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deladane

Detailed Photo Review of Paris and London Trip in June 2019

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I’m enjoying your trip report, which will be a great resource for people visiting these two cities. 

 

Without wanting to be too pedantic, ‘Neuf’ in this context means ‘new’, not ‘nine’. Which reinforces the irony 😉

 

On 7/23/2019 at 3:32 PM, deladane said:

We continued our walk up onto Pont Neuf, which literally translates to the 9th Bridge, but that is ironic since this is actually the oldest bridge to cross the Seine

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3 hours ago, Cotswold Eagle said:

I’m enjoying your trip report, which will be a great resource for people visiting these two cities. 

 

Without wanting to be too pedantic, ‘Neuf’ in this context means ‘new’, not ‘nine’. Which reinforces the irony 😉

 

 

Oh no!  I knew that too so not sure why I made that mistake!  Maybe I was typing too fast and made a typo or something?  Thanks for the correction!

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After a quick trip back to the hotel to change clothes, we took the metro to the Trocadero station.  I knew there was a park here with a good view of the Eiffel Tower, but coming out of the metro station, I didn’t know exactly where to go.  We just walked straight with the flow of the other pedestrians, and less than a minute later, we saw a break between the buildings that opened up to a big plaza, and smack in the middle, we saw this:

 

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There was nothing to worry about… you really can’t miss the Eiffel Tower haha

 

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Note that my purse is swung in front of us again.  If you look closely, you can see that I used silver binder rings to clip the zippers of my purse together.  I couldn’t find carabineers that were small enough to fit through the holes in my zippers, so these binder clips worked perfectly as a theft deterrent.  They weren’t as thorough as using a pad lock, but that’s not very practical.  I used the binder clips to attach the zippers in a way that you could not unzip the sections without undoing the clips first.  The clips were just tight enough and tedious enough that a pickpocket would fumble with it enough for me to realize someone was trying to get into my purse.  It was definitely annoying when I wanted to get into my purse for something quick, but it was nice having a little peace of mind that hopefully I was less of a target.

 

The plaza was very crowded with hundreds of tourists taking photos of the Eiffel Tower.  It was basically impossible to take a photo without someone else in the way, but we tried our best!

 

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Overlooking Trocadero Park

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We continued walking down through the park, and then turned right to walk along the Seine for 15 minutes until we reached Pont de Bir Hakeim.  This was the bridge featured in the movie Inception in the scene with Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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There were at least 5 couples taking their wedding photos on this bridge while we were there!

 

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I can see why… the view of the Eiffel Tower was beautiful and it is much easier to get photos without other people in the way!  Unfortunately, they were hogging all the good spots so DH and I couldn’t take our own photo.  I snuck in to take this photo and we moved on…

 

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Just below this bridge, in the middle of the Seine, is a tiny sliver of an island called Ile Aux Cygnes (Isle of Swans… how romantic!).  It is used as a park, with a narrow trail running straight down the middle, and benches and trees lining either side.  The southern end of this island is home to a replica of the Statue of Liberty, so we walked down there to see it.  I had thought this walk would be fairly short from looking at pictures of the island on Google Maps, but it was actually close to a mile.  Do you know that feeling where you are going somewhere but don’t know exactly where it is so it feels like it takes forever to get there?  We felt like this island would never end and it just kept going and going, but in reality, I checked the time stamps on my photos from Bir Hakeim Bridge vs. at the Statue and it was only a 13 minute walk!  Funny how time works that way!  Anyway, the Statue of Liberty is on a tall pillar at the far end of the island, so you can’t miss her because if you kept walking, you’d be swimming in the Seine.

 

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It was now 6pm and I realized we needed to find somewhere to eat dinner if we were going to arrive at our evening plans on time.  I thought it should be fairly easy to find a restaurant given how close we were to the Seine and only a few blocks south of the Eiffel Tower.  Unfortunately, it did not play out that way.  We walked up onto Pont de Grenelle (the bridge right behind the Statue of Liberty), and crossed over to the Left Bank.  It didn’t look like there were any restaurants on the main street running along the Seine, so we walked one block in to find a huge shopping mall.  Surely there would be a good restaurant in here, right?  Nope!  We went into the mall and wandered around all of the levels, but all we could find was a food court.  We wanted something a little nicer than that on a Saturday night, so we went back out to the street and walked one more block.  Most malls I have visited have lots of other businesses and restaurants nearby, so I was hopeful that we would find a similar busy commercial street. 

