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Europalooza Trip Report Part 8: Paris touring, Notre Dame & Louvre

on April 6, 2019

I normally get post-Disney Depression after leaving a Park for the last time in a while.  I had no time for that on this trip, because there was so much more to see and do!  We were in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Having said au revoir to Mickey, it was time for a blast of old-world culture.  But first, a blast of familiarity.  The kids wanted orange juice and a quick breakfast, so we headed to the McDonald’s that was close to the hotel and the Metro stop.  While fueling ourselves, we set schedule expectations.  The plan for the day included some of Paris’ Greatest Hits: strolling along the Seine, seeing the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, visiting Le Louvre at our ticketed time (2p), and having a great dinner out.

Swiping our handy Navigo Découverte passes, we found ourselves at the Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station.  I just love those old Metro signs:

paris metro
We could have stayed on the surface streets to walk the short distance to the Cathedral, but DS and I went down the river stairs so we could walk along at the level of the Seine.  We waved at some tourist boats going by, and I told him about how, in the summer, some of these quayside areas were filled in with sand to make beaches in the middle of Paris.  He thought that was a cool idea.  DD got a shot of us walking back up, me yapping away.

seine stairs

And before we knew it, we were staring at one of the most famous churches in the world- Notre Dame.  Construction began in 1160.  1160!!!   A Gothic cathedral known for its architectural details like flying buttresses and stained-glass rose windows, it was made famous by Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and even inspired a Disney movie, of course.  I saw that movie when I was young, but it took an Art History class in college to really get me interested in the building.  With great timing, I was first able to see it in person just 2 years after taking that class.  That time, I was able to go inside and light a candle, and generally walk around.  This time, we were content to walk around the outside slowly appreciating the details. There was, as there always is, a long line to get in.  I’ve read, though, that people don’t need to wait in the line to just walk into the main cathedral- the metal detectors and line for them are there for those hoping to go up to the Towers.  Still, we skipped going inside and instead did as full a perimeter walk as is possible.  We also sat in the front plaza and just soaked the atmosphere in.  Several bicycle and Segway tours went by, which was kind of cool.  The weather was much warmer than the day before 🙂
notre dame

We stopped at one of the MANY souvenirs shops around the Cathedral.  DD got a nice beret, bringing the number in her collection up to 2 (the first of which we bought in Target before the trip, lol).  I found a very nice set of mini-magnets, and DH looked through the many T-shirts but decided to wait to buy one.  At this point we wanted to get going to be on time for our ticketed entry into the Louvre.

We walked over the Pont au Change towards, once again, one of the most famous locations in the world.  We approached via the back entrance, and so had to find a way to the ticketholders entrance.  There was a lovely, old, but locked iron gate that would have been a bit of a shortcut.  We went around to a side entrance and followed the signs for ticketed entry after going through several huge plazas.  We found our location under a covered colonnade and got into the very short line.  We went through a security checkpoint, including a metal detector and bag check.  We emerged into the area under the glass pyramid.  We were all in need of a bathroom and some lunch!

louvre throne

This thing was so cool-looking.  According to the plaque below it, it’s a floating vacant throne by a Japanese artist.  It must look stunning when the sun is shining on it through the pyramid.

There are plenty of bathrooms, all with a line for the ladies, sigh.  It was fast, though.  We figured out where we wanted to eat and headed up to the main café.  There was  Starbucks in there, as well- DH went that way.  Our first job was to find a table.  DD has eagle eyes for that sort of thing, so I set her the task while I got in line.  I got a variety of hot sandwiches and snacks, all of which DS turned his nose up at except for the soda I had bought him.  I told him he had to eat something, and stop complaining, and it was as unpleasant an interaction as you are probably imagining.  We all felt better after eating, though, and were ready to see the Museum’s highlights.

I don’t normally take too many photos inside an art Museum, so I don’t remember the order of our stops, but we saw the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo, the Wedding at Cana, countless other Greek/Roman statues, the French crown jewels, The Virgin of the Rocks, and some Egyptian artifacts.  We also walked nearly the length of the Grand Galerie (at one point, in the wrong direction- oops).  It was definitely crowded in there, but I think we had a wonderful time.  We stopped by the gift/book shop on the way out: another magnet for me, a Mona Lisa fan for DD (she was duly impressed by seeing La Joconde in person, though commented on her small size), and a small notebook with Dürer’s Magic Square on the cover for DS (he loves math).  He had a great time scribbling things in it throughout the trip.

We left the museum to spend some time in front of the glass pyramid.  It was early evening, with some nice light.  We next decided to walk through the Tuileries and find somewhere for dinner.  We headed to the bright lights in the Tuileries and walked into this:

tuileries1

What a nice Festival it was- reminded us of Winter Wonderland.  There was a Ferris Wheel and all kinds of interactive experiences.  We had a fruitless search here for gelato.  I know, crazy people wanting icy treats in December.  None of their snacks fit the bill, though there were many food stalls with a wide variety of Nutella-flavored items (see the Nutella buckets in the Barbe à Papa (cotton candy) pic there?  I’m not a big fan of chocolate (yes, really), so I passed.  But DS got to go on a small swinging ride, which we had just enough Euros to pay for a “mini pouss pouss” on.

It was more crowded here than in the Museum, so we decided to go look for dinner.  I’d had a stop listed in my itinerary for a restaurant supply store nearby, but the Festival threw off the timing and the store was now closed.  Having exited the Fairground area, we found ourselves one block from the Tuileries Metro stop.  We decided to go back towards the hotel for dinner, since DH wanted to eat in the Place Saint-Michel.

After reaching the Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station, we wandered around the area, checking out food menus as we walked.  I loved the nighttime atmosphere here- lots of shops, restaurants, street food, etc.  Plus, the gorgeous buildings all around.  We came to an intersection with 2 good-looking restaurants, one with more French options including the french onion soup DH really wanted to eat, and one Italian with good-smelling pizza.  Majority ruled, and we hit the Italian spot: Trattoria Rim.

The meal was delicious!  We each had pizza, and they were just right- thin chewy crust and savory toppings.  Plus, of course, the bread on the table was to die for.  We got a sorbet sampler for dessert, which mollified our gelato desires in a lighter way.  Yummy all around.

trattoria

Charming cobblestone streets.

As we wandered back towards the Metro, we encountered some street musicians playing rousing flamenco music.  DS loved it, dancing his little heart out.  He really likes having been born in Spain, and enjoys the rhythms.   We were all looking forward to going back to Seville, but since he was such a young baby when we left (3 months old!), he really only knows about that time in his life from pictures and stories.

Anyway, after the feel-good evening and overall great day, we headed back to the hotel, only stopping to get more Euros from a cash machine.  We did some packing, as we’d be moving to the airport hotel the next night.  This was the 1st time I had to pack that Disney Paris glass, and I wound up taking it out of the box it came in. I folded the box, but used all the cushioning material and tucked the glass securely into the corner of the hard-sided eBags rolly.  Time to sleep, and dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower the next day…

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One response to “Europalooza Trip Report Part 8: Paris touring, Notre Dame & Louvre

  1. Gina says:

    What a great time you had🍦☕️🍕🍕

    Like

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