Europe, Day Three: Four Corners, Four Views of Paris

by Jenn (eating bender) on April 19, 2013

Recaps so far:

Looking back on our third day in Paris, I’ve learned two things. First, that we have a tendency to pack our days to the brim (thank you, decent walking shoes). Second, that we managed to explore four corners of the city with four breathtaking views – and it was worth it!

Our morning began with a stop at Ladurée, the well-known 19th-century Parisian tea salon.

IMG_0154

We visited the Champs-Élysées location near our hotel. I loved the light green facade and gold logo.

IMG_0153

But the real reason to visit Ladurée is le macaron. They come in every color and flavor you could possibly dream up. Bobby and I had a hard time narrowing it down to eight!

Ultimately, we went with (from left to right): rose, pistachio, Marie Antoinette (surprise, surprise), caramel with salted butter, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla and the seasonal red fruits.

IMG_0156

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but the rose macaron was the most interesting with its floral aroma and – no other way to describe it – rosy sweet taste. And the Marie Antoinette won points for its vibrant blue color and namesake. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what ingredients were in it, but I can’t seem to find the recipe online. All I know is that each of these macarons was bursting with the flavor of their key ingredient. I wish I could have taken some home with me!

We enjoyed the macarons throughout our day of exploration. First stop: Notre Dame.

IMG_0158

The iconic cathedral is currently celebrating 850 years, and as a result is undergoing various restorations that include new bells, lighting improvements, renovating the Great Organ and more. A large ramp and bleachers are set up right in front, which turned out to be a nice resting point later in the day despite taking away that perfect photo opp.

IMG_0189

Our tour began inside the church, with its arched brick ceilings…

IMG_0162

…and stunning stained glass windows.

IMG_0159

We then headed back outside to explore the facade. It was very cold and overcast this particular morning, but that didn’t stop us from getting in line to climb the tower! While we waited, I grabbed us a pair of crêpes au sucre (sugar crepes), which briefly warmed and sweetened our taste buds.

IMG_0165

We also took turns exploring the side and back of the cathedral. Here’s that stained glass window.

IMG_0163

IMG_0164

Finally, our turn arrived and we made our way up the 402 steps (at least according to this source).

IMG_0167

The exercise warmed us up even more, and was worth it for the gorgeous – albeit foggy – view of Paris. We could just barely make out the Eiffel Tower and gold dome of the Invalides in the distance.

IMG_0172

From our perch, we were inspired to ponder life with one of the many Notre Dame gargoyles – oh what they must have seen over the generations. If only they could talk.

IMG_0169

IMG_0176

IMG_0170

The view looking east was pretty fantastic, too.

IMG_0183

We also peeked into the doors of the bell tower.

IMG_0178

We ended up climbing even more steps after the first stop to get a view from the very top of the tower. It was equally gorgeous and immensely high, which prepared us well for the next sight of the day. A quick trip on the metro bridged the gap between Notre Dame and Champ de Mars. It was finally time to scale La Tour Eiffel.

IMG_0192

Even the fog couldn’t hide its overwhelming presence.

IMG_0193

We scheduled our elevator ride in advance on this site, which I would highly recommend doing. With hundreds of people waiting in lines for tickets and one elevator out of service, the ability to simply walk up and present our printed online ticket made a huge difference.

We made it to the second level easy enough, and waited in a small line for a lift to the summit. The wind was ferocious but the view made everything better.

IMG_0196

We enjoyed the views from the top, as well, but it was the elevator ride that was the most thrilling!

IMG_0195

With a prime spot on the way back down, I captured a quick video. You can check it out below:

Ultimately we decided not to wait for the lift from the second floor to ground level, choosing to descend the stairs instead. You can bet by this point we were feeling the effects of the Notre Dame climb, but it was fun and exhilarating to feel the wind between the latticed metalwork. I lost count of how many stairs it takes to reach the bottom, but it seems there are more than 600. Whew!

IMG_0191

At this point it was midday, but our crepes and macarons were keeping us full so we decided to head to our next major site: Basilique du Sacré Cœur. By now we had been to the southeast and southwest corners of Paris, so why not head northeast? :)

Another ride on the metro brought us to Montmatre, a beautiful, hilly neighborhood of Paris that boasts views on nearly every street corner, in addition to what was quickly becoming a common theme in our day: more STAIRS!

IMG_0210

I loved walking by the various artists, who were proudly selling their paintings and photographs.

