Thursday, 30 August 2012

Weekend in Paris

Bon Jour Readers,
We are back from our last summer holiday before school starts last week.  It was a Bank Holiday Monday (no work for Lori) so we had decided to squeeze in Paris as our last summer vacation.  It was one of the few must do's while we are here so now its off the list.  I had a great time - Paris lived up to my expectations while it didn't quite live up to Lori or Kalle's.  Teenager Karl said it was "alright" - <sigh> - I just want to beat him some days. 

Friday, Day 0 - Travel day.
For the trip we took a train from Derby to London then the Eurostar to Paris which went smoothly.  Just over four hours total and the ride was okay.  Lori left work early Friday so we could take the afternoon train to Paris.  Much nicer waking up in Paris and starting the day then leaving England Saturday morning. 

Our hotel was the Novotel Paris Les Halles (link) which ended up being in a great location. We were within a short walking distance from restaurants in two directions, within five minutes of two RER (city subway) stations, next door to a convenience store, and within walking distance of the Louvre and Notre Dame. Every dog has his day I guess. 

Kids get their own beds again.  Score!

Our view outside the hotel.
Dana Johnson pic - Our late dinner was at a close cafe where Karl ventured nowhere near outside his comfort zone and ordered his standard cheeseburger which tasted almost like a US burger.  So we went back the next night again and all ordered burgers except non-meat loving Kalle.  And they were all very good again.  Note the fries are scooped which was a first for us.
Saturday, Day 1 - Museum day. 

The Dana Johnson - breakfast.  Breakfast was okay, the crepes were very good (thanks for the suggestion Dana).  On the last day they had these dense Belgian waffle like waffles powdered with sugar that I could have eaten until I made myself sick. 
Our first stop was the Musee Louvre (link).  I don't think I need to go into much detail on one of the world's most famous museums other than to say HOLY COW IS IT HUGE!  We took our buddy Steve's suggestion of seeing the top 20 which was a great idea - thanks Steve.  (I also took his suggestion on scaling back the trip itinerary which worked out well also - thanks again Steve.)  At the information desk they have museum maps that highlight twenty one pieces all around the museum so you can follow the map and walk most of the museum looking for/at the pieces.  So we ended up walking about seventy-five percent of the museum but only stopped to look at about fifteen percent of the artwork.  And that took us over three hours!  I would have loved to spend a whole day here.  The kids recognised some pieces and liked others but the best part was getting Mii's from Japan and France while we walked the museum.  If that doesn't make sense to you then your child probably doesn't have a Nintendo DS so don't worry about it.

The museum shape is like a block style capital A with four floor levels.  This is the group walking along the short top section of the "A".  Yup, it's a big 'un Al Bundy.

Obligatory tourist shot of I.M. Pei's Louvre Pyramid.

Sculpture section of the museum.  One of the Horses of Marly are on the upper left.  Lori liked the sculptures best of all here.  Amazing detail on the marble sculptures that dated to the 1600's. 

Aphrodite (the Venus de Milo).

To give you a size perspective - this was looking down one of the small side corridors.

Psyche and Cupid.

Captive (The Dying Slave) by Michelangelo.

St. Mary Magdalene.  There was a large section dedicated to Jesus here which surprised me.

The Wedding Feast at Cana.  I liked the paintings best here.

The Mona Lisa by da Vinci.  Everyone wanted to see her.  She had glass protecting her and the area in front had two stages of roped off areas.  Can't be to safe I guess.

Not sure who she is but I guess we have been exposed to enough art since we have left the states as Kalle is no longer complaining about the "inappropriate" artwork. 

The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Even the ceilings are impressive here.

Not sure what it said in French but the date is 1294 - 1279 BC.

The Seated Scribe, 2600-2350 BC. 

Mummy from 3rd-2nd C. BC.

Colossal Statue of Ramesses II.  Only about eight feet tall though.

Random painting by Berthelemey I liked.

The Turkish Bath.

Another random painting I liked.

Not sure who painted this but he/she did a masterful job with the candle lighting and shadows.

Woman playing an angry harp.  The harp reminded me of our recent Ireland trip.

The Lacemaker by Vermeer.

Not sure who painted this but it was about fifteen feet tall by twenty-five feet wide.  Simply impressive in size, this room had about twelve of these size paintings in it.
Now we are in Napoleon's Apartment's where they took rooms from his residences and set them up here.  Foreshadowing of Versailles tomorrow.

