We managed to avoid the worst effects of jet lag and had a decent sleep in our lovely room.
Got up, had breakfast, and headed out for our first real Parisian adventure — a boat trip on the Seine. Actually, of course, our FIRST big adventure was heading into the Metro system. We bought some tickets from the nice man behind the window at Robespierre station and headed down into the bowels of Paris.
Two things I realized right away:
- nearly everyone I meet will speak English much better than I speak French. This is quite a relief.
- French women (and men) are slender because there are practically no escalators in the Metro system. Oh, there are some to be sure, but there are a lot more stairs. I noticed this when my knees telegraphed their distress to my brain.
But the system is surprisingly easy to use. I could figure out how to get around quite quickly and we zipped home later using just a paper map and my mad navigation skillz.
We got to the Bateaux Mouche dock and boarded the boat. The weather was cool and threatened rain, but that meant that there were not huge crowds and we managed to get a good view of many of the Paris attractions. Highly recommended!
It was heartbreaking to see the scaffolding around Notre Dame. There are two gothic towers, but the main steeple is quite gone, and the famed windows are dark.
Just as we pulled up to the dock to disembark the skies opened and we dashed into the restaurant there. DD and the kids opted to have lunch there but DH and I decided to go pick up our pre-purchased museum passes at the Paris Rendezvous office and meet up later at the Louvre.
Also recommended: take note of the scams currently directed towards tourists. As we walked to the Metro from the boat dock a woman in front of us stooped down and picked up a gold men’s wedding ring. Wow! She immediately pointed out that it was valuable, and she pressed it into my hand saying it would be a “cadeau” for me. Something rang in my head, a warning that this was a scam . So I pressed it back into her hand and said I insisted she keep it, as she had found it. Then DH and I both said bless you, and walked away. Scam averted!
The Paris Rendezvous office is very easy to find on the Rue Rivoli (I was about to say lovely Rue Rivoli, but I will definitely wear out this adjective, so we’ll just take it as a given). The nice lady there was very helpful and soon we were back on the metro on the way to the Louvre.
The station is part of the giant complex that is the Louvre, so we walked up to the main entrance to the museum. We got a text that everyone was going to be at least 20 minutes, and being starved we headed back into the shopping area underground for a bite. There was a Macdonald’s right there. We almost never eat at Macdonald’s but hey — we’re in Paris! Time to explore new experiences! We wanted two Royales with Cheese of course, known as the Tarantino combo in our crowd, but they weren’t available so we got a special meal that was on offer. The buns of our burgers were world’s better than the ones we get at home and it was nice to get mayonnaise for my fries without having to ask for it. The fries weren’t salted as vigorously as at home. But the burger was so rich and huge that neither of us could finish it.
We got to the museum and met up with the family, then avoided the daunting lineups at the entrance by going outside into the rain so that we could enter through the special entrance for pass holders, right in the big glass pyramid.
The Louvre was fantastic, of course, but like the burgers so rich and huge that we were overwhelmed over a couple of hours. We saw the winged Victory and the Mona Lisa, and there is a nearby room with a “greatest Hits” display of Liberty Leading the People and The Wreck of the Hesperus and postcard famous images like that, but we also saw room after room of Persian artwork and Greek and Egyptian and several civilizations that have come and gone and just left these precious artifacts.
The Louvre itself is so ornate and over-decorated (in its original rooms) that it’s something wonderful to see by itself. It’s also so huge that it can absorb thousands of visitors, the numbers of which you can only appreciate when entering or leaving the building through the open areas.
Had a cup of tea and decided to head home. Hit the enormous Carrefour hypermarche on the way and were deciding whether to have a pre-packaged Quiche Lorraine when we saw 3 pigeons fly down to the centre of the deli floor and start looking around for a snack. So we decided on the pre-packaged unit.
Another quiet evening of good food and nice wine (and scotch) and early to bed.