 

After passing several fast food chains, we found a cute plaza with 2 small restaurants, both with several parties seated on the patio.  This was exactly what I was looking for!  We decided to eat at Il Teatro, an Italian restaurant serving pastas and pizzas for €12 to €15 per dish.  With all that walking around, we now had less than 45 minutes to order dinner, eat, and get out of the restaurant if we were going to be on time for our next activity.  Luckily, while it was quite crowded out on the patio, there was no one seated inside the restaurant.  We were seated immediately, glanced quickly at the menu, then flagged down the waitress to let her know our time constraints and that we wanted to order two pizzas.  She said that would not be a problem because there were no food orders pending in the kitchen and our food would be ready in about 10 minutes.  We were very relieved, both that she spoke fluent English and that they were able to accommodate us.  I didn’t take any photos of the restaurant or our food (I know, that is very unlike me!), but everything was delicious.  DH and I shared the two pizzas… one with a bunch of veggies, and the other was four cheese with huge lumps of goat cheese on top.  We also ordered two glasses of house white wine to help us relax a little.  As promised, we finished dinner and were ready to leave the restaurant by 7:30pm, and the waitress even gave me directions towards our next destination so we wouldn’t get lost!

 

Okay, let’s pause the story and backtrack a bit to when I was planning for this trip… One of the most important things to book in advance is tickets to the Eiffel Tower.  If you have any desire at all to go up to the top of the tower, you will save yourself countless hours of waiting on line by purchasing tickets in advance using their website.  The one possible downside to this is that weather can be unpredictable and if it happens to be raining on the date/time you pre-selected months in advance, you are out of luck.  The tickets are nonrefundable and you cannot make any changes to the date/time of your reservation, so be very confident before you buy your tickets!  The official Eiffel Tower website releases a limited batch of tickets at exactly 8:30am Paris local time, 60 days in advance.  Since I planned to go on June 22, my tickets were released at 11:30pm California local time on April 22.  I went onto their website a few days in advance to set up my account so I wouldn’t need to enter all my information when the tickets were released (I read reviews about people who lost their tickets because by the time they finished entering all their information, the time slot they wanted was sold out!).  At exactly 11:30pm on April 22, I went to the official Eiffel Tower website, clicked on June 22 on the calendar, and a bunch of time slots popped up.  My plan was to arrive about 2 hours before sunset so we could go through security and get to the top with time to see the views in the daylight, watch the sunset, then see all the city lights turn on as it gets dark.  Being the second longest day of the year, sunset was around 10pm so I wanted to book 8pm tickets.  Interestingly, they did not have 8:30pm available, so although most of the day had time slots for every 30 minutes, if I did not get 8pm tickets then the next time slot wasn’t until 9pm.  Luckily, since I put in the effort to buy my tickets the minute they were released, it was very easy to get my desired time slot for elevator access to the summit, and I had my email confirmation with my print-at-home tickets by 11:35pm (at which point I went straight to sleep because I was up way past my bedtime for a work night!! Haha).  Out of curiosity, I checked back on the Eiffel Tower website that Friday, so 4 days later, and the 8pm time slot was sold out.  For all I know, it sold out minutes after I bought my tickets, but either way, make sure to buy your tickets as soon as you can or risk being sold out.  In fact, I checked again a week or so later and all tickets for that date were completely sold out!  If you do not buy tickets online from the Eiffel Tower website, you can pay an inflated price to buy them from a third-party vendor, or you can wait in line at the Tower to buy tickets in person.  In peak tourist season, that line is almost always 3+ hours long!

