We've walked like 5 miles worth of stairs......
Today, Alex decided to rest, so we (Jen and Elayna) traveled about Paris on our own.
We started off the day with some grocery shopping at Franprix and our first Parisian baguettes and a croissant. They were delicious. Bread here is by far superior. (Like Yakitate Japan status. haha)
Then we departed for the Eiffel Tower to get some more pictures and to buy some souvenirs from the illegal immigrants selling them cheap on the street. =] We got a really good deal and headed on to our Les Car Rouges hop on hop off bus. We took it to the Louvre stop thinking it was the Notre Dame one, but ended up taking a really nice stroll along the Seine River and on the Ile de la Cite. When we reached Notre Dame de Paris (the cathedral associated with the hunchback of Notre Dame), we had to wait in a line that took about an hour to climb the Towers of Notre Dame. Paris is extremely busy currently and due to this fact, we only managed to see the towers, but they were worth the wait.
We climbed 387 steps of spiraling doom to reach the top. The first set of stairs brought us to an intermediate floor where we saw the Major Bell of the North Tower. The bell was nothing special but it was cool seeing it in the belfry, however Elayna unfortunately missed part of the steep steps coming down and almost swept Jen along with her. She made it out ok though. =] We then went to the very top to see a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view of Paris. Notre Dame Cathedral is a great place to visit. The church has tons of unique gargoyles and awesome flying butresses so common of gothic architecture.
We left the church for the Latin Quarter where we had some sandwiches and headed to the Pantheon. We find it amusing how taken with Roman architecture and styles the French were. The Pantheon has so many similarities to the one in Rome. We first entered into the crypts, which give you an eerie feeling the entire time you walk through it, despite how nice it may be down there. We saw the tombs of Pierre Curie, Marie Curie, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Louis Braille. We finished in the tombs and headed to the main floor where there is a huge pendulum hanging from the central dome. It looks similar to the one you may find at the Academy of Sciences, only grander. The rest of the Pantheon had these beautiful paintings on the wall as well as statues resembling Roman times.
Considering the time we had left until our rendezvous with Alex, we visited Pierre Herme, one of the famous patisseries of Paris. We bought a pack of 12 macaroons, one of each flavor. The macaroons are so soft that they practically melt in your mouth.
We headed over to the Opera Garnier area to meet Alex for some dinner at Entre 2 Rives. The Vietnamese food here was a great change in our eating pace and there imperial rolls (or Nem) were truly delicious. No pictures included because we were so famished.
After eating a nice meal, we left for the Arc de Triomphe. We lucked out and caught the arc at around sunset. The Paris skyline at night is beautiful and the lit up Eiffel tower adds to the grandeur. In order to reach the top of the arc, we had to yet again climb a few hundred spiraling steps. We hate spiraling steps. They make you dizzy and nauseous. The view at the top is worth it and the interactive machine that displays arcs from around the world was very informative and interesting to look at.
On to the next day!
The Seine River
Notre Dame de Paris
Eiffel Tower at night from the top of the arc de triomphe
I'm pretty sure this is Geisel Library on top of an arc......hahaha (korean arc)
Arc at night