Wednesday, May 20

Jour 5 à Paris: A Day on the Island

Another morning of sunshine greeted us today. I love being able to open up the tall window coverings and expose the day to the beautiful sights and sounds of Paris. Mornings are so wonderful because our little area is bustling with life as parents get their kids ready for school and business people head to work. We headed out this morning the Île de Cite, or the City Island, to visit Notre Dame Cathedral. I never realized that Notre Dame was on its little island in the city, and it amazes me that it has stood there for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Inside the cathedral is just outstanding. The stained glass, the gothic architecture elements, the cool and damp feeling is just like how you imagine it when you’re reading Hunchback of Notre Dame! It was dark and peaceful inside. I loved reading the history of the cathedral and how the construction has developed since the dark ages. This cathedral is a must-see for anyone who visits Paris just for the pure beauty of the architecture alone.
After finishing our tour of the inside we wanted to go to the top of the cathedral so we went outside to the left of the cathedral for the door and the line was backed up for ages. We decided to stand in line hoping it’d go fast but later found out that they only let 20 people up every 15 minutes. At that rate, I did the math and we would’ve waited for three hours before we could’ve made it into the entrance. Just as we were weighing out the ‘should we or shouldn’t we’, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain. Well that basically answered it for us and we ditched the line and sought shelter in the crypts of Notre Dame.

Inside the crypts were old ruins and foundations of a time long ago. The little village that surrounded the cathedral (which later would become Paris) was built by men and women who laid brick by brick and stone by stone. As a history buff I found it interesting to see the beginning foundations of Paris and what it tells historians about life back then.

By the time we reappeared from underground the rain had passed and we were able to move on. On the one side of the river is a famous book shop that has been there since the 1950s- Shakespeare & Co. I of course had to stop and bum around the nooks and crannies of books and find a book to purchase to receive the iconic ‘stamp’.

Post book-purchasing we walked along the little narrow streets of Paris and came across a man making crepes at his shop so of course we all had to split a nutella-banana crepe because when in Paris…

One crepe and a few metro stops later we found ourselves at the Galleries Lafayette, a grand and luxurious shopping center that blows any other mall out of the water for opulence. The interior is just fabulous, the designers are wonderful, and the shopping is awesome. The iconic dome structure in the center of the mall is full of stained glass and ornate details. It’s here that I saw and fell in love with the pink Eiffel Tower Longchamp bag for the first time. Oh and besides shopping here, don’t miss an opportunity to walk to the top terrace of the mall for a super chic place to have a snack and catch some wonderful views of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Opéra.

Next we took the metro towards the famous boulevard, Champs-Elysées for afternoon tea at the Ladurée. We’ve done tea at Harrod’s in London and mom had come here with Lisa before but this was  my first time at the original tea house. Inside it was opulent, feminine, and fabulously decorated. We each got a pot of tea and a sweet dessert from the wonderful selection of treats they had in the case. 

I’m a visual person so I honestly don’t know what I ate or what it was but I pointed to the pretty pink one and chose that. We each sampled and nibbled while we enjoyed our afternoon tea as we desperately needed a pick-me-up after a day of running and yet we still had stuff to do! We opted to wait to get iconic macaroons for a later date as we were too full from the desserts and tea. However it was a good thing we had some energy left because we had one more big thing on our agenda for the day: the musée de Louvre.

First off let me tell you that it’s almost embarrassing to say how little time we spent in this wonderful and amazing museum. However sacrifices had to be made, and sometimes you can’t do it all so this was one of the places that kind of got short changed. However the nice thing about today was that the museum was open late! Normally it closes at six o’clock or something like that but tonight it was open to eight o’clock. My tip is to definitely check out when museums are open late (usually there is at least one night that it will be open for longer hours). So we arrived at the Louvre and obtained a map of the ‘highlights’ such as the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa and the Winged Warrior.

 In the matter of a few hours we hustled from one room to the next and managed to see a handful of the highlights before we were over it, too tired and ready to go. Next time I’ll definitely have to spend more time in this wonderful museum and probably plan on spending at least a half day in this museum alone.
After a crazy long day on our feet we started the walk back to our apartment but stopped at a wonderful restaurant for some French onion soup and crème brûlée before finally calling it a night and returning to our sweet little abode. Tonight we will sleep well.