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Paris, France

The City of Light

We arrived in Paris via train and ventured onto the Metro to get to our Airbnb.  Unfortunately, we didn’t buy the correct tickets and ended up stuck inside the turnstile at the other end.  Lucky for us a couple of lovely French ladies helped us out and got us on our way.  Turns out we were staying outside of Paris proper and needed a regional ticket to get to the zone we were in.  Anyway, it all worked out and we learned our lesson.

Paris is beautiful, even in February.  I do have to say that I think it would be on another level in the spring or summer.  There are so many manicured gardens around the city that would be magical in full bloom.  It was rainy and cool throughout our stay, but we still enjoyed our time in the City of Light.  We really enjoyed wandering the streets just admiring the buildings throughout the city.

On our first full day in the city, we went to see the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.  Both were impressive sites, and the tower is honestly much bigger in person than I expected.  Unfortunately, the Eiffel Tower was closed due to a strike for most of our visit.  Paris is set to host the Summer Olympics for 2024, so they're hard at work refreshing the city.  This meant a lot of sites around the city were under construction or restoration and there was a lot of scaffolding and hoarding obscuring views.

Since the Eiffel Tower was closed, we headed to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre for panoramic views of the city.  We climbed 292 steps up to the dome of the basilica for epic views. The basilica itself was also beautiful.  Since we were in the area, we also walked down to the original Moulin Rouge for a quick photo.

We stopped to check out the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, but they are still finishing up the repairs and restoration work from the fire.  Most of the cathedral is still under scaffold, but it is still an impressive site to see.  It is supposed to be reopening to the public in 2024, but I’m not sure when exactly that will be.

It took us a few tries to get photos outside the Musée du Louvre because every time we made our way over it started to rain.  Housed in a former palace, the Louvre is a massive national art museum.  It looks incredible, but we decided to save our pennies for other adventures this time around.  We aren’t particularly into art, so this wasn’t at the top of our list.

We spent a rainy afternoon wandering through the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.  It was raining enough that we didn’t get any photos, but it was incredible.  The tombs were stunning and intricately carved.  Our last two days were probably the busiest.  We booked our tickets to the Catacombes and Versailles when we first arrived in Paris but pushed them to the end of our stay due to weather. 

Les Catacombes de Paris was interesting, morbid, and heartbreaking all at the same time.  In the late 1700s health concerns and risk of disease led Paris authorities to remove all of the bodies from the cemeteries within the city.  At the time, outside of the city, sat the Tombe-Issoire quarries where limestone had been mined extensively.  Authorities took advantage of the empty space and spent 15 months moving remains to the excavated tunnels of the quarry.  The bodies were arranged in a strangely decorative manner using the bones by size and style, so the bodies were not kept whole.  So, like I said, morbid and heartbreaking, but also incredibly interesting to see.

Our final day was spent at Château de Versailles, the formal royal residence of King Louis XIV.  The place itself is opulent and way over the top, but it pales in comparison to the gardens.  Versailles would really shine when the gardens are in full bloom, but it was still mind blowing. 

The estate covers over 2000 acres with fountains everywhere and two other smaller palaces, the Grand and Petit Trianon, for when the King needed a break from life at the main palace.  Toward the back of the estate, you will also find the Queen’s Hamlet (Hameau de la Reine).  Commissioned by Marie-Antoinette in 1783 it is a series of buildings meant to resemble a working farm.

I enjoyed Paris more than I thought I would.  It's a beautiful city with so much to see.  We spent almost eight full days exploring and I feel like we barely scratched the surface of what Paris has to offer.  Who knows maybe we’ll be back someday.


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