Instead of partaking of the expensive hotel breakfast we began our second day in Paris with a croissants and coffee from a small cafe next to our hotel. Unlike the other European countries I’ve visited, France hotels typically do not include breakfast.
We’ve gorgeous, if hot and humid, weather to explore the city. Our first stop is Rue Mouffetard to pick up some picnic supplies for the afternoon. It was only a few blocks from the hotel and soon we were loaded up with fresh bread, apples, cheese, sausage and pate plus from a general housewares store a small cutting board and paper plates.
A short metro ride then quickly brought us nearly to the base of the Eiffel Tower where we found a perfect picnic spot on a quiet side lawn. We had the area to ourselves to enjoy a relaxing lunch with a beautiful nearby flower bed and what a view!
After lunch we taxied over to the Arc de Triumph for a visit and shopping along Champs-Élysées. Despite several visits to Paris I’ve not yet visited the Arc which is accessible via a tunnel running under the traffic packed roundabout. It’s also covered on the Museum Pass which we had purchased at the information desk at the airport. One great benefit of the Pass is the ability to skip ticket lines plus visit sites you happen upon that you may have skipped otherwise.
Descending the Arc we meandered down Champs-Élysées and couldn’t pass up a stop in the Louis Vuitton store. Did we buy anything? A girl has to have a few secrets! But if you’re curious between the exchange rate and VAT refund let me just tell you that purchasing European brands in Europe is often less expensive than purchasing in the states. Especially if your state has a nearly 9% sales tax!
On Wednesday evenings the Louvre is open late so we’ve planned to tackle it next. We took the recommendation from Rick Steves and entered through the underground shopping mall. This entrance typically has shorter lines and on this particular Wednesday had no line!
Now, I’ve been to the Louvre before and on each trip I’ve only scratched the surface. This visit was no different. Having visited many of Europe’s top museums and experienced an overload of religious and Renaissance art in Italy we choose to visit only a few highlights.
Personally, I don’t understand the hype around Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”. Visitors cram into a huge gallery ignoring all other artwork for the sake of a modestly sized portrait of an unknown woman. Yes, it’s beautifully executed, but incredibly overhyped. Having made my obligatory viewing I thought it more fun to watch the crowds jostle for position.
“La Grande Odalisque” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. This has always been one of my favorite paintings.
Afterwards we strolled through the pyramid plaza and enjoyed some nighttime views of the Eiffel TowerExhausted by our long day we sought out dinner at a restaurant near our hotel. I enjoyed wonderfully roasted duck breast with white beans in a flavorful broth while Linda dined on tiny ravioli and vegetables in a flavorful bouillabaisse and side salad.
What a day. Tomorrow we tackle Versailles or at least engage in a minor skirmish.