After a restful first night in our fab apartment (see link in Day 1 post), we were up early and ready to go for the day.
The forecast for the day wasn’t great so we opted for a day mostly indoors.
We started with a walk down to the Louvre. Straight out of the apartment we are surrounded by grandeur. We had just realised we were next door to the Presidential palace – so we waved a said Bonjour to Francois Hollande as we walked by. We were also next to the Ministry of the Interior. This now made total sense as to level of security in the area. Literally tripping over police going to and from the apartment. I was OK with this. I am not sure if there was always this level of police presence in this district but in this day and age, with all the uncertainty we are in and recent attacks, I welcomed the presence. With that said, we noticed heavy security all over Paris. Should anyone feel nervous about visiting, the French police/ army have done a magnificent job of being present and allaying any concerns we had.
So beyond the palace, we headed down the Champs Elysee and onto the Place de la Concorde. Another beautiful sight in Paris. The approach, even on a grey winters day was spectacular and the stroll through the gardens towards the Louvre was wonderful. Despite the weather and the fact that even the fountains aren’t running we loved it.
Next onto the Louvre. Such a grand and imposing building! I was nervous to take the kids in knowing it was ‘art’ for what I was anticipating was for quite a stretch of time that day but they enjoyed the 5 hours we spent in there! yes – 5 hours! At this time of year, the lines outside were bearable. About 30 minutes we waited. We headed inside, picked up maps and grabbed a coffee/ seat to get acquainted and make a plan. We picked up audio guides for the kids. Nintendo DS devices loaded with maps and commentary. Honestly, this is probably what kept them entertained for 5 hours….I’m Ok with that as they did see a lot of the art/ exhibits and learn a little along the way! So we saw some of the big beats here…the usual suspects Mona Lisa etc but we went a little off track too. We enjoyed Napoleons apartments and some of the African art too. We stayed here for lunch also. There are number of places to dine but we kept it light and headed to Pauls patisserie which was classically French.
Heading out of the Louvre, the rain was lightly falling so we opted for another indoor activity and one with a different feel to the Louvre – The Catacombs!
I had read a lot about this over the years and it had fascinated me so wanted to visit. I thought it would be different for the kids too. We navigated the Metro over to the district they were in and took our place in line. I hear the wait time can vary – 2 mins to 2 hours. We waited about 30 minutes. Again, not bad. Now I was a little nervous of the exhibit as it stated its not for those that are claustrophobic. I am not claustrophobic and never had any type of panic attack but I am aware I don’t like small tight spaces, especially deep underground….but I braved it anyway. And I’m glad I did. It really isn’t that claustrophobic. Yes, you take 130 steps down. Yes, the tunnels are narrow, low (6ft) and long but head down and march forward it was fine. The Audio tour is also a good distraction if you needed one. The area with bones we viewed is just one smaller part of the maze of tunnels so that part doesn’t take long. Although, I think there are many other tunnels housing bones…where there are approximately 6 million skeletons down there! I didn’t take any photos. They request not to and honestly, it didn’t feel right. Respectfully, I put my camera away – except for the beginning of our ascent back up the stairs – 83 of them.
Coming out of the catacombs, night was beginning to fall. As we were close to the Montparnasse district we quickly took the Metro over to the Tour de Montparnasse. I had heard the trip to the top of the tower was worth it as it afforded great views of Paris INCLUDING the Eiffel Tower (most people only view Paris from the Eiffel Tower losing the most spectacular sight Paris has to offer). It was dark and drizzly but the manager assured us good views so we headed on up. We did hesitate as the cost of this wasn’t as reasonable as we had hoped. In fact, not much cheaper than the Eiffel tower, but we did it anyway. The views were great! Obviously, the Eiffel Tower was the most impressive sight, especially at night. As the Tour de Montparnasse is a little further out, other main attractions are a little lost so this trip is really best suited to get a different view of the Tour Eiffel.
So a full day. 10 miles of walking and lots of spectacular, memorable sights. We headed back towards the Champs Elysee to grab a bite. Knowing we wanted to be close to ‘home’ once we had finished. We found a quaint bistro, ate and planned Day 3….