We started off the day with the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Let me tell you, friends…this thing was spot on for European breakfast. Croissants, baguettes, charcuterie plates, carbs galore! It was probably the best breakfast place we’ve had in our travels thus far.
After breakfast, we introduced Mom and Dad to the ghetto gloriousness of the Paris Metro. Okay, so it’s not *that* bad. Not as nice as the U-bahns or the BART system, but better than the T lines in Boston. We hopped on and took it over to Tour Montparnasse to give them one of the best 360-degree views of the city. We took our time, took panoramic photos and of course, pillaged the gift shop.
We hopped back on the metro and got off at Les Invalides and headed over to Napolean’s tomb and the Musee de l’Armee (military museum). For some reason, Boy Child had put a visit to Napolean’s tomb at the top of his Paris bucket list (slightly creeptacular), so we went. We used our Paris passes and got right in. The building is basically a shrine to Napolean’s family and his peeps. The dome at the top is gilded in gold. Because you know, when you’ve been a badass and conquered a good chunk of Europe, you make sure that’s in your shrine plans. Napoleon’s actual tomb is made of solid reddish-brown marble. It’s the same marble that is used for popes and royalty (thanks, Vatican tour!), so it was really no surprise to see it used here. We took a little breather at the cafe on the grounds and had some lunch. For being a museum cafe, it was actually pretty tasty and not too expensive.
After our lunch pitstop, we walked across the Pont Alexandre III (Alexander III Bridge) to the Musee de l’Orangerie. Husband and I had watched a couple of Rick Steve episodes and he had mentioned that Monet’s water lilies were in this museum. We used the Paris passes again and headed for the paintings.
Trip win #5: Monet’s water lilies. Holy cow. Again, I’m not a big art buff, but let me tell you…these paintings are amazing. They are murals that take up two large oval rooms. They line all of the walls and are basically like one big panoramic painting in each room. The colors and the detail were so neat to see in person. Girl Child eloquently stated that it looked like big blobs of color, but to me those big blobs of color were beautiful. You could see his emotions just in the use of particular colors. If you like Monet, then I’d definitely say that this is a must see.
After gawking at the big blobs of color, we grabbed the metro and took it up to the St. Lazare area for some shopping. The Champs-Elysées is the most well-known shopping district in Paris, but we decided that we wanted to someplace a little more our tempo. Apparently, so do most of the Parisians, as the St. Lazare district was hopping. We found a great galleria that had H&M and most impressively–a Gap. Like I mentioned in a previous post, you don’t appreciate the stores you have, until you no longer have them. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited to go shopping at a Gap. I managed to score some pretty sweet deals and get the kids a few things as well.
When we had basically emptied our wallets of euro, we decided that we needed to add to our Americana and headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for an early dinner. It wasn’t too busy, but it was really loud. The service was a little iffy. The server was a nice guy, but he seemed really preoccupied with his work buddies. He was nice enough to give us a discount to the store, so we were able to get the obligatory t-shirt (that is now currently shoved in the back of a drawer somewhere) at a 15% discount. Score?
Trip when #6: Watching the City of Lights, light up. One of the things on pretty much all of our bucket lists was to watch the City of Lights, well, light up. We missed seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkle the last time we were here, so we were determined to see it this time. For many visitors, that means a dinner cruise along the Seine. Since we’re a little
cheap frugal and we have a picky palate challenged eater in the group (looking at you, Girl Child), we walked to the Pont Alexandre III and hung out in the middle of it. We watched the dinner cruises go by and the kiddos started waving at all of the cruisers. To their delight, they received a bunch of wave-backs. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and a dazzling display of lights on the Eiffel. The neatest thing was watching all of the city lights slowly turn on when the light show on the Eiffel ended. It was a truly magical end to a magical trip.
We had another delicious breakfast at the hotel before we took off to the airport. It seemed kind of silly to fly back into Frankfurt from Paris (it’s only 2.5 hours by high-speed train and about 4.5 hours by car), but it worked out to be less expensive with the multi-city flying that we did. Plus, the car was at the Frankfurt airport.
We ended up flying out of the commuter terminal at Charles de Gaulle and it was actually pretty empty. To our surprise, one of the best places in Paris to get macarons, Laduree, had set up a pop-up shop in the terminal. My mom was quite the happy camper. The flight back to Frankfurt was almost like flying from one island to another in Hawaii; you start the descent almost immediately when you hit your cruising altitude.
Trip fail #3: Holiday Parking at Frankfurt Main. When we arrived in Frankfurt, the bags rolled off the belt quickly and we headed over to wait for the shuttle bus over to the economy parking lot. The crappy thing about where the waiting spot is at Terminal 2 is that it is right next to the smoking area. We waited. And waited. And then waited some more. After about 40 minutes, we finally went over to the taxi stand and grabbed two taxis to take us to the Holiday Parking. Since it was an airport taxi, the price to get us from one side of the flight line to the other was exorbitant. I think total, it took almost €50 to get to the parking lot. By this time, we just wanted to get into the car and get home.
Trip fail #4: Picking up Dog. Because we were gone for a week, we decided to board Dog at a kennel. She’s an old girl and we were a little hesitant to leave her for such a long amount of time. We had arranged to pick her up on our way home. However, apparently, I can’t read. The kennel closes at noon on Saturdays and nothing is open on Sundays in Germany. By the time we made it to the kennel, it had been closed for four hours. We didn’t have any messages or emails waiting for us and I started to panic. Germans love their animals almost more than they love their humans. I’ve read many stories of how some caretakers have refused to return pets to their owners, or that some have surrendered them after assuming that their owners had abandoned them. Obviously, we love Dog. Dog has traveled with us to every place we’ve lived since we adopted her. She has traveled more miles than many humans. I tried in vain to get ahold of the kennel, to no avail. Mom, Dad and Husband kept reassuring me that she was fine and that we’d just deal with it on Monday morning. Luckily, everything turned out okay. Lesson learned: I need to make sure I read.
Aside from the apartment fail, our trip to Paris was wonderful. We didn’t encounter the stereotypical snooty Frenchperson; but rather kind and super helpful ones.
If you just want to get your glimpse of the city and not have to actually do much walking, the Big Bus was absolutely worth the money and the time. We saw all of the big, main attractions that we wanted to see.
It’s okay to not go to the Louvre. I know. Everyone says that you *have* to go. However, after battling the crowds at both the Colosseum and the Vatican, we had had our fill of crowds. This is the second time that we bypassed the Louvre, and honestly, I’m okay with it. There is enough stuff to see and do in the city, that you won’t feel as though you’ve missed something by not going. I’m sure we’ll get there eventually, but again…we were pretty museum’ed out by the time we got to Paris.