The train ride from Kaiserslautern on the ICE to Gare de L'Est was wonderful. The States are really missing out on modern train transportation...this is the way to travel. Amazing.
We got into town, hailed a cab and went to our hotel at Place de la Republique to drop off our bags and set out. First up, the Louvre. We navigated the metro without too much trouble once we got our bearings. The Louvre is huge. Bigger than you can even imagine if you've never been there. When people say it would take a week to see it all, it might even take two. We hit two wings, the Denon and the Sully. We saw a lot of Eygptian artifacts and then took a break for lunch. We had a picnic on the floor in the food court. We then went to find the Mona Lisa, which we saw from an angle as the depth of the folks in front was about 50-60 people deep. No lie. It was incredible. We saw some amazing art....everywhere. From the Lourve we went towards the Seine and took the advice of Anne's granddaughter and booked seats on the river cruise...Bateaux Mouche...for a night tour. Tickets in hand we went towards the Eiffel Tower. Had a bit to eat in that area then went back to the boat. The tour was neat. To see the sights all lit up from the river is very fun. The Eiffel Tower twinkled at us as we came down the Seine. So romantic!!
We were exhausted at that point and went back to the hotel. Breakfast there came with our room and we ate our weight in croissants and baguette. Energized again we set out for the Musee d'Orsay. This was by far my favorite museum. I'd heard that from several other folks and they are right. It is much more manageable in size than the Lourve and the art is more recognizable. I love the Impressionists and I just walked through the rooms with my mouth open. Lovely beyond belief. After we enjoyed the d'Orsay we stopped in a pharmacy and picked up some French soap and chatted with the pharmacist. He gave us a lunch recommendation that was one of the highlights of the trip. We walked down Saint Dominique past the Polish Embassy, yes we took a photo, to this real French restaurant. We were the only tourists in the place....had an incredible lunch and the other diners were so friendly and interesting to watch. The restaurant came equipped with a cat, their mascot...she sat by us as we ate...too quaint. Other diners brought their dogs! We loved it! We took our time and enjoyed every bite. From there we went towards Notre Dame and saw nightfall on the cathedral. We had some hot chocolate and found Shakespeare's Bookstore....I bought two books! From there we caught the metro to the Arc de Triomphe and strolled down the Champs E. in the sparkling blue light...yes, the trees were all lit in blue. We stopped in Louis Vuitton....wow. Very cool street, so BIG, so CROWDED, so pretty. You could see the ferris wheel at Concorde on one end and the Arc at the other when you stand in the middle of the street..which you have to do in order to cross all the lanes of traffic.
That was a full day so we went back, picked up a crepe on the way, we are all addicted to Nutella now, and fell asleep.
Today we got up early, had breakfast and went to Notre Dame for Mass. We actually arrived early enough to catch the homily and second half of the 8:30 mass so we stayed for that and then remained for the lauds service to honor the Feast of the Holy Family before the Gregorian chant mass at 10:00. Beautiful and so spiritual to attend mass in that famous cathedral. The incense floating up from the altar as it has done for centuries and centuries. The huge organ in the back filling the air with sound. The beautiful voices chanting responses. The Latin words that are so universal. It was soul filling.
After mass we walked around the cathedral and soaked up the history. We then caught the metro from Cite to the Marais district which has shopping on Sunday. We strolled and found a place to stop for some coffee and cocoa and then did a bit of shopping before we hit a boulangerie for lunch. Delicious bread yet again, we are so spoiled. We wound our way back to the hotel, got our bags and went to the station to catch the train home.
We have tons of pictures.....tons of them! Even a few of hot French boys that the girls took...they are always on the lookout!!
We are off to Fussen and Innsbruck tomorrow. If I have the chance I will update from there...
Au Revoir mon ami!!!