- The Plan
- Outbound SEA-IAD-CDG
- Day 1: Touring the Seine and Left Bank
- Day 2: Two Museums, Three Cafes, and Lots and Lots of Pastry!
- Day 3: Visiting the Louvre and Eiffel Tower
- Return CDG-IAD-SEA
On our last full day, we woke up early to get to the Louvre before it opened, hoping to avoid a long line. We needn’t have worried since it was busy but far from packed on a Monday.
I have to stop now and mention just how much I like Paul. I know, it’s just a chain of pastry shops, and the new store in Washington, DC, isn’t nearly as good, but it really does have delicious food. That morning I deviated from my usual pastry and cappuccino and ordered a yogurt, as well. I had an awful time pronouncing “blueberry” in French (“myrtille”), but let me tell you, that yogurt is AMAZING! It came in a little ceramic pot and looking at the ingredients list, it must have been half fat. Who puts crème fraiche in yogurt? The French, that’s who!
We finished our breakfast and went into the museum. Fortunately we’d both spent many hours there before, but we tried to quickly rush through our favorite exhibits. My favorite is the sculpture, especially the way its presented in a glass-enclosed courtyard. I took a few shots of my favorite pieces.
There was also a special exhibition of some very strange abstract pieces made of perforated steel that I believe underwent sand casting process. This one kind of reminds me of a penguin dancing with a top hat.
I also love the Louvre’s architecture, particularly the many elaborate staircases.
There’s also this courtyard in the Denon wing that was still under renovation, just like the last time I visited. The ramps look so interesting, I’d love to go out there and look around. It’d make a great place for a café to rest one’s feet during a visit.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about a new exhibit being built in the Visconti Courtyard of the Denon wing, which will be covered by a “magic carpet” of undulating glass much like the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. However, there are two courtyards in the Denon wing, and I’m pretty sure this is the one next door from the curving ramps I saw.
We had a quick lunch at the museum’s café before heading out to walk in the Jardin de Tuileries and up to the Place du Concorde. Megan was cold without her coat, so we turned north to see the Opera, stopping along the way to pick up some raspberry jam and macaroons at a second outpost of Laduree as well as box of chocolates at La Maison du Chocolat. We then made our final stop at Galeries Lafayette, another department store/supermarket, to buy some wine and spices and admire the amazing domed ceiling. (For some reason I didn’t take a picture, so here’s one from Wikipedia.)
Once we dropped off our purchases and grabbed the coat, we hurried back to where we left off at the Place du Concorde and walked up the Champs Elysee toward the Arc de Triomphe. There really isn’t anything interesting on the Champs Elysee anymore. It’s just ads and American chain stores. But our stroll was pleasant enough. We observed a military ceremony at the Arc (as well as a very confused family with a stroller trying to cross the roundabout above ground instead of using the underground passage) before walking on to the Eiffel Tower.
We arrived at dusk and decided to pay extra for the elevator all the way to the top, about 24 euros vs. as little as 8 euros just to climb the stairs to the half-way point. It was definitely worth it, and I was glad to have my SLR camera with me. That thing takes amazing shots in low light as you can see from some of the views of Paris below. The sky was much darker than the photographs suggest.
We didn’t return to the ground until 9 PM, and Megan was starving. On my last trip to Paris, I was wandering around Avenue Bosquet with my friends for no particular reason when we came across a restaurant called Le Bosquet. They had been bugging me, the only French speaker, to find them a decent French restaurant, and it looked good enough. Was it ever! While certainly not Michelin-starred, it had all the popular options like tartare de boeuf and escargots. (They even served them in the shells–yum!)
So I set about wandering the streets of Paris again, this time the much darker streets, looking for it again. Megan was about to kill me when I finally found it 46 Avenue Bosquet, grabbed a table, and had the best duck confit in my life. It literally melted in my mouth—skin, meat, and all. We ate extremely well for about 75 euros.
I was corrected recently when I suggested this was not a touristy place. Apparently it is recommended by many nearby hotels and has fairly good reviews on TripAdvisor. But it my opinion it does not have a touristy atmosphere. The staff aren’t particularly fluent in English (they make do) and it isn’t really in a heavily trafficked area despite the proximity to the Eiffel Tower. The food is as French as any, and the fact that it gets a lot of foreign customers should be viewed as a compliment.
We got home late but full and happy for our final night before our return to Seattle.