 

Ok, so now back to our evening in Paris… we walked about 15 minutes north towards the Eiffel Tower, through a neighborhood with mostly apartment buildings and shops for the locals.  I am so thankful we found Il Teatro because we didn’t pass any other restaurants that would have been good for our dinner.  Eventually, we came to a clearing where we could see the Eiffel Tower peaking through the trees.  We walked along a path that led to Champ de Mars, the large park at the base of the Tower.  It was now around 7:45pm on a Saturday night and the park was packed with people sitting on blankets having picnics.  There were men walking around with buckets filled with bottles of wine and beer for sale (apparently it is legal to drink in public in Paris?!), and the atmosphere was buzzing with energy while maintaining that relaxed and elegant Parisian vibe.  I wish I had thought to take a photo of the park, but I was too busy staring at this beauty:

 

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Our tickets instructed us to enter through the East Entrance and included a map so we knew where to go.  They had several lines to go through security with metal detectors and people looking inside our bags, but there was only like 2 or 3 people in line ahead of us.  My research told me that it is best to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled ticket time to allow time to pass through security, so we arrived at 7:45pm but there were no lines at all.  Perhaps we were lucky, or we just arrived before the rest of the people with 8pm tickets?  Either way, no complaints from me but we got through security in less than a minute!  Try to bring as little as possible when you enter the Tower.  They had a collection box for contraband items and there were probably 50 forks and dull knives in there, likely from after people had a picnic in the park.  I’m not sure what they thought people were plotting to do with a fork haha

 

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After passing through security, we were able to walk under the base of the tower.  It was so cool to be down there and look straight up at this iconic structure.

 

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They had signs posted for the different kinds of entry: walking up the stairs to the 1st and 2nd floors, timed entry slots for the elevator access for the 2nd floor, and general entry for people who did not have timed tickets.  That last line was super long, but luckily we did not have a long wait in the line for people with 8pm tickets.  Once we found our line, we had to go through another security check (where could we have picked up a contraband item after passing through the first security check??), and then we waited in a vestibule for the elevator.  There is only one elevator that goes up and down one of the legs of the tower, so we had to wait for about 10 minutes.  On the bright side, the elevator was quite large so lots of people can squeeze inside, and it was a double-decker elevator so people were loading from above us at the same time.  Just like last night at Sacre Coeur, there were lots of signs warning people to protect their belongings from pickpockets.  Sadly, it is really hard to relax and enjoy the significance of this huge bucket list moment when you are constantly checking for thieves.  We felt that way several times during our week in Paris, and it wasn’t a good feeling.

 

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The elevator stopped briefly on the 1st floor, but only people with restaurant reservations were allowed to exit here.  Then the doors closed and the elevator took us up to the 2nd level.  There are two observation decks where you can walk around all 4 sides of the tower, one here on the 2nd level and the other all the way up at the top of the tower.  Our tickets included access to both levels, but we wanted to get up to the top level first to spend the majority of our time up there.  When you get off the elevator, you need to walk around a little bit to find the line for the second elevator to the top.  On the way, we stopped to marvel at the view of the sun setting over Trocadero Park.

 

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OMG! We’re in the Eiffel Tower!!

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When we found the line to get up to the top level, there were tons of people already lined up.  It took us 18 minutes to finally reach the front of the line, so that was quite a bottleneck.  Before getting on the elevator, the agents checked our tickets again to make sure we had paid for elevator access to the top level.  Some people only paid for access to the 2nd floor, so they needed to make sure no one was sneaking in or standing in line for the wrong elevators.  These elevators are different because they are much smaller and only hold about 10 people each, but there were 4 or 5 elevators operating at the same time.  The ride only took a few minutes, but it was fun to stand near the windows and check out the view…

 

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When we exited the elevator on the top level, we made our way to the edge of the deck and our jaws dropped!  The view was incredible!  We were very lucky to have good weather tonight with the cloud cover remaining high in the sky so our view was unobstructed.

 

Overlooking Champ de Mars and all of the Left Bank (if you look closely at the bottom of the photo, you can see all the people having picnics in the park)

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If you look closely, you can see the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Seine River, the Army Museum, the Pantheon, and many other landmarks in this photo…

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The Louvre and Tuileries Park

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Arc de Triomphe

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The signs posted next to us made me laugh… no poking your selfie stick through the fence and no hanging locks from the fence

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There was some kind of basketball game going on at a facility directly below the Tower.  We never figured out exactly what was happening, but it looked like a lot of people attended the game.