Yup, those are real rabbit slippers.

Gaudy chandelier and sofa in the lounge.

His dining table.  More excess.

Sorrowful baby, hard to see but he has a tear coming out of his eye.

Close up of the impressive marble sculptures.

This is one of the legs of the capital "A".  Not the whole leg though, this is about a third of the entire length.  Seriously.  The Louvre's reputation is well deserved.

SMART parking on the way to our next stop.
I picked a place for lunch that was the oldest continuous restaurant in Paris dating from 1680 (Le Petite Chaise) but it ended up being to far of a walk away from Napoleon's Tomb (fail as KJ would say) so we ended up eating at the attached cafe.  Double fail.  I should have listened to Dave and Sarah and rented bicycles this day.  Over twelve hours of walking and/or standing makes for some very crabby tourists.

Dana Johnson pic - advertised as New York style hot dogs so we tried them.  They were worse then the picture because the picture doesn't capture the stench coming from them.  If I was a New Yorker and ordered this I would have thrown it on the floor and stomped on it.  Worse part was Lori, Kal and I all ordered them.  So KJ shared his sub with KK and Lori and I skipped lunch.  Not good things to come.  We probably should have returned them to the kitchen but we were so shocked we just left.
Next stop was Napoleon's Tomb in The Hotel National des Invalides (link). 
Altar at the tombs.

Marshal Foch (Wiki link) tomb.  I've never heard of him but Wiki says he's a WWI hero.

Napoleon's Tomb.  KJ saw it and asked if he was four feet tall.  Surprising (to me) that they didn't embellish his height with his tomb.  Hard to see in the picture but it is in the centre of the rotunda and viewable from the top and bottom walking sections around the tomb.  

I bet he's chewing gum as he pats the head and rubs the belly.
After the tombs was the Musee de l'Armee (link), or Army Museum.  Lots of guns, weapons, info boards, uniforms, etc. from pre-Napoleon times to today.  Typical of the army type museums.  KJ excitedly looked at the guns identifying them from one of his Call of Duty games.  At least he liked the museum I guess.  They also had Napoleon's horse stuffed and on display but I blurred the pic like a stinkin' newb so I didn't include it.  Sorry.

Mobile infantry protection.

KJ comes alive!

He recognised this PPSh as well.

Moulin (Wiki link), a famous French freedom fighter.  If I remember correctly he was an early organiser of the fighters and was eventually betrayed to the Germans.  Mercilessly tortured, he died without giving up any information. 

More bombing reminders of what Europe endured during the War.

Without seeing the hole on the back side of the armour I jokingly asked Kal if she thought the person lived.  So Lori walked to the back side, looked through both holes and said "let me guess".  Probably not I guess. 
After the museum was the Musee Rodin (link), home of the Thinker and others.  Lori liked this better than me.  We discovered on this trip that Lori likes sculptures better than paintings and vice versa for me.  This museum was okay to me but not great.  KJ said the sculptures started looking the same after a while and I kind of see what he means.

The Thinker.  Or the boom, boom, pow... fi-re-power guy from The Night at the Museum movie as Kalle said.  <sigh>

The Gates of Hell.

The Three Shades.

La Defense (The Call to Arms).
Lack of lunch is kicking in with some bad consequences for me so we popped out of the museum and into the cafe on the corner.  Disaster barely averted (remember the french fry incident many years ago Tammy?).  This was the low point of my meal planning for the trip.  At least it gets better from here.

The Kevin Coleman pic - Kronenbourg 1664.  Tasty even though they didn't fill the glass.

The Dana Johnson pic - we found another meal we liked.  The Croque Monsieur is an Emmental cheese and ham grilled sandwich with a melted layer of cheese on top.  Outstanding!  Pictured is the Croque Madame - a Monsieur with a fried egg on top.  The Frenchies redeem themselves after the NY hot dog fiasco. 
After eating and feeling better we popped back into Rodin's to check out the rest of it before it closed.
I know how this guy feels.  He must be a poor meal planner also.  Poor Lori is still suffering after fourteen years of marriage, she should have listened to Aunt Wanda.  (This is the Monument to Victor Hugo btw.)

