Day 29 ~ final full day in Paris

Since today was my last full Parisian day, I decided to make the most of it. I started by heading to the Art of Lego Expo – featuring the awesome Lego sculptures of Nathan Sawaya – which I have used in my classroom to introduce some “stem art” to my students, so I was pumped. The expo did not disappoint. Check out this amazing artwork: 

After the show I hit a few sites in rapid succession & had lunch at a bistro. 

I went to the Notre Dame crypt – cool ruins of the old Paris, skipped the cathedral (the line was wrapped around the church!) and went to Montremarte and enjoyed the lovely views of Paris. 

To conclude my day we had a Bon voyage/ celebration dinner at the best little restaurant in Paris.  L’Ecrin – yummy! Thanks to Joy, Bethany, Claire and Zoe for being such awesome Paris friends! 🙂

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Tomorrow I head home. This has been an amazing trip!

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Day 27 ~ Bastille Day

Today was Bastille day in France, a national holiday, so I really got to experience the fun and traditions of the day 1st hand.

We started with a light brunch at Bethany’s, before venturing to the parade route, we found a spot, and settled in for a few hours of standing and watching the Bastille Day Parade, which is a military parade (not like the parades we think of in the states). Before the parade started, you had flyovers by jets, the first one creating the French flag in the sky with red, white and blue dust. It was pretty cool, but I must say that having planes fly that low in a city is a bit unnerving – especially the historic planes that I am certain were similar to those used during the air raids and bombings. 

The parade was different than any I had ever seen – each military group came through in their dress uniforms (I assume) and many of them were marching and singing – while I couldn’t understand a word (no French, remember?) I was able to really appreciate the difficulty of that task – they were very impressive. We discovered that were only saw about 1/2 of the parade because of a split in the route, but it was cool none the less.

The neatest thing was that each year, France picks a partnering nation to be the guest, and this year it was Mexico – and the Mexican Military group marched with huge birds – I kid you not! It was amazing to see them march, sing and cary these giant birds with them!

After the parade, we headed back to Bethany’s to chill before our next fun adventure, a picnic.

Joy planned a great picnic with lots of her friends (and involving wine and cheese, so you know it will be great!). We enjoyed the conversation with each other and the beauty of the park – it was great!)

After several hours, we realized we were done, and we were both perfectly ok to skip fighting the crowds at the fireworks and the Eiffel tower, so we ventured back to Joy’s, ordered yummy Lebanese take out, and just relaxed.

Tomorrow is my last full day in Paris, so I will see what I can check off my list before heading home Thursday evening – I also realized today that somewhere in my blog I have messed up the days – but oh well! 🙂

Day 26 ~ Art at the Louvre, Orangerie, Wine Tasting, Bal de Pompiers

So, today was a pretty fantastic and busy day. I started my day at the Louvre – which is the first ever public museum in Europe, and is the largest in the world – I knew I needed a focus, because you could spend years in the Louvre, and not see everything it has to offer. The palace itself is a masterpiece in its own right, as you can see in this room: http://360.io/zPKy6d 

The Louvre was once the home of France Royalty, and has an interesting history, which you can see here.

But, back to my visit – I knew I couldn’t see everything, and I wanted to hit the highlights, but the Louvre is massive – so I decided to download the free Rick Steeve’s Audio tour – and use it to guide my exploration.

This was a good plan – the Louvre is overwhelming, and this tour allowed me to see the highlights, and learn a little history about the paintings, the museum and the artists. (I also sort of used his guide in the Orsay).

After thoroughly enjoying my time in the Louvre, I headed to a close site, and another museum, Le Orangerie, which thankfully is a very small museum, but the highlight of the visit was Monet’s beautiful series of paintings, Water Lilies. They were breathtaking and are displayed so well in the museums oval shaped rooms. I failed at pictures here, (too many tourists) but they were just beautiful, and to think about them in a historical perspective, as Monet felt the world needed something beautiful to reflect on and contemplate after the devastation of WWI.

I left the museum artistically fulfilled, and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading to my next stop, a French Wine Tasting. This was lovely, and apparently the sommelier really liked me, because I certainly got to try more than my alloted 3 wine samples – they were brilliant!

After the wine tasting, I ventured back to Joy’s to chill out a bit before our next adventure.

We started our evening at Bethany’s flat, where she had prepared some fabulous snacks and things for us to have before heading to the Bal de Pompiers – a French Bastille Day tradition. In each Arrondissement (district) in Paris, the firemen (pompiers) hold a ball to raise money for their charity, and these are quite the party – it was such a cool experience – not only because there were LOTS of firemen there! 😉

The live band was interesting, and played a huge variety of music, both english pop and french music, and it was excellent people watching and observing. I loved that this was truly an intergenerational event (at least early on) as families, older couples, young adults and everyone in between enjoyed the party together.

