Friday, March 28, 2014

Days One and Two of Paris

This past weekend, Matt and I finally went on our first trip since moving to Switzerland. We chose Paris, despite having both been there (separately) in the past, because.... well, it's Paris! There's weeks worth of things to do and neither of us felt we'd seen it all. Plus, we wanted to experience Paris together. Our four day weekend (again, not nearly long enough) was pretty amazing, despite the somewhat gloomy weather.

Day One

We arrived in Paris early Friday afternoon. After settling in at our B&B (more on where we stayed later), we ditched our (my carefully crafted, down to the minute) original plan to head straight for the Louvre (taking advantage of their late open hours on Fridays). The weather was just too gorgeous! There's no way we were wasting it in a museum, especially with impending rain on its way later in the weekend.
The Louvre - look at that sky!
After a quick bite at a cafe (croque-monsieur for Matt, a chèvre and tomato tarte for me) we strolled our way along La Seine, past the Louvre to the Tuileries Garden, where we enjoyed our first, of many, glasses of wine in Paris.

The Tuileries ends at the bottom of the Champs Elysees. At this point, a cold breeze brought in the clouds. Nothing that could keep me from Laduree and my favorite macarons!

We ate them all in less than five minutes. Matt is lucky I let him have half. In retrospect, I have no idea why I shared... He should have bought his own. 

After Laduree, we did a little shopping and bought Matt two pairs of euro-tight pants. Maybe now we won't scream 'American' quite so loudly. After acclimating to Swiss prices, I couldn't believe how cheap everything is in Paris, even on the Champs. We stopped in Banana Republic (oh, how I've missed you!) and, for the first time, their regular prices seemed downright reasonable. Go figure...

At the top of the Champs Elysees is the Arc de Triomphe. Forgive me for not taking a picture of the Arc, but it is under renovation and half is under scaffolding. Not a pretty picture (although there will be one on Day Three's post anyway, so stay tuned!). 

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe towards the new city center and another arc.
After months of acclimating ourselves to Zurich prices (25 Chf for a hamburger), Matt and I were THRILLED for the opportunity to eat out in Paris without total sticker shock. I did a bit of research and we made reservations at two restaurants for dinners during our stay. The first was Le 6 Paul Bert, a newer restaurant by a respected french chef and restauranteur (one of his other, more established places was just around the corner). The menu was a 44 euro prix-fix, with three choices for each of four courses. Everything was served from an open kitchen, which we were seated next to, perfect for watching the chefs in action.
View from our table
I won't bore you with pictures of every course (which, of course, I took). But, here's my first experience with tongue - delicious!

And desert, which was amazing! I had the chocolate cake with berry sorbet and Matt had a caramel cake with poached pears. Yum....

Day Two

Again, my carefully made plans for the day were thrown out the window thanks to the weather. On our way to Musee D'Orsay, a sudden downpour (and lack of the usual long line) forced us into Notre Dame. 

I love visiting churches, but struggle when a place of prayer and worship is filled with gawkers and noisy tourists. We were lucky. Notre Dame had only just opened and we were able to enjoy an abnormally quiet, reflective experience... at least at first, which was enough.

A candle in Notre Dame for Matt's dad.
After Notre Dame, we made our way to the highlight of the trip (for me), the Palace of Versailles. From Notre Dame, Versailles was an hour ride on the Metro, during which the weather cleared. We splurged a bit and paid for extra access to the Grand Trianon and Marie Antroinette's Estate (a smaller palace and the faux-village where Marie Antoinette played peasant). It was worth it. We spent well over four hours wandering the palace(s) and garden(s), most of it with our bottom jaws resting heavily on the floor. It's astounding to think anyone believed they deserved such grandeur, just for being born royal. You can understand why the French rebelled.

The front gates. Even with the clouds, the golden gates are... well, very, very gold.

The loft and ceiling of the king's private chapel

Painting in process of being restored.
The murals and artwork were just unreal... most told stories about the greatness,
wisdom, wealth, strength, fairness, skill  etc. of the king.
Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors selfies.
The king's ceremonial bedroom. Not his real bedroom cause, you know... why not have several?
Another selfie... listening to the FREE (with ticket purchase) audio tour. It was excellent. I wish more sites included them. Usually I'm too cheap and just wander around making up stories. Ha!

After throwing out the monarchy, the French turned Versailles into an art museum for awhile. How amazing are those chevron wood floors. Yum. Oh, and the art. The art was impressive as well.
The Gardens of Versailles. They stretch beyond the canal.
Things can get crazy at Versailles. Gotta keep those tourists in line!

Grand Trianon

One of MANY buildings in Marie Antoinette's play village. I thought there would be one, maybe two. There were at least a dozen. 
Along with her sheep, Marie Antoinette had the world's best pig ever. 
Our second day was capped off by our second fancy dinner reservation at Le Bar A Huitres, a recommendation from friend, and fellow expat living in Germany, Courtney. Le Bar A Huitres specializes in incredible seafood platters. My nine oyster platter doesn't do them justice. They had towers with giant crabs draped over piles of mussels, oysters, lobster and more crab. It was insane. 

Even my oysters were rolling in dry ice.
We opted for another 44 euro, four course prix-fix menu. Seriously, people. In Switzerland, 44 euros would get you maybe two courses, certainly not four and certainly not the quality of what we ate in Paris. I can't even...

Matt's bone-in fish which he masterfully tackled.  
Matt's creme brûlée - flambeed! 
My incredibly crepes, which were flambéed, but I was too slow with the iPhone pic.
If you've made it this far, I'm impressed. And we're only halfway through our trip! Stay tuned for days three and four and a rundown of how we traveled and where we stayed in Paris.


  1. Great pictures! (Personally, I would love to see more of the food photos...but I suppose not everyone would share that sentiment.)

    Also, you aren't kidding when you say the golden gates are golden. In the first picture, with the sun shining on them, I thought it was bright yellow paint. Wow!!

    1. I'll keep more food photos coming for you :) I'm a shameless foodie like that... whether I made it or not.

  2. Versailles was my favorite place we went when I was there. So beautiful...and the gardens, But we definitely didn't get to see the "play village", I've never heard of that!! Hilarious! I mean, if I was royalty and had all the money in the world, I would build the exact same thing for me, too. :-D Love this pig...he's almost as furry as the sheep!

  3. Sounds like you & Matt had a wonderful trip. Great pictures!