Merry Christmas from Paris. Germany pretty much closes up shop for three days around Christmas time so we decided to skedaddle out of there and go to the city of love for our holiday. It is about a 4 hour drive to Paris and it is the first time we have gone somewhere in the car and realized it might have been cheaper to go by train. Even though the train system is very well connected in Europe, it is not so well connected to where we live and the Germany part of it is frequently very expensive. But with the cost of tolls, parking, and gas, this trip might have been slightly cheaper by train. Oh well, Ethan was happier in the car. We drove in on Christmas eve and it was a rainy, cold night and we both had little colds so we didn't venture out of our room the first night. We rented a place with a little kitchenette so we were able to cook some dinner.
Quinn decided to have a criossant every day we were in Paris. Here is number 1.
Across from the bakery we went to, someone got parked in by some trees.
On Christmas day we wandered up to Montmarte hill and had a beautiful view over the Parisian skyline.
Then we sat for a little bit on the steps and listened to what must have been a professional harp player. I don't usually enjoy listening to the harp but this guy rocked it. He got quite the little audience going around him.
We wandered around Paris a bit and checked out a famous cemetary and ran accross some interesting sculptures sticking out from the wall on the way there.
Then we cruised over to the Jewish quarter to get some lunch. The Jewish quarter was the happening place to be (yay for diversity and different holidays) and there was a band playing everything from Christmas music to Hava Nagila. They were really awesome with 8 different instruments including a stand up bass, accordion, trumpet, violin and some others. I googled them because I didn't get a video since my hands were full of a delectable falafel sandwich and low and behold....someone else got a video of them. So enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqv7_DEaCCs. More about this sandwich.....we had to wait in a huge line to go up to a little window to collect our sandwich and this place has 3 guys outside, taking orders, directing traffic and making different lines. It is quite the operation.
Really cool green wall near our apartment and also some graffiti.
We went back to the room and relaxed a bit with a hot chocolate. Quinn went for a Christmas run and I took a nap. We were really trying to kick these colds. We made crab legs in our little apartment for Christmas dinner.
Then we went out for a boat cruise on the Seine River. It was really beautiful with all of the buildings lit up at night. We went past all the biggies including Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, and about 8 million bridges. We sipped on some vin chaud (hot spiced wine) to keep us warm and of course brought along the Christmas hat.
Chasing birds along the river bank.
On Friday we went on our own walking tour to see all the must do's of Paris. On the way from our little Parisian apartment we ran into this beauty.
No idea what it is called. Next up we cruised past the Louvre, then onto Notre Dame. This church really is incredible and absolutely gigantic with a lot of stained glass windows. They actually had a mass going on while we toured around.
Notice the statue that is holding his own head.
Next we walked to Champs Elysees and they had a Christmas market going on. Quinn got a waffle with speculoos (cookie butter) on it and I had a prosciutto sandwich with raclette cheese. Here is a pic of the stand making them.
Famous lock bridge. As some of you may know, this bridge was on the verge of collapse and part of the railing did collapse under the weight of all of the locks. They are still trying to figure out a way for people to enjoy the bridge and have a romantic moment without destroying the structural integrity. So far, they have figured out this really creative and beautiful piece of plywood covering as a means to keep people from adding additional locks.
Another neat pedestrian and motor vehicle bridge, along with a street performer, and a dog.
Then we kept on trucking all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It really is a triumphant masterpiece. I would have really liked to climb up to the top but we had the dog today.
Next up, Eifel tower. We found a little park which was a great viewing and picture spot and we found someone who could actually work our camera to take a photo! Yay! Good job.
After a day of walking we took the subway back to our place to relax a bit. We had dinner down in Tokyo town at an udon shop. I miss Tokyo. Then we went for an after dinner drink at Candelaria which is a bar we went to last time we were in Paris. You have to enter through a tiny taqueria and then queue for quite a bit to get a drink but they have fabulous margaritas. After that it was bedtime.
Criossant number 3. Didn't get a picture of number 2.
All of the fruit and vegetable stores looked so delicious. They really know how to display fruit here!
We made some rookie traveller mistakes on Saturday. The first was to get a late start and show up at the Louvre at almost 12:00 on a rainy day with no tickets. The line was almost two hours long! After realizing that we didn't want to wait in the cold for two hours we trucked over to the Arc de Triomphe. I had really wanted to climb to the top after seeing it from the day before and the view was absolutely spectacular. I really enjoyed seeing how all the streets led up to the Arc from all sides. It would make a really cool panoramic or aerial photo. I am sure there is one online somewhere.
After we climbed down we picked up some tickets for the Louvre at a shop down the street and headed off to find some food. I was very hangry (hungry and angry) so it was a mad dash to find someplace. I peeked into the window of a Japanese restaurant and it transported me back to Japan. This placed looked legit. Even though we had Japanese food the night before, we went for it. We found a gem. It had delectable ramen (Lamen in France) noodles, chicken katsu, and gyoza. Yum Yum. Funny thing....I used my Japanese there because I knew how to ask for the check and water better in Japanese than I know how to in French. Silly, I know.
Then we finally got into the Louvre. Thank goodness, because Quinn would have been so disappointed. It is just an absolute terror of people. You can hardly get a little space to yourself to enjoy anything. I really did not enjoy the crowd but they have an incredible number of items squished into that place and the architecture of the building itself is just mind boggling. To think that it used to be a palace!!!!!! This was my favorite picture because it just looked so real. Quinn didn't take pictures of his favorites but he did take a picture of this set of figurines and one gigantic painting. Turns out the Louvre is full of these.
After the museum we met up with some friends of ours, Dave and Sarah who also happened to be in Paris. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with fantastic service. Our server was full of jokes and even gave us a little tour of the cellar. I really enjoyed my appetizers and dessert but the main course was a little weak.
Then Quinn and I went to a cocktail bar that is a "speakeasy" kind of place. We had such a good time at the cocktail bars in England that we decided to try one out in Paris. It turned out to be just as fun of an experience, going down into a little basement and trying special concoctions including gin and cognac.
The next day we woke up early to get into the Musee D'Orsay. We learned our lesson with the Louvre and got there before it even opened. This strategy worked but we were not alone in our thinking. We still had to wait about 30 minutes. I enjoyed this museum much more and the exhibits were so well put together and the whole building is much more manageable in scale. I loved all of the pointillists and impressionism.....see all my new art vocabulary?! I am so sophisticated after attending these two museums. Our time in France came to an end and we skedaddled back to Germany. Loved Paris. Still love France.