Today was our last day in Paris and luckily the weather cooperated a little bit more and we were able to get a LOT accomplished. Reflecting on the last 2 days, it’s amazing how much we were able to see and do in Paris in the 2 days we had. We walked 14 miles and 61 floors today alone!
We started the day at 8am with a quick breakfast. Continental breakfasts will always be disappointing to me; I cannot do it. The croissants are delicious, I’ll give them that, but I just cannot.
After breakfast, Victoria, Greg, Justin, Heidi and I headed straight to the Musee Du Louvre to be there when it opened and miss the lines. It was our first time navigating the Paris subways and we did a decent job as we arrived safely at the correct place! Several other members of our group had the same idea and arrived shortly after us. It was pretty easy but I made a pretty silly mistake once we got in… I misread the Hall/Room Number for the Mona Lisa (obviously our first stop to avoid crowds) and we hauled butt to the WRONG place. Once I realized my mistake, we hauled even more butt to the correct place. Cue the Aggie jokes. Either way, we made it and didn’t have to wait long to see her. It was cool to see but at the end of the day, just a painting. The hype is a little confusing! We took some pictures and then moved on to other parts of the museum. The Louvre is huge (and the building itself is so beautiful) so there was no way we would be able to see everything there AND do all of the other things on our list so we left shortly after and kept on with our schedule.
My good friend, Dionne, recommended “Angelina’s” cafe to us and because it was near the Louvre, we visited it next. Dionne said their hot chocolate was the best. We were freezing so it was not difficult to convince everyone to make a pit stop. A few of us got the hot chocolate and all of us got macaroons and let me just say, Dionne was not wrong. That hot chocolate was to die for. It was so rich and creamy; it was basically a melted chocolate bar. The macaroons were equally amazing. Victoria didn’t care for the hot chocolate that much so she gave it to Justin and he agreed with me; it was delicious.
We enjoyed our hot chocolate and macaroons as we strolled through the Jardin Des Tuileries. It was a surreal moment to just be strolling through a garden in Paris, with the cool weather and our hot chocolate and macaroons.
On the other side of the garden was the Musee National de L’Orangerie where we got to see some of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series. I had seen some of them at the MOMA in NYC but it was equally as amazing to see them in Paris. The paintings are so large and just very impressive!
We then walked through the Place de la Concorde and past the Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor bridge where people are now placing their “love locks” (the old bridge that housed them had the locks removed a few years ago so people have taken to putting locks elsewhere). We obviously had to stop and 4 of us bought and put locks on the bridge: Victoria did one for her and her boyfriend, Greg did one for him and his girlfriend, Heidi did one for her and her boyfriend… and I did one for me and Elliott. That is PEAK crazy-dog-lady stuff right there and I am not even a little sorry about it. Heidi even suggested I put the other key that I didn’t throw into the river on Elliott’s collar which I thought was a FABULOUS idea. Jillian and Elliott forever.
The next museum on our list was the Musee D’Orsay. The building used to be a train station back-in-the-day so it was very large and very decorated. It housed a lot of unique paintings, sculptures, and furniture and we somehow managed to get through most of it. Again, the building was one of my more favorite parts about it but it was nice to see several of the famous paintings such as Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Self Portrait’ and ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone.’
After the D’Orsay, we took the subway again to head towards the Centre Pompidou – Musee National D’Art Moderne. This subway ride was not near as easy as our first one earlier in the morning and we had to wait 20 minutes for a train. During that time, I took the opportunity to practice a little yoga to stretch out – my body needs some serious stretching. After the subway debacle, we made it to the correct side of town and started our hunt for a quick lunch. We have noticed that European restaurants are in no hurry whatsoever so every time we go to a sit-down place, we are there for an unreasonably long time. Because we wanted to be able to do a lot today, we decided to look for a quick ‘take away’ place on the street and we found a great sandwich shop called “La Mie Caline.” They had cheap pre-made sandwiches that while simple, were so delicious. The bread in Paris makes everything better. The cafe also had wi-fi so we sat there for a few extra minutes and during that time, my dad and I got to chat via Facebook Messenger. I didn’t know they had wi-fi calling so that was pretty cool. He gave me an update on Elliott too, and I love a good Elliott update!