We finally left at about 1:00, but their were still people coming into the party at that time, and from what we understand, the parties often last until 4:00 in the morning – but we certainly were not in for all that excitement.

It was a great day, and tomorrow we get to partake in Bastille day celebrations.

Day 25 ~ Sunday at the Orsay and a lazy evening!

Today I headed to the Orsay Museum, and was disappointed initially to learn that one of the paintings that I had hoped to see was on loan, but no worries – the Orsay was fabulous and I was sucked into the magical world of art for several hours.

The Orsay is an old train station, and as such, the building itself has some attraction as a beautiful building in its own right.  IMG_3352 IMG_3353 IMG_3354 IMG_3355 IMG_3356 IMG_3357 IMG_3358 IMG_3359  – I loved this picture – it looked like a photograph! IMG_3360 IMG_3361 The detail of the sculptures was shocking to me – and nothing that my camera can do justice to. IMG_3362 

There was also a really cool exhibit on the architecture of schools – and that was very interesting to me! IMG_3365 IMG_3366 IMG_3367 IMG_3363 IMG_3364 IMG_3368 IMG_3369 IMG_3370 IMG_3371 IMG_3372 IMG_3373 IMG_3374 IMG_3375 IMG_3376 IMG_3377 IMG_3378 IMG_3379 IMG_3380 IMG_3381 IMG_3382 IMG_3383 One of the coolest things was the model of the Garnier Opera – theater friends – check out the scenery area! That’s a bunch of pulleys! IMG_3384 IMG_3385 IMG_3386 IMG_3387 IMG_3388 IMG_3389 IMG_3390 IMG_3391 IMG_3392 IMG_3393 IMG_3395 IMG_3396 IMG_3397 IMG_3398 IMG_3399 IMG_3400 IMG_3401 IMG_3402 IMG_3403 IMG_3404 IMG_3405 IMG_3406 IMG_3407 IMG_3408 IMG_3409 IMG_3410 IMG_3411 IMG_3412 IMG_3413 IMG_3414 IMG_3415 IMG_3416 IMG_3417 IMG_3419 IMG_3420 IMG_3421 IMG_3422 IMG_3423 IMG_3424 IMG_3425 IMG_3426 IMG_3427

After hours and in the Orsay, I was fading, and starting on a headache, so I headed back to Joy’s, and we just had an evening of talking, Ice cream, wine and a movie – not a bad evening! 🙂

Day 24 ~ Saturday in Paris

Today was a lovely day. I started by sleeping in a bit. I must admit, a month on the road, going on little sleep and lots of experiences is wearing me down a bit. I’m very thankful that Paris has offered that sleeping in opportunity, as most of the things I have planned don’t open until 10! 🙂

I did realize that if I didn’t do laundry today, I would have a problem tomorrow, so I got directions from Joy and headed to the nearest lavarie to wash my clothes. The lavarie was in a beat area of the 1st arrondissement, so once I put my clothes in the washer, I headed to a little cafe to have a coffee, croissant, and do some people watching in the market. It was a lovely way to kill some time while my laundry spun and did its thing.  I watched families headed to each of the different markets – little ones on scooters, push bikes and in strollers, all joining in the market experience. About the time I thought my clothes should be ready for the dryer, I headed back to the lavarie, and caught up on my blog while they dried. 

Once all my clothes right were clean, dry and folded, I headed back to Joy’s  so that I could drop them off and begin my journey for the day. 

My first stop was the port by the Eiffel Tower, where I boarded the river cruise on the Seine. The weather was fabulous, and the views were great! A very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. IMG_9669 IMG_9670 IMG_9671 IMG_9672 IMG_9673 IMG_9674 IMG_9675 IMG_9676 IMG_9677 IMG_9678 IMG_9679 IMG_9680 IMG_9681 IMG_9682 IMG_9683 IMG_9684 IMG_9685 IMG_9686 IMG_9687 IMG_9688 IMG_9689 IMG_9690 IMG_9691 IMG_9692 IMG_9693 IMG_9694 IMG_9695 IMG_9696 IMG_9697 IMG_9698 IMG_9699 IMG_9700 IMG_9701 IMG_9702 IMG_9703 IMG_9704 IMG_9705 IMG_9706 IMG_9707 IMG_9708 IMG_9709 IMG_9710 IMG_9711 IMG_9712 IMG_9714 IMG_9715 IMG_9716 IMG_9717 IMG_9718 IMG_9719 IMG_9720 IMG_9721 IMG_9722 IMG_9723 IMG_9724 IMG_9725 IMG_9726 IMG_9727 IMG_9728 IMG_9729 IMG_9730 IMG_9731 IMG_9732 IMG_9733 IMG_9734 IMG_9735 IMG_9736 IMG_9737 IMG_9738 IMG_9739 IMG_9740 IMG_9741 IMG_9742 IMG_9743 IMG_9744 IMG_9745 IMG_9746 IMG_9747 IMG_9748 IMG_9749 IMG_9750 IMG_3315 IMG_9751 IMG_9752 IMG_9753 IMG_9754 IMG_3316 IMG_3317 IMG_3318 IMG_3319 IMG_3320 IMG_3321 IMG_3322 IMG_3323 IMG_3324 

