July 9th & 10th, 2019
Today we wanted to explore Paris more as a local than just as a tourist. What’s more Parisian than a bike ride along the River Seine. Starting in Le Marais along the right bank of the Seine. Le Marais is a trendy area in the 4th district. Here we gathered supplies ( Rose’, sandwiches and bicycles from Bikeabout Tours) to start our half day exploration.
Crossing over the Seine onto the Left bank, we rode along the Seine stopping for pictures of Notre Dame. Because of the unfortunate fire last spring, she is closed for visit, but we could still get close enough to see her standing strong, with all the repairs around her. We continued along the Quai d’Orsay to visit Les Invalides which houses the French military museum and monuments for France. It is also home to Napoleon Boneparte’s tomb. We stopped for a picnic along the Seine just off the Quai where we enjoyed our Rose’ and sandwiches watching the busy river boats pass by as they traveled from one end of Paris to the other. Crossing the lock bridge (no we did not profess our love with a lock) we stopped at Touillerie Gardens* for a nice jaunt around the park and a stop for some glacee and coffee at one of the parks outdoor cafe’s. *Btw, bikes are not allowed within the gardens.
Le Marais, was originally the jewish ghetto region of Paris, pre World War II. Today stands the Holocaust museum. The Memorial de la Shoah is a beautiful modern testimonial to the Warsaw Ghetto casualties. After returning the bicycles we crossed back over the Seine from the right bank to the left and into the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter is a small cobblestoned district and the “college area” of Paris filled with cafes and bookstores. Usually filled with students, being summer, the cafe’s were packed with tourists looking to escape the summer heat. We walked farther into the Left bank to the Pantheon a former church which now remains as a mausoleum filled with prominent French citizens. Down the street in the upper regions of Le Marais we found a great local brasserie to relax and enjoy a break before heading back to our hotel.
The next day, was our tourist day, you know when in Paris…. Our first stop was to be the Catacombs. Upon arriving, we discovered that it is the most popular tourist attraction, next to the Eiffel Tower and the entry line was easily 2 hours deep. Additionally they close for 2 hours, mid day. We opted to skip the catacombs (btw we found out later that day it is a very pricey tourist destination and the local Parisians do not consider it of any relevance). Having some time before our Louvre visit, we walked to Luxembourg Gardens. The former Medici palace which today sits as the house of the French Senate, the grounds with tree-lined walkways, Roman statues surrounding and a sailboat pond, with of course, Medici Fountain. A nice place to sit, relax and people watch.
We pre-purchased timed Louvre tickets (highly recommended) to bypass long lines. A beautiful collection of art pieces, the vast size of the museum and the maze of connecting buildings is daunting. We recommend a little pre-planning as to what you want to see or even better arranging a guided or private tour to not miss those pieces. An art aficionado could easily spend the entire day wondering around.
After a few hours inside the Louvre, we walked along the Quai and then took the train to the Eiffel Tower. Arriving at 7pm, we found it the perfect time to quickly purchase tickets to the top and start our climb. Only 674 stairs later, with a stop at the Mezzanine to catch our breath, we were directed onto elevators from the 2nd floor to get to the top. We arrived at the top at approximately 9:30pm which was perfect planning to see the views of Paris and the sunset. We discovered a champagne vendor at the top and although not inexpensive, felt very French sipping champagne as we watched the sun slowly set over the river Seine. Note; the Eiffel Tower, during summer will fetch lines with waits of over 3 hours just to purchase tickets. We noticed that from 7pm – 8pm (dinner time in Paris) the lines were short and we could get in without the crowds and long waits.
After visiting the top of the tower, we came back down and crossed back to the right bank to watch the tower light show. Parked along Avenue de New York across the Pont d’lena was the most amazing crepes we had while visiting France. The Jambon (ham) and cheese and the Nutella w/ bananas crepes were superb. We could not believe that one of the best meals we had in Paris was street food. There are other food trucks along the street and the night view of Le Tower Eiffel was not bad either.