IMG_0209

It wasn’t long before we reached the “white, wedding cake basilica,” a term from Frommer’s that is a perfect description. Sitting atop the highest hill in Paris, the ivory facade is incredibly grand.

IMG_0203

We sat on the stairs billowing out from the base of the church in order to enjoy our third view of Paris for the day. There was also a man doing some impressive tricks with both one and two soccer balls on a stone pillar. No big deal, right? He was fun to watch and drew a big crowd.

IMG_0205

We snapped a quick photo after finishing up our macarons – say hello to adidas above my head!

IMG_0204

Then we hopped aboard yet another metro train to make our way toward the center of the city. There were two women we were eager to see, and their names were Mona and Venus.

IMG_0223

Despite what critics have said about the Louvre Pyramid, I think I.M. Pei’s masterpiece is awesome.

IMG_0213

Not quite as awesome is how small the Mona Lisa is in person. Having seen her once before, I knew what to expect, but Bobby was surprised. Still, we both are da Vinci fans and eagerly joined in with our fellow paparazzi to take Mona’s photo.

IMG_0214

We meandered along the hallways of the Louvre for a while, listening to our Rick Steves podcast (again, can’t recommend those enough) and eventually paying a visit to Venus de Milo. She was gorgeous. After our trip to Europe I have even more appreciation for the amount of work that goes into paintings and sculptures. The fact that so many of these artists’ proudest achievements are still with us today is truly impressive.

IMG_0216

Once we were back outside the Louvre we went for a stroll along the Seine, ultimately coming across Pont des Arts. Unfortunately, we didn’t know the story behind the bridge and its love locks until we had already left for Paris. If you also aren’t familiar (please tell me I’m not alone…), lovers from all over the world come to this bridge to attach padlocks engraved with initials and sweet messages, then throw the keys into the Seine.

I felt so unromantic leaving this bridge without attaching a lock, but we consoled ourselves with the fact that we still feel pretty good about our odds of eternal love. ;) And it was very cool to see the locks left by past visitors. Perhaps someday we’ll return and leave our mark.

IMG_0227

We kept walking east until we reached Pont Neuf, which despite its name (“new bridge”) is the oldest standing bridge in Paris. We crossed over it to reach the Île de la Cité, one of two islands in the Seine. It’s home to Notre Dame and, according to Rick Steves, is where Paris really began.

IMG_0228

Though we had already seen Notre Dame, there was another stop on the island that we didn’t want to miss: the beautiful Sainte-Chapelle. Lucky us, the clouds had parted just in time!

IMG_0230

With sunlight pouring in through the windows, the chapel is hands down one of the most brilliant and awe-inspiring sights in all of Paris. The level of detail in the stained glass is unrivaled.

IMG_0232

By this time we were starting to get pretty hungry. But once again our desire to explore was winning over the urge to sit down and eat. So instead, we compromised and picked up a pair of ham and cheese crepes, our final crepe experience in Paris.

IMG_0235

I’d argue it was also the best crepe experience! Though the sweet crepes are delicious, this savory version was on another level. Maybe it was also the view we had while eating it. I guess those bleachers were worth it, after all.

IMG_0236

After devouring our mini-meal, we walked through the winding alleys near Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Saint-Michel, packed with tiny shops and Greek restaurants. I found myself thinking about The House I Loved and those major renovations that created modern Paris in the 1860s.

IMG_0241

Though our legs were exhausted, they somehow carried us all the way to the Invalides and Pont Alexandre III, both of which were fun to look at and appreciate for their gilded splendor.

IMG_0243

IMG_0242

But the excitement from the past two days of nonstop sightseeing was finally starting to hit us. We decided to forgo our dinner out and instead picked up an assortment of goodies to bring back with us to our hotel. First, we stopped by a small grocery store to buy a bottle of champagne – Charles Vincent, to be exact – and a wedge of edam cheese, which reminded me of gouda.

IMG_0245

IMG_0246

We also picked up a couple loaves of bread from Le Moulin de la Vierge.

IMG_0247

Despite not having quite enough energy for a full sit-down meal, we really enjoyed our wine, bread and cheese feast! It revitalized us for our fourth corner and final view of Paris, from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The underside of the arch was fun to see at night.

IMG_0257

Though it was only a few blocks from our hotel room, we got in yet another workout climbing 284 more steps. That’s a grand total of more than 2,000 steps (up and down) for the day! Obviously most Parisians don’t find themselves climbing up the stairs of tourist attractions most days, but based on our full 48 hours of walking the streets, it is pretty evident that Mireille Guiliano’s book about French women is the real deal.

