Trois jours en Paris

Community Highlights Europe Trois jours en Paris

We checked out of our apartment in Spain early on Friday and headed to the airport for our flight to Paris. We returned our rental car with no problems and were shuttled to the airport. Check in was quick and easy as we were able to use a kiosk to print bag tags. We then found out that the flight was delayed which was annoying, as we had booked an early flight to maximize our time there. After an hour delay we were called to the gate and started boarding. We have been on many flights, but I have never seen one that took this long to board. No idea what that was about. We arrived in Paris and made our way to the taxi station, got a taxi and were soon at our hotel. The hotel was well located in the Latin Quarter and after check in, we were out on the street. We first took the short walk to Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral has been closed since the 2019 fire and is mostly enclosed in scaffolding.IMG_5554.jpegIMG_5552.jpeg Since it was fairly late in the day, we decided to finish our afternoon with a Rick Steves guided walk. Rick explained much about the history and architecture of the cathedral. We then followed Rick’s tour to the tiny park behind the cathedral. This took us to the Deportation Memorial. This site is dedicated to the French deportees to Nazi camps during World War Two. After a short visit here, we crossed to the left bank and walked along the bank.IMG_5553.jpegIMG_5555.jpeg We wound around through the Latin Quarter IMG_5558.jpegand eventually ended the tour on the Pont Neuf. It was a good way to see a bit of Paris. We were a bit hungry by this time so we found a Latin Quarter restaurant where we had a very nice meal. It had been a long day so it was an early return to our hotel for some relaxation.
The next morning we were up early and had a nice breakfast at our hotel. We then headed to the metro for the hour’s trip to the Palace of Versailles. This was more of a pain than was expected. We had to change from the metro to a regional train. The station was huge and confusing. We followed the intermittent signage and made it to the train without too many issues. We arrived in Versailles and walked to the place. large_IMG_5559.jpegIMG_3386.jpegWe had a pre booked slot so the only thing we had to contend with was security. Our packs were scanned and we had to pass through body scanners. It would have been easier to get on an airplane. We entered the palace and stopped first at the chapel. IMG_3388.jpegThen we wandered around from opulent room to opulent room. IMG_3390.jpegIMG_3398.jpegIMG_3391.jpegVersailles started out as a hunting lodge for French royalty. Louis the IV decided to turn it into a spectacular palace during his reign. It is huge beyond words. After passing through the king and queen’s rooms we finally arrived at the centrepiece of the palace: the Hall of Mirrors. This huge hall is covered with mirrors on one long wall and windows that look out over the massive gardens.IMG_3395.jpegIMG_3394.jpeg Pretty impressive. We then exited the palace and went for a walk around the gardens. We walked for a long ways and never got close to seeing the whole place. February isn’t really a great time as the flower beds and roses are still dormant. It was a cool day with a bit of drizzle from time to time which was unfortunate. IMG_3393.jpegIMG_3400.jpegIMG_3392.jpegWe walked until we were tired, then headed back to the train station. We stopped for a coffee and a snack along the way. The train and metro return trip was much easier. We decided to finish our day with Paris Pantheon since it was close to our hotel. We also had pre booked tickets for this attraction so getting in was no problem. It was built in the 1700’s as a church, but by the time it was completed the French Revolution had occurred and it was turned into a mausoleum for distinguished French citizens. IMG_5560.jpegThe main attraction of the pantheon is a replica of Foucault’s pendulum. Foucault suspended a pendulum from the top of the dome and used its motion to prove that the earth rotates.IMG_5561.jpeg We watched the pendulum for a bit then went to have a closer look at the rest of the place. The place is huge but didn’t have a lot of meaning to us. This was coupled with a boisterous celebration about the abolition of slavery. It was crazy loud so we went on our way. We made our way back to our hotel and took a break to get ready for dinner. I had booked a table at a French bistro close to the hotel. We arrived at the bistro and were seated. The place went from completely empty to jam packed in about 5 minutes. The food was spectacular. I had escargot and beef bourguignon and Arlene had pate and a duck casserole. Along with a glass of French Merlot made for a great dining experience. Completely stuffed, we returned to the hotel. We spent time talking to the super friendly helpful front desk guy on our way back to our room.
We knew that today would be a big day, so we were up and out of our hotel early. We first made the short trek to Ile de la Cite to visit Saint-Chapelle church. Sainte-Chapelle is a gothic church and is noted for its spectacular stained glass windows. IMG_3407.jpegWe were among the first visitors of the day and made our way through Paris’ ever present security screening. We entered the church and were less than impressed with what we saw. We looked around for a bit then discovered stairs to an upper level. The second floor was amazing. Three of the four walls nearly covered with stained glass windows. IMG_5565.jpegIMG_3404.jpegThe church is designed to allow for more window than wall space. We had an audio guide that explained the architecture that allowed for so much window space. Then the guide described how each set of stained glass windows represents a story from the Bible. IMG_3410.jpegThe room was fantastic. After our visit to Sainte-Chapelle, we stopped for a quick breakfast before moving on. We walked along the Seine and soon arrived at the Musée d’Orsay. I’m not much of a museum guy, but wanted to see the Impressionist gallery. We went in and made our way directly to the 5th floor where the gallery is located. We spent some time admiring some of the art, particularly Monet’s and van Gogh’s. I felt that the folks who feel the need to take pictures of the paintings rather than look at them really made it difficult to take time and appreciate the art. We finished with the gallery and made our way down to the main floor. The Musee d’Orsay is built in an old train station that has been beautifully restored. It’s a noteworthy building.IMG_5566.jpeg We then made our way to a nearby metro station and rode to the stop nearest the Basilica Sacré-Cœur. Sacre-Coeur is located high on a hill with fantastic views of Paris. IMG_5571.jpegThe metro stop left us with a long climb to the basilica. We were tired after the climb. We went into the basilica and promptly found a chair to take a break.IMG_5573.jpegIMG_5569.jpegIMG_5568.jpeg We then did the obligatory tour before exiting and stopping to view Paris. We then returned to the metro and rode to the stop nearest the Arc de Triomphe. IMG_5584.jpegWe made our way under the huge roundabout surrounding the structure. It’s an imposing structure. IMG_5582.jpegIMG_5575.jpegWe then entered the building and climbed to the top. The view from the top was impressive. We watched traffic navigate the huge roundabout and looked down the Champs Elysees. IMG_5581.jpegIMG_5577.jpegNot quite as impressive with no leaves on the trees. After taking some pictures we descended and made our way under the street to the avenue that would take us to the Eiffel Tower. From the top of the Arc de Triomphe the Eiffel Tower looked pretty close so we decided to walk. It was further than it looked! We arrived at the tower and took a few pictures. IMG_5586.jpegWe were really tired at this point but had a difficult time finding a metro station that would easily take us back to our hotel, so ended up on a very crowded bus. Fortunately there was a stop very close to our hotel. We rested in our room until it was time to go for dinner. Once again the meal was great. We then returned to our room to pack up for our journey home the next day.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and went for a short walk before taking a taxi to the airport. We got checked in and found our gate and waited for our flight. The flight was uneventful and we arrived in Calgary where my sister met us and drove us home.

This featured blog entry was written by Basebrown from the blog France and Spain.
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By Basebrown

Posted Tue, Feb 20, 2024 | France | Comments