After lunch we continued our walk to the Pompidou and spent about a little over an hour touring it. It’s their modern art museum so it had some very interesting pieces but also some that were… well, questionable at best. I think this was Victoria and Justin’s favorite museum we visited as they both took several pictures. It was the most unique building I had seen in Paris so of course it had to house some unique art! The best: watching ice melt. Seriously, there was a piece that had 3 blocks of ice on it and as the ice melted, it routed through carved out tunnels in the table into 4 buckets on the floor. What the what?!
Justin wasn’t feeling well so he left us after the Pompidou and the 4 of us continued on to the Eiffel Tower. When we got to the subway, there were a few people struggling to buy tickets and they asked us for help. I showed them how and gave them the rundown on how to get around (it’s weird how quickly you can become familiar with an area, I felt like a pro!) and we talked to them for a bit. They were from California and were on a European adventure as well, with one of the couples celebrating their 30 year wedding anniversary. They were also headed toward the Eiffel Tower so we suggested they tag along and we got to know them really well. They were AWESOME people and we had so much fun hanging out with them. Together, now 8 of us, we made it to the tower and all of us hiked the 671 steps up to the second level. The weather was foggy and overcast still but it was such a beautiful view. I loved every second we were up there and just felt so happy! We ran into another guy from our tour and the now 9 of us took the elevator up to the third level, a.k.a the very top. What an experience… there are just no words to describe the feelings I had up there. How lucky were we to be in Paris… at the top of the Eiffel Tower?! I texted some friends and my family and said hello to them all from up there, too! We took several pictures and turned into icicles so we headed back down to the lawn to take some classic/typical Eiffel Tower pictures (and a few selfies with our new friends). There was a Crepe Cafe on the side of the lawn so we finally got to eat our crepes. The guy made fun of how I said Crepes and Chocolate Noir (the kind I ordered) which was not cool but hey, at least I tried. The crepes were amazing; I ate all of mine and half of Victoria’s! Yikes. It was at this point, standing in front of the Eiffel Tower eating a chocolate crepe, where I had this overwhelming “Oh my God” feeling: I was eating crepes… in front of the Eiffel Tower… in Paris, France! Just, what? What is my life? How did I get here? How lucky am I? It was just amazing.
The next and final item on our list for the day was re-visiting the Arc de Triomphe. We had only seen it so far from the bus so we wanted to at least stop by and take some photos. Our new California friends had the same plans so we stuck together and braved the subway again to head North. We took some photos in front of the Arc but did not go under it. It had started to sprinkle a little bit and by this point it was late and we wanted to start heading back toward the hotel.
Our new friends were on the same subway line back East as us so we got to visit with them a little bit longer. We really had a blast with them! One of the guys even wants to join Kelsey, John, and me for our half marathon in September. The other couple offered us a place to stay in LA should we need it. I mean, we really bonded with them… can you tell?! They were calling us their kids and we all just really enjoyed each others company. Don’t worry, we’re already Facebook friends!
With our new friends gone and 2 of our group separating to go shopping, it was down to just Victoria, Greg, and me. We headed back to the hotel and after taking the wrong turn outside, walked the wrong direction for about a mile (the subway issue at the Arc was MY fault, this one was definitely Greg’s fault!). We corrected our mistake and headed in the CORRECT direction to the hotel, picking up our final meal in Paris on the way: McDonald’s. Think we’re crazy? It was past 9pm and as I said earlier, all restaurants take forever. We had no shame in our game though! The McDonald’s had a self-ordering machine (awesome) and special french fry sauce (also awesome) so it was still a unique experience! Also, my apple juice from my kid’s meal tasted like applesauce. Paris does not know how to juice.
I ended the day with a Skype call from my friend, Chris! It was a blurry call but it was nice to see and talk to someone from home. The whole time zone thing is so crazy but we all adjust!
I will miss Paris; it was amazing. Our Paris Museum Pass (included in our trip package) helped us get into every museum for free and skip most lines so we were able to get so much accomplished.
Today was our last day in Paris as we leave at 7:15am tomorrow to head to Amsterdam with a lunch stop in Brussels! It is our longest travel day on the trip so I am hopeful we’ll be able to get plenty of sleep on the bus.