louis’ bed

King Louis’ bedroom

King Louis’ bedroom was covered in gold from wall to wall and ceiling to floor.

View from King Louis’ bedroom

View of the gardens from the chateau

You could see the gardens from many rooms of the house and it was stunning from afar.

Ceilings of Marie Antoinette’s bedroom

Marie Antoinette’s bedroom

The only room that possibly could have topped King Louis’ bedroom was Marie Antoinette’s, and I believe she did.

Thunderstorm rolling in

After we moved through the palace, we went to the gardens. It was still gloomy though and a massive thunderstorm began. We ran back inside to wait it out. We walked around more, and to our surprise found a Laduree. We got some macaroons from this world-famous sweet shop, but sadly we weren’t impressed. Once we realized the rain wasn’t going to die down anytime soon, we ran as fast as we could to the train station and went back to Paris. Not ready to call it a day, we decided to go to the Musée d’Orsay. There were problems with the RER though, so we had to walk in the rain, with me wearing a skirt and Sarah wearing shorts. We finally made it though, but sadly no photography was allowed. We saw famous and priceless works of art such as The Whistler by McNeil, Starry Night by Van Gogh, Apples and Oranges by Cezanne, The Self Portrait by Van Gogh, Dance at Le Moulin de La Galette by Renoir, and more by these artists and Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Delacroix, Cassatt, Seurat, Rousseau among others. After the museum, we were soaked and the rain was picking up, so we rushed back to the hotel for cheese and wine.

Standing in line for the towers fo Notre Dame

On our final day, we realized everything we had missed, and knew that we had to cram in all into one last day. Our first and most important stop was to the towers of Notre Dame. They open later than the church, which was why we missed them in the first place.

Me walking to the towers

So, we finally went, waited in line for an hour outside the church as service was going on and then climbed the few hundred steps to the top.

View of Paris from the towers of Notre Dame

Gothic architecture atop Notre Dame

We walked the rows of gargoyles, and saw magnificent views of the city. There were statues of saints lining the steeple as well that you could imagine in a lightning storm on a dark night, like in Beauty in the Beast or something.

Bell tower door

Then, we came to the fabled bell tower with a door so short and narrow that you do have to hunch just go inside.

Notre Dame Cathedral Steeple over the Seine River

After the bell, we went to the very top of the church and really got views of the city. Afterwards, we walked by the statue of Charlemagne (who my mom always reminds me I’m related to) and then sat at our favorite restaurant with the best croques.

Onion soup and coffee at Cafe Richard on Ile de Cite

We had to finally try French coffee and our final attempt at finding good onion soup, which was not successful. I then tried a crepe at random (because they were all in French on the menu) and turns out it was just a crepe soaked in liquor. It was better than I thought it would be though, and a perfect last meal in Paris.

Sacre Coeur

We then moved to Montmartre to see Sacre Coeur. The area near it is not nice, but the church itself it gorgeous close up and from afar. The inside is stunning as well, but they don’t allow photos inside.

View of Paris from Sacre Coeur

One of the biggest attractions in Paris is the view from Sacre Coeur at sunset. We weren’t there for sunset, but we were there for some entertainment.

🙂

After much gazing, we just strolled through the city in all the places we loved. We were done with museums and all the touristy stuff. We just wanted to walk.

Country club in Paris

We were really starting to get annoyed with everyone dressing like they were at the country club, so we began taking photos of everyone with a sweater tied over their shoulders. We slowly made our way back to Marais snapping photos.

Palais Royal

Jardin du Palais Royal

We walked through the Palais Royal, which was something you won’t see anywhere else. The Jardin du Palais Royal came next and more sweaters followed there. Soon we worked our way back next to our hotel, got our last serving of cheese and bread and then hung out in Place de Vosges.

Place de Vosges

Place de Vosges was literally right around the corner from our hotel, so we walked, got our luggage and hopped on the metro. We needed to get on the RER B, but somehow we got on the RER C and were now lost. After backtracking and worrying if we’d make our flight, someone was kind enough to walk us through the station all the way to our platform and got us on the right track. Once at the airport running late, we got to Aegean Airlines, which had at least 40 people waiting to check in and we were already late. Fortunately, we were able to fast track because we had checked in online.

Airport bathroom

After running way behind because of people checking in 8 bags in front of us, we rushed through the airport just in time to observe more sweaters before boarding our flight. We were about to walk onto the worst flight of our lives, though.

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