Waking up a bit later than usual, Ben and I were both still fighting off some sort of bug, (I guess that’s the price you pay to travel through airports so frequently) Ben and I kicked off our third day in Paris with, you guessed it, crêpes. We went back to our favorite little stand at the end of our block and then continued on our way to (finally!) enter the stunning Cathedral Notre Dame.
The meticulous detail that was put into architecture centuries ago is one of my favorite parts about visiting Europe. The gothic set up of Notre Dame, which is entirely surrounded by Biblical figures, wall jambs and flying buttresses, is contrasted by the classic beauty of the stained glass windows inside the church. These are much less overwhelming yet equally as beautiful to look at as one’s eye is trained to move all the way up the oval high ceilings taking in the immensity of the entire structure. The overall affect was incredible and a different style from the cathedrals I had seen on my trips to Italy.
After making our rounds through Notre Dame we trekked back out into the rain to the crypts beneath the Cathedral. The exhibit was a bit underwhelming – it was a lot smaller than I was expecting and featured just a few stones from ancient times, no artifacts or skeletons etc. It did however include maps that depicted what this area of France, 1st Arrondissement, used to look like before industrialization, which was interesting to think just how much has changed throughout the centuries.
Our next stop was Sacre Coeur, but first we decided to fill our bellies with *delicious* baguettes and chocolate éclairs – sounds like a balanced lunch to me! The baguette was deliciously fresh and made me wonder why we hadn’t been snacking on them since the moment we arrived in Paris. The Pâtisserie we went to actually won the “Best Baguette Contest” in Paris last year.
Sacre Coeur could be seen from the rooftops of our area, the 1st Arrondissement and very center of the city, as a large cathedral nestled in the mountains. We took the Metro for about 45 minutes and then began an uphill walk to a set of incredibly steep stairs. (More stairs than it takes to get up to my flat I’m afraid!) At least by this point it had stopped raining and by the time we reached the top the clouds had started to clear.
Overwhelmed by the in-your-face beauty of Sacre Coeur, as well as the stunning view overlooking the city we decided to take advantage of the clearing sky and take a peek at the landmarks we could see from high up. (Of course, the entire time there were people selling selfie sticks yelling “2 Euro selfie! In various accents.” Europe has definitely changed a bit since I was last here…) The view was gorgeous though and reminded me a bit of Florence.
We then entered the Cathedral, which was dizzying with its high vaulted ceilings and brilliant stained glass windows. The Cathedral was huge! I paused to look in the gift shop and bought a beautiful bracelet with navy and light blue crystal beads and a gold cross pendant. (Unfortunately said bracelet has since lost the cross pendant which makes me pretty sad – BUT it’s just another reason to go back to Paris ASAP, am I right?)
This would usually be the time where Ben and I would spoil ourselves with an afternoon nap or break from exploring, but because we woke up a bit later this day we decided to power through and head to the Musée de l’Orangerie to see some of Monet’s lovely water lilies.
It was particularly astonishing to see the way the museum was curated. Specifically Monet’s Nymphéas was stunning to see displayed in the two oval rooms curved along the walls. I had seen some of his water lilies paintings (he made over 250 paintings of water lilies modeled after those his garden) at museums in the U.S. but these rooms were particularly special because the paintings were so cohesive and full of light and movement.
It was a bit past (second) lunch time by the time we were done viewing Monet’s masterpieces at l’Orangerie and we decided it would be best to relax and snack a bit before going out to dinner later. We picked up a baguette, brie and wine on our way back from the museum and dug into it ravenously. Once our initial hunger began to subside we realized just how stinky the cheese we had purchased actually was… not really my thing, I discovered, after waking up from my nap from the brie smell that was still wafting around the room. However – the wine and baguette were amazing – is it even possible to go wrong with freshly baked bread and a bottle of French wine?
Fortunately, dinner was much more filling and full of delicious Italian pasta. (Second time we ate Italian food in France… but so worth it and so desperately needed! If anyone knows of good Italian restaurants to go to in London let me know because I’m struggling without it!) The waitresses and waiters spoke solely in fast French, which made me so excited that I was able to keep up with them and then translate what they were saying to Ben! Our main waitress spoke in beautifully fluent Italian to other customers as well, so when speaking back to her I was able to get my point across using my two favorite romance languages. She asked me if I was from Italy (Yay! My accent is improving!) and was surprised to see that we were both from New York and just attending school abroad (win!).
Happy and full, we started for our last stop of the night, a hipster bar recommended by my Europe guidebook catered to university students. The bar “L’Art Brut” (Ugly Art) on 78 rue Quincampoix, was super tiny and crowded. Not one seat or table was empty so we made ourselves squeeze through the crowd to a small spot at the edge of the bar. Ben remarked that he could see how the first sparks of ideas for the French Revolution could have started up in a small niche spot like this one – and I one hundred percent agreed.
The crowd that the bar drew was not your typical belligerent Saturday night crew. It was entirely clear that the room was full of intellectuals based on the language and candor that was put on tipsy display at the tables surrounding us. Just about everyone there knew each other. The walls were full of you guessed it, ugly art. Yet they did something unique to the atmosphere combined with the totally narrow space and folky tunes. We stayed for a few drinks (their organic wine was poured into a small yet potent glass, and I swore I could taste the grapes) and then headed back, ready for a good night’s sleep. But, of course, not without sharing a late night nutella e banane crêpe.
Stay Classy! xx