Monday, October 30, 2023

Sight-Seeing Finale - Goodbye Paris

We had seen the Eiffel Tower from the Seine riverboat cruise as well as the Hop-on Hop-off bus, but it wasn't dark enough to see it lit up neither time.   It's unlikely we'll make it back to Paris again, so we really wanted to see it in all its dazzling splendor while we were there.

We left our hotel around 9:30 p.m. and the front desk told us a taxi would be readily available once we walked to the Quai d'Orsay [street] on the south bank of the Seine. So off we went. Unfortunately, we didn't see any available taxis so we walked the 2.4 miles until we reached the riverside park close to the Eiffel Tower.

It was beautifully lit up so it was easy to see in the nighttime sky as we got closer and closer to it.

The Eiffel Tower's golden lights come on at nightfall and stay on until 11:45 p.m.  But it 'sparkles' every hour on the hour for five minutes.  20,000 lights create the spectacular view which took 25 mountain climbers 5 months to install!  

When we arrived we had to wait about a half hour to watch it 'sparkle', and it was worth the wait.  The still picture below doesn't do it justice, so I included a short video.

Fortunately, there were plenty of taxi's around the Eiffel Tower to transport us to our hotel and we didn't have to walk back.

We set our alarm for 7:30 a.m. the next morning and went down to the hotel dining area for our final Parisian breakfast.

The sweet lady who oversaw breakfast each morning.

After breakfast we went back to our room to gather our belongings so we'd be ready for our driver when he arrived at 9:00 a.m. to transport us to Charles de Gaulle International Airport. 

Since it was a Sunday morning with lighter traffic, the ride to the airport was just a little over 1/2 hour.  Our 8-hour flight home wasn't until 3:50 p.m. so we had more than enough time to check our luggage and go through a security line where we had to scan our passports and have our pictures taken.

De Gaulle airport is HUGE - much larger than Detroit Metro and it was bustling with travelers. Air France personnel spoke English and there were a lot of them circulating throughout the airport ready to assist travelers, which was great compared to fending for ourselves at Paris Gare du Nord train station.

I spotted a Laudrée booth for those who wanted to purchase French macarons.

Once we got through the first security check we rode a train that took us to our boarding gate area where there was another security check where we had to put all our belongings into large plastic containers for scanning.  Then we were cleared to go to our boarding gate which was L33.

On the way to our boarding gate we passed a duty-free Laudrée store.   They definitely have a dominate presence in Paris.

Once we arrived at our gate we had about a four hour wait until our flight departure time.   We got something to eat and I read, so the time passed quickly until it was boarding time.

The plane was filled to capacity and we had an uneventful flight just over 8 hours long.  We arrived safely back home at Detroit Metro Airport shortly after 6:00 p.m.

We went through the usual customs security check then got our luggage and our daughter and son-in-law were there waiting to pick us up.  I breathed a grateful sigh of relief that our luggage made it with us throughout the entire trip.

It was a wonderful trip and we made many great memories.  Despite the things I had heard and read before I left home about Paris being filled with pickpockets and that it was an unclean city, we found the city to be safe and beautiful.  I loved all the little flower stands on the small side streets as well as the many street cafés.  It's an enjoyable, magical place and I'm glad we went.  I only wish we would have had a few more days there. 

This post concludes the trip series.  I hope you enjoyed traveling along with us vicariously as much as I've enjoyed documenting it for you.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Sightseeing in Paris - Part II

Picking up where I left off yesterday on our Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Tour, we passed a beautiful French Auction House, bookshop, and café on the corner of Champs-Elysées and Avenue Montaigne.  It was built in 1844, and was formerly a hotel.  It seemed regal and worthy of a photograph.

We rode past the Petit Palais Art Museum constructed in 1900 [along with Pont Alexandre III] for the Paris Exhibition [World's Fair].

Crossing the Seine on the Pont Alexandre III - Paris' most beautiful bridge.

In the center of the 8th Arrondissement is Place [Square] de la Concorde - the largest of five Royal Squares in Paris.  The centerpiece of the square is the Obelisk of Luxor.  Charles  X had the obelisk transported from Egypt in the 1830's to honor those who had been executed [beheaded] there during the Revolution - including his brother Louis XVI and Marie-Antionette.  Renovations are being done to the area for the 2024 Olympics so the nearby fountain was turned off and barricades prevented good views.

Place du Trocadéro is a popular right bank square with great views of the Eiffel Tower just across the Seine.  Our bus driver pulled over to allow for some photographs. 

We crossed over the Seine on the Pont d'lena which is near the Eiffel Tower, also called the 'Iron Lady'.

Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace on the left bank very close to the Eiffel Tower, and provided more great views of the most visited monument in the world.  The Eiffel Tower was the 1889 World's Fair centerpiece, named for the man who built it, Gustave Eiffel.  We didn't have time to tour it, or have photographs taken standing by it, but we were glad we got to see it.

There are 10 stops on the Hop-on Hop-off bus route.  As we were driving along the route before the last stop near Church of Sainte Marie-Madeleine, I spotted a Laudrée Tea Salon on Rue Royale [their original location].  I would have preferred having tea at Mariage Fréres or Palais des Thés, but neither were on the bus route and there wasn't time to locate different areas of Paris on our own.  I couldn't leave Paris without having tea in the City of Light so Laudrée was it!  [I have nothing against Ladurée's, they have 10 locations in Paris all with great reviews, and while they have their own line of fine teas, they're best known as a high-end patisserie, and I had already enjoyed their delicious macarons and tea in London.]

