Since I wanted to hit all the well known sites that Paris is known for, after we finished our visit to Napoeon's Tomb at Les Invalides, we made our way over to the Notre Dame Cathedral. On our way, we decided to detour up to the bistros of the Latin Quarter and get a mid-afternoon lunch. We just picked a restaurant and ordered French onion soup and red wine for the adults and a plate of frites for the Little Man. While it was massed produced French onion soup for the tourists, it was still better than what I can make at home, and we pronounced it delicious.
|I take lousy food pictures, but this stuff|
We walked towards Notre Dame and the little stalls along the Seinne that sell prints, old books, and tchotchkes. We didn't end up buying anything, but it was fun to poke around and see what people were selling.
|Prints, tourist junk, and more!|
The light was good on Notre Dame, so we snapped a few exterior photos, but didn't go into the cathedral. We did however, use our Museum Pass to go into the Crypt Archeologique de Notre Dame. There used to be buildings and streets right up against the cathedral on all sides, and the crypt is a unique display that shows some of the ruins that were excavated in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Information is provided in French, English, and Spanish about the history of the location, the specific buildings that were uncovered, and the process of the excavation. Entry is €5 per adult, but free with the pass. This was an interesting and relatively quick visit - and we would not have made the visit inside without the pass, but I'm glad we were able to go in.
|Mark and Little Man with Notre Dame in the background.|
|Ruins below the Notre Dame square.|
|Another view of the ruins|
We had planned to visit the interior of Notre Dame on Sunday morning and made our way to the Île de Saint Louis to find an ice cream shop. It seems like the island (connected to the Île de Cité, the location of Notre Dame) is well known for it's cute little boutiques, restaurants, and ice cream parlors. Several ice cream places are located on the island, so you just have to make a choice, and chances are pretty good that you won't be disappointed - it is ice cream, after all.
We found that we had made better time than expected during the day, so we made one last stop with the Paris Museum Pass at the Centre Pompidou, the modern art museum with a funky exterior. The pieces inside vary by artist and media type and it was great to browse through. Entrance to regular expositions is €13 per adult, but free with the museum pass, and additional tickets may be required for special exhibits (even with the pass).
|The all piping is on the exterior of the Centre |
Pompidou, which seems appropriate for a
modern art museum.
|Piece by Marc Fornes|
|"A better Netherlands begins here" - it seemed appropriate to take a photo.|
Political poster for the Socialist Party of the Netherlands
For dinner, we bought a couple of bottles of wine at a local wine shop and treated ourselves to some savory crepes at a little bistro before calling it a night.
Just to do a quick review of the benefits of using the Paris Museum Pass: We purchased two 2 Day passes for €39 each (€78 total) and had free admission into 10 museums and monuments. Without the pass, we would have paid €99 each (€198 total) to get into all the same places. We saved €60 each (€120 total). We saw a LOT with the passes, and some things that we wouldn't have gone into without the pass in the first place, but I'm so happy we got to see. Even if you don't want to stomp around at the same pace we did, a 4 Day pass is €54 and a 6 Day pass is €69 - you can still save yourself a fair amount of money at all 60 participating museums and monuments. I highly recommend the Paris Museum Pass.
We were up early on Sunday, our final day, to get over to Notre Dame to view the interior. Viewing the cathedral is free for visitors, and visitors are allowed in during mass and prayer services but the church asks that you remain and be quiet and respectful. The interior is generally dark, but the church itself is still stunning with all the paintings and gorgeous high Gothic arches - and I actually believe the darkness makes it easier to picture the church the same way as the first parishioners that came into the cathedral 850 years ago. It's such a large church that to really appreciate the architecture and interior, I would recommend at least 45 minutes to really soak it all in.
|The entrance to the Notre Dame cathedral|
|The Rose Window of Notre Dame|
|Prayer chapel within the cathedral|
|Beautifully painted pillar|
|The sanctuary, flanked by arches|
|Ironwork on the exterior doors|
|Christ and the apostles, with saints over the archway|
|The church's famous gargoyles|
Our final stop before heading back to the train station was the Sacre Coeur Basilica. The Sacre Coeur is one of the highest points in the city and sits on a hill that overlooks the rest of Paris and can be seen from just about everywhere in the city. We climbed some wicked stairs to get up there (with stroller and suitcases), but there is a little trolley that will drop you directly in front of the church. The view is breathtaking, as is the church. The church was constructed in the late 19th century, so it is fairly new compared to many of the other monuments in the city. Photos are prohibited inside, but the detail and size of the paintings are impressive (check out their website for interior views). It was an impressive way to leave Paris.
|The Sacre Coeur from the Eiffel Tower|
|The Sacre Coeur Basilica|
|A view of Paris from the Sacre Coeur|
|Exterior from the side|
|Sacred heart of Jesus above the entrance|
|Copper statues above the entrance|
We had a whirlwind trip, but we got to see and experience quite a bit. Really, it only makes me want to go back. I hope you also enjoyed our run through the city and find some inspiration.
Have you been to Paris? What is your favorite part of the city?