And the countdown begins
08.11.2008 - 11.11.2008 12 °C
We are in our last week of the Grand Tour. Days now include, “today is the last Tuesday in Europe,” etc. We can hardly believe that it’s almost over! But, what a great place to end our journey—Paris!
We arrived in Paris early Saturday evening. We are staying in a very small apartment in a great neighborhood, the “Rue Cler” neighborhood, near the Eiffel Tower (the 7th Arrondissement, for Paris-junkies). After arrival, we had enough time to gather some groceries at the local “Supermarché.” Then, it was time to settle in and get things organized. The apartment is quite small, so organization will be key.
Sunday morning, we went to worship at the American Church in Paris, also not far from the apartment. People at the church were very warm and friendly. We enjoyed looking around the church, which featured some beautiful stained glass windows (including one of the wise and foolish maidens, the Gospel lesson of the day, and another of the Genevan Reformers, whom we got to know better last weekend).
After church, we wandered down the Rue Cler on our way back to the apartment. We marveled at all of the things we could buy-- from antiques, to children's clothes, to luggage and shoes, to chocolates, to fruits and veggies, to cheese. Oh, the cheese! We stood in the window for awhile watching the locals order cheese from the people in white lab coats (we were thinking of YOU, Laurie Osborne!).
Our little stroll over, we returned to the apartment to start some laundry and to have some lunch. Though gray and gloomy, we set out in the afternoon to take a look around. We ended up taking a monster walk, from the flat, past the Hôtel des Invalides. . .
over the Pont Alexandre III. . .
and by the Grand Palais up to the Champs-Elysees. We walked all the way down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and then to Trocodero to see the Eiffel Tower. We thought about going up the Tower, but the crowds scared us away. With the holiday on Tuesday, the weekend was a four-day weekend for many, so we found crowds at many tourist sights.
Finally, we made our way back to the apartment for a quiet dinner in.
On Monday, we went to the Louvre first. On our way in, Susan took a moment to express her thoughts about the Da Vinci Code (this is not the Holy Grail, despite what Dan Brown has suggested):
We found a nice kids guidebook that included nine self-guided tours. We took the first tour, of the major masterpieces.
To visit the major masterpieces required that we march around a lot of the Louvre, which is some undertaking. The Louvre is enormous. Tired, we headed out to the Napoleon Hall under the Pyramid and grabbed some lunch. Then, it was back into the museum. For our second tour, we focused on early writing of Mesopotamia. Thankfully, this kept us in a much smaller area. We saw lots of interesting items, including the Code of Hammurabi.
Margaret has been studying ancient civilizations that this was an especially good learning opportunity. But by the end, we were pretty much wiped out:
Mid-afternoon, we took in some window shopping and then a break at a café, where we feasted on Nutella crepes, along with café au lait and hot chocolate.
Finally, because the day wasn’t over yet(!), we visited the Orangerie, to see some really huge paintings by Monet. Impressive impressionism.
Finally beat by art, (and that the museum was closing) we headed to the apartment.
Tuesday morning, we found the weather clear and glorious (not exactly expected as a couple of weather forecasts called for rain), so we went to the Eiffel Tower first. This was a “must” for John and we hoped to beat the crowds. Indeed, we did beat the crowds. Deciding to climb the stairs to the second level (stairs are not available to the third level), Joseph, John and I were joined by an alien child who looked and talked an awful lot like Margaret. The only problem was that she willingly, even happily, welcomed the idea of climbing the stairs. And she didn’t even ask for one thing in return, not even a morsel of food. Here is the alien, at the top (the number indicates the number of stairs we climbed):
Here's a shot of three of us at the 2nd level of the tower:
We enjoyed our time with the alien child, although she did insist that we take the elevator to the third level, a plan with which I was most unhappy. Still, we got some nice photos, such as this one of the Louvre:
But, finally, when we arrived back at the bottom of the Tower, Margaret came back to claim her space in our family. She was hungry and tired and started making demands. The Margaret that we know and love so well was back.
We had a nice picnic lunch, with some delicious French goat cheese, and then we hiked it on over to the Rodin Museum, one of the museums that we especially enjoyed on our last trip to Paris.
After the Museum, it was again time for a brief reprieve from sight-seeing. We stopped at a café for a little snack.
Then, off to the Orsay. Yes, I say, the Orsay! We didn’t spend much time at the Orsay, but enough for the kids to settle in with a Monet (not exactly my choice, but they were happy) and do some sketching.
We closed the place and headed home by RER and Metro. On our way home, we stopped at the local bakery for a one-Euro bagette (the best 1 Euro we spent all day, according to Joseph). Just as we were walking the last block towards the flat, it started to rain — first a few drops and then a downpour.
But we made it home with ourselves, and our bread, mostly dry.