The gardens on Rodin's estate.  There were life sized sculptures outside with smaller sculptures in the yellow house and more sculptures in the front exhibition building.  The Kiss and others were in the no pictures section of the exhibit.  Bummer.
After the exhibit closed we were on free time so we decided to check out the Eiffel Tower ticket line.  We were a RER ride away from the hotel anyway and had walked all day so why not walk some more?  Plus we were walking towards the Eiffel Tower (link) so it would (hopefully) be worth it.  From the website:  The tower was opened in 1889 and was the highest structure at the time; it took 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to build; and it has almost seven million visitors a year of which seventy-five percent are foreigners.  The tower is named after its designer Gustave Eiffel who also designed the structure for The Statue of Liberty. 

Napoleon's Tomb building.  He's in the underneath the golden dome in the middle of it of course.  One of the things I've learned on our travels is the important people are always in the middle of the rotunda.  Weather was upper 70's and sunny every day - almost perfect weather for our long weekend.

The Eiffel Tower - simply amazing.
We jumped into the relatively short line and were standing on the top a short hour and a half later.  Take that planning!  Things are starting to look up for the fat kid.

Celebratory champagne at the top overlooking the Seine.  Super expensive but how often do you get to the top of the Eiffel Tower?  Once every 39 years for me.  We even went first class and picked the glass that lights up when liquid is poured in it. 

Setting sun over Paris.  Hard to beat this for a trip highlight.  You can see the tower's shadow stretching towards the clouds.  Napoleon's Tomb is the gold dome on the right.  Our hotel was straight out near where the clouds start shading the buildings.
La Basilique du Sacre Couer de Montmarte on the raised hill to the left.  It originally was a stretch goal initially but removed from the list because of its lonely location.

My artistic urban photography attempt.  The moon seemed so small as we stood under the tower that I tried capturing it here.
We planned on seeing the tower in the daylight and at night so with our impromptu timing we only had to wait an hour to see the lights.  Laverne from the Better Halves Club told Kal that around 9 o'clock something happens so we camped out on the grass and waited.  The lights turned on at 9 and a minute afterwards we were treated to a short flashing light show.  Thanks Laverne! 

Still photo of the light show.
Light show video.

On our ten minute walk to the RER station I glanced back and saw the tower lit up between two buildings.
Sunday, Day 2 - After back to back late nights (back to the hotel around ten, sleeping around midnight) we are dragging just a tad.  The first night was late because of the train ride and time change.  The second night was late for the Eiffel Tower schedule change (Lori's idea) which actually worked out great for our schedule.  Today was the Palace of Versailles (link), another UNESCO World Heritage Site so I figured it must be worth it.  I've talked to other ex-pats about this and read their blogs so I just planned on us being here all day.  It is out of Paris a ways and immense in size so we prepared accordingly by getting a late start.  Oops.  The Palace square area itself is bigger than nineteen American football fields (without end zones) per Wiki data.  
500 years of history is a bit much to summarise so I'll just hit a few high points from the website.  Versailles started as a country village that Louis XIII built a hunting lodge on.  Louis XIV expanded it to one of the biggest palaces in the world and moved the capital of France here.  Louis XV renovated some apartments and added the the petit trianon - a small leisure complex on the estate, among other improvements.  Louis XVI renovated the gardens and other smaller areas.  Then the French Revolution starts, Louis XVI is executed, and Marie Antoinette is beheaded.  And the rest is history they say.

The gilded gates of Versailles.  This place (buildings and grounds included) was so big I couldn't get any pictures to accurately capture its size.  No wonder the French people were starving.

The Jim Foster pic un.

The group inside the gates with some of the main buildings behind them.

The first part of the tour was a paintings tour of the building of Versailles.  And these monkeys riding the prancing goats.

Typical doorway.

The Royal Chapel.

Hercules Room.  Nothing says Hercules like marble walls and gilded cove mouldings.  It was Sunday which is the day to tour Versailles I guess.  It was shoulder to shoulder crowded through the smaller rooms and hall ways. 

Hercules Room ceiling.

One of the crushing rooms on the tour.  If I took all of the golden trim I have ever see in my entire life and put it in one building it still wouldn't equal what we saw at Versailles.  It was so disgustingly lavish I actually felt kind of bad for the people at the time.

Another ceiling - words can not describe this place.

