This trip to Paris was originally planned so that Danette could run the Paris Half Marathon. Due to a injury from not-so-smart training, the race was out of the question. So, since we have already been to Paris a couple of time, we decided to spend our time seeing some of the lesser known sites, places we enjoyed in the past and just enjoying the sites, sounds and tastes of the City of Light.
On our first morning, we had brunch at an elegant cafe across from our hotel before visiting Musee Rodin. We had decadent crepes with apricot jam, a fancy fruit salad, typical French croissants and cafe au lait, of course. We were so impressed with the food that we decided to go back the next day for a lighter breakfast. While enjoying our crepes and cafe au lait, we heard a familiar cooing sound. As city residents, we are very familiar with the cooing of pigeons. We knew it was closer than outside and also didn’t see any pigeons outside. Then Danette noticed the woman at the table behind her had two large duffel bags on the chair next to her and one of them was moving! The cooing got louder as we looked around the cafe to see if anyone noticed. No one seemed to. The woman continued writing on the large paper napkins that she had requested as the pigeon continued to coo. A few minutes later, we finished and left our table passing by the woman and saw that not only did she have at least one pigeon in her bag, she was also feeding bits of her croissants to a crow, which popped his head out of the partially unzipped duffel bag. No one in this relatively upscale cafe seemed to notice or care that this eccentric, elderly woman was accompanied by birds.
The excellent food continued that night when we visited Crepe Story at the suggestion of a friend who is very familiar with Paris. It did not disappoint. We will admit to being crepe snobs and these were some of the best we have had. We had buckwheat galettes accompanied by cider for dinner and amazing sweet crepes for dessert. The one below has vanilla ice cream, pears, almonds, chocolate and cream…. fantastic! Yes, we cleaned our plates. The service at Crepe Story was also excellent. It helped that the waiters were particularly interested in Ryan but I believe they are just super nice people in general.
One of the things on the absolute must do list was Sainte Chapelle. Of all the cathedrals we’ve seen in Europe, this has remained Danette’s favorite. Apparently, this is quite a popular site since she first saw it in 2007 because the line was over 90 minutes long and that was the shortest we had seen each time we passed by.
There must be something special inside because it caused one tourist to have a nervous breakdown while waiting in line. There was a mix up and the two lines became jumbled and were indiscernible. One woman began frantically dodging in and out of the line loudly whining about how long they were waiting and that it was unfair. She was bumping people and jumping up and down to try to see inside. Her boyfriend was quietly begging her to come back and be still as she pleaded loudly with him to push through the line with her. Once she was through security, she had to wait another 10 minutes for him to go through, making her craziness seem even crazier. All of this certainly added entertainment to the long wait for the rest of us because no one could understand why she was so frantic. It really is too bad that she allowed that to ruin her visit to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe.
Above, Ryan is patiently waiting in line while I wander around to take pictures. After we got through the relatively tight security, we were able to get inside the gates of the Palais de Justice where Sainte Chapelle is hidden. The exterior of this beautiful cathedral isn’t even visible unless you wait in the long line to get through security but it was worth it. Only at a New Orleans Saints game will you see more fleur de lis symbols in one place. The first floor contains a gift shop and an alter. While it is ornately decorated, there is little to see other than the chipping columns and walls, which adds to the charm of this 6 century old Gothic chapel. It has been described by several writers as a jewel box and when you reach the top
of the tight spiral stairs, the reason is obvious. The walls of the second floor are made up of 15 stained glass windows. On a sunny day, the color is amazing. After we admired the windows, walls and floors, which are all remarkable and ornate, we stopped to watch people’s faces as they walked through the arch to enter the chapel. Everyone had the same look of a amazement and awe. It was a happy feeling to see the hugely diverse group of people from all over the world have the same reaction and in awe of the same thing.
After waiting in line and touring the chilly cathedral, it was time to warm up with cafe au lait. We made our way to a corner cafe perfect for people watching. We were amazed at how many Starbucks cups we saw. We had heard there were now a few Starbucks in Paris but I can’t imagine when anyone would go there when there are perfectly Parisian cafes on every corner.
On the morning Danette was supposed to run, we headed out to the out-skirts of Paris to Musee Marmottan Monet. Danette has always wanted to go and it was a good time to avoid the city so that she didn’t have to see the race. The area around the former Monet house was quiet and beautiful. We walked through a park and passed by a few lovely statues. The museum was interesting. There are now over 30 Monet paintings on display. One of which is Impression, Sunrise, for which the impressionist movement is named. There were also several variations of the Weeping Willow, Water Lilies and the Japanese Gardens.
Later, we thought we would head to Hotel de Ville to enjoy Carnival, Paris style! While it was fun, it was not what we expected. The parade consisted mostly of drum corp groups and dance teams. The route was not especially well planned. The floats that were there were not able to make it through the final stretch due to the concrete barrier columns blocking the entrance to the square in front of Hotel de Ville. We stayed for a bit and enjoyed the music.
On the last day, we decided that we would see the Pantheon.
This massive building in the resting place from some of the most prominent figures in French history. It also contains the first public experiment to demonstrate that the Earth rotated around the sun. The Foucault Pendulum (pictured below) has been on display here since the 1800’s.
After the Pantheon, we decided to grab one lat galette and cafe au lait before heading to the airport. Mushrooms and cream, yummy!!
This was an excellent trip and really just proved that you really can’t take too many trips to Paris!