Sunday, May 17

Jour 2 à Paris

Our first full day in Paris. Can't believe I can even say that! Last night we stopped by our local market and picked up a few items for breakfast and were able to have some fresh orange juice and berries as soon as we were greeted by the Parisian sunshine. The apartment is just perfect: it's completely in our color palate of white, cream and gray. When we pulled back the shutters this morning the sunshine streamed in and warmed up the bedroom. Of course I had to crack open the window and listen to the morning sounds of Paris: men and women biking to work, parents walking their kids to school, a few cars driving here and there, and of course the bells of the gorgeous cathedral outside our window. Sigh. I could stay here forever.
Anyways, after a slow start to the morning and figuring out how to work the coffee machine, the three of us set out for a full day in Paris! We were headed towards Musée d'Orsay which was not but a 5-minute walk down the road but decided that we absolutely must stop for croissants, pain au chocolat and café creme. We stopped at the closest café we could find which was Le Solférino. We got to sit outside and enjoy the nice crisp morning and the beautiful sunshine while we enjoyed the most amazing breakfast ever. I could really get accustom to this lifestyle that's for sure.

The Musée d'Orsay is such a stunning museum located on the left bank. Something I didn’t realize was that it was the former Gare d'Orsay (train station), a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. Talk about the most stunning train station, I mean the architecture and grandeur alone could take your breath away. We spent the rest of the morning admiring beautiful pieces of artwork from Renoir to Monet to Van Gogh. I love the Impressionist movement so having a floor with some of the most iconic pieces of art was just spectacular. The original Monet’s: the Water Lily Pond, Poppies, Woman with Parasol, and the beautiful shadow pieces of the Rouen Cathedral graced the walls and were more spectacular in person than I ever imagined.

"Water Lily Pond"

"Woman with Parasol"

On the top floor of the museum is a beautiful lookout of the Seine River and off in the distance you could see Sacré-Cœur! It was such a beautiful, bright (yet chilly) morning but the views were wonderful. 

The artist Monet himself

This clock face was absolutely beautiful and offered incredible views of the River and across the bank. Can't even believe that this was a train station once upon a time; absolutely magical.

Van Gogh's self portraits were so interesting. He did a series of self portraits throughout his adult life and you can noticaebly see the difference over the years in his face; the aging process + the stress and the angst of being a struggling artist really came through his paintings. Fascinating.

By the time we finished walking around and staring at the beautiful paintings, sketches and sculptures, we had become hungry for a light snack for lunch. Mom mentioned there was a restaurant on the second floor of the museum so we went downstairs. There on the second floor was quite possibly one of the most spectacular rooms I’ve ever seen in my life. Turns out it was the former restaurant of the Hôtel d'Orsay which opened in 1900! I can’t even begin to describe the grandeur of the restaurant; there are magnificent chandeliers that drip from the ceiling, gilded ceilings and doors that sparkle against the sunlight that streams in through floor to ceiling windows… it was just gorgeous. The three of us snacked on a meat and cheese board with fresh baguette and split a bottle of rosé wine. Talk about a lovely afternoon.

After our afternoon at the d’Orsay, we walked a few blocks down the road to the Musée Rodin, a gorgeous estate-looking home that is dedicated to the sculptures created by Auguste Rodin. Unfortunately the inside was closed for renovations but we were allowed to walk through the gardens which were spotted with some of his statutes, the most famous being “The Thinker”. Although there wasn’t much to see at the museum we got to spend a little time just enjoying the beautiful sunshine and warm May afternoon. The garden was lush and green with long straight walkways and benches dotted on the side. Towards the center of the garden was a water feature that had a statue in the middle surrounded by more chairs. We stopped here for a spot of refreshing gelato and had a great time people watching and enjoying the heart of Paris.

After a wonderful morning being steeped in art and sculpture, we spent the rest of the evening walking around Paris and taking in the incredible sights. We stopped at the famous love lock bridge (Pont des Arts) where lovers come and secure a lock onto the bridge in the dream that they will come back one day to this bridge. There were hundreds and thousands of locks on the bridge that were engraved and inscribed which was fun to read where people were from and what year they came and visited the magical city of Paris.

We stopped at the Jardin des Tuileries for a late-evening crepe and café to keep our energy up and spent the late evening watching people in the park. Parents had gotten off work, children were playing, a small group of men played soccer in the grass areas, but mostly people sat and ate and drank in the sunshine. It was so late, like well past 7 or 8 and the sun was bright as ever. I’m beginning to think that the sun stays up all night.

However after enjoying our little treat we decided to go by Notre-Dame Cathedral as we hadn’t seen it yet. We walked over the Cathedral and it was as spectacular as I imagined. The lighting of the cathedral as the sun was starting to droop in the sky was warm and wonderful- much like Monet’s painting of the shadows against the cathedral walls. We didn’t get a chance to go inside, I’m pretty sure it was closed for the night, but walking around the perimeter of the property was just so beautiful. It’s right on the river Seine, it’s amazing that this monstrous cathedral has stayed put all these years and that erosion hasn’t sent it into the river. Talk about an amazing engineering mind- even back in the Dark Ages.

Café St. Regis has to be one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been. The ambiance, the food, the service, the atmosphere…it was all out of this world. The restaurant had white subway tile everywhere, with black and white patterned floors, cool Edison bulbs, rod iron tables with classic wooden chairs, chalk board menus on the wall, and of course wonderfully chill music. I know it sounds so obnoxiously-American but I got a burger there and it was the best burger I’ve had in my life; Kelly got a caprese salad and I can’t remember the main entrée mom got, but I know it was amazing. However the best part was dessert (because when in Paris, we gorge ourselves on delectable sweets); we split a crème brulée and gateau au chocolat. Out of this world amazing. Oh and not to mention the glasses of rosé too. It was an absolutely amazing meal, with an amazing view, in the most amazing city.

Bonne nuit!