Sunday, July 8, 2012

Top 5 for Paris and Beaune!

Beaune and Paris, France

We spent one quick night in Beaune, so I am adding the highlight of Beaune into my Paris highlights. These highlights are done in chronological order, because I really can’t say one was better than another.

Also, there is SO much to see in Paris. There is SO much I didn’t get to see; there just wasn’t enough time in 2 days. I missed the Musee D’Orsay, Versailles, the Champs Elysse, and many more. I guess this just means I will have to come back!

The Top 5!
Looking at the skyline from the Eiffel Tower
5. Our wine-tasting dinner in Beaune. Being a few hours from Dijon, Beaune is a quaint, classic town. It is small and homey, and the cobbled streets wind around a small, central park (complete with a merry-go-round). They are in the heart of wine-making country. For our dinner, we ventured into a 12th century Abbey, now a restaurant. The gothic stone arches of the small room make it feel like a medieval dungeon, a catacomb, or a deep cavern. Around candlelight, our host entreated us to sample four different French wines. The ’05 was my favorite; most others were a bit younger, and a bit more tart. After wine, we sat down to eat. And boy, did we eat. I think my stomach nearly exploded after that meal. I started with poached eggs on a soft bread, smothered and drowning in a thick, creamy bacon broth. Oh god. It was like a meal within itself. Then the main course? Wow. The waitress brought out a small dutch-oven type pot. Inside was roasted chicken and potatoes soaked in a creamy Dijon mustard sauce. Oh. My. God. It was so delicious. Words cannot even describe how amazing this was. And if that wasn’t enough, we ended with dessert. I got an apple tart. Mmm. Fresh apples on top. Warm cinnamon. Fresh French breaded crust. My mouth is still watering recapping this. Mmmm.

Lit up at night
4. Our first night in Paris, we went to the Eiffel Tower. (I hope you are pronouncing Paris the same way I am: Pair- ee; it just sounds so much better that way.) We met one of Colette’s friends who was traveling with someone throughout Europe, and we went to dinner at a nearby café. It was especially nearby and overpriced because Colette and I were freezing: we had been out in the afternoon for our walking tour of Notre Dame and the St. Chapelle, when it was sunny. We didn’t have jackets or umbrellas. And then, as we were walking to the Eiffel Tower it got very cold and very rainy. We were freezing and a little miserable. Though a quick hot cup of coffee and a cute umbrella from underneath the Eiffel Tower certainly helped pick us up! A long dinner of escargot and steak and chocolate mousse and wine helped pick us up even more, especially with the company of Colette’s friends. We ventured back to the tower after dinner, hoping the line had died down. The line was much shorter, so we hopped on. Now, about 5 minutes before we got to the ticket booth, they announced they had closed the top! When I asked the man at the booth, he said it had become too overcrowded. Since it was so late, they were not going to re-open it. No wonder the line was shorter…people probably knew that would happen. The 2nd floor of the tower was still open, however. We took a jam-packed elevator up to the 2nd floor, and it was magnificent. Looking out at Paris’s lighted skyline was spectacular, even in the chilly wind. (The rain had finally stopped!)
The tower twinkles and lights up at 10, 11, and midnight. (It closes at 12:45am.) We got to watch it light up twice: once right underneath it, and once from the lawn in front of it. It’s like watching diamonds run up and down the Eiffel Tower. Amazing. I still can’t get over it: I went to the Eiffel Tower! I saw it with my own eyes!
Venus de Milo

3. The next morning, we went to the Louvre! I was so excited for this part of our trip, and it definitely lived up to its hype. The building itself is awe-some: an old palace, it still has the massive stone walls, the decorative gold trim and paintings on the ceilings, and part of Napoleon’s old living quarters. Mona Lisa? Check. Venus de Milo? Check. Winged Victory of Samophrace? Check. Ancient Roman and Greek sculptures? Check. Medieval paintings? Check. Marie Antoinette’s jewelry collection? Check. Picture at the glass pyramid? Check.
Our guide told us we walked about 9 miles of the Louvre by the time our tour was done, but it was the best 9 mile museum hike I’ve ever taken. I can take one more thing off my bucket list now. Again, this just reminds me how blessed I am to be on this trip. To have someone to go on this trip with. To have found such a wonderful tour group to have this journey with. To have the job security and financial stability to enjoy this trip and everything it has to offer. To have the family and friends and boyfriend to support my travel bug. To feel so blessed!
Winged Victory of Samophrace
2. We were a little museumed-out after the Louvre, so Colette and I took to our favorite pastime- wandering the streets. We walked up and down, peeked in and out of stores, found a café to dine at, and then decided to venture back to the metro. We figured out how to get on the subways to The Opera and Galleries Lafayette. We didn’t pay to view the Opera, but we enjoyed looking at it. Two golden, winged statues frame the rounded building. Around the corner is the Galleries Lafeyette, two domed buildings that are now home to many department stores. The inside of the dome is brightly and vividly painted. It reminded me of the inside of the Moulin Rouge (which we didn’t have time to go visit). It was beautiful and fun to walk around in.

1. I couldn’t end a post about Paris without proper homage to the food. Oh, the food. Salmon, steak and French fries. Mmm. Spinach quiche. French onion soup. Chocolate mousse. Crème brulee. Bread. Bread. Fresh French bread. Every café or patesserie or brasserie you walk by smells heavenly. The aroma seeps out into the street. Merde (excuse my French), it’s just fantastic. My last taste of Paris before heading down to Southern France, Antibes, to stay with my cousin for a week, was a chocolate éclair. Divine. Simply divine.
I've got the Louvre at my fingertips!

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