After the cruise I explored the Qua Bray gardens, then headed to the Montparnasse tower for some fabulous views of Paris at sunset. IMG_9755 IMG_9756 IMG_9757 IMG_9758 IMG_9759 IMG_9760 IMG_9761 IMG_9762 IMG_9763 IMG_9764 IMG_9765 IMG_9766 IMG_9768 IMG_9769 IMG_9770 IMG_9771 IMG_9772 IMG_9773 IMG_9774 IMG_3325 IMG_3326 IMG_3327 IMG_3328 IMG_3329 IMG_3330 IMG_9775 IMG_9776 IMG_3331 IMG_3332 IMG_3333 IMG_3334 IMG_3335 IMG_3336 IMG_3337 

After enjoying the view (and some Champagne) – I decided a late dinner might be a good plan, so I found an open cafe, and took a chance. I had a lovely dinner of escargots and sea bass. It was yummy – and I had the added bonus of a bit of a show, as the owner had to kick out a very drunk lady, who at one point tried to come and sit with me. It was amusing – especially once she was gone. The owner was very apologetic – he was obviously mortified. 

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After my lovely (and very late) dinner, I headed back to Joy’s to prepare for the next day. 

Days 24 & 25 

I have become a blog slacker. Paris is beautiful – hanging with friends is great & I also need sleep. More pictures and adventures will update soon – but not today. 

Day 24 consisted of doing laundry like a local, a river cruise, visiting a museum and the Montparnasse tower at sunset. Beautiful.  

  
 Day 25 was a day at the Musee de Orsay, and chatting and movie fun with Joy. 

  
I’ll upload pictures and share great stories later – but all is well here in Paris & some great adventures are planned for the next few days! 

Day 23 ~ Exploring Paris, Fun with friends & making new friends

Today was a fabulous day, exploring Paris and hanging out with Joy and some of her friends.

I started my day by getting lost in Paris, which I think is a prerequisite when you travel alone to a city where you don’t speak the language – so I got lost and then I found where I was supposed to go and picked up my Paris pass and decided to hop on the bus tour. The tour was lovely and it gave me a good overview of the city and kind of got me oriented as to where things actually were and how to get around. What I found was that Paris is a very walkable city and it’s not really all that big. After I did both loops of the bus tour, I decided just to wander around a bit and stumbled into a crêperie and had some crapes and they were delightful. They also did this lovely water with grenadine in it and it made me happy!

After lunch, I decided I might as well go ahead and do the Arc de Triumph so that I could see a view of Paris from up high. I went up all 284 spiral steps and was rewarded with a overly view of Paris. The view is very interesting, because it outlines the fact that Paris has had building regulations in place since it was redesigned that require all buildings to be less than five stories, or six stories to us Americans. What this means is that you can always see sky and the spires of churches and other landmark buildings that are taller throughout Paris.  I think it makes Paris have a uniquely interesting big city feel without skyscrapers.

They had a cool photography exhibit where this photographer had taken pictures of uniforms of soldiers from France and the composition of the pictures was very appropriate, and had a tone of remembrance.  While at the Arc, I got to see a part of the daily memorial ceremony honoring the tomb of the unknown soldier, which was pretty neat.

After the Arc de Triumph, I headed to the British Embassy to meet Joy and her friend Bethany for drinks in the embassy gardens – what a cool experience! Bethany, Joy and I had great conversations, good champagne and lots of laughs.

Well stopping by Bethany’s flat to get things to take to our next adventure, a house party hosted by another of Joy’s friends, and we discovered that Bethany and I shared a mutual love of Bourbon. (Bethany being the good Kentucky girl that she is had some on hand, so I got to have bourbon in Paris – if that’s not the perfect mixing of two worlds, I’m not sure what is!)

After that we set out and had a lovely time at Zoe’s party before coming home and crashing.

Also – just a side note: People in Paris apparently love a southern United States accent because in the past 24 hours I’ve had no less than 13 people say to me how much they love my accent.

Tomorrow is a new day, and adventures await!