As we ran through the streets of Paris to a boulangerie to get what has been rated as “the best croissant in Paris,” we had the realization (not for the first time on this trip), we really like big cities. There is so much to see and do and you never know what will be happening around the next corner. We (no, really just Matt) gets bored pretty easily, but Paris kept us very busy. We returned to our hotel each nigh exhausted, but in a good way, ready to take in more of this city of lights.
After checking in to the very posh Park Hyatt Vendome (we got 2 nights free from signing up for a credit card) we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. This sight is so iconic it almost seems fake when you see the real thing for the first time. We laid on the grassy lawn and looked up at the 1000 foot tower while listening to a podcast about its history. Like most risky projects, people in Paris hated this landmark for years after it was built; but today, it is loved by Parisians as the symbol for their vibrant and cultural city. Afterwards, we made the climb up the tower and took in great views of the Paris skyline at sunset.
The next day we ate at a great soufflé restaurant for lunch and then took a very long walking tour of Notre Dame cathedral and the surrounding area. Then we made our way over to the famous Cordon Blue cooking school where we took a class on food and wine paring while enjoying some great wine from the Rhone region, paired with French food that included a crab and pepper appetizer with avocado mouse, pork with caramelized pearl onions and a pistou and, finally, a fresh fruit minestrone. We picked up a few tricks we hope to use at home.
The next day we visited the Louvre. This famous museum is huge! It houses many great works of art – there are iconic pieces around every corner, including da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, sculptures by Michelangelo and paintings by Raphael. Afterwards, we walked along Champs Elysees and stopped at the Arc de’ triomphe before having a very French meal of French onion soup, beef bourguignon and braised rabbit.
On our last day, we took a bike tour of Versailles. This royal palace was originally the marshland where Louis XIII liked to hunt. It wasn’t until his son, the child king Louis XIV, came to power that the proper palace was built. Many other famous French royalty lived in Versailles, including Marie Antoinette, a couple of other King Louis’, and even Napoleon! The grounds are incredibly well manicured and highlight the French style with a symmetric layout and use of multiple fountains and one very large cross shaped lake. The inside of the palace was packed with people, art and other royal items that managed to survive after the French revolution. Our favorite part was seeing a true “King Size Bed”, the very one the King of France use to sleep in!
This morning, we ate one last French pastry and then boarded the train for the 2 hour journey through the Chunnel to London.