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Picture perfect views looking down the Seine.  The strip of trees down the middle of the river is Ile aux Cygnes, with the Statue of Liberty at the far end

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Testing the limits of the zoom on my camera, we were able to see the Statue of Liberty

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As we continued walking around the perimeter, we noticed they have a small bar where you can purchase a glass of champagne.  Here are the prices…

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It only took us about 15 minutes to make a full loop around the viewing platform, so we got back on line to take the elevators down to the 2nd level and explore the view a little closer to the ground.  The line wasn’t as long as it was to get up here, but we still had to wait 12 minutes for our turn.  We did another lap around this level.  We were closer to the buildings so we could see things a little more clearly, but the safety bars blocked our view so I preferred the view from the top level.

 

The basketball game was still going strong!
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Out in the distance, we could see a hot air balloon.  We passed it later in the week and found out that the balloon is tethered to the ground and is a tourist attraction where you can take rides up in it to see the views.

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A very crowded tour boat floating down the Seine

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Sacre Coeur way out in the distance

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It was now 9pm and we had our fill of looking at the views, so we decided to get in line for the elevators down to the ground level.  This line was very long and we waited 25 minutes for our turn to board.  We were trying to figure out something to do to kill some time because we wanted to stick around near this area to see the lights twinkle on the tower at 11pm.  The elevator stopped on the 1st level with the restaurants and when the doors opened, we could see a beautiful view of the sunset.  In a snap decision, we jumped off the elevator because we realized we just hadn’t seen enough of the views from up here haha 

 

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In addition to the restaurant, there is also a bar and a small store selling to-go snacks and drinks on this level.  Surprisingly, the store only charged €6 for a single-serve bottle of wine.  That was a much better deal than the €15 to €18 they charged for a glass of champagne at the top level!!  We bought a bottle of red for DH and a bottle of white for me, and they gave us two plastic cups to drink it in.

 

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Now THIS is the way to watch the sunset in Paris!

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Just as we were getting ready to leave… again, the clock struck 10pm and the lights outside the tower turned on and started to twinkle!  The only problem was, it was still so light outside that you could barely see anything! Haha  Tonight was the second latest sunset of the year with yesterday being the summer solstice, so even at 10pm, it there was too much light in the sky to see the tower twinkle.  I was surprised they bothered with the twinkling at 10pm given the late sunset time, but this was why we planned in advance to stick around until 11pm.

 

I tried taking photos of the tower twinkling, but you can’t really see much…

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We had great timing with the elevator this time around.  There were about 10 people already waiting in line, and it arrived within a minute of us waiting, and even better: there was space for us to fit inside!  We were back on the ground level under the center of the Tower five minutes later.

 

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Just now, singinalot said:

wow what a way to watch the sunset!

 

Definitely an unforgettable moment! 🌞

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We noticed that there was a stand located on the ground level which sold the same snacks and drinks (for the same prices) as the store on the 1st level.  We decided to pass on that in hopes of finding a better deal outside of the tower.  After we exited, we had a better view of the Tower glowing in the evening sky.

 

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One of my favorite photos from the entire trip:

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There is a crepe stand located next to the carousel which would make for a great place to buy dinner for a picnic.  They also sold cans of beer for €4.50 and the same mini bottles of wine that we bought inside the Tower for €6.50.  We bought two cans of beer and walked over the bridge back to Trocadero Park to find a bench where we could sit and people watch until the 11pm twinkles.

 

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It looked like these people were having fun at their private party on the boat, all wearing white.

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We found an open bench in Trocadero Park that was facing the Eiffel Tower, so we made ourselves comfortable and marveled at how it got prettier and prettier as the sky got darker.


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There is a second crepe stand and carousel on this side of the river.

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While we were sitting on the bench, several of the vendors carrying buckets of drinks approached us to see if we were ready for a refill.  Remember, we were drinking our cans of beer, so perhaps that made us a target.  They were not pushy and when we said no thank you, they continued on their way.  After a while, DH got curious about the pricing so he asked one of the vendors how much it cost.  He quoted us €15 for the bottle of champagne and €3 for the can of beer.  I guess we should have waited and purchased from him instead of from the crepe stand, especially since we probably could have negotiated a lower price like 2 cans for €5.  Oh well, now we knew for next time!