Hall of Mirrors - painted ceilings scenes in gilded frames, marble walls, marble sculptures lining the walls, glass chandeliers hanging overhead, golden figures holding up candelabras along the walls, mirrors running along the long interior wall, windows running along the long exterior wall... this may have been the impressive room in the place. 
Golden woman carrying the candelabra of excessiveness.

The Queen's Bedchamber (I think).  Note the wig holder in the corner of the room.

Another huge painting.
We were almost done with the house but we decided to duck into the restaurant since it was about lunch time and I didn't want a repeat of yesterday.  Plus I was hoping the crowd would thin a little if we stopped for a bit.  Pictures were difficult to take and manoeuvring was almost impossible in the smaller rooms so I didn't have anything to lose.

The Dana Johnson pic - I ordered quiche with cheese and bacon which was okay.  Lori ordered a Scandinavian salmon club sandwich and realised the salmon was uncooked when it was delivered.  Oops.  I think the kids ordered Croques here.

One of the plain Jane ceilings after lunch.

Napoleon in the war battles gallery.  The Frenchies sure do like their giant sized wall paintings.

Joan of Arc.

In some rooms of the palace were artistic crap added for some exhibit.  I personally like art but this stuff was plain old crap.  Here is a pink feathered helicopter.  At least I was right about the crowds, the afternoon was a little roomier in the palace. 

Charlemagne (Wiki link).

Rene Descartes (Wiki link).  I remember him from a Tech philosophy class which I thought was total crap.  Stupid humanities electives.  I will always remember "I think therefore I am" though so I guess I did learn something in the class.

Napoleon I (no Wiki link needed).

Dauphine's Bedroom.  She must have been a lowly servant or something because her room was pretty plain.

Interesting chandelier.

Close up of the facade of one of the inner courtyard buildings.
Onto the gardens.  Per Wiki data the gardens cover almost 324 ACRES!  The fam was not happy seeing these after yesterday's walking marathon.  And once again the pictures do not capture the impressiveness.  It was supposed to be free entrance with our museum pass but they were playing some musical fountain show so we had to pay.  We had purchased the four day museum pass for the adults and it ended up paying for itself and then some so we were pretty happy for that reason plus we could skip the ticket lines with our pass at most attractions.  One neat thing about Paris was most museums were free admittance for kids.  Another reason to like Paris. 

A paltry side fountain.
Kalle looking down at the Dragon Fountain.

Late 1600's marble statue about Africa.

Looking down the main walkway in the gardens.

Close up of the Water Parterre and walkway down to the Grand Canal.  See the row boats?  We'll be in those later.

View across the way as we stopped for a minute to enjoy the classical music and the beautiful day.  Okay, maybe only I was enjoying the music but the day still was spectacular.

1700's marble sculpture.

Jim Seppanen pic - this huge trees were dwarfed by the sheer size of the gardens.  I saw them for a distance and thought they were about twenty or twenty-five feet tall then we approached them and I saw their scale compared to the people.  WOW is this place amazing.
After more walking was a boat ride.  KJ took the first turn at the oars while we ridiculed him as he kept trying to crash us into the canal wall.

The palace from the canal.  Still can't see all of the palace on the left.

Next up was Kalle's turn for ridicule.  She was so slow that a duck motored past us.  JK kids - you did fine rowing.
Lori had last turn and she did well.  Much better than the older teenage boy she passed who proceeded to be ridiculed by his father enough that he quit rowing so that his father could row.  Kind of funny for us, not so funny for the poor kid. 

Music and fountains are on, I guess we didn't get ripped off after all today.  This is the Latone Fountain and Parterre but I recognised it as Poseidon riding his sea horse drawn chariot out of the water.
Earlier fountain with the water on.  We only saw a small fraction of the park.  I was looking for a bike rental place but couldn't find it so we settled for the close stuff.  In this case close stuff means a thirty-five minute walk in one direction.  What a place.

Louis XIV pointing the way to the RER station.  We had purchased a pack of public transportation tickets which we used to ride the RER out but they didn't work on the turnstiles on the way back so Lori had to stand in line which was funny (for me) because the ticket agent sternly rebuked her for using those tickets on the way out.  Better her than me I say.  Supposedly the tickets we used were not supposed to cover the zones all the way out to Versailles but if that's the case why did they work? 
We even made it back early enough to relax in the hotel room for a while before supper.  Nice change after the two late days.  We stopped at the front desk and asked for local restaurant suggestions.  The kids wanted to three-peat at the burger cafe while I wanted a new place.  Lori was with kids at first then came over to the dark side so we asked for local recommendations.  Recommendation number one was The Dog Who Smokes.  We're there - there's no way I am not eating at a place called The Dog Who Smokes.

