Paris in the Autumn? Oui, s’il vous plaît! Part Deux

Finally, here is part 2 of the 4 part post about visiting Paris. My second day in Paris was dedicated to seeing Notre Dame and looking for a few gifts to take home. I know it’s not news, but the Metro stops are beautiful. Especially if you have a thing for art Nouveau like me. I didn’t see nearly enough of of Paris’s unique Nouveau architecture but I did find this gem when I got off the train in Ile de la Cité.

Ile de la Cité Metro Stop

Ile de la Cité Metro Stop

Feeling peckish and knowing I was facing a big crowd (not my favorite thing in the world), I stopped at a street cafe and discovered the croque-monsieur. It was the first food I tried to replicate when I got home. My attempt was okay, but not quite as tasty. It might of had something to do with the river view I enjoyed while I ate it…

Pont Saint-Michel

Pont Saint-Michel

My destination was a few blocks down the street. The crowd was big but not suffocating, and I spent some time admiring the Cathedral’s impressive architecture. I enjoy history, and to stand before a building that is almost 1000 years old is just mind boggling to me.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

You really can't call these doors.

You really can’t call these doors.

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Obligatory gargoyles

Stepping inside, I could understand why people are amazed by its size and grandeur.

Inside, it's exactly as magnificent as you'd expect it to be.

Inside, it’s exactly as magnificent as you’d expect it to be.

 The stained glass windows left me speechless.

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The statue of a Knight and the window depict the Crusades.

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Chapel of the Virgin Mary

To think that these were made by skilled hands 850 years ago. They’ve survived both World Wars. They’ve shed their colored rays on the coronation of French Royalty from Henry the Fourth of England in 1431 to Napoleon I in 1804.

Rose Window, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Rose Window, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

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As I stood taking photos of the exterior gardens, the bells began ringing. Talk about the right place at the right time! I only had video capability on my camera, but it I had to record it!

And my favorite picture I took the whole trip! This made up for the mostly dark and blurry photos I took inside the Cathedral. I did add a lock. I now feel guilty about it.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, Pont de l'Archeveche

View of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris from Pont de l’Archeveche

Up next, the husband and I visit the Eiffel Tower at night, and we have the best beer we’ve ever had.

Paris in the Autumn? Oui, s’il vous plaît! Part 1

For me, 2013 will be highlighted by memories of one amazing event. Because of the generosity of an wonderful friend, I was able to accompany my husband on a business trip to Paris. As my friends and family know, I am cursed when it comes to traveling. However, this trip (my first to Europe), went of without a hitch.

Well, almost.

Not being savvy with such significant jet lag, my body, and more importantly, my tummy, were all out of whack. I learned later that I likely didn’t hydrate or eat properly to stave off the effects of an eight hour time difference. My first night and full day in Paris were wasted as I recovered in our hotel room and I pecked on fruit and bread, anything else sounded none too appetizing. Lesson here is to plan accordingly. Next time, I will pack more protein rich foods on the plane and skip the celebratory glass of wine for water. Sleep is also your friend on these long flights. I kept telling this fact to my brain but it kept reminding me that we were flying over open ocean, and there wasn’t any way in hell it was going to let me sleep. Maybe an all-niter the day before is the answer there. Otherwise, it’s Prince Valium for me.

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Once I had caught up on sleep and was feeling well enough to venture out, I put on my walking boots and headed up the block to the nearest Metro station. The Paris Metro is a dream to use and I found it to be safe, clean, and tourist friendly. Also, I had an app for that which always helps. I was easily able to get to every attraction with only one change of trains. Piece of cake!

I stepped off of the Metro and emerged onto the street. After walking a few blocks, I found myself crossing the Pont de la Concorde. Looking to the left, I caught my first real glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. The River Seine was flowing under my feet, and I felt like a citizen of the world!

Paris 2013

One of the 1st pics I took, Pont Alexandre III Bridge and the Eiffel Tower

On the other side of the Pont de la Concorde, I found the Place de la Concorde, the Obelisk Napoleon took from Egypt, and one of the Place de la Concorde Fountains

Place de la Concorde, Fountain and Obelisk

Place de la Concorde, Fountain and Obelisk

I wandered up the street along the Seine with my Lonely Planet; Pocket Paris guidebook and map in hand and my eyes taking in every site they could. It was cool for September, and the breeze smelled like rain and croissants. The streets were crowded with pedestrians.  I felt like a kid at Christmas. My vintage Italian leather boots were taking me closer to a place I had dreamed of since I started commandeering my stepmother’s Vogue magazines in the early 1990s. With a mixture of awed excitement and intimidated fear, I was strolling through the fashion capitol of the world.

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Cartier and Arc de Triomphe

Cartier and Arc de Triomphe

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Louis Vuitton World Flagship Store and Headquarters

That night after my husband was finished with his work day, I took him to see everything I had discovered. I donned my tennis shoes (thanks, giant blister) and we headed out. We strolled, and ate a wonderful meal, and braved Parisian traffic. We even found Laudree!

Ladurée

First day in Paris = FTW magic that  made me want to move there. On the way back to my hotel, I got caught in the rain. Smartly dressed women in heels dashed by, their umbrellas shielding them from the fall storm. I ducked under the Pont Alexandre III Bridge to wait out the rain. A few locals were there too, trying to stay dry. I couldn’t help but think about all the people who had done this over the decades since the bridge opened in 1900. The moment was perfectly romantic, and so picturesque it was almost cliche. Somehow, it was reassuring to discover that something so cliche could actually be real. And beautiful. You think it only exists in a movie, but no, you can experience it yourself.

I leave you with the sound of the rain sprinkling the Seine in the shadow of the Pont Alexandre III Bridge. Au revoir until part Deux!