DAY ONE – PARIS
Our flight from Dublin to Paris was only just over an hour long. We arrived in Paris late in the morning and took a taxi to our apartment in Monte Marte. Our apartment was on the sixth floor and in an old apartment building (no lift!). Climbing the steep, old stair case with our luggage made us so thankful that our girls were able to carry their own suitcases.
Once we had sorted ourselves out we went for a walk to explore our neighbourhood. We walked along our little road, turned the corner and the Sacre Coeur was just up ahead! We knew we were close, but didn’t realise we were quite this close. As we continued on, we climbed the steps of the Sacre Coeur to admire the view. It was about 3.30pm and the 3pm Friday mass was in progress. We were still allowed to enter so we quietly walked around, soaking up that beautiful place.
DAY TWO – PARIS
This morning we walked to Le Marche aux Puces de Saint Ouen. This is a flea market with some tacky jacket and shoe stalls out at street level, but as we explored further in, we found some gorgeous stalls full of Parisian antiques and fascinating bits and bobs. Everything from buttons, doillies, door handles, jugs, paintings, plates, furniture…..
From here, we walked quite a way to Marche St-Quentin, a covered market with all sorts of food stalls. We stopped here for a quick lunch.
After lunch we continued on to Galeries Lafayette. This is a huge shopping centre with every brand name you’ve ever seen inside. The inside of this building is very ornate and in the middle was a massive “Dior” hot air balloon suspended from the ceiling. It was beautiful and probably there to celebrate Seventy Years of Haute Couture for the House of Dior this year. We went to the sixth floor of this building which was the rooftop. Out here was a great view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.
DAY THREE – PARIS
We were up early and walked to the Eiffel Tower today. The walk took us over an hour – it’s a long way from where we were staying! Unfortunately we hadn’t pre-booked tickets for the Eiffel Tower (BIG MISTAKE!). We had to line up in a huge queue for a security check, then join the next huge queue to buy tickets, then yet another security bag check before queuing for the lift. This process took ages and we got quite cold just standing still for so long. I heartily recommend pre-purchasing tickets for this!
Anyway, once we were going up the lift it was great. The view going up was incredible and the structure itself is so intricate that I could hardly believe it. To think that originally it was intended to be a temporary structure! Crazy!
Once at the top, the view was amazing for a few minutes but the weather started to deteriorate very quickly. We took a few quick photos then came inside for shelter and a bit of lunch we had brought with us.
After the Eiffel Tower we walked to the Musee de l’Armee Invalides. This is an artillery museum, army historical museum and also has the Dome Church, where the tomb of Napoleon is. This was a great place to visit. We got the audio guide here and learnt a lot about the history of French wars which overlapped with the British history we had seen in London. This kind of history is not something we learn much about at school in Australia.
Then we ate amazing crepes from a street stall along the way to Forum Les Halles, a big shopping centre. This place was a bit weird. The layout was strange.
Once we got “home” we had walked 17km. It was a huge day!
DAY FOUR – PARIS
We walked to the Louvre early this morning. We had pre-purchased tickets for this so we were able to walk straight in, with a very short queue. It was the start of the day, so we trotted straight through to the Mona Lisa and managed to get a good look at her. She’s quite little compared to the huge paintings elsewhere in her room! Once again we had audio guides and it was great to be able to listen to a commentary on different works of art.
By 2pm we had had enough. We had really enjoyed it, but it was time to go.
We walked through the gardens around the Louvre before trekking “home”.
DAY FIVE – PARIS
The alarm went off at 6.30am so that we could catch a train out to Versailles. The Palace of Versailles is a beautiful place to visit. We had pre-purchased tickets which made our wait to enter much less than if we hadn’t. The audio guide for this was excellent. First was the King’s State Apartment, the Hall of Mirrors, the Bulls Eye Salon, the Council Salon, the Queen’s Apartment and the King’s Chamber. These rooms were all dripping in gold and filled with amazing paintings. The ceilings were particularly incredible.
Within the Palace grounds we walked to the Grand Trianon. This was built from pink marble and was built in 1687 for King Louis XIV as the setting for his love affair with Madame de Montespan.
We then walked to the Petit Trianon, built between 1762 and 1768 as a place for the private use of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. In 1774, Louis XVI gave it to Marie-Antoinette and it became her favourite place to stay. Part of the gardens is English in style. This was a cute place and I loved seeing Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom (apparently!).
DAY SIX – PARIS
The Notre Dame was our destination this morning. We took the Metro this time, just for something different! It is free to enter the Notre Dame and definately worth seeing. The stain-glass windows and the Gothic architecture is incredible. It is a beautiful Catholic church which was built over many years: 1163-1800s. It is the first of Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals. If you go here, you must walk around the back of the Notre Dame to really appreciate the structure. From here, we walked across a bridge over the Sienne to Jardin du Luxembourg. We ate our lunch in this garden and had an expensive 50€cent wee in the garden’s public toilets.
After lunch we walked to the Picasso museum and saw many original Picasso paintings, drawings and sculptures. There were also photos of Pablo Picasso and his life story written on the walls.
Dinner was at a traditional French restaurant just down our road called Le Saint Regis. We enjoyed lots of yummy food and rolled home very full indeed!
DAY SEVEN – PARIS
We caught the metro to The Arch de Triomphe this morning. We stood and watched the crazy traffic at this intersection (12 avenues enter it!) for a while and wondered how anyone could possibly know which way to go.
A leisurely stroll down the Champs-Elysees followed. We enjoyed looking at the shops and found some “luxury loos” along the way which cost €2 each. We decided to hold on.
We stumbled upon the Musee d’Orsay, a famous impressionist art museum. We took our time looking at famous paintings and sculptures (once again the audio guide was fantastic – except mine was in Italian!). We saw paintings by Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir and many others.
The building itself is a former railway station built between 1898 and 1900. There is an amazing clock on the end wall which overlooks Paris. This clock features in the movie “Hugo”. It is beautiful.
DAY EIGHT – PARIS
This morning it was time to say “goodbye” to Paris. We took the train out to Charles de Gaulle airport to catch our flight to our final destination: Rome!
Paris was a great place to explore. Loved it.