Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An American in Paris

I cannot believe that Alex and I were fortunate enough to have travelled to Europe this past summer with my family. I also cannot believe that it has taken me this long to scroll through my pictures and to finally post about our European vacation.

We started our adventure in Paris, France. We stayed at the Hotel du Champ de Mars. It was located in a quintessential neighborhood of the city. When we arrived at the Hotel we were "greeted" by the French owner. I use greeted loosely because she was very direct and straight to the point. She answered in threes; either "oui, oui, oui" or "no, no, no." She looked Alex straight in the eye and told him he would have to go up the elevator by himself no luggage. When we each took our turn going on the elevator with our luggage, I understood why because it was cramped.

We got the best rooms in the place on the top floor. Our view was spectacular with the Eiffel Tower in our sights. I quickly became fascinated with the Tower. I just couldn't believe I was in Paris . . . finally.

Although, we were lucky to be in Paris, we were there on one of the hottest days. It was well over 100 degrees. We were quickly reminded that they do not have air conditioning and it was miserable. We underestimated the distance between our hotel and our first stop in Paris, the Louvre. We walked what seemed for days with little to no shade. Once we got to the Louvre, we were quickly overwhelmed with the size and amount of artwork the place holds. We went directly for the Mona Lisa. I think Alex was the most disappointed with her, because she was so small. The Louvre was not necessarily a highlight for me. I am glad I went and saw the things I did, but it was too big and we actually got lost. I thought we would never get out.

Our next stop was Louis Vuitton. Oh man, I was in heaven. Alex got in trouble for trying to take pictures so no pictures from inside the store. However, it was absolutely beautiful. I wish I had a lot more money because there were some amazing pieces. I did in fact purchase a Louis and I absolutely love him.

The next day we travelled outside of Paris to Giverny to visit Claude Monet's home and gardens. I was originally the one out of the group that wanted to visit. The boys weren't in to visiting. After we left, everyone was thrilled and excited to have gone. The gardens were amazing. Everything was destroyed during and after WW2 but Monet's estate has worked very hard to restore the home and gardens to what they were like if Monet had planted them himself. It was absolutely beautiful and I recommend the visit to anyone. The town of Giverny was absolutely adorable and wish we could have stayed longer.

Our next stop that day was to pay our respects at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. It was absolutely breathtaking to walk up over the crest to see the white crosses lined up as far as the eyes could see.

We actually walked down to the beach itself. I think we all took a moment to reflect on the events that happened on this beach on D-day. The events that led up to it and the events that resulted because of it. So many men lost their lives trying to preserve freedom. Many of them laid to rest in the cemetery we just visited. What was truly inspiring was to watch families and children playing on the beach. Perhaps it is morbid to some, but to me it is affirmation the darkest moments can bring the brightest days.

Our tour of the French countryside continued to Sainte-Mer-Eglise. This town saw heavy casualties of paratroopers on D-day because they drifted too close to the fires of the city. One paratrooper, John Steele, got his parachute caught on the church steeple and watched his friends die from enemy fire. The town commemorated the loss of American life by hanging a paratrooper from the same church steeple.

The next day we were back in Paris and checked out several museums and churches. Our first stop was Napoleon's tomb. For someone so small, he had such a big ego that even his tomb was larger than life.

We stopped by Rodin's museum and saw The Thinker.

We checked out Musee d'Orsay and saw many of the famous impressionist paintings that I grew up studying and loving, especially Degas' ballet works. My family especially enjoyed viewing some of Monet's work of his gardens, since we were there the day before.

We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral. That is one massive church.

We took a boat ride on the Seine river and were able to cool off and enjoy the sites of Paris. Again, we drifted by the Eiffel Tower. I couldn't stop thinking about how we would be at the top of it by sunset.

Perfect timing! We saw the sun set just as we reached the top. Breathtaking!

We toasted our day in Paris and everyone making it to the top with a little champagne.

I absolutely enjoyed the Eiffel Tower. This was a memorable moment of our time in Paris.

The next day was our last day and we headed out to Versailles. Again, it was overwhelming because it was so big. We just went through the palace and walked out the veranda to view the gardens. This would require a whole day. I was disappointed though because they installed modern art throughout the palace and in the gardens. I personally thought it took away from the experience.

We headed back to Paris and made one last stop to our bakery. We stopped there every morning to get our breakfast pastries. Oh how I miss those chocolate croissants.

The dessert pastries were the prettiest things I ever saw.

Au revoir Paris! We miss you!


Kristan Hoffman said...

How fun! Andy and his mom and I are going to Paris in Feb. I'll have to share some of these highlights with them for planning.

J said...

I LOVED Paris. I am so glad you got to go! They really know how to do the desserts, don't they?
- Marie