Day 2: Glorious Paris
How many sights can you visit in one day without running around? Apparently, a lot. But even without running it was tiring. Anyways, let’s start from the beginning.
Our 4th floor apartment on Rue de la Roquette had large windows allowing us to enjoy the views of our neighborhood.
To start the morning I suggested to make an avocado toast. It was an interesting suggestion in these circumstances considering I’d never had one before (homemade or in a restaurant). I always thought of it as a silly dish (I do love avocados though), but somehow Paris made it sound a lot more appealing. With lens blur it almost looks Instagram-worthy.
Then we were ready!
First destination: Sainte-Chapelle. According to the all-knowing Rick Steves it was better to hit the place first thing in the morning, before crowds. And that’s what we did. But even before we got there, we made a few brief stops to enjoy various views:
Also, a very useful tip from RS (it’s tiring to type Rick Steve’s name so many times) was to get a Paris Museum Pass. I paid 96 euros for two 2-day tickets. I never calculated how much we saved though. Maybe I’ll do it now.
Sainte-Chapelle (10 euros). To be honest, these pictures don’t do it justice. It’s a small place, but quite overwhelming. Besides visual beauty, there is a story depicted. I wish I read more about it ahead of time.
The next stop was Notre-Dames de Paris (free). I just realized that I don’t remember much about its interior… Does it make me a bad tourist? The only photo on my phone is Ira’s with Joan of Arc:
But we were not done with Notre-Dames de Paris. The most exciting part was still ahead, or rather above: visit to the Towers of Notre-Dames. We didn’t realize that we needed a reservation, but conveniently there were kiosks right outside the cathedral that allowed us to do that. The system is completely automated, and we just had to enter number of people to see available times (the fee of 8.50 euros is paid later while on the tour).
With 30 minutes to spare, we decided to fuel up before the 400-stair ascent and descent. Ice cream! Berthillon Glacier was a friend’s recommendation. Both of us got a scoop of wild strawberry, which was so good! I also had a scoop of pistachio, while Ira picked chocolate. It was definitely worth a quick trip to l’Île Saint-Louis.
I don’t know if it was the ice cream or just the excitement, but we flew through those 400 stairs (I’m definitely exaggerating). The views were outstanding and the gargoyles were entertaining (I do have a picture of the celebrity gargoyle somewhere on my other camera).
After such strenuous exercise, it was time for lunch. But we couldn’t just pass by another celebrity statue:
For lunch we went to a Lebanese restaurant called Al Dar. Somehow we missed the adjacent cafe of the same name that serves sandwiches and salads at lower prices, and ended up getting daily lunch plate in the main restaurant. It was quite expensive (18 euros) by my standards, but it proved to be normal for Paris. And the meal was quite delicious. I tried something similar in Istanbul (icli kofte), but in Lebanese it’s called kibbeh (I think). Basically, it’s bulgur meatballs (covered in lots of savory yogurt).
After lunch, we made our way to the Louvre. But of course there were a few necessary stops.
For the record, we didn’t get anything from that pastry shop. I realized that I simply enjoyed staring at all the pastries, candies, cakes, tarts etc. In Paris they all looked like works of art.
And then it was finally time for more traditional concepts of art. The Louvre (17 euros).
We started with the Greek sculpture art. Venus de Milo was definitely the most popular one, but there were other quite interesting works of butts.
We slowly made our way to Mona Lisa, which looked so small, dark and underwhelming… But we did enjoy the process of taking selfies while trying to avoid people getting in the view.
There were a lot of other famous paintings (obviously), but how many of them can you actually admire before being fully saturated? We followed RS’s tour to make sure we hit the main ones, but even that was quite tiring.
After our Louvre tour was over, we were desperately looking for a street side cafe to chill for a bit. We picked Le Nemours, which is a block away from the Louvre, and it was perfect for people watching and eating foie gras. It was nice to get a big fatty chunk of it to enjoy properly.
But our day was not over yet! The most visited sight in Paris was still on the menu. I didn’t realize at the time, but there was a reason why RS recommended to take subway to Place de Trocadero in order to visit the tower. That’s basically the best viewing point in the city.
The Eiffel Tower (not covered by Paris Museum Pass). We didn’t have a reservation (all online tickets were sold out), but we took our chances. Maybe because it was middle of the week, or maybe because it was raining, but we didn’t have to wait in line for more than few minutes. It took us a lot longer to find the entrance to the viewing area (there was some kind of construction and the only entrance was hidden deep inside the adjacent park).
That was quite a day!
This is our timeline view for Day 2: