We started the day with great plans in mind. To prepare, we thought it would be a good idea to have a big breakfast with croissants, baguettes, eggs, and coffee (for me and Julie). We also thought we’d plan ahead this time and buy some bread and quiches to have with us while we travelled. My French is amazing, so rather than getting two 12-inch loaves of bread to fit in my backpack, I ended up with one 12-inch loaf and two giant 24-inch loaves, which I had to rip into pieces to fit in my bag.
More that fully stocked with provisions, we headed out. We had hoped to go to the Paris Catacombs, which are under the city and contain the remains of more than 6,000,000 people. It sounds kind of macabre, but it also sounds really cool. Unfortunately, as we found out the night before, they were closed until February 14, when they presumably would open for Valentine’s Day. Nothing says love in the city of love like millions of artistically arranged bones. Oh well. Strike 1 for Day 23 in Paris.
We moved on to the next blockbuster site on our list, the Louvre. But when we got there we discovered that the line was already enormous. There are small signs that give you an estimate of how long the line will take, and the line was already well beyond the two-hour mark. With our time in Paris limited (and with 11-year-old patience), there was just no way that we could wait that long. Strike 2 for Day 23 in Paris.
No problem, we said. We’ll just make our way to Notre Dame again. We had wanted to go into the archeological dig underneath the square in front of the cathedral and to climb up the towers anyway. So, off we went. On our way, we passed through a small outdoor market that was selling lots of small birds. Lydie and Cassie took turns taking pictures of each other, and Cassie took what she described as “the best” picture of Lydie. #albumcover
Photo credit: Cassie Hubbard
We started with the ruins underneath the plaza in front of Notre Dame. These ruins stretch back more than 2000 years!
Notre Dame is built on a small island in the Seine River, but the original island was actually much smaller. The buried ruins included a wharf and walled embankment showing that the river ran right underneath Notre Dame! It was also neat to see the Roman baths that were in the square long ago.
From the buried ruins, we headed up to the plaza, where we enjoyed a picnic and did not run out of bread. Then we headed to the tower to climb Notre Dame. But we found another massive line! And this one didn’t even seem to be moving. We just couldn’t spend 3 hours waiting. Strike 3 for Day 23 in Paris!
It was very frustrating. Morale was low. In times like this, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And the Hubbards get ice cream and coffee.
Recharged we put our heads together to come up with some plans. We started by heading to the Tuileries, a large public garden, where the kids had a chance to run around a bit. They particularly enjoyed playing on a small merry-go-round with a little French boy who is behind Lydie in this picture. Lydie got just a little bit dizzy.
Next, we headed to a nearby carousel, where Cassie and Lydie both got a little silly.
Next, we went to the Musee de L’Orangerie, a museum that has lots of water lily paintings by Monet. The line was “only” 45 minutes long, so we decided to stick it out. Once we got inside, the Monet paintings were amazing. And massive.
We all found the paintings very relaxing to look at.
It was interesting how Monet used lots of colors together to create subtle combinations. The trunk of the tree in this picture below (right) actually has lots of different colors in it(left).
It was also wonderful to be able to get so close to the paintings. The detail in the brush strokes was incredible.
From the Monet part of the museum, we went on to explore other amazing artists including Cezanne, Picasso, and Renoir. The girls really got into some of the paintings.
We left the museum, all of us feeling tired. We sat on a bench outside to try to decide what to do next. We thought about heading back to our apartment to rest or to look for a restaurant. It was 4:45, and we had been running around a great deal all day.
As we sat there, we also noticed that the line for the L’Orangerie had completely disappeared, and stragglers were able to walk straight in. We realized that we might be able to do that at the Louvre. It would close at 6, but we might be able to zip over there, hustle inside, and see some of the major works. We were really short on time and didn’t know if it would work, but we decided it was worth a shot.
Off we ran to the metro! We made it to the stop for the Louvre in record time and hurried toward the museum hoping we weren’t too late. To be continued….