Day 30 - Paris

Eiffel Tower

This morning, it was off for a massive circuit of Parisian landmarks. We started the day with a short metro ride down to the Champ de Mars to begin our journey. Starting from just in front of the École Militaire, the Eiffel Tower looks small, but us we wandered closer and closer, the sheer enormity of it quickly came upon us. It is a beautiful structure, conveying both strength and grace, as was the intention of it's designer, Gustave Eiffel. The lines to head up the tower were enormous, and we knew we could pre-book tickets and avoid the queue, so we stood in awe of her for a while before crossing the Seine and heading up to the Trocadéro for the postcard view of the tower, before jumping the Metro to our second destination.

Arc de Triomphe

Another of Paris' iconic landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe sits at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Again, it doesn't seem that big until you get close. We were there only 2 days after the attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and there was a noticeable military presence around the arch. We had seen a similar presence in Milan around the Duomo square and it's pretty confronting, for us little Aussies, to see soldiers with automatic rifles patrolling around city streets.

The lift to the top was not working, so we grit our teeth and climbed the 290 odd stairs to the roof. It was well worth the effort and we were rewarded with some spectacular views of Paris.

Next we tackled the Champs-Élysées; the famous Paris avenue that is home to world class fashion and restaurants. Kind of wasted on us, but an interesting stroll anyway. At the end of the avenue we stopped in the park for crepes before jumping on the Metro for a short ride down to the Louvre.

The Louvre

The Louvre is another place I have waited all my life to visit. It's such a massive museum and we arrived at 5pm at the end of a very long day, so needless to say, it was the condensed visit. 

We went into the basement to see the original foundations of the old castle that stood where the palace now stands. Then we headed into the sculpture halls to see wonderful works by Bernini, Michelangelo, as well as the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

We then made a bee-line to the Grand Gallery and it's renaissance masterpieces. Raphael, Filippo Lippi and of course, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Alas, with quickly waining children and creeping exhaustion, we cut our visit a lot shorter than we would have liked, and made our way across the Seine to our flat and a well deserved dinner.

Day 33 - Paris

It was our last day in Paris and we had a lot of stuff we wanted to do, so it was another early start as we made our way over to Saint Michel Metro station past Fontaine Saint-Michel, stopping only to pick up some crepes for breakfast.

We took the Metro up to Sacré-Cœur. It sits atop Montmartre and is the highest point in the city. The views of the city were obscured by haze and low cloud, but it was clear and beautiful on top of Montmartre. We briefly thought about a climb to the top of the dome, but with the crappy haze over the city, we sided with conserving our energy for the big day ahead.

From Montmartre we wandered down the hill into the heart of the 18th arrondissement, in search of the Moulin Rouge. Little did we know that we would be walking through the Quartier Pigalle, on our way to the Moulin Rouge. Needless to say, the awkward questions were flying thick and fast from the kids. /facepalm

After our tour of one of Paris' more racey streets, we jumped the Metro and made our way, back across the Seine, to the Les Invalides. This place is part military hospital, part museum and most famously known as housing the tomb of Napoleon IThe chapel that houses Napoleon's tomb is known as Église Saint-Louis des Invalides. It's dome is stunning and can be viewed from many points around the city.

Les Invalides is only a short walk across to the Eiffel Tower and the day had turned into a beautiful one, so we decided to revisit it and catch the Metro from Champ de Mars back to St Michel.  

With an hour or so of sunlight to go, we decided a boat tour on the Seine would be a brilliant way to end the day. It really is a fantastic way to see a lot of Parisian landmarks from a very comfortable vantage point. The sun was slowly disappearing as we approached the end of the tour and the light was superb. 

A few days earlier, we were able to snag some tickets to head up inside the Eiffel Tower. 10pm tickets! So we enjoyed a wonderful Italian dinner before once more, jumping on the Metro and heading down to the tower. It is quite amazing, all lit up at night, and the views from the level 2 viewing floor was fantastic and plenty high enough! We couldn't get tickets to the summit, but the view we had was outstanding.

Tomorrow we leave Paris and head to London. I was quite overwhelmed with how much I loved Paris. At the beginning of our trip, it was probably part of the journey I was least looking forward to, but after 6 days in the City of Light, she had worked her magic on me.

Paris a volé mon coeur