Sunday, May 22, 2011

Busy Day in Paris

Well, it's getting pretty close to the time we'll be heading back to the States for summer break so I decided I better get my blog done about the rest of the trip.  The bad thing about waiting so long is that I have a harder time remembering all the details - I think that's my here goes...

Our second full day in Paris, we decided to hit a bunch of the highlights of the city.  We had breakfast at the hotel and then took a short train ride/walk to Notre Dame.  One of the things that I noticed about Paris was the the tourist areas were always very busy!  So many people around.  There was again usually some military presence in all of these areas.  We walked through Notre Dame - it was very beautiful - especially all of the stained glass.

Megan, Lizzie and Rachel outside of Notre Dame

One of the many stained glass windows in Notre Dame.


Flying Buttresses

There was a VERY long line to go up and tour the upper part of the church where you could get a closer view of the gargoyles, so we decided to opt out of that part of the tour.  We walked around to the back of the church where there was a pretty little park.  We enjoyed the beautiful weather for a little while and then headed back towards the train.  On the way to the station, we looked through some touristy shops and enjoyed an entertainer keeping the crowds entertained as they waited.

Our next stop the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.  We got off the train, found our way out (this was another large station) and then found our way to the tunnel that leads under the street to the center circle.  There were tons of artists here with their drawings that were lined up along the edge of the tunnel that you could look at and purchase if you were so inclined.

Once we got to the other side of the street, we checked out the Arc de Triomphe and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  The Arc de Triomphe  has so many beautiful details on it - although as Lizzie liked to point out, there was a lot of nakedness :-)  The kids enjoyed checking out all the cars driving around the circle - we saw tons of smart cars - and the little kids enjoyed chasing birds.  It was a nice place to sit and relax for a while!

You can see how little we were compared
to the Arc de Triomphe.

Rachel chasing birds.

We decided not to do any shopping - much to Megan's chagrin - on the Champs-Elysées.  Shopping with 5 kids and a husband doesn't hold a lot of interest for me and everything is so expensive that I just thought our time could be spent better.  So we hopped back on the train and headed to Sacre Coeur.  When we arrived at the station, we started to head uphill. There is a funicular to take part of the way up but we decided to do the stairs.  It is a very spectacular view of Paris from the top of the hill!

It was very busy around Sacre Coeur!  There were tons of people selling things, there were many entertainers and lots of people were just hanging out on the hill taking it all in.  We toured the church also which was very beautiful (no picutres were allowed) and found it very interesting the difference between the peaceful quiet in the church and the very touristy loud entertainment outside the church.  I actually think that this was my least favorite place that we visited.  Maybe the crowds were just very heavy because it was a weekend day but it was hard to get around and just not that enjoyable.

After Sacre Coeur we headed back to the hotel.  We decided what trains we needed to take and when we got to the stop where we needed to switch, we found that the train that we needed to get on did not stop there currently because of construction.  So we had to find another station that would take us back to the hotel...ahhh the joy of trains in Paris!  We had a late lunch/dinner at the hotel and a little bit of a rest.

Our last activity today was to take a river cruise on the Seine.  We decided it would be nice to take it in the evening and I think this was a good decision except that it was a bit chilly.  Except for the cold and the fumes from the boat, this was our favorite part of the day.  It really was beautiful to ride along the river in the evening.  It was a Saturday night so there were many people out walking and sitting by the river and it was fun to see that part of the Parisian culture. 

This is one of my favorite pictures from our trip.  It was on
a bridge near where we boarded the cruise on the Seine.

Starting to get dark and the Eiffel Tower was all lit up.

Periodically little lights would come on the Eiffel Tower
and make it all sparkly.  It was just beautiful!

Notre Dame at night.

This second day in Paris was long and very busy - we saw so many beautiful things and enjoyed spending time together as a family!  Looking forward to more sightseeing tomorrow.....

Thanks for reading!

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