Paris, France: Part Deux

Here we go with Part Deux of our trip to Paris!

Day 3 - Sunday, October 20

Versailles: Chateau and Gardens

Day 4 - Monday, October 21

Hôtel des Invalides/Musée de l'Armée
Musée de l'Orangerie
Alexander III Bridge
Arc de Triomphe
Trocadéro/Eiffel Tower
Bateaux Vedettes du Pont Neuf

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
Musée Rodin
Musée d'Orsay

On the third day of the trip, we took a quick 45-ish minute train ride out to Versailles. It actually might have taken three Americans longer than 45 minutes to figure out how exactly to get to Versailles, because there was construction on one of the main metros that leads out the area. We were excited to see both the château and the gardens. Our Paris Pass allowed us to skip the ticket long line, which was great! The only word to describe this place is magnificent.

We always assumed the gardens were free, but on this particular Friday, entry cost us about 8 Euro. I think it was for a fountain show in one of the ponds. After being herded through the palace with what seemed like millions of people, the gardens were the perfect breath of fresh air. We got some snacks (a nutella banana crepe to be exact) and proceeded to wander.

Then off in what seemed like the distance, thunder began to rumble. We beat the rain out of the gardens, but walked back to the train station soaking wet in a downpour. It was one of those times when a moment becomes a memory.

On our last day, we started off at L'Hôtel national des Invalides, a bundle of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, containing museums and monuments like the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, and Napoleon Bonaparte's tomb. This place was totally empty and actually kind of cool. It was nice to have space to take our time to look at the museum's items, like Napoleon's ridiculous outfits or racks and racks of old European guns. And Napoleon's tomb is just outrageous. The tomb is so enormous and grandeur for such a little man.

We made our way to Musée de l'Orangerie, a gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens. The most famous items here are Monet's Les Nymphéas (Water Lillies), which were actually very cool to see in person. They curved around the oval-shaped walls of two huge rooms. They are a monumental, peaceful, intimate creation that was worth the wait to see in person.

The French guards were watching visitors like hawks so I don't have any pictures to share from that. But you can see them online here.

Divided by the Seine, Paris has a ton of bridges, but we made a point to cross The Pont Alexandre III. Connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter, this bridge is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris. It's beautiful, and right after crossing it, this little girl tried to pickpocket me. Thankfully Brian spotted her hand going in my coat pocket at the last second and he actually swatted her away -- my knight in shining armor!

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is arguably one of the most famous streets in the world (and probably one of the most mispronounced...guilty). The street was wide and crowded; definitely not a quaint Parisian street. I personally view Champs-Élysées like New York's 5th Avenue: a must-see activity, once in your life. Champs-Élysées actually reminded me of 5th Ave - lots of crowds, luxury shops, and good tourist people watching.

The Arc de Triomphe, at the end of Champs-Élysées, is a famous monument built in 1806 by - who else? - Napoleon, to honor his military victories. Its definitely worth a visit, but there's not much to see from standing on the ground. Head underground into the tunnel to get to the center of the arc, otherwise, good luck crossing through the traffic. Our museum pass saved us waiting in the slow-moving line and we were able to walk right up to the start of the 284 steps to the top. The climb is totally worth it. Its an amazing view and I was happy not to have missed this lovely view of Paris from up above. you can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Cœur and so much more that Paris has to offer.

We made our way down Avenue Kléber (grabbed some wine and cheese on the way) towards the Trocadéro, a large square in front of the Eiffel Tower with lots of tourists and museums we didn't have time to see. The day was nearing it's end, but we still took our time in front of the Eiffel Tower, reveling in the fact that it was right in front of us!

We made our way closer towards it with plans to eat our snacks underneath it, only to realize that our Seine river boat cruise was not leaving from the Tower as we thought. It was leaving from the Pont Neuf, which was a few miles down the river and certainly not walkable in the 20 minutes we had before it started. Knowing we did not want to miss this activity, we got in a cab and made it just in time.

We settled into a back row of the Bateaux Vedettes du Pont Neuf. There are lots of Seine boat tours to choose from, but make sure you get one with an open top deck for the best views possible. We were sipping Pouilly-Fuissé out of little plastic cups given to us by the nice owner of the wine shop, spreading soft white cheese on a hand-torn baguette pieces...and I felt like this was the perfect ending to an awesome time in this city. We so enjoyed taking in the sights from the water - everything just looks cooler. The Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkled. France's flag waved in the wind. We noticed details of bridges we hadn't seen before as we passed underneath them.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

We had planned to go to Musée Rodin, which is actually right next to Les Invalides, only to find out it's closed on Mondays. We were disappointed we wouldn't get to see The Thinking Man, but a little excited to have more time at Musée d'Orsay, one of Paris' best museums. We arrived at Orsay only to find out it was closed as well! The French apparently don't have to work more than 32 or some odd hours per week, and close their institutions for an entire day during our "work week." So lesson learned - check the hours next time. We also didn't manage to find time to experience Paris' public bike sharing system Vélib'. At least we have reasons to go back!

And that's our amazing Paris trip! Up next I'll share some of the delicious food we experienced (because it was totally an experience) in Paris.


  1. Love your blog! And especially enjoyed reading about your trip to Paris. Just an FYI for your next trip to Paris, at the Arc de Triomphe, you don't HAVE to climb the stairs because there is an elevator to the top. Keep up the good work!