Paris day 4 – central paris highlights

Today is all about central Paris. Visiting some of the sights that make this city so famous. While I’ve explored many of these places before, each visit is just as delightful if not more so the last.

We began our day with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. Despite numerous trips to Paris I’ve never actually entered the Cathedral as the entrance lines were always extremely long. Luck was with us as the short entrance line moved quickly and soon we were in the cool vast central nave.

Carved scenes from the life of Christ behind the choir.
A lovely rose window.

Some statues definitely carry a message!

Upon exiting the Cathedral the entrance line had more than tripled in length! Definitely good timing.

The exterior has always been fascinating and we enjoyed a stroll around.

After a refreshing cafe break we were off to St Chappell just a few streets away. Okay, so the coffee was an excuse to use the bathroom and espresso is nearly always a good idea. The cafes near attractions will allow folks to use the w/c for a small fee; for patrons it’s free. The Museum Pass also allows a shorter skip-the-line here, but the luck held and there were only a few people in line.

Upon first entering St Chappell you may wonder about the fuss. The first floor is gorgeous. Beautiful rich colors.

But, it’s what’s revealed upon ascending the spiral staircase tucked away in the front corner that draw the crowds. Stained glass, rich mosaic and more stained glass!

The panels continue around the entire room. It simply leaves you without words to describe.

Stained glass is one of my favorite things. I love the abundance of color and how it changes and shifts as the day progresses. The individual scenes disappear into the whole as it takes my breath away. Over time, your eye picks up the detail and you could spend hours studying the panels.

After visual overload we headed over to Place Vendome then through the Tuileries Garden. I love Paris parks. Chairs are plentiful and folks lounge and linger enjoying the day.

They are immaculately maintained and a delight for the senses. During lunch hours much more heavily trafficked and on the weekends I imagine full of families. As you can see, no need to bring a chair, but do watch out for which lawns are open for sitting!

See . . .look at us enjoying the gardens! So, I’ve been doing a two-week red lipstick challenge. I’ve always wanted to wear red lipstick but wasn’t brave enough. After finding what I think is a good red, the challenge was on! High maintenance but I like the look. We were cutting through the Gardens to cross the river for Musee d’Orsay. Next up on our cultural jaunt for the day. They say that where the Louvre leaves off Orsay begins. It is also one of my favorite museums as I love the impressionist movement. Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Pissarro, Renoir, Gauguin and more. It’s in an old train station and while still large, it’s manageable and doesn’t overwhelm.

But first it’s lunch! We choose a small cafe a block away from the Museum. Despite the lovely day, we’ve also been dining inside the restaurants. Outside tables tend to be even more tightly packed together than the inside tables and inside is smoke free. Warm, but smoke free.

Since it’s France and I enjoy escargot that was definitely a choice and I’m also experimenting with Salad Nicoise.Prior to this vacation I began training my taste buds for a French culinary adventure and found Seveur Magazine has the best recipe. Will Paris deliver?

Overall pretty darn good. Not presented as laid out ingredients, but served as a piled salad and delicious. The only thing I found odd is the presence of rice.

Linda enjoyed some baked chicken and pomme frittes.  Delicious, but also be aware that meat cuts may not be what you expect! We think her cut was more back and thigh than leg and thigh. Little less meat than anticipated but they also don’t raise genetically enhanced fowl with huge breasts unable to walk.

We spent several hours in Orsay but have no photos to share as it is not allowed. I’ll just live with the memories of some amazing art and a handful of post cards of my favorites from the gift shop.

With Orsay located along the Seine River, a river cruise seems like a great way to wind down the day. Instead of a narrative tour boat we chose to use the Batobus – essentially a hop-on hop-off water taxi. Eight stops (one at Orsay) range from the Eiffel Tower through central Paris; described as a tour, it is more an easy and pleasant way to navigate the city.

Tickets may be purchased at any stop for one-day or multiple days. We simply wanted to enjoy a round-trip ride. It was peaceful sitting back and watching the banks go by – just sitting was a highlight! An hour or so later we were back at the Eiffel Tower. The last boat (ours) leaves that stop at 7pm. We continued on and exited at the Notre Dame stop. Wandering the streets between Notre Dame and our hotel we found an appealing restaurant for dinner – Beaurepaire. Again we chose to dine inside and were one of only a few indoor diners – at first.

Now, I understand slow French service; I don’t expect to have hovering attendants. Shortly after being seated our waiter took our order of a baked brie starter, bottle of wine and main courses. We waited. We watched servers hurry between the bar, kitchen and outdoor patio. A different server waited on a table near us. The manager viewed the dining room and kept an eye over things. Apparently we were invisible. As a manager wouldn’t you think it odd that diners are sitting there with nothing for so long?

Finally after nearly 30 minutes we were able to catch our waiters eye and enquire about our wine, starter and even some water. Our order “didn’t take” he said. Really? Our order wasn’t put in more like. From this point our service became a bit more attentive; no visit from the manager however.

The baked brie starter appeared quickly and our main plates: calamari with rice for Linda, and a country-style sausage for me arrived in an expected time. Beaurepaire is a Basque style restaurant and the food – when you get it – is delicious. The nail in the coffin was then not receiving my change from the waiter. Despite the horrible service I was going to leave a small tip and round-up the check. I told him how much I was to pay and was expecting change. It was only 2 euro back but he had simply disappeared.

My mastery of French isn’t sufficient to explain to the manager; the amount was low; frustration was high. We left.

Overall a fantastic day in Paris.

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