Sunday, 5 June 2011

Paris!

We have returned from a week in Paris. It was quite a contrast to our small town UK jaunts -- big city, different language, Metro, crowds and expense. It's an unbelievable city with so much to see and do. We fit in quite a bit and merely scratched the surface. It was a tough vacation ("holiday") in the sense that there was a lot of walking and standing and we always needed a late afternoon rest before dinner (mainly the adults!). Fortunately, we stayed in a centrally located apartment that allowed us to do so.

The kids (and adults) did great and we all enjoyed ourselves. It was also good to come "home". Our top 3 for each (not in any order):

Alex: Eiffel Tower, Rodin Museum, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe (he insisted on 4)

Nicole: Rodin, Louvre, Eiffel Tower

Kuk: Rodin, Louvre, Ste Chappelle (church with stained glass)

Steve: Eiffel Tower, Rodin, Versailles Palace

I am posting the details as a trip report so I'll spare you here (it's long and would probably bore most of you). I'll focus on the photos here. I've tried to pare down the 200+ to less than 60. Some are better than others but hopefully you'll get the idea of the great time that we had.  It will have a "Flat Stanley visits Paris" feel since I'm focusing on the pictures with the kids in them.

Day 1 -- Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees

For the first full day, we scaled the Eiffel Tower (so to speak), took a cruise along the Seine River (dud), visited Arc de Triomphe and walked back along Champs Elysees (famous for shopping and the Tour de France).

 
if only the photographer wasn't leaning to the left . . .

kids at the top (still a bit brisk in the a.m. -- that would change)

 view from the top looking down Champ du Mars Park and the Military Museum

 
view in the other direction (Seine, Tracadero, and the business district in the distance)

 
looking down at the line of people/ants

 along the Seine (after our hot river cruise and towards a rest in the park)

 
The Arc de Triomphe (leaning the opposite of the Eiffel Tower!)

 
fascinating masonry/sculpture (?) on the exterior

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (WW I) -- they "won" but lost many lives

 anyone need an $18,000 fountain pen? [along Champ Elysees]

one of two McD's we visited . . . for the toilets! [tip o' the cap to RB]


Day 2 -- Notre Dame, Ste Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite

First day armed with our Museum Pass.  We followed a Rick Steve's walking tour around the historic district.  There are two small islands in the middle of the Seine that this included.  The first, Ile de la Cite, is the home of Notre Dame and Ste Chapelle which comprised the bulk of our tour.  We also visited the other island (Ile St Louis) and the other side of the river (Left Bank).

 
the great Charlemagne (remember him?) in front of Notre Dame

Point Zero (center of Paris) in front of Notre Dame -- kids thought this was neat

Notre Dame (side view from river level -- sun didn't cooperate with front view shot)
 
 
left facade -- St. Denis holding his head.  Got whacked by the Romans for being Christian and simply picked it up and walked away before finding the right place to meet his maker (that will teach those Romans) -- or so the story goes

stained glass inside Notre Dame

view from the top of Notre Dame (looking back along Seine to Eiffel Tower on left)

 chillin' with some gargoyles

ditto

our favorite bug-eyed one

 very cool random event -- man feeding chickadees some sweet bread from his hand

A small sample of the extensive stained glass in Ste Chapelle (6500 sq ft, 1100 different scenes).  We had fun picking out a few.

Day 3 -- Rodin, Military Museum and Sewer Tour

We started the next day at the Rodin Museum.  It was universally a family favorite (I guess we are more 3-D people).  We also had some good stories behind the sculptures from our guide book that helped.  We then visited the Military Museum including Napoleon's Tomb and then a Sewer Tour (yes, a sewer tour).  Probably bit off a little much here.

Typical French if I may stereotype.  The Rodin Museum opened late (there was talk of a strike) and they had this sign.  Looks like an elaborate sign -- I'm not sure how exceptional this tardiness actually was! 

