Monday, March 9, 2015

Paris in the Rain

Ahhhh, Paris. I’m always happy to come back to Paris. My first trip here was almost 10 years ago, and clearly this city is addicting because I can’t stop coming back to visit. This trip was special because I got to be a tour guide for a French person :) 

David’s only visit to Paris in his life (besides coming to a few museums on a school trip) was with me last April. We only had time that day to walk around for a few hours and see the main tourist things. On this trip, we spent 4 nights in Paris, so we had a lot more time to explore! 

Unfortunately it was a pretty grey day in Paris, which doesn’t make for the most beautiful pictures. After dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we headed straight for the Ile de la Cité, the center of Paris. This is the Palais de Justice and the Seine.

Right next door was our first destination, the Sainte-Chapelle- a church built by St. Louis, king of France during the 1200s. It has some of the prettiest stained glass I’ve ever seen (besides Chartres!). Funny story... the only other time I’ve been here, in 2010, the people waiting in line behind me happened to be former BYU students and were talking about how they were still scared of a certain BYU French professor. If you’ve studied French at BYU you can probably guess who they meant haha. And yes, I’m still scared of her too.

Buying tickets at the Sainte-Chapelle was my first frustrating instance of having to pay an entrance fee while watching David get in for free. At pretty much EVERY tourist site in Paris, European Union citizens under 26 get in for free, while us lowly citizens of other countries have to pay. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. You can kind of try to lie and pretend you’re European and don’t have ID with you, but that seems too stressful to me. I will probably continue to complain about this several more times, so get ready :)

However, what dulled the pain a little at this church was when the lady selling tickets was surprised I wasn’t French after hearing me speak French. That’s something!

As we were walking towards our next destination, we came across this pretty view of Notre Dame.

I was a little worried about finding the next place I wanted to go to, the Pantheon, because when me and my mom tried to find it when we were here in 2013 it was a huge failure. I’m going to blame that on jet lag, because it was actually really easy to find. The Pantheon (don’t confuse it with the one in Rome!) was originally a church but during the Revolution was turned into a burial place for important French people.

Also, guess who had to pay an entrance fee here and who didn't? haha.

It’s a very big, grand place, but I think the more interesting part is seeing the graves of so many famous people from French history downstairs.

Here’s David with Jean-Jacques Rousseau!

I’m trying to remember the other ones we saw- Voltaire, Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and more...

Before I move on from the Pantheon, I have to record what I thought of this one mural. I was sure that this was a man, but it turns out it’s Sainte Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Sorry Geneviève. I guessed zoomed in like this you can kind of tell.

This is the church St. Etienne-du-Mont, which is right next to the Pantheon. I wanted to stop inside, but it was closed for a funeral. I guess I’ll just have to come back to Paris again someday and see it.

After the Pantheon, it was time for lunch and we had a funny experience. In the restaurant we went to, I guess they have 2 different menus- one for snacks and one for lunch. When we walked in the waiter asked us if we wanted to eat a meal, and when we said yes we were seated in the lunch section. Of course, we didn’t know there were 2 different sections, and the waiter was scandalized when I wanted to order a crepe, which was on the snack menu. By the way, the sections of the restaurants are divided by 2 stairs. That’s it. Eventually, after securing special permission and acting like he had never been so inconvenienced in his life, I was allowed to eat a cheese crepe while sitting in the lunch section. #notamerica

Mostly based on our desire to watch the Da Vinci Code that night, our next stop was the church Saint-Sulpice. Yes, that's the church featured in the book/movie. I won't specify which one of us has been accidentally pronouncing it Suplice instead of Sulpice for their whole life, but it was definitely one of us :)

While getting a little lost trying to find the metro afterwards, I found this for Jenna. <3 Soeur <3

When we eventually did find the metro (thanks to a very nice Parisian lady- they exist!), we headed to Les Invalides (side note- this is another thing you have to pay for only if you're not European). 

There's really no limit on how many tombs of famous dead French people that you enjoy seeing a day, so it seemed only natural to go pay homage to Napoleon. The petite Napoleon is buried under a beautiful golden dome in a huge, ornate tomb.

Also housed in the Invalides complex is the Musée de l'Armée- the Army Museum. We walked through rooms of impressive medieval armor and weapons before getting to my personal favorite part- the World War exhibits!

Our feet were pretty much falling off after the Army Museum. I was especially dying because I hurt my knee again recently. However, I could almost smell the stores of the Champs-Elysées they were so close, so I found the strength to keep walking. Walking from Les Invalides to the Champs-Elysees is one of my favorite views in Paris. We stopped to take pictures, including the selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background seen above. We are possibly the world’s worst selfie takers, but we managed to make it happen.

After making it to the Champs-Elyseés and doing some shopping, the drizzle that we’d had all day turned into rain. We stopped in a restaurant for dinner, and when the rain hadn’t stopped by the time we were done, we decided it was time to head to the hotel for the night. 

Here was our last view of Paris for the day- the Arc de Triomphe.

think it was a very successful first day in Paris despite the rain. A lot of history, beautiful views, lovely churches, and a little shopping! My next post will cover what was by far the best day of our trip- a full day at Versailles, and followed by a spur of the moment trip to the Eiffel Tower and catching up with an old friend at night.

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