Supper time.

Best business card ever candidate?  Everyone knows that classy dogs smoke pipes.

The Kevin Coleman pic - my Pelforth Blonde was pretty good.

Dana Johnson pic - how can I not come to France and not order French Onion Soup?  Tasted really good, not to salty.

Dana Johnson pic - KJ and I had rumsteak which I think really meant rump steak.  It was okay though.

Dana again - KK had chicken, potato and mushrooms in a gravy sauce.  She liked it as well.

Dana again - Lori had veal and pasta - one of her favourite dishes in Paris.  Her starter was salmon in sauce and was great although I didn't get a pic.

And Dana again - Apple tart on left and creme brulee on right.  Lori and I have never had creme brulee that good before and it was wasted on KJ's uncivilised taste buds.

KJ wanted to eat here but he was outvoted.
We even made it back to the room by 9 o'clock which made the slackers happy.  (Was kind of nice actually but don't tell the slackers I said that.)
Monday, Day 3 - Cathedral and HO - HO day.  With 'Wrong Way Riegels' on the map we started off in the opposite direction on our way to the cathedrals.  Obviously the construction messed up my bearings but it did walk us by the other supper suggestion from the desk clerk, The Pigs Feet.  More on that place later. 

The Pigs Feet - I bet you can't guess what their speciality was.

A couple of sad lions on our sight seeing stroll.

And welcoming a new picture - The Tammy Foster bridge pic:  The Pont Neuf, or New Bridge (link).  It was opened in 1607 according to the website.  It was also the first stone bridge in Paris according to the helpful Louisiana born local sitting behind us during lunch.
Our first stop of the day was Sainte Chapelle (link), a Gothic style church built in 1248.  It was on my list but I didn't know to much about it.  After seeing it I am really impressed.  I thought it looked good until I realised it was built almost 800 years ago, then it looked great.  The stained glass windows in the Upper Chapel were particularly fascinating.

Outside picture of Ste. Chapelle.
Saint Louis in the Lower Chapel.  He built the church to house the Crown of Thorns and fragments of the True Cross he purchased from the Byzantine Emperor Baldwin II.  The church was damaged in the French Revolution and the relics collected over the years were scattered with some being found and placed in Notre Dame.  

The Upper Chapel stained glass windows.

Window close up.  The windows tell stories from the bible.  Obviously fascinating in design, they were to far away for me to accurately make out a lot of the details.

The outside entrance to the Upper Chapel.  You can see the headless Saint Denis (Wiki link) on the right holding his head.  You just can't shut some people up. 

The Upper Chapel windows.
After Sainte Chapelle was Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris (link).  It is celebrating its 850th years next year which puts consecration at 1163 AD according to my math.  I was looking forward to it but left with a "oh that's nice" sort of feeling.  Maybe I have just seen to many cathedrals in our time here.  I would rank it in the top ten I have seen but can't say it was a top fiver.  It was plain on the inside with many side altars and confessional booths.  On the outside it had all of the famous gargoyles and the required statues of saints and kings.  Nice cathedral overall but not what I expected for being so famous.  The size of it made for poor lighting inside so there weren't many good picture opportunities. 
The front of Notre Dame.

One of the many side altars.

Joan of Arc statue.
We took a side detour into the Treasury to check out artifacts dating from the 1600's to 1900's.

This page reminded me of the Book of Kells pages.

Crosses and priest accessories.

More shiny stuff.

Robe thought to have been worn by Saint Louis.

Requisite church/cathedral stained glass window pic.

The story of Jesus was told on wood carvings along one of the walls.  Here is King Herod killing all the boys under the age of two while Joseph, Mary and Jesus escape.

The Last Supper and Jesus washing the apostles feet.

Stained glass window in one of the huge transepts.
Looking down the nave towards the altar.

Altar close up.
We passed on the Towers and Crypt for today and opted to do both tomorrow.  We passed on the Towers because of the almost 500 steps and on the Crypt because it was closed.  So it must be lunchtime.  And off we went haplessly following the map.