Nicole and the "Bronze Age"  (one of her favs)

the kids "screaming" with "La Defense" (sorry for the harsh backlight)

  
My favorite was actually done by his young apprentice/lover Camille Claudel.  This is thought to be her coming to grips with the fact that he ultimately chose his wife over her (trailing behind).

Perhaps family Rodin was getting on in years, but she certainly didn't portray Mrs. Rodin in a favorable light.

contemplating with the mini-Thinker

and again outside with the big boy Thinker

hopefully the last time the kids are in front of the "Gates of Hell"

in front on the massive Napoleon's Tomb (impressive building all around)

Alex couldn't miss a tank photo op.  The WW I & II part of the museum was very good but was a bit of information overload.  We probably need more dedicated time to take it all in.

 Le P.U. (sewer tour)

Where else can you get a sewer tour?  Paris has one of, if not the, largest sewer systems and they come along way from throwing it out in the street.  Unfortunately, our self-guided tour was overrun by loud school groups.  Yes, it did tickle the olfactory system to say the least.


Day 4 -- Art Blitz (Orsay, Orangerie & Louvre)

This was our dedicated art (paintings) day.  We were to see the Orsay Museum in the morning and the massive Louvre in the late afternoon/evening.  We snuck in a quick stop at the Orangerie as well.  We took our break a little earlier (2:30 - 5:30) to rest up for the Louvre.

The Impressionists in the Orsay and Orangerie didn't knock our socks off, but we had a lot of fun in the Louvre.  Nicole was able to see some ancient works that she had been studying and we had fun picking 10-12 items to seek out rather than trying to see everything (impossible).

No pictures from the Orsay or Orangerie.  Click the links to see what they have to offer if you are interested.

Picnic spot in Tulleries Garden looking back at Place de la Concorde (where Revolutionary executions took place)
 
 
Our favorite ice cream (gelato) at Amorino -- just look at it, amazing.  Berthillon seems to be the more famous ice cream, but we preferred this (tried both of course!)

 
in front of the I. M. Pei Louvre entrance (tourists to the core)

 the kids and Lisa (it is small and very, very crowded)

 the kids with Venus

and Ramses II

Nicole really enjoyed seeing Hammurabi's Code

 Alex just needed a snake to club

  Kuk gets into the act.  She was amused by this one (two sisters)

Day 5 -- Versailles

Based on strong recommendations and the desire for a change of scenery, we took the train out to the palace of Versailles (Louis XIV's state home).  Although crowded, it was really impressive.  We were not as impressed with the massive gardens, especially the extra charge levied because it was a "fountains on" day. We prefer the more flowered gardens we've seen in the UK.

 
in front of Versailles
 
 
at a minimum, I'm going to need some longer locks to match Louis XIV

 best fountain that we saw (didn't see them all)


Misc

A few miscellaneous photos to round out the post . . .

at the Birmingham (UK) airport . . . can't say I've seen this in the US

 
Nicole goofin' on the Seine cruise

 
and her goofball brother

 
lot's of smoking and butts everywhere (here in a park) -- yuck

The layout of our funky apartment.  Good size (another room like this), micro kitchen and a 1/2 height loft for sleeping.  I thought the kids might like it, but they opted for futons in the other room.

 The kids sharing a plate of mussels.  They also had duck one night and Nicole tried an escargot, but both passed on the froi gras.

Alex hamming it up in Versailles (pretending to be stuck on a post).


 
SMART parking

  
Typical late afternoon pose of the parents (by sneaky Nicole).

We all got a chuckle of the two bruts (twin brothers?) and their matching pink Nintendo DS covers in Charles de Gaulle airport.

2 comments:

  1. Hi! It looks like you had a nice trip. We are leaving next week with our 17 year old daughter. We are going for 3 weeks. Going to Paris, Mont-St-Michel, St-Malo, Blois, St-Raphael, Canne, Nice, Dijon and back to Paris. We are renting a car.

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  2. thanks for sharing your experience! We are planning on going next year and your post is super helpful :)

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