Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paris, Day 6: Notre Dame, Saint-Séverin, Panthéon, and Jardin du Luxembourg.

This was our last full day in Paris. We woke up, had breakfast, and then we headed to Notre Dame for 10:00am Mass. But, this was not just any Mass -- all of the singing and many of the prayers were done in Gregorian Chant. The Mass was conducted in Latin and French, but despite the language barrier, it was an incredibly moving hour spent. The music was absolutely beautiful, and I cannot imagine a more gorgeous setting. I thought of all of the people who had sat there and participated in the same ritual through the years. Pretty cool.

A picture of the interior of Notre Dame.

After Mass, we went to see Sainte-Chapelle, tied with Notre Dame in my book for most beautiful Parisian church. However, the line was over two blocks long. There was so much more to see, Josh suggested we keep moving, so we did. Next time. :)

Our next stop was Saint-Séverin, a lovely old church on the Left Bank.

We left Saint-Séverin and headed back toward our hotel on Rue de Carmes. This is the street of our hotel -- right next to my old apartment.

We passed our hotel and continued up the hill toward the Panthéon.

Inside the Panthéon.

This pendulum swings with the earth's rotation, and, as a result, reflects the time. Pretty smart.

We went down into the Crypt of the Panthéon to see some famous graves.


Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.

Marie and Pierre Curie.

Walking out of the Panthéon, you look directly across the small square at this lovely building, which is where the law courses were conducted when I studied here.

We left the Panthéon and started walking in the direction of the Luxembourg Gardens.

But first, lunch! I had the best crepe -- with "bacon" (which was really cured ham), cheese, potatoes, and onions. So good!

After lunch, we braved the cold and went to the Luxembourg Gardens and Palais de the Luxembourg, former home to Marie de' Medici and current home of the French Senate.

We decided we could get used to living there.

After the Luxembourg Gardens, we walked through shops in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Sadly, most shops were closed, including my absolute favorite -- a small vintage shop full of vintage Chanel, Hermès, and other lovely items I probably would have only admired and not purchased. I suppose it's for the best.

We took the Metro to the Champs-Élysées for a little more shopping and then headed back to the Latin Quarter for dinner. It will be an early night since we need to be up bright and early to catch our flight back to the States.

It has been a wonderful and memorable trip! I have loved blogging instead of writing in a travel journal like I used to do. (Partially because it's so much easier to paste pictures in with descriptions before I forget what we did when, and also because it's actually quicker to type this up than to write in a travel journal. Laziness wins the day, I guess.)

I wish we could stay another week, but reality awaits. Au revoir, Paris!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Paris, Days 4 and 5: A day of relaxation, Musée Rodin, Centre Georges Pompidou, Galeries Lafayette.

Two more wonderful days in Paris down, and sadly, only one left to go.

There isn't much to report from New Year's Day. Most everything was closed, so we slept in after not getting to bed until after 5am. (These old bones are not used to such a late night.) We woke up, ate, wandered around the city, drank wine at a bistro and people