Friday, September 28, 2012

The Girls Paris Trip: It just keeps getting better! (Day 3)

Jennifer and I decided we wanted to go to Church in Notre Dame. It is not like I have this option any given day! We woke up early and headed to 8 am mass. When we arrived we headed to the front and Jennifer let me choose the seat. We sat in the 3rd or 4th row (do it big or go home!) IMG_0472IMG_0495
and proceeded to pray for the entire mass. It was great to attend mass at Notre Dame even if we had no idea what the priest said during the homily. :)

After mass, Jennifer joined me on my official tour of Notre Dame. I even went to confession with an English speaking priest. It was a very holy morning. As we were about to exit, another mass was beginning. It was the Gregorian Chanting mass with lots of incense.

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We exited church and met up with the group! In the square in front of Notre Dame was the “center of Paris” .(Kilometre Zero of French national highways. It is located considered the official center of the city of Paris.),
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The ladies wanted to take a boat tour on the Seine, but as I am not a big fan of boats, places with out bathrooms, or places where I feel trapped (oh man, I am crazy!), I passed on the boat ride and went to get lost alone in Paris. Seems safe, right? Sure!

As they loaded on the boat I started walking and noticed a bridge covered in locks. I walked across it and admired the “art” of the bridge dĂ©cor. I later learned the locks are called “love padlocks” and are affixed to gates, bridges or fences by sweethearts.

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While I was on the bridge, I realized I could see the boat the ladies were on and it was going to come right under the bridge I was on! There they were and here they come…
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See them all! I especially like the guy in the front row waiving at me…IMG_0554P6102771

As their boat sailed away, I walked off the bridge, purchased some street art from a nice gentleman and found myself next to a church. I explored the church (and it’s terrible organ) and then found myself in a huge courtyard. IMG_0567IMG_0568

The terrible organ (be prepared, it is pretty bad):

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I had no idea where I was. Can you figure it out? I walked toward the fountain and through those archways I saw the glass pyramid. I WAS AT THE LOUVRE! I got lost and ended up at the Louvre. Typical.

I headed back across the Seine and got very lost on the streets of Paris. I ended up behind some huge state building, found an amazing pastry shop and slowly found my way back to the dock. I arrived as the ladies were getting off the boat. They reported it was a great ride, but very chilly.

We headed towards Musee d’Orsay for lunch and Museum time.P6102844
We ate lunch in a room fit for a queen (or 7 queens…)IMG_5131IMG_5133IMG_0578The Museum was very neat. I have to say that I am not a huge museum fan, but I am glad I went. While we were there there was actually a bomb scare. They cleared out a section of the museum because they found an unattended bag. Everything was fine, but it was enough to make me ready to head to the next stop.   IMG_5135

We started the hike towards the Rodin Museum to meet up with Nathalie. We walked in front of a huge line again (thank you, Museum Passes) and I (of course) got the audio tour. The gardens and house were quite impressive.
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I was most enthralled with the “Gates of Hell” and “The Thinker”…IMG_0583IMG_0587P6102970P6102968P6102969

Our next stop was drinks with Nathalie, but as we passed the L’Hotel national des Invalides I asked if we could stop in. It was very close to closing time and they lets us it. We made a quick visit of it. The main attraction for me was the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.IMG_5186IMG_0606IMG_0603
Check out the sheer size of his tomb. I went into the crypt level and took a picture of the girls looking down at me and they took one of me from the level they were on.
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We headed to La Terrasse for drinks with Nathalie…P6102985
caught the bus and went to La Gueuze for dinner (and beer).

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At one point we all lost it in a fit of giggles…
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We finally composed ourselves and started our long walk back to the apartment. We walked in front of Notre Dame (yay!) and took this cute photo:P6103017
This was seriously my favorite place in Paris!
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We finished the walk home and hit the sack. Another fabulous day in the books!

THE FITBIT UPDATE: 28,852 steps, 32 flights of stairs and 11.85 miles walked.
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Next up: The Eiffel Tower!

Love and Hugs, Lizzie

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Paris Girls Trip: Flowers, Prisons, Palaces, Churches and “Gardens”

After the girls finally dragged me away from Notre Dame, we walked to the flower market (still on Ile de la Cite). The flower markets consisted of three rows of buildings: (see the rows in the middle of the picture?)

