our big trip - Day 13: Paris

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Today was a miserable day, weather-wise in Paris, but it didn't stop us gadding about and taking in so very much. It was a long but really special day - with the most simple and magical of endings, that still brings tears to my eyes.

We began our day with a walk to Café des Beaux Arts on the Seine, not far from the Musée D'Orsay. Such a classic Parisian café - what a delight to sit au terrace and watch the world go by, sipping coffee and nibbling on fabulous croissants. These are the true moments of Paris.

I can't even tell you how much I want these bistro chairs and tables at my house. Alas, they wouldn't fit in my suitcase.

After coffee, we walked along the Seine to the magnificent Museé D'Orsay, which is my favourite museum in the capital. This kind of thing is a little indulgent for us. Although the kids are old enough to appreciate famous pieces and admire the stunning architecture, there's no way they can fully appreciate the glory contained within.

Fully aware this was their holiday, too, Husband and I power-walked the museum, which was a little agonising, I must admit. I had to keep whispering under my breath "We'll come back again one day, we'll come back again one day."

Of course, Riley's favourite part of the museum wasn't a Van Gogh or a Sisley or a Monet. It was the giant clock at the apex of the building, with views over the Seine. Oh my goodness, I could move our furniture into this space. Pronto.

From the Musée D'Orsay, we walked west along the Seine to the famed Pont Alexandre III. Even though Pont Neuf is, of course, my all time favourite, Alexandre III is truly breathtaking for its stunning gold-encrusted statues, sculpture and street lamps.

En route to Alexandre III, we walked past Pont de la Concorde {above}, with La Place de La Concorde and La Grande Roue {Ferris wheel} in plain sight. Below right you'll see it again, and on the left is Alexandre III with the domes of Le Grand Palais behind.

As we continued on to the bridge, the Eiffel Tower provided many a gorgeous vista, poking over buildings and through trees. How can anyone with a camera resist?

Hello, beautiful pont. So lovely to see you . . .

It may have been an icy, overcast day, but the gold of these statues popped against the white like firecrackers.

And the museum-worthy sculpture is a photographer and art-lover's dream. Who wouldn't be inspired whilst walking Pont Alexandre III? Even my nine-year-old got snap-happy.

And there, she is again.

Looking back down the bridge, south towards Les Invalides.


Once over the bridge, we headed back along the Seine, the way we came, towards Place de la Concorde. One of my biggest travel tips is to always look behind you - unless you have eyes in the back of your head, you'll never know what you're missing unless you turn around.

As we neared La Place, beautiful vistas popped out of nowhere. Like New York City, everywhere you look in Paris, there is a vista. Is it any wonder I'm still editing photos, two months later?

Cleopatra's Needle, La Grande Roue and a street lamp. Quintessential Paris.

The water fountain - Fontaine de Fleuves {rivers} - and statues in La Place are just overwhelmingly beautiful. The fountain was created in the mid-19th century by Jacques Ignace Hittorff and shows figures representing rivers including La Seine and Le Rhône.

Jumping on le métro at Concorde, we headed north to Montmarte - to the heights of Paris.

Alighting at Abesses station, we shunned the elevator, as is normal our way, only to be met with a seemingly never-ending spiral staircase to the street. Let's just say it's no wonder there was a queue at the elevator and it's no wonder someone has patiently decorated this mountainous slog with very pretty murals!

Starved, we stopped for lunch at a nearby bakehouse. This absolutely had to include beignets, brioche and macarons.

Walking up the endless stairs of beautiful streets around Montmartre is not a chore when you have such divine vistas - and can stop and snap and admire . . .

. . . and nibble candy and baguettes stashed in your tote.

Gallery upon gallery begins to unfold as you walk, and that delicious anticipation of arriving at Place du Tertre sneaks up on you very quietly. You can already smell the oil paint and hear the bohemian nattering of artists in their element - painting for the crowds au terrace.

