Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Paris: Days 3 and 4

Well, first things first: Congrats to the Royal couple on the birth of their baby BOY! I was so excited to hear that our little guy will be born in the same year as a wee British prince. Exciting times!
Now I keep obsessively checking BBC to see if the name has been announced. I can't wait to see what historic and regal choice they've picked for the future king. Anyway....Back to me.

Yesterday I recapped the first half of our Paris trip. You can read the post here. Today, I'll be summarizing the last 2 days of the trip.

Day 3: We only had the morning in Paris on Day 3 since we were being picked up at our hotel at 1 PM for our tour of Monet’s Gardens in nearby Giverny. We decided to use the morning to check off those Paris sites closest to our hotel. First we headed to Notre Dame, which made me want to burst into song.
I instantly committed to watching Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame  as soon as we got back home (True story, it’s on my list of things to-do today. Being a housewife has it’s perks.). 

After taking in the Notre Dame, we headed to the equally impressive, albeit much smaller Saint-Chapelle. The intricate stained glass and tile work in this tiny chapel is very impressive and worth a gander. 

Once we checked these two famous churches off our list, we decided to stop by Ernest and Hadely Hemingway’s first apartment in Paris. 

Those who know me, know what a Hemingway fan I am. Reading his novels and biographies in high school English was what first inspired me to want to be an ex-pat. When I discovered that his first residence in Paris was only about a 5 minute walk from our hotel, I knew we had to swing by and say hello. 

There is a little plaque marking the spot, and it turns out that this neighborhood (Mouffetard) tucked behind the Pantheon is full of great shops and restaurants. We stopped in for a little Greek lunch before heading back to our hotel for our Monet tour. 

This was a big day for me, since Ernest Hemingway and Claude Monet are both artistic heavy-weights in my book.  I just loved getting to walk in their footsteps and take in the surroundings that so inspired them.

Monet’s house and gardens are just what I expected. Seriously, they are just like he painted them. From the water lilies to the Japanese bridges, he created himself a garden full of color and light.

It was once again quite crowded and quite hot, which took away a bit of the ambience. Still, seeing this spot was one of the big items on my Europe Bucket List so I was glad Jon and I got to experience it together.

Our tour (via Paris Trip Tours) took 5 hours from pick up to drop off and cost about 100 euros a person. The air conditioned van ride alone was worth the price and we also got to skip the long lines at the entrance. Plus our tour guide didn’t take a breath the entire ride to and from Giverny, with all the information he gave us about the Monet’s life, art, and legacy. 

He also took us through Paris and showed us some lesser known sites like the Statue of Liberty and the tunnel where Princess Diana was in her fatal accident. The company does all sorts of Paris and nearby day tours, so it’s worth a look if you’re interested in that sort of thing. 

For dinner, we decided just to wander around Hemingway’s old ‘hood until we found a place that fit our fancy. Afterwards, we found a little bar that had Delirium on tap, so I watched jealously as Jonathan drank two helpings of the best beer in the world. To make up for it, I insisted that I get some gelato next door and made Jonathan watch enviously as I consumed the whole thing without sharing a bit. 
Karma. Especially since they crafted their gelato into the shape of a rose. Yep, he was totally jealous.

Day 4: Jonathan knew I was disappointed that we didn’t get around to seeing Sacre Couer and Monetmarte on Friday afternoon, so we headed out bright and early to check these items off the list before catching our afternoon flight on Sunday. We took the metro this time and climbed to Sacre Couer first. 

This is one of the highest hills in Paris and offers a stunning and dizzying view of the city. 

After taking our fill of pictures, we had about 45 minutes before we needed to be on the metro headed back to our hotel. It didn’t leave much time to explore the Montemarte neighborhood which so many claim is their favorite district in Paris. 
We decided to walk to the Moulin Rouge and try to take in as much of the atmosphere as we could along the way. However, we ended up walking in the wrong direction before a kind local asked if she could help get us where we were going. She explained that the fastest way to Moulin Rouge was not necessarily the prettiest, but since we were on a time crunch, we just walked straight down the main boulevard. 

Needless to say, we weren’t impressed. The sex shops and permeating scent of urine just reminded us of the seedy under belly of New Orleans. We were both sad because we knew that we were probably missing the best that this district had to offer, but with the 2 short hours we had to spend there, we couldn’t really afford to scratch below the surface. 

After taking our photo op in front of the Moulin Rouge (which I discovered along our walk that Jonathan has NEVER seen. Add that to the list of movies we are watching this week), we decided to get brave on the metro and try to make a transfer instead of taking a straight line. We looked at the map and confidently figured out how to get from the stop right in front of the Moulin Rouge, back to within a ½ mile of our hotel by making only one transfer. Easy breezy. 

We got on the overly crowded, un-airconditioned metro and after about 5 minutes I realized that for some reason our stop wasn’t lit up on the map. Apparently it was under construction for the month of July and we’d have to get off at the next stop and walk 11 minutes back to our intended stop to get to the correct line. Metro FAIL. 

Fortunately when we finally got to the correct station, there were seats on the metro which made preggo public transport much more comfortable. Since we lost so much precious time in the metro FAIL debacle, we decided just to grab a quick, cheap, and satisfying meal at my favorite restaurant (McDonald’s) before checking out of the hotel and heading back to the airport via one last metro ride. 
It was a whirlwind weekend leaving me quite exhausted, which meant I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 on Sunday night. But at least now Jonathan can say, "Paris? Been there. Done that. Got the Starbucks mug."      


  1. Paris has never been high on my list...but I love Monet...and gelato and vintage carousels...so you've got me thinking maybe the hype isn't all fluff.

    Just how amazing is it to "pop" on over to Paris for the weekend? Thanks for sharing!! XOXO

    P.S. Moulin Rouge is in my top 5 favorite movies ever.

  2. Sounds like a wonder birthday/baby moon!!! So awesome you got to see Hemingway's first home with Hadley. I'm jealous we didn't get time to explore more of Paris last time we went, but now you've defn given me a few reasons to go back!