There wasn't a bus stop at Laudrées so we had to ride to the end of the route and take a taxi back to Laudrées [it was too far to walk and we probably would have gotten lost].

The décor inside was beautiful.  Pictured below is the first floor.  It was getting late in the afternoon so the salon wasn't crowded with patrons.

Stairway to the second floor where we were taken.

It was around 4:30 and closing time was 5:30 so all we had time for was a Dessert or Light Tea, but that  satisfied my desire for having tea in Paris.

~ Our Server ~

Our tea was Marie-Antionette - a China black tea with rose petals, citrus, and honey.  It was very good, as was our dessert - Sur Commande Vanilla Millefeville.  [Multiple custard layers between chou pastry.]

When we finished, we took a taxi back to our hotel to relax a bit before one final excursion on our last night in Paris.  Next post...

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Full-day of Sightseeing in Paris, France

Before I delve into today's Paris post, I wanted to wish you a happy National Pumpkin Day.  I celebrated this morning with Pumpkin Oatmeal and a Pumpkin Doughnut.  Enjoy celebrating today!

Paris, the City of Light, is a beacon of culture, art, fashion, food, literature and innovative ideas.  As the Capital of France, it's also poetically known as the City of Love and Romance.

We were only there one full day and two half days which was barely enough time to scratch the suface of things to see and do, but what we did get to see was wonderful.  The weather was clear skies and 87 degrees!

The day began with a delicious breakfast at our hotel.  Wonderful Earl Grey tea, and croissants to die for.  Light, flaky and buttery.  Far better than any I've ever tasted in the United States.

The French version of the traditional English Breakfast - Eggs, Zucchini & Tomatoes and Beans.  Yum!

With full tummies we departed from our hotel on the left bank, and walked to the Louve on the right bank.  We had to walk across Pont [bridge] du Carrousel to get there.  On each of the four corners of the bridge are allegorical sculptures by Louis Petitot representing Industry, Abundance, The City of Paris and The Seine.  The sculpture in the photo below represents The City of Paris.  It's situated on one of the left bank corners.

~ Walking across the Seine from the left bank to the right bank ~

~ Seine River as seen from Pont du Carrousel ~

Palasis du Louve was a beautiful Renaissance Royal Palace that was built in the mid-16th century and before that it was a fortress at the western edge of the city.  Now it's home to Paris' top museum and one of it's key landmarks.

~ Walking towards the Louve Museum Entrance ~

We didn't tour the Louve Museum because we were told it takes a day to go through it.  It's Europe's oldest, biggest, greatest, and second-most-crowded museum after the Vatican.  The former 16th century U-shaped palace, has the iconic 20th century glass pyramid in the courtyard.  It's where we purchased our tickets for the Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus tour.

Pavillon de l'Horloge [Clock Pavillon] also known at Sully Pavillon at Palasis du Louve.

We walked through the pavillon opening into Cour Carrée - one of the main courtyards of the Louvre Palace.  It's always open and free.

Then we walked through another arch that took us to Quai Voltaire [a street] where we boarded our Hop-on, Hop-off bus.  The full bus loop was 2 hours and 15 minutes and we opted to do that first to see all the sites before getting off at particular stops.

~ Institut de France ~ 

~ Saint Germain l'Auxerrois Catholic Church ~

Notre Dame [Our Lady] Cathedral is 850 years old.  It sits on a small island called Île de la Cité.  The pair of 200 ft. tall bell towers make it easily visible along the Seine.  It's the country's most famous church. It's still under reconstruction from the devastating fire in 2019, so it's not open for tours. 

A replica of the Cathedral in a building on the square.

We went across the Pont de l'Archeveché which has become the 'new' love locks bridge after it became prohibitive to put them on the Pont des Arts.   The personalized padlocks are attached to the railings with the key thrown into the Seine as a symbol of lasting love.  Collectively, the padlocks become very heavy and compromise the structure of the bridge.  The locks at Pont des Art - the most famous love locks bridge - weighed 45 tons [the equivalent to 20 elephants].  The city saved all the locks when they were removed and it's said they'll be repurposed, but how hasn't been revealed yet.

Notre Dame as seen from the left bank.  The reconstruction is visible from this side of the Seine.

After going by the Musée D' Orsay [which I posted pictures of on our Seine Riverboat Dinner Cruise], we passed the French National Assembly building before crossing the Seine to the right bank again where the bus tour took us up Avenue des Champs-Elysées, one of the world's grandest and most celebrated avenues. Notice the perfectly manicured trees along the avenue.

~ Avenue des Champs-Elysées ~

The Laudrée tearoom caught my eye.   The indoor salon is currently closed for renovation hence the signature green Ladurée 'gift box' concealing the renovations, and the street-side tearoom/café.

There's even a 'lowly' McDonald's on Champs Elys
ées amidst the stylish, haute couture luxury shops such as Louis Vuitton, Hermés, Swarovski, Gucci, Chanel and Christian Dior to name a few.  Patrons can go inside to eat or dine in the street-side retaurant. Parisians like McDonalds so much that outside of America, France has more McDonalds restaurants than any other country in the world.  Who knew!

And at the end of the avenue is a hair-raising 12 lane roundabout where the famed Arc de Triomphe sits.

to be continued...