Saturday, October 12, 2013

Passport to Paris: Highlight Reel

Samedi, 12 octobre.

Okay, so you've sat through my posts about Versailles, Paris at night, and Paris "off the beaten path" -- and now it's time for the best part. Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen: here come two days full of all of the absolute best/most famous parts of Paris!

You've already seen Versailles and the beautiful places we visited on Friday and Saturday night, so I'll stick with our Saturday and Sunday daytime wanderings! First stop, les berges de la Seine. The banks of the Seine, where they surround Île de la Cité (the island on which Notre Dame stands), are the absolute heart of Paris and definitely my favorite part of the city. It's along this part of the banks of the river that you find the Palais du Louvre as well as dozens of other famous buildings (including the Assemblée Nationale and the Musée d'Orsay.) Everything is imposing and beautiful and just ... wow. C'est parfait.

Hello, Louvre! It's been a while.

La vie parisienne est dure, n'est-ce pas? (The Parisian life is hard, isn't it?)

I see London, I see France, I see ... oh ... Notre Dame. 

Next up ... le Jardin des Tuileries. Formerly the gardens of the now-destroyed Palais des Tuileries, the gardens were opened to the public after the French Revolution. Now, a walk from Place de la Concorde to the courtyard of the Louvre will take you right through them! And boy, are they lovely.

Possibly even more impressive than the Tuileries Garden is le Jardin de Luxembourg. Tucked away behind the Palais du Luxembourg (which now houses the French senate), the gardens are enormous, suprisingly peaceful, and absolutely beautiful.

We loved seeing the changing autumn leaves right next to the bright summery flowers!


Woah, right?! As if that wasn't magical enough, I recently found out that it's the Jardin du Luxembourg in which Marius and Cosette fall in love in Les Miserables. The book spends chapter after chapter detailing exactly how the two characters spend day after day, watching each other discreetly in the gardens, and the lighthearted passage is one of my favorite parts! Ahhh so magical.

But perhaps not QUITE as magical as eating pastries on a Sunday morning in front of La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. That's right, folks.

Our next stop that morning? Le Pont des Arts, a tiny footbridge that crosses the Seine in front of Notre Dame. It's one of two Parisian bridges that have become famous because of the tradition of lovers attaching locks to the railings. It's pretty incredible to see the thousands and thousands of locks that have been left here and to know that each and every lock represents what was probably the most romantic moment of two peoples' lives.

On Sunday afternoon, we headed up to Montmartre, whose quirkier sidestreets and attractions you can find in this post. We didn't climb to the top of la Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, but we did stop outside to marvel at the views. The basilica is located at the highest point of Paris and from its steps, you can see everything! (Side note: if you're not familiar with the history of Sacré-Cœur, you can read about it here, but in summary -- the cathedral was built to pacify the population after France's loss in the Franco-Prussian War and the disastrous Paris Commune of 1871 that followed.)

After Sacré-Cœur, we descended from moral and literal highground all the way to the base of Montmartre to the Moulin Rouge cabaret. I don't want to say it was underwhelming ... but yeah, it wasn't the most exciting. The building is iconic, but it's squeezed into a busy street packed with sex shops and who-knows-what-else, and there was construction next door. But still, it's the Moulin Rouge!

After Montmartre, it was time for a final whirlwind tour of some of Paris' most famous monuments... we popped by the Hotel des Invalides to snap a photo or two, returned to the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower for some cheesy tourist shots, and even returned to the Champs-Elysees for a daytime picture of everyone's favorite triumphal arch.

Too soon, it was time to head back to the Gare de Lyon (above) and get on our southbound train. Although I was sad to leave Paris so soon after arriving, a part of me was glad to escape the hustle and bustle and get back to the (comparatively) quiet life in Montpellier. Still, I know I'll be back in Paris before long ... I just don't think I could stay away!

A bientot, Paris! Je suis sûre que je vais retourner!


  1. Ah que c'est beau! je ne pourrais lire personne avec autant de plaisir et de fierte que de te lire TOI!

  2. Beautiful pictures! It's like I was walking around with you.