Our next stop after London was Paris! It was nice and easy to take the Chunnel (a train through a tunnel under the English Channel) into Paris. We headed to our hotel, which we were too early to officially check in, left our bags and started to explore. We were staying right off of the street where the Moulin Rouge was, so we decided to just walk up and down that street until our hotel was ready. As we were heading back it starting POURING on us, and we were not at all prepared. We got back to the hotel, checked in, and changed our clothes, which were completely soaked (my one pair of jeans, my boots and my sweatshirt all needed to be dried!). It was our fault for not checking the weather report more carefully, but we didn’t expect that kind of rain anywhere on our trip. We were actually there right before the floods that made the news (where they had to move all the art on the bottom floors of the Louvre to protect them).
After we dried off and changed our clothes, we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Nathaniel took lots of pretty pictures (much more artsy than mine), and then we decided to go up to the top. It was just wet and overcast at this point, but because the weather was less than ideal, there were far fewer people than there would have been otherwise. We didn’t have to wait long at all to get our tickets (17€ each), and the line to the elevator wasn’t long either. The view from the top was incredible. You could see the whole city, and because of how high up you are, it’s hard to see other structures, since they just flatten out over the landscape. I highly recommend going to the top here (honestly, I would have gone to the top of more things in other cities, but we had to be budget conscious). The photo ops are wonderful, and it really gives you an idea of the expanse of the city. You get to see the iconic old rooftops, which to me really help you feel the romance of the city. We had just less than two days in this gorgeous city, but these views made me want to stay and explore until there was nothing left to see.
We went to dinner nearby, and, afterwards, came back for photos of the Tower at night. It’s crazy to think that this was only supposed to be a temporary structure in the city (since it was made for the 1889 World’s Fair), and now it’s an icon of France. If I could transport myself instantly to this exact location and see the tower right this moment, I would. It’s such a testament to what humans are capable of, from both a standpoint of engineering and art. ❤️
As we walked home from the subway, it started to pour, so we hung up another set of clothes to dry and went to bed.
The next morning, we set out again, our first stop being Sacré-Cœur. And of course it was pouring again, but we kept trucking along, because this was our only full day in Paris. Once there, we went inside, and walked around. They were having a mass, and the nuns were singing, which couldn’t have been more perfect after being out in the pouring rain. This church also has a great view of the city out front, and even though it was rainy and misty and visibility wasn’t great, I very much enjoyed this start to our day.
Our plan for the rest of the day was to go to Musée d’Orsay and walk along the Seine to Notre Dame. Unfortunately the museum was closed (it was a Monday), so instead we went to the Louvre, because it was nearby and we could continue our plans without too much of a hitch. Quick tip to get into the Louvre faster: if you’ve got internet access or data right outside the museum, you can purchase your tickets online and then get into a shorter security check line. This museum is gigantic, and includes masterpieces like Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is a bit underwhelming since you can’t get close enough to see any true detail, plus you’re fighting a crowd who all have their smartphones out. That being said, I can check it off my bucket list, and the history of the painting is interesting. My favorite work of art was “Winged Victory” - the statue has incredible feathered wings, and the woman’s body is wrapped in sheer cloth, which is blowing in the wind - I was astounded at the mastery that went into this sculpture. A lot of the art here is religious art, which reminded me a lot of the Vatican, and while it isn’t my favorite genre of art, I'm definitely glad we went. Also, it's fun to look for the works you might be familiar with from The Da Vinci Code. 😜
After the Louvre we walked along the Seine, and eventually made it to Notre Dame. While walking, we got to peek down little roads, and it was actually quite empty along this stretch - it was a perfect walk to mellow out after the Louvre’s crowds. Once we got to the cathedral, it was too late to go inside, but luckily the bells soon chimed for 8 o’clock, and the sun came out for the first time! It was low in the sky, directly hitting the front of the cathedral, and it was so magical - if only Quasimodo had been there singing with his gargoyles. 😉 When you visit, make sure to go around to the back - there were no crowds, and the rest of the church is completely gorgeous and much different looking than the iconic front.
We then walked to the Les Halles area, got dinner, and went to see L’Écoute, the statue by Henri de Miller of the head and the hand outside St. Eustache. They were doing construction on the Mandela Gardens, so the head had been moved so it was facing the church (usually the church is behind the statue), and had a giant neon green construction wall as a backdrop. This ruined Nathaniel’s photo op, but we still had fun exploring before we headed back to our hotel.
Our last morning in the city, before driving to the mountains, we decided to hit Orsay - I wanted to see some impressionist work, like Degas, Monet and Van Gogh (any Doctor Who fans would also love coming here!) - plus Nathaniel LOVES the clocks in the building, especially from the inside looking out over the city. Be sure to get there early in the morning, though, or you'll be competing with a crowd by the clock. The art styles in this museum were much more up my alley than the Louvre, and it was a lovely way to finish up our too-short visit.
Paris, I’ll see you again someday - thanks for the whirlwind romance!