 

Promptly at 11pm, the tower started twinkling again, and it was just as magical as I hoped it would be!  We just stood there, staring in awe at this beautiful monument, glowing in the evening sky.  #bucketlist

 

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It is nearly impossible to take a good photo with both us and the Eiffel Tower in focus, but we tried!  This was the best we could get…

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After the twinkles stopped, we made our way back through Trocadero Park, and up onto the plaza towards the metro station.  Before we left, I just had to take one more photo…

 

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We entered the metro station around 11:15pm and OMG!  It was soooo crowded!  I guess everyone else had the same plan as us to watch the 11pm twinkles and then head home?  We were able to squeeze onto the next train, and got back to the hotel at 11:55pm after an unforgettable first full day in Paris.

 

Fitbit Daily Summary… Steps: 27,196,  Miles: 12.21,  Flights of Stairs: 26

 

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Wow your day was epic but the Eiffel tower, again wow, your pics and description gave me chills.  What an amazing bucket list item you got to do, with good weather and everything.  The sunset pics, everything, gorgeous.  You did so good with buying your tix ahead of time.  Planning is the key.  I am so enjoying this.

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What spectacular pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the views! 😃I'm glad to you were able to see pre- and post-sunset and the twinkles, too.

Heather

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7 hours ago, Walt fan said:

Wow your day was epic but the Eiffel tower, again wow, your pics and description gave me chills.  What an amazing bucket list item you got to do, with good weather and everything.  The sunset pics, everything, gorgeous.  You did so good with buying your tix ahead of time.  Planning is the key.  I am so enjoying this.

 

Aww thank you so much for your kind words!  👏

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7 hours ago, SenatorsFan said:

What spectacular pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the views! 😃I'm glad to you were able to see pre- and post-sunset and the twinkles, too.

Heather

 

Thank you so much, Heather!

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I'm really enjoying your trip review so much! I hope to get to see Paris one day & experience it. 

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9 hours ago, deladane said:

 

 

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I just love this photo! Thank you for your wonderful trip review. Paris is a favourite city of mine - my husband proposed to me there, while we were watching fireworks coming off the Eiffel Tower. I am enjoying following your journey and seeing your fantastic photos. 😊

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11 hours ago, MzShae said:

I'm really enjoying your trip review so much! I hope to get to see Paris one day & experience it. 

 

Thanks for reading!

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11 hours ago, PurpleTraveller said:

 

I just love this photo! Thank you for your wonderful trip review. Paris is a favourite city of mine - my husband proposed to me there, while we were watching fireworks coming off the Eiffel Tower. I am enjoying following your journey and seeing your fantastic photos. 😊

 

Thank you!  Wow, what a romantic proposal!  I just found your Norway review and I'm really enjoying that as well 🙂  I'd love to see Northern Europe someday! 

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Sunday, June 23, 2019 ~ Sainte Chapelle, Holocaust Museum, Marais, Arc de Triomphe

 

When I first started planning our itinerary, this was the day I planned to visit Notre Dame and use my museum pass for free access to climb up the towers.  Unfortunately, the horrible fire in April changed those plans, so all I could hope is that I would be allowed close enough to see the beautiful gothic church from the outside.  I still stuck with my original plan to also visit Sainte Chapelle and explore Ile de la Cite, then cross over the Seine to the right bank to visit the Holocaust Museum and wonder around the Marais neighborhood.  This being a Sunday meant that many restaurants and shops around the city would be closed today, making it the perfect day to explore the Jewish Quarter!  I was originally planning to do a self-guided walking tour from the Rick Steves guide book, but then I discovered a free 1.5 hour walking tour with Discover Walks that would cover many of the same sites.  I always get more out of the experience when I have a tour guide explaining things to me as opposed to reading from a guide book, so it was a no-brainer to sign us up for the walking tour on their website.  As of when we left California, that was all I had on the agenda for today, but we added in a few extra things as the day progressed.

