After the rain, it felt like spring had arrived in Paris. Since my sister and I had both been to the Louvre before, we headed to the Musee d'Orsay the next morning, known for the best collection of impressionist art in the world set in an old train station. We took the metro to Concorde again and were greeted with the most gorgeous sunny day with the perfect fluffy white clouds.
I look a bit like an Asian grandma here
We walked across the bridge along the river Seine to the Musee d'Orsay which had an intimidatingly long line. It's always busy on Tuesdays since it is closed on Mondays, so keep that in mind when planning to visit. Make sure you buy a ticket ahead of time (available on their website) to cut down on waiting time. It took us about 20 minutes even with our advance tickets. It was very crowded inside too but we navigated with the help of our handy Rick Steves guidebook (he also has an audio tour on his free app! #notsponsored)
After seeing the obligatory Monets, Renoirs, Manets, Rodins, and Van Goughs, though impressive, we were exhausted! Museums are always tiring so we popped over to Angelina across Tuileries garden for some hot chocolate and snacks. We were about 15 minutes away from tea time at 3 pm which looked like a good deal with some savory sandwiches, cakes, and hot chocolate for about 20 euros (a pot of hot chocolate a la cart was about 8 euros). They didn't let us order early so we made do with a pot of hot chocolate (still the best in the city) and some macarons and cake.
For those that haven't been to Angelina, it's a must in Paris. Their hot chocolate literally tastes like thick, melted chocolate that isn't too sweet and fake tasting (like the hot chocolate we had at Les Deux Magots). It's so thick and filling one may be enough for two people to share. We didn't have lunch this day due to our filling hotel breakfast so it was a perfect snack to tide us over until dinner.
We had plans to meet up with friends near the area in a few hours, so walked over to Palais du Royale for these insta-famous checkers (unclear why though). I made JJ take a few shots of me but gotta agree with her, I don't see the hype either.
The real gem though is the Jardin de la Palais du Royale located just behind the checkered floor of the Palais. Don't miss it as apparently this is where the locals hang out to read, sketch, or nap in the quiet garden that is less overrun than other famous gardens like Luxembourg or Tuileries.
Springtime in the Jardin du Palais Royale
We had some time to kill so walked to Galeries Lafayette, a mega shopping mall with some of the best views in Paris that are completely free.
View from the top of Galeries Lafayette. You can go to the top of the adjacent department store Printemps Hausmann for (?better) views too, but Galeries Lafayette was closer to us. There are multiple buildings to the mall but go in the one with the red awning and take the escalators all the way to the top floor.
The inside is nothing to scoff over either with this gorgeous flower installation. This is one of the premiere shopping malls in Paris so it would great to get some things here in order to qualify for the VAT refund. We didn't do much shopping but JJ bought some of her beloved Caudelie serums here (which were cheaper than in the US/Amazon).
After we checked out the mall, we walked over on Rue Hausmann and down Rue Montmartre to the Les Halles area for dinner at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie. My friend and her bf had invited us to a dinner they were having as part of the conference and the food was wonderful--classic French food in an light filled Parisian cafe setting. The menu was small but everything was well done.
We shared the french onion soup and it was one of our favorites of the trip (though it was a bit salty). We also got the duck breast but the real show-stopper was the foie gras ravioli with truffle oil.
While not the prettiest to look at, this dish was an umami bomb and only about 18 euros (we would probably pay around 40 dollars for truffles and foie gras in SF...).
We definitely had to walk off dinner so we walked in search of Berthillon ice cream located on the Ile Saint Louis, but it turned out to be closed! Nonetheless, it was still a pleasant walk down along the river and ultimately led us to the Notre Dame.
Since Berthillon ended up being closed, we headed to the Latin Quarter which is a lively and touristy neighborhood right by the Notre Dame. The name comes from the Latin language that was spoken here in the middle ages and is now home to lots of students since it's close to the many universities in Paris. It's full of cheap restaurants selling falafel, kabobs, crepes, and prix fixe menus for tourists and also home to the the Shakespeare Book Company, a famous little ex-pat bookshop. I finally got my gelato fix at Amorino, the place that makes little rose hearts out of gelato!
Both pretty and tasty
If anyone is counting, yes we walked a ton that day, over 10 miles all over the city! (I think close to 27K steps).
This was our last day in Paris before leaving for Italy, but in the morning we were hit with bad news: our flight to Italy that night (operated by Air France) had been cancelled, with no warning or explanation, likely due to the ongoing strikes. We were left to book our own transportation to Italy that night or else lose our transportation to Positano, which was already arranged beforehand and would have been a hassle to change. After the last delicious breakfast (I don't think anyone in the world can beat this Parisian breakfast), we spent a few hours trying to book new flights to Naples and finally succeeded (multiple sites and airlines wouldn't let us finish booking our tickets).
We had tickets to the Paris catacombs booked for that day, but in the excitement of our cancelled flight, we almost missed it. We booked our new tickets just in time and made our time slot. We booked advanced tickets ahead of time (around 30 euros each) but if you have time to wait in line, tickets are only around 14 euros. Since we were in a rush that day, I was glad I booked the advanced tickets which allowed us to skip the 1-1.5 hour line, but not sure it is worth the 30 euro entry fee.
If you buy the regular tickets, an audio guide is an extra 5 euros. Our tickets included the audio guide so it took us on a 1.5 hr guided tour of the famous catacombs, which were originally quarries used to mine stone for much of Paris' famous medieval buildings like the Notre Dame. They were eventually abandoned and when Paris' cementaries were overflowing in the 18th century, thousands of remains were transferred here and the catacombs were created. The catacombs are home to the remains of more than 6 million Parisians over the years. It was kind of interesting, but if you have other things you want to do in Paris, I would skip the Catacombs for something a little less dark and damp above ground.
We checked out of our hotel and had lunch at another neighborhood bistro, Cafe de Belloy. Even though we didn't check up this restaurant or make reservations at any famous places, the duck confit was the best thing I ate in Paris. It just goes to show, food at any restaurant in Paris can be fabulous, and you don't need to go to the most famous places to get good food here.
After lunch, we walked back over to the trocadero for some final Eiffel Tower views. Once again, it was the perfect spring day. The sky was so blue and the colors were so bright I had to turn down
the saturation on some of my photos because they looked fake!
We planned to have some wine and picnic at the base of the Eiffel tower but it was so sad, nobody had a wine opener (even though we asked multiple people around us). My sister mocked me and said these photos should be on the cover of a French textbook they were so cliche, lol. I'm just missing the baguette!
For my final hurrah, I wanted to take photos at this "blogger spot" at Avenue de Camoens. JJ mocked me again but we actually did bump into a real blogger with her own photographer! We sneaked some of these shots in between their takes and it really was this picture perfect. Like I said, these colors were so vivid and rich I had to turn down the saturation on some of these photos!
Avenue de Camoens
Since I wanted to stop at this photo stop, we were a little bit late leaving for our flight so we had to run to catch our bus to the airport. We made it just in time and we were off to Italy! Coming up next!
Till next time, Paris!
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