Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We'll always have Paris...

Wednesday was our last day in Paris (sigh). Nathan and I got up early to see the Arc de Triomphe and the Eternal Flame before heading to the Louvre with Tim and Kate. They didn't join us because Kate had a real bummer of a time sleeping in Paris (as in no sleep at all) and needed a few extra hours this particular morning:(

I thought Clark/Nathan and I were going to have the Griswald curse AGAIN on this day. When we got to the train station (it really does all start with the train doesn't it) we had no map of the city (we actually never had one the whole time) and the station we were at had no map of the metro lines (very strange) so we asked a metro employee at the information desk how to get to the Arc de Triomphe. Now I know I don't sound French, but my southern accent isn't so bad that this woman couldn't understand ARC - I mean HELLO - it's really famous! Not sure if she was just being French, but after repeating myself 3 times and then Nathan saying it she was like "Oh de Arc" - take the RER A to La Defense. Okay - that wasn't so hard. Thanks Lady!

Ummmm - except for the fact that when we got out of the metro at La Defense we weren't at the Arc de Triomphe we were at the Grande Arche - Good Times. So just in case you were wondering what the Grande Arche looks like - here it is:
Isn't it Grande?

We did think we were on the train for a really long time, but we were enjoying our french pastries and just thought to trust the train employee that was sitting at the INFORMATION DESK:) Once we got back in the metro we found our own map and realized we should have gotten off at Charles de Gaulle Etoile. And what do you know - the Arc de Triomphe!
Here we are at the Arc de Triomphe - I took this picture so you could see how far away the Grande Arche is from here. Can you see it in the waaaaaaay back of the photo?
Nathan wanted to play frogger across this intersection but I persuaded him to use the underground path - thank goodness!
The Arc de Triomphe!
The Eternal Flame located near the Tomb of the Unknow Soldier at the Arc
From here we strolled down the Champs-Elysées - you know hitting Louis Vuitton and such. Nathan REALLY wanted to buy me some stuff but I said "No Honey, I am just grateful to be here". I am such a great wife:)

Next the Louvre! Alison gave us a HUGE tip and I want to pass it on to all of you. First, buy your ticket in advance. We were really fortunate that Alison got ours for us (thank you Alison!), but she said you could buy them at the Paris Tourism Office (near the Opera Garnier). It isn't cheaper, but you get to go through a special security line. We took the metro to the Palais Royal Musee du Louvre stop. Once you get out of the Metro cross the street and you should be at the Passage Richelieu Entrance. There wasn't a SINGLE PERSON in line! It took us .5 seconds to get in! I thought this was just the security line, but no - once we had our bags checked we were inside the Louvre!!! I overheard someone inside complaining about standing in the line out front for over an hour. Priceless information! Thank you Alison!

We spent several hours in the Louvre - where there are signs EVERYWHERE saying no cameras - but nobody seemed to obey this AND no one seemed to enforce this, so OF COURSE we had to take a picture of the Mona Lisa - right? The Mona Lisa painting is actually quite comical. It is amazing that the Louvre is so huge (and I mean HUGE) but the only place that there was a ridiculous number of people congregating was the room where Mona resides. The painting is actually quite small compared to a lot of the other work in the Louvre, but it takes up an entire wall and it is behind bullet proof glass and a rope. Ha - loved it! One little tidbit - so on our Sandeman tour the first day - our tour guide told us that the Canadians had done a smile recognition study and figured out that the Mona Lisa was 83% happy. Well thank you to the Canadians for that! I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the experience as much without being armed with this information!:)

We ended our day with a little more shopping before heading back to the airport for Part 2 of the Whitney's European Vacation - Switzerland!! I wish it could have been longer, but I am so grateful for the time we had there with Kate and Tim... we'll always have Paris! (yes cheesy - but I've always wanted to work that quote into something - so there it is!)

p.p.s. - The one thing I wish we could have done, but didn't have time, was a boat ride on the Seine! So please if you go to Paris, do this and send me some pics! I guess we'll just have to do it next time!

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