IMG_0251

We timed our trip to the top so that we arrived minutes before the Eiffel Tower light show.

IMG_0250

Of course, cameras can’t do it justice – but I tried! Check out some of the show in this video:

We couldn’t have asked for a better view to end our time in the City of Light. We made our way back to the hotel for an early bedtime followed by an even earlier wake-up call. And so began the next leg of our European adventure. More to come…

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Abrazos,

Signature

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joey April 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I love Paris. The architecture is wonderful, as is the history. And you can’t beat the food. Now I want a crepe!

Reply

2 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Joey! And as it’s now lunchtime here, I could really go for a crepe, too.

Reply

3 Megan (Braise The Roof) April 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Ahh, you were totally on my street! So cool! Man, you guys did a LOT of climbing! I am unfortunately cripplingly afraid of heights so I skipped a lot of the climbing activities when I lived there (after the Eiffel Tower which pretty much made me pee my pants – that thing does NOT stay still in the wind!) but you can definitely capture some wonderful views from those heights. (PS, totally googled the Marie-Antoinette macaron and all I can tell is that it’s dyed blue and is flavored with their Marie-Antoinette tea. They don’t reveal the tea’s flavor, though!)

Reply

4 Jenn (eating bender) April 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I hear you on the fear of heights! My legs started shaking as soon as I got to the top of each climb – and that was definitely truest on the Eiffel Tower on a windy day…yeesh. I’m glad you were able to figure out that the Marie Antoinette macaron is made with tea – I wish they’d tell us more!

Reply

5 Erica April 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Those macarons are SO pretty! I always comment on food first, don’t I? hehe. That lock bridge was shown on real housewives of beverly hills. I thought it was a really cute idea. Another fabulous recap
Erica recently posted..Aurorae Yoga Top & CookiesMy Profile

Reply

6 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Haha nothing wrong with commenting on the food first. :) I think the lock bridge is great – just wish we had known about it in advance! Oh well!

Reply

7 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) April 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I’m really wishing I could go back to Paris soon after seeing your trip posts. It looks like such an amazing time.
Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) recently posted..Thai Steak Lettuce WrapsMy Profile

Reply

8 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

You definitely should!

Reply

9 Kristie April 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Whew, I am feeling exhausted just reading this recap! Love the colors of the macarons – so vibrant (and tasty too, I’m sure).

Reply

10 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Haha! You and me both – they were so tasty. I need to learn how to make them but am pretty sure they will never be quite the same. :)

Reply

11 Melissa @TryingtoHeal April 20, 2013 at 9:31 am

Gah! I’m dying reading these entries!!! SO EXCITING AND FUN!!!
Melissa @TryingtoHeal recently posted..A Surprise for WhitMy Profile

Reply

12 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Yay!! So glad you are enjoying them, lady!!

Reply

13 Cara (Twinthusiast) April 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

Way to cover some serious Parisian ground guys. Good work! Love the virtual tour. :) PS – want the macaroons!
Cara (Twinthusiast) recently posted..Thinking of You, BostonMy Profile

Reply

14 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm

My mom and I are planning to attend a macaron instructional class. I have a feeling they won’t taste quite the same…but we’ll try!

Reply

15 Toronto Girl West April 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I honestly could gush endlessly about your Paris entries! <3

Do you think you'll ever go back to Paris? It's been years since I've been back and once in a while I'll have a full on Francophone dream of my life in paris! :)
Toronto Girl West recently posted..Run For Boston – a nearly wordless postMy Profile

Reply

16 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I really hope we can go back someday! I’m not sure how soon it will be but as you said, a girl can dream. :) So glad you enjoyed these recaps!

Reply

17 Joelle (on a pink typewriter) April 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm

That macaron picture is gooooorgeous.

Reply

18 Jenn (eating bender) April 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

They were so yummy!

Reply

19 Nicole @ The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie April 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

JENN!!! I have so much to say about this, I don’t even know where to begin!! I love your macaron selections – I totally got a Marie Antoinette one too. I was actually impressed by the taste (I was skeptical but had to get it cuz of the name and since it was bright blue)

Climbing to the top of Notre Dame was one of my favs. I LOVED the gargoyles!

Monmontre was amazing..I loved every minute we spent there :)

ALL THE STAIRS!! Oh my – they were everywhere, but *always* worth it!

You guys look like you had a beautiful day in Paris!
Nicole @ The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie recently posted..Drink & Dish: Skinny MargaritaMy Profile

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: