Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Paris - Spring Break 2013

The senior kicked off two full weeks of spring break by traveling to Dubai with some friends from school for fun in the sun. The sixth grader and I didn't want to just sit around twiddling our thumbs, not taking advantage of our final few months living in Europe, so we took the Eurostar to Paris for Easter weekend.

I've been to Paris before and the 6th grader has been to France, but she has never Paris. And so I arranged for some easy little overview sorts of tours just so she could see the highlights over the course of three days.

We caught the Eurostar out of London's St. Pancras station on Thursday and disembarked in Paris around 3:00 pm since we lose an hour going from the British Isles to the continent. We took a taxi to our hotel on the Rue de Rivoli and was well pleased. Trip Advisor always steers me in the right direction. Nothing in Paris is cheap, but I thought the Hotel Brighton was good value for money. I had booked us into a standard room, but we received a free upgrade to a room with a view. Not too bad, huh?

The Tuileries gardens weren't in bloom, but I kinda liked the stark branches. The Louvre was spitting distance and even the Eiffel Tower looked much closer, as the crow flies.

Our first evening, we just did a bit of strolling around the area to check out dining options and souvenir shops. The younger daughter and I have a weakness for sweets and so it didn't take us long to locate a sugar fix.

For our first full day in the city of light, I booked us on a Paris highlights tour. In the morning we got to visit Notre Dame and ride on the Seine. It was a tad crowded at Notre Dame with it being Good Friday and all, but I think it just added to the excitement of Easter. Catholics were lined up to kiss a crown of gold thorns held at the altar. You don't have to be uber religious to understand the significance of this on Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son...

You can't talk about Notre Dame without mentioning the gargoyles - love 'em!

After a quick lunch at Mickey D's with their french fry sauce packets...

...we set off on the second part of our tour with afternoon visits to Montmartre and the Louvre. Dominating the scenery in this northern part of Paris is Sacre Couer, much younger than Notre Dame, but still beautiful to behold atop the hill.

Built in the 1600s to mill flour but later turned into dance halls, we passed the famous Moulin Rouge. I was unable to get a pic of it, but thought the two remaining windmills were lovely. I especially liked Moulin de la Galette.

In the Montmatre, we passed by this cute little cafe. And had some stunning views of the city, which would have been really impressive if we didn't have this pesky haze every day during our short stay in the city.

We ended our tour at the Louvre seeing some of the more notable pieces of artwork on display. I really enjoyed viewing the Winged Victory of Samothrace (created around 190 B.C.)

and the coronation of Napoleon. It is one of the largest paintings in the museum. For some reason, it fascinates me. We did see the Mona Lisa, but I didn't even opt for a pic of it since we all know what she looks like.

The Louvre was originally a palace for French kings and the facade is just beautiful. I've always considered the Pei glass pyramid to be a modern era wart on the courtyard, but I must admit it offers an interesting view skyward from the inside entrance beneath the glass monstrosity.

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