Et voilà - Place du Tertre, with its vibrant people and colour and paint-spattered canvases and palettes. Heavenly, heavenly, and with the Basilique dome of Sacre Coeur peeking over the gallery rooftops.

Rounding the final corners to Sacre Coeur - is so special. The view south into Paris central speaks for itself.

On our way down the stairs, past the Feniculaire {which helps weary legs scale those stairs}, we came across this silver-painted street performer, on his way up the stairs to enchant some tourists. He was a jolly fellow, despite his heavy upward load.

And here's another delightful fellow, much lighter and on his way down . . .

On the métro for Les Halles, we cracked open some goodies from Montmartre . . .

. . . and arrived at Centre Georges Pompidou, which, despite its fascinating façade, is not really pumping with Things To Do for wee ones during the winter months.

The Stravinsky fountain sculptures were also not pumping, but the kids still enjoyed these iconic creations, designed by Niki de Saint Phalle and Tinguely in 1982. Could these amazing mechanical sculptures {inspired by the music of Igor Stravinsky} look any more 1982?

From Pompidou, we headed east along Rue Rambuteau for Place des Vosges, the site of Victor Hugo's house.

This amazing square is just so utterly Parisian, and was created during the reign of Henri IV. Even in winter, it's stunningly beautiful, tree-lined and peaceful, with a central fountain, Leunig-style lamps, classic benches for resting un petit peu, and a playground for the kids.

By late afternoon, it was starting to drizzle, so we headed south towards Ile St-Louis, in search of this Seine-bound island's famous ice cream. We found it! Only issue was it took 20 minutes to decide on flavours {final choices - apricot and honeycomb}.

Husband and I settled for great coffee.

After our little ice cream sojourn, we headed for home - and, as we rounded a street, were utterly delighted to see a clutch of balloons floating along the road. I have a major thing for balloons and this was just the most whimsical experience.

Of course, Riley ran for the blue one and batted it into the sky all the way to Pont Saint-Louis . . .

. . . where he made the announcement that he'd like the launch the balloon into the Seine. My heart stopped as that balloon made its way into the river below.

I have no idea why, but it was one of the most beautiful things I've witnessed in a very long time.

As we crossed the bridge onto Ile-de-la-Cité, the rain came down. You'll see {below} the rear side of Nôtre-Dame - almost as pretty as the front.

When we got back to our apartment, we unloaded some fruit we'd bought on Ile St-Louis - some ruby red currants and miniature bananas. They were delicious for dessert.

But first it was our family's favourite meal in the whole wide world - Parisian baguettes with crudites and olives and cold-cuts and brie.

A magical meal to end a truly magical day.

But wait - there's more . . . Simply unable to resist, and thankfully very close by, we nipped out after dinner to visit Shakespeare and Company, another of my Paris haunts many moons ago. How I love that store. Husband and the kids were totally engaged, meaning I could meander through the children's titles in pure bliss.

This little nook is crammed with fabulous kids' books - all in English - and yes, I took some home. Bookish paradise - and a must-visit in Paris.

our big trip - days 1 + 2: Melbourne
our big trip - day 3: Flying to Europe
our big trip - day 4: London
our big trip - day 5: London
our big trip - day 6: London
our big trip - day 7: London
our big trip - day 8: London
our big trip - day 9: Leyland
our big trip - day 10: London
our big trip - day 11: Paris
our big trip - day 12: Paris
our big trip - day 14: Bruges
our big trip - day 15: Bruges 
our big trip - day 16: Bruges and The Hague
our big trip - day 17: The Hague
our big trip - day 18: Amsterdam
our big trip - day 19: Amsterdam
our big trip - day 20: The Hague
our big trip - days 21 + 22: Brussels
Two days lost with travel and travelling east
our big trip - days 25 + 26: Bangkok
our big trip - day 27: Kanchanaburi
our big trip - days 28 - 32: Cha Am Resort
our big trip - day 33: Hua Hin
our big trip - days 34 + 35: Coming Home

1 comment:

Dani said...

I wanna do Paris with YOU one day!

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