Tammy Foster pic - Pont Neuf with Eiffel Tower in background.

Tammy Foster pic - same as above but zoomed out. 

Side of Notre Dame on the way to lunch.

Fail!  We found the oldest restaurant in Paris.  We also found the sign inside the door saying it was closed until October or something.  Painful flashbacks to Copenhagen and finding hand written closed signs on the museums.  Not good.  But fortunately we were within sight of another place so we journeyed on down and found a table. 

Kevin Coleman pic - and they serve beer.  Can't be all bad, right?

Board menus all in French and the bartender doesn't speak English.  Uh oh.  But the English speaking cook came out and saved the day.
Dana Johnson pic - I had the duck, or middle item on the plate of the day board above.  This is where we met the Louisiana born local and had a nice brief conversation with her.  She taught us that you ask for the bill by saying (I looked up the correct spelling) l'addition s'il vous plait, or the addition if you please.

View of Notre Dame on Ile de la Cite from Ile Ste-Louis as we walked to the Paris HO- HO bus, L'Open Tour.

Place de la Bastille.  Site of the infamous Bastille fortress (Wiki link), the fortress was used by the kings of France to house prisoners if I remember correctly.  It was stormed during the French Revolution and eventually demolished due to its brutal reminder of its past.  The monument in the picture is from something in 1830 and is not related to the Bastille at all.  The Bastille is obviously a sore point in French history.

Tammy Foster pic - two bridges in one.  What a bargain!

Place de la Concorde with a couple of museums in the background.
The Luxor Obelisk (Wiki link), this is one of the two obelisks from in front of the Luxor Temple.  It is about 3300 years old.  The other obelisk is still in Egypt per Wiki.

Looking down the Champs-Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe.  This was the path that the triumphant Charles de Gaulle walked down after liberating Paris in WWII.  There is also less mentioned but still famous (or infamous) war footage of the Nazi's marching down the Champs as they occupied Paris after France surrendered to them a couple years earlier.

The impressive Arc de Triomphe (link).  I didn't think it was that big until we stood next to it and walked up the stairs.  Not only are we doing a lot of walking we are doing a lot of stairs.
Eiffel Tower from Arc.  Still loving the Tower.

Traffic lanes not required here. 

View down Champs-Elysees from the Arc.
View of the streets radiating out from the Arc roundabout.

The group next to one of the bases.  Yes it is that big.

Battle scenes close up. Per Wiki it was commissioned by Napoleon to honor those who fought and died in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The construction started in 1806 and was completed in 1836.

France's Unknown Soldier Memorial for WWI.

Pillar on the Pont Alexandre III outside the Hotel des Invalides.  Notice the gilded sword on the bottom figure.

The Opera Garnier (Wiki link) side entrance.  Per Wiki it was inaugurated in 1875 and seats almost 2,000 people.  Hitler was supposedly fascinated with this building during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Poor shot of the front of the Opera Garnier.
After the HO - HO tour ended for the day we knocked off early again and went back to the hotel room to relax until supper.  For supper we went to the Pigs Feet restaurant which was not as good as The Dog Who Smokes.  Very poor service followed by sub-par food was not a great way to end the night.  Their speciality was the pig's trotter, or simply put the foot all the way up to the first leg joint.  We saw a few and they did not look good.  Not a great choice but you win some and lose some I guess.  We would have made it back for the night again by 9 o'clock if it weren't for the turtle slow service. 
Tuesday, Day 4 - Last day in Paris.  All we had left was to finish off Notre Dame and check out the Victor Hugo House.  First up was the Notre Dame Towers.

Pictorial board of the tower climb.

Close up of one of the famous Notre Dame gargoyles.

Since we had an hours long wait in the line to march up the almost 500 steps there were plenty of gargoyle picture opportunities.  I say almost because Karl lost count after 460-something and we weren't quite at the top yet - sorry Tammy.

Scenic stop about two-thirds of the way up.  There's my favourite Eiffel Tower again.

Same level, the most photographed of the gargoyles on the right disgustedly sticking out its tongue.

Gargoyle close up with Sainte Chapelle's spire in the background.

Here's a real gargoyle with its waterway shown.

Getting closer to the top.

The famous Quasimodo swinging on his bell.

The kids next to Quasimodo's bell or the Great Bell as it is named - how cool is that?

