A few months back, we found out that a good friend of mine was going to be passing through Paris on a quick trip. We decided to spend a weekend there during the same time, so that we could all meet up and explore the city together. Masima was my roommate sophomore year in college at Mizzou, and she transferred at the end of that year. We hadn't seen each other for 6.5 years until last weekend! Ron and I arrived in Paris on the world's smallest international plane on Friday evening and caught a train directly into the city. We decided to walk from the station to our hotel to begin our touring immediately, and on the way to our room we saw the Louvre Pyramid all lit up.
Because we only had one full day to explore before flying back to Newcastle, we woke up bright and early on Saturday morning. We walked down the famous Champs-Élysées avenue, stopping in a cafe for coffee and fresh croissants. We then headed to the historic Arc de Triomphe, which stands as a military monument honoring fallen soldiers. It was built between 1806-1836, and sits at the centre of 12 intersecting streets over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
We then came across The Flame of Liberty, a replica of the real flame on the Statue of Liberty. Next stop, the one and only Eiffel Tower. It was constructed to be the world's tallest structure, intended originally for the World's Fair in 1900. The names engraved around it honor all the scientists and engineers who helped create this phenomenon of its time!
Afterward, we stopped in a bakery and did our best to order more pastries in French... "Un croissant s'il vous plait?" As we continued walking, we saw the Army Museum, the Pont Alexandre III, the Grand Palais, and the Petit Palais. We made our way through the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) and back to the Louvre Pyramid we'd seen the night before, which is the entry to the Louvre Museum (you descend down into it). The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the 12th century to protect the city from Viking attacks.
We walked along the Seine river, stopping along the way for more coffees and to buy a cute little painting for our apartment from a street artist. We crossed the Pont Neuf onto the Ile de la Cite, one of the natural islands in the Seine. It was on this island where we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1163-1345. Inside, I lit a candle for my dad - pictured in the centre (that day, he was back in St. Louis recovering from a root canal and about to have a melanoma spot removal).
After a quick dinner, we met up with Masima and took a walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. The garden was begun in 1612, and is full of statues and monuments dedicated to queens and other famous women in French history. Next, we all hopped on a metro north of the city to Montmartre. We climbed the famous hill to the Basilica Sacré-Cœur, which had beautiful views of the whole city. Although construction was only completed in 1914, the hill has been an important holy location for centuries. Near the Basilica is a courtyard where artists display and sell their work, along with the famous "Wall of Love" which shows the various translations of "I love you" in all different languages. We stopped at a streetside restaurant for wine and cheese to watch the busy street.
While we walked back to the city, we caught a glimpse of the real-life Moulin Rouge. We also stopped to try a popular french pastry called a Canelé. I was, personally, unimpressed. Then we stopped at another streetside restaurant for dinner, and Ron treated himself to a "greedy coffee" - a coffee served with a platter of 6 different sample-sized desserts. By the time we made it back to our hotel that night, it was 11pm and my health app showed we'd walked 39,222 steps that day! Based on the feeling in my legs, I had no trouble at all believing this was true! We had to get up to fly home first thing the next morning, so this was a successful day quickly exploring everything we could in the city of love.