Thursday, May 8, 2014

France: Day 5

On day 5 of our trip we woke up extra early and headed to Paris. We planned to return our rental car at the airport and then take a taxi into the city, which was a really good call now that we've gotten back to the US and discovered a few French speeding tickets. I'm glad we didn't try to navigate Paris!

Of course, just as we were arriving in Paris and getting to the airport, it start to rain. We managed to stay mostly dry while we unloaded the car and figured out how to track down a taxi and head to Paris. We finally got a great taxi driver who took us into the city and dropped us at our hotel. We were extra lucky on this trip because Adam had been saving up his Marriott points, so we stayed at the Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel. The location was amazing (just a block from the Tuileries) and we were able to stay for free using our Marriott points! It was so nice to finally settle into a hotel for more than one night, and to top it off, this was a really nice hotel!
Just over a block and across the street from our hotel!

We arrived right around lunch time, so of course our first plan was to find lunch. We ended up at a wonderful little Brasserie several blocks behind the Musee d'Orsay on a tiny side street. We enjoyed yet another fabulous meal.

Amuse bouche. Olive tapenade 
Lunch special: Roasted endive and a grilled pork chop.

After our lunch, we walked to the Musee d'Orsay. Before we get into that, let me tell you that the Paris Museum Pass is the way to go! We were able to gain entrance to several museums and never have to wait in the ticket line. DISCLAIMER: It does not allow entrance to the Eiffel Tower, you must buy tickets and make a reservation for that.

The exterior of the Musee d'Orsay is a work of art in itself!
Love this guy outside the museum too!
For those of you not familiar with Musee d'Orsay, it is a museum that houses some more modern artists works, and has a very impressive Impressionist collection housing works by artists like Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Gauguin, just to name a few. There is also a lovely cafe inside the Musee d'Orsay if you want to just sit and enjoy the atmosphere. 

We spent a few hours there before moving on to see San Sulpice. As we are two avid Dan Brown Da Vinci Code fans, this was a stop we couldn't miss. We just had to follow the "Rose Line" and see where the action from the movie took place. San Sulpice is a beautiful church, but not quite as magnificent as some in Paris, the exterior is certainly the most stunning part of the church.
One of the towers at the front of San Sulpice.
When we left San Sulpice, it was definitely time for an afternoon snack...and we had to take advantage of being surrounded by little creperies on every corner. So, we opted to split a nutella crepe. Nutella crepes are by far my absolute favorite crepes in the world and this one did not disappoint...
Crepe faces...
After touring the church, taking a crepe break, and taking a moment to rest our legs (the only way to travel around Paris and soak it all up is on foot!) we headed to Notre Dame and the Pont des Arts. Of course, I insisted we add a lock to the Pont des Arts. The Pont des Arts is a pedestrian that in recent years has become a major destination for couples in and visiting Paris. The tradition is to take a lock with your names written or engraved on it and lock it on the rails of the Pont des Arts and then toss the key into the Seine. So, we did just that!
Our lock...

Attaching the lock...

One happy camper! 
We took a picture of where our lock was located on the bridge and we hope that if we ever go back, we'll be able to find it! Though my guess is that they have to remove some of those locks every now and then!

Once we'd installed our lock on the Pont des Arts, we headed to Notre Dame to tour and take in the vespers service. As usual, Notre Dame was stunning. The vespers service was really wonderful. We enjoyed just taking in the atmosphere and hearing the beautiful organ. It was a very nice was to end our first day in Paris.
The exterior of Notre Dame

Beautiful vaults. 

I love the stained glass it is absolutely stunning.
Please pardon the blurred photographs. You can't use flash inside the church and it is quite difficult to hold your camera completely still. We tried our best to capture our time inside!

After vespers, we went back to the hotel to freshen up a little before going out to dinner. We went to a great little restaurant just down the street from our hotel, da rosa.

Romaine Salad
Foie gras pate...I vowed to eat foie gras (in any and all forms)
if on any menu while we were in France!
*It is probably my favorite food on the planet!
Adam had this wonderful smoked salmon risotto.
We enjoyed our meal and then headed back to the hotel for a nice full night of sleep to prepare for Versailles on Day 6!

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