Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Intestines of Paris

Okay, I know the title of this post sounds a bit odd but it was a quote from Steve Cooper (WHDH TV in Boston)...we became friends while waiting in line for 30 minutes to get into the Musee d'Orsay (again, thank goodness for the museum pass as it would have been MUCH longer).  Just like at Versailles and many other of the very popular tourist attractions in Paris, the lines snake around and no one seems to know where they end.  Our new friend said to someone asking if this was the right line "yes, join us in the intestines of Paris".  It was very apropos as it does sum up how it feels...it ain't pretty but necessary.

They are very strict about photos in the d'Orsay so most of the pictures are of the main hall. The building originally served as a train station for Paris and it is quite beautiful.

View from the giant clock on
the top floor of the d'Orsay

After a couple hours in the museum, it was time to join in the Parisian custom of spending a couple hours enjoying a leisurely lunch (we could definitely get used to this...actually, we have).  People watching is really a treat in Paris and before we knew it, we had been sitting there for over two hours!

Next stop was the Place de la Concorde where they were already setting up for Bastille Day celebrations.

With the Champs-Élysées  right there, how could we not take a stroll to the Arc de Triomphe...so off we went.  From the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, it is a mile and a half and is lined with cafes.  We would cross the grand boulevard periodically to get shots of the Arc de Triomphe (sometimes you just have to do the touristy things).

While the Arc de Triomphe lower level is free to visit, there is a fee for climbing to the top...but with the Paris Museum Pass it is free.  The climb to the top is 284 steps that are steep and narrow so neither of us were terribly interested in making the trek.  Instead, we walked to the center of the Arc where the Unknown Soldier is located.
As we were walking out the other side of the Arc, we noticed a lift and the attendant took pity on us with my injured knee and gave us a ride to the top!  We only had to walk about 30 steps and then we were greeted by all of Paris.

The view was spectacular and we couldn't have asked for better weather!  You can see all the major sites of Paris from atop the Arc...and the lines are not nearly as long as those for the Eiffel Tower.  Side note, the Eiffel Tower is down to one lift so lines are three hours currently and they've closed down their online pre-sale tickets so make sure you check to see if repairs are complete or be prepared for a long wait.

When we came back down, they were beginning the daily ceremony honoring the Unknown Soldier.  Our timing could not have been better!  Every day at 6:30pm, the flame is rekindled and fresh flowers are place on the tomb...this is a tradition taking place since World War I.

We decided to check out a cafe in our neighborhood for dinner and headed back to the hotel for a recommendation.  The front desk could not have suggested a more perfect place!  It was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel and definitely a locals spot.  All of the outdoor seats were occupied so we were seated inside but five minutes later, our server came over and told us he found us an outside table...talk about service! 
Up until tonight's dinner, we both thought the food in France has been good but not spectacular...dinner tonight changed our opinion completely!  We started with a duck foie gras with an apricot chutney (YUM).  I had a spinach and goat cheese lasagna and rocket salad (aka arugula) and Julie had salmon and vegetables cooked in a tin foil (aka syran wrap) pouch with vanilla sauce...both were fabulous!  For dessert, I had creme brulee and Julie had fresh strawberries, strawberry sorbet and meringue...oh my were they good!  If you ever find yourself in Boulogne-Billancourt, you must visit La Verriere a 6 Grand-Place!

Side note, when dining in France, ask your server for tap water or l'eau du robinet.  Otherwise if you ask for water, you'll receive bottled water which is approximately €3 for an eight ounce bottle.

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