I’ve been incredibly remiss in keeping up with this journal. I’ve never really written about any of my travels — I just always feel so busy catching up after a vacation to sit down and think about what I did. I enjoy remembering it, and I always wish later on when I try to recollect my trip that I had done a small travel journal. So here it is…
We left San Diego VERY early, and took a flight to DC, where we caught our plane to Paris. I was excited, but not terribly nervous. I might have mentioned that I went to Paris as my first overseas trip in 2001. Despite my primarily relaxed state, I got almost no sleep on the plane. It was Friday morning when we arrived, and getting to the hotel and grabbing breakfast at the first place that served real food (a humorous-to-us American-themed restaurant, Cafe Indiana).
After a nap and a failed trip to see the Eiffel Tower, we made our way to my favorite site in Paris, Montmatre, which houses the beautiful Sacre Coeur. Looking from the hill at all of glorious Paris below gave me chills, and I knew that I had returned.
We stayed in Montparnesse, and our neighborhood was quiet with a respectable French market just down the street, complete with butcher, fromagerie, two patisseries, and fish monger. We were lucky enough to be near a lot of grocery stores and good, reasonably priced, restaurants.
We saw 5 museums — not on the same day. On Saturday, we went to the Orsay, Sunday the Orangerie, Tuesday the Dali, Wednesday the Louvre, and on Friday, the Rodin. Art was everywhere, as the city itself is art. One will never feel art the same way again after a visit to Paris. My favorite was probably the Orangerie, which hosts a small, but incredibly impressive collection, including the amazing Waterlilies by Monet. I can’t really express in pictures or words the wonder of these paintings.
The volume of work at the Rodin museum was astounding. Basically, everything important that he ever created is housed in this museum, with a beautiful statue garden to explore his sculptures. The Dali and Orsay museums were as incredible the second time, but the Orsay is in sad disrepair due to some construction. Many of the paintings were hosted by other museums. It still was wonderful to see the Van Gogh and Degas paintings.
We saw tons of churches and cemeteries. In fact, we hit all three of the large cemeteries: Montparnesse, Montmartre, and Pere Lachaise, the latter being the largest. We did the obligatory visit to Jim Morrison’s grave, which no longer has a guard, but is instead gated off to prevent vandals. The site of the graffiti’d grave of Oscar Wilde made me a little sad. The last time that I was here, it was decorated with lipstick kisses as tokens of appreciation. I found this endearing, and I like to think that he would too. However, his grave is now covered with writing and common, trashy graffiti. Pretty disrespectful. It’s as though the jerks that were vandalizing Morrison’s grave have moved on to Oscar Wilde’s grave.
Moving on…We saw three of the most famous Parisian churches: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, and Madaleine. I had never been to Madaleine before, and I was excited to see the inside of this huge church. It was positively behemoth in size, with no stained glass, differentiating it greatly from the likes of Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle, so famous for their stained glass. Listening to the beautiful bells of Notre Dame on a Sunday morning was truly breath-taking.
We saw all of the major monuments — Eiffel Tower (yes, we went back, and to the top!), Arc du Triomphe, the Catacombes, and all of the major parks. I love the Tuileries. Last time that I went, it was springtime and full of colorful tulips. This time, it was a nice, welcome taste of fall, with orange and yellow leaves.
We ate tons of amazing food. Yes, all of the stories that you’ve heard about the French and their food are true. Forget dieting and worry about calories, with all of the walking and steps, the calories burn off. Among the highlights are:
- macarons from Laduree — if you go to Paris, get these. Get the salted caramel, dark chocolate, and raspberry. You won’t be sorry.