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Here is the perspective from the ground level:
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We walked through the building on the far right (if you refer to the map above) and snaked around to the second building to meet the ONLY rude person I met in Paris. Inside these buildings are many different stores. There are many different vendors sharing a space kind of like the French Market in New Orleans. As we approached a new little “flower shop”, I saw a group of flowers I wanted to get a photo in front of. When the isle was clear, I quickly sat down to pose for a photo. As I sat, I barely grazed a few flowers in a pot next to me. The owner of the store WENT NUTS. She started yelling at me in French and ran up and moved the pot (I kid you not…) about one inch away from me. She backed off still yelling and we snapped this photo:
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The flowers in question were the yellow daises right next to my elbow. Seriously, I barely touched the flowers. I was raised to be respectful of plants (and other people’s possessions for that matter) and was very careful when I sat down not to hurt anything. I got up and left the ladies little shop as she continued to mutter in French.

To be fair, maybe I should have asked to take a photo in her shop, but to be honest I did not realize she was the store owner until she started yelling at me. Oh well… After we hastily left the yelling lady and I felt scolded like a little kid (for not actually hurting any flowers). I posed for this mug shot:
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I was pretty bummed for a bit and started to blame myself, but I eventually got over it. We did get a good story of out it and this lady became the litmus test for rude Parisians. If someone was even slightly rude to me, I thought, “were they are rude as that flower lady?” The answer was always no.

We kept giggling as we left the flower shops and I told the girls I did not like that mean place. :)

We headed to the most beautiful church I have ever seen in my life, La Sainte Chapelle. We arrived the Conciergerie Complex. The complex housed Louis IX’s palace, his personal church and a prison. The history is pretty unreal as areas of the complex were used in the 6th century! Our first stop: Sainte Chapelle. I had no idea what was in store for me when we walked into the first floor of this building. It was pretty enough. IMG_0405P6092417

I purchased the audio tour (because I LOVE audio tours) and was behind the rest of the group. They had already gone up the stairs and were waiting in St. Chapelle. As they were waiting for me to come into the room, they were watching people as they walked in and saw their faces light up in awe of the church. Gay and Courtney had the idea for Courtney to wait for me to walk in and get a picture of my face as I saw this glorious room for the first time. It think she had to wait for a few minutes, but I finally showed up. I was vaguely aware that she was snapping photos of me as I laid my eyes on the beautiful church. It was the most amazing church I had ever seen. You can tell my by face:

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While listening to my audio tour I learned that the Crown of Thorns (THE CROWN OF THORNS) was housed in this church by King Louis IX. He actually built this church to keep this priceless religious relic. I about lost it. I was in the same room the Crown of Thorns were once in. It was almost too much for my little, Catholic brain to bear. There was a stained glass window right above where the Crown of Thorns were displayed. It showed Jesus being crowned. It tried to get a photo of it. See if you can pick it out:

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As I was talking to Jennifer about the Crown of Thorns she informed me that the Crown is now kept at Notre Dame! My mind was blown again. I had been IN the building that currently houses the Crown of Thorns.

(I later googled the crown and learned all about its history through the years. Here is what it looks like today: They actually display the Crown of Thorns once a month in Notre Dame if you ever want to plan a trip around it. )

After I collected myself, again, we went to see the rest of the complex. It was quite remarkable. The medieval hall was reserved for the royal guard and was amazing even to today’s standards. IMG_0441
The hall had three fireplaces and I gathered the group together into one of them to have a little fun…
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Clearly I missed the hand-to-the-forehead memo. :) We then took the tour of the prison. It was really neat and even saw where Marie Antoinette was housed before her execution. They even built her a little chapel. We had checked off some major Parisian sights and it was time to eat!

We gathered the group together and headed to Ile Saint Louis.
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We stopped at a café Gay and QP had frequented before and had a marvelous lunch and headed to Berthillon for ice cream. IMG_0458P6092596

We window shopped on Ile Saint Louis, went to see the oldest tree in Paris, P6092629

passed back by my favorite place in Paris,P6092634
visited Shakespeare and Co (one of the only English book stores in Paris),

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went to the Luxemburg Gardens(and sat/rested),
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took modeling photos,
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went to Pierre Herme (chocolates!) and and finally headed home.

Elisabeth’s feet were bothering her so I volunteered to stay at the apartment with her while the rest of the group went to Nathalie’s house for dinner and visiting. Elisabeth and I went to get dessert (Crepe Sucre of course) and hung out for a bit. We parted ways and I headed to my room to shower and go to bed early.

It had been such an amazing day. I was (and still am) pretty impressed by how much we saw. I had the best tour guides in the world.

So, now the moment you are all waiting for:
THE FITBIT UPDATE: 25,187 steps, 51 flights of stairs and 10.34 miles walked. (Note: Most of the flights climbed were at Notre Dame.)
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Courtney also blogged about our adventure. While I had three blog posts about our first two days, she had one. This proves she is much more concise :). Take a peek at Courtney’s perspective up to this point.

What would we do the next day in Paris? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Love and Hugs, Lizzie