I guess the sun caught this gargoyle in mid bite.  It probably sounds funny but I enjoyed the tower and gargoyles as much as touring the inside of the cathedral.

Finally at the top.  Big hike but worth the effort.
Next up was the crypt which was a little disappointing to me.  Mostly it was city ruins from the 1600's to the 1800's.  Nothing fascinating to me.  We did the cursory lap and left.

Roman inscription.

Steps and walkway from early 1800's.  Quite the let down after seeing the actual Roman Baths in Bath.

Roman floor and wall heating system.  They used chimneys to transfer heated air from below to the rooms above thereby heating the walls and floors.
Final shot of Notre Dame.
Since we only had a few items on the list today we started at a leisurely pace and continued it throughout the day.  So after the crypt was lunch at a cafe between Notre Dame and our HO - HO stop.

The Kevin Coleman - The menu challenged me by saying this beer was for four people.  Challenge accepted and dominated.

My final Croque Madame with french fries meal in France.  It tasted so good, I will miss my new madame.  <sad face>
After lunch we jumped on the HO - HO for a couple of stops to take us closer to Victor Hugo's house (Wiki link) or (other link).  Hugo is famous for writing Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (we was there!), Les Miserables among others.  He actually started writing Les Miserables while living here.  Les Mis is the play Kalle and Lori went to London to see with Becky and Teresa L. 

The Jim Foster pic deux.

Victor as a young man.
His Reception Room.

The Hunchback carrying off Esmerelda.

Kalle was excited to see the Les Mis book.

The view from his apartment overlooking Place des Vosges, the oldest public square in Paris.

The room was from his exile from Paris.  From what I remember he was exiled for political reasons after publicly opposing one of the Napoleons.

Rodin admired Hugo and made a bust of the old man as the literature said.  Apparently Hugo was a cranky old man as he only agreed to let Rodin sit in the same room and observe him as he (Hugo) worked as opposed to posing for Rodin which most of Rodin's subjects did.

We even had time to try out the park equipment and have some ice cream before hopping on the HO - HO for our final ride.

The Hotel de Ville (Wiki link) which houses the city administration.  Hard to see but the figures on the sides are all public figures important to Paris per the HO - HO driver.

Front of Hotel de Ville - this is also where de Gaulle gave the city liberation speech during WWII.

Not sure if this place is selling dead rats or rat hangers.
The ride home was uneventful except for the chocolate muffin I had at a cafe in Paris du Nord train station.  It tasted nut funny so I downed five Benadryl and took a couple of puffs on my inhaler (I brought my Epipen and inhaler this time Teresa) so after a few uncomfortable minutes I was ready to resume our journey.  Eurostar to East Midlands train to taxi and we are home.  A fun time in Paris to end the summer - not to shab although my "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week" of Paris was the pervading smell of urine on the streets as we walked to the cathedrals, museums, to our hotel, in the subway (I expected it there), etc. It was obviously a problem since the store and restaurants would rinse off their area in front of the sidewalk every night and morning. 
With this trip we are now at 13 countries on our country count.  We've been to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Wales, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Israel, France, and Germany (only airport connections so far but we have the passport stamps to prove it).  The over and under is 20 so we'll see how we do.
Thanks for listening,


  1. You guys covered some serious ground in Paris! I was exhausted just reading this. Looks like you got some great weather too. Great pic of the bridge with the Eiffel tower in the background.

    1. Thanks Doug. Yes we did see a lot and the weather was great.

  2. Real rabbitt slippers - I see Christmas presents!! And I do indeed remember, hungry mommy gets french fries after STARVING for hours - it might've been easier when she was carrying the kids inside, right! No wonder our US Presidents lay in state under the Capitol Rotundra - we're just copying our ancestors.
    The champagne flutes pic looking at the Seine gave me goosebumps. Strange firetrucks over yonder, for sure. Love your explanation of the feathered helicopter - shouldn't be expecting one for my birthday, huh?!!! What came in the copper pot at dinner that night - was that what the gravy came in?? I LOVE that I rate an official picture now - AND that they'll be of bridges.
    The Pont Neuf pic w/Eiffel Tower in the background is OUTSTANDING!!! And I, too, loved the gargoyles - so interesting...and the kids with the Quasimodo bell was pretty cool.

    Loved reading it all!

  3. Fab post, Jay! What an experience for y'all. Paris is one of my fav's!