 

After a mere 5 hours of sleep, I woke up at 6am and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I got up as quietly as I could because I didn’t want to wake DH, and I snuck into the bathroom to take a shower.  There was no outlet in the bathroom for the hair dryer, so I had to do that in the main part of the room.  Sorry, DH!  Oh, that reminds me, ladies: I bought the greatest gadget for this vacation!  I was worried about plugging my hair straightener into the wall in France and England because the voltage difference is notorious for frying hair appliances.  I found a flat iron on Amazon that is charged by USB so there is no need to plug it into the wall!  I charged it using a USB power brick, and it worked perfectly!  This flat iron is life changing for international travel haha

 

Ok, back to talking about Sunday… DH eventually woke up and got ready, and we left the hotel in search of breakfast.  The M&S market didn’t open until 11am on Sundays so we had to find somewhere new for breakfast.  We walked out to Grands Boulevards, and on the next side street, we saw a cute café called La Crème de Paris.  They had an extensive menu of crepes and waffles with all sorts of toppings, but we just wanted something quick so we did a repeat of our breakfast from yesterday and just got some croissants to go.  Wow those croissants were delicious!  I could seriously eat that for breakfast every single day!  Sorry but I didn’t think to take any photos of the restaurant or the croissants… blame it on the 5 hours of sleep hehe

 

I thought it would be super easy to get to our first destination today because it was the same metro station we went to yesterday on Ile de la Cite.  Yesterday, when we came out of the metro station, I saw Sainte Chapelle right there and made a mental note that at least now I knew where to go for today (and that I should take the elevator instead of climbing all those stairs!).  I’m not sure if it was because it was Sunday or what happened, but when we tried to transfer from the 9 to the 4 metro line, the station was closed and it looked like they were doing construction on the tracks.  Ummmm, now what?!  We quickly found a system map and figured out how we could get to Sainte Chapelle without using the Cite stop, and realized we could get to the Hotel de Ville stop instead.  The Cite stop is literally steps from Sainte Chapelle, and now we had to walk 10 minutes out of our way.  It wasn’t ideal, but we worked it out.  On the bright side, we were treated to this beautiful sight when we exited the metro station…

 

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The sun was just peaking out from behind the roof of Hotel de Ville, casting the building in an eerie shadow.  Since it was only 9am, there was no one here and we could finally take a photo with out other people in the way (so I guess that’s the silver lining to our detour!).

 

We continued walking towards Pont d’Arcole to cross over onto Ile de la Cite.

 

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Since this was our first time using the Museum Pass, we weren’t exactly sure what to do.  We entered the doorway labeled for Sainte Chapelle, and that led us into a back alley.  We weren’t exactly sure where to go so we just kept walking and eventually saw another sign pointing us around the corner and then we could see the church from the outside.  There was a sign separating two lines- one for people who needed to buy tickets, and the other for people with a list of options, including the Museum Pass.  It was actually surprisingly clear and obvious, and we found that many of the museums had similar signage so we always knew where to go (except for Versailles, but more on that later!).  There were only a handful of people waiting in line to buy tickets, but the agent waved us to come forward, quickly glanced at the date written on the back of our Museum Pass, and said we were free to enter.  Easy, peasy!

 

When you enter the church, there is a visitor center on the ground floor.  We walked up the extremely narrow spiral staircase to enter the main room of the church.  Honestly, I wasn’t blown away by this church.  It was much smaller than I expected, so it was a good thing we arrived so early in the morning when hardly anyone was there because I imagine it gets extremely crowded in there later in the day.  The stained glass was pretty and very impressive with its details and intricacy, but it was impossible to focus on each panel and interpret the biblical stories which are said to be depicted.  Perhaps I was hoping for something as grand as Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but this was no where near that size.  I’m glad we took the time to visit here and see it in person, but I don’t think I would have been happy had it not been included on my Museum Pass and I paid for it out of pocket.

 

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One thing I did really enjoy was that they had a small TV monitor playing a video to explain how the church was built and the process to restore the stained glass windows.  It was helpful to better appreciate what we were looking at, but somehow I still left wanting to see more.  We stayed for about 20 minutes, then carefully walked back down the stairs.  These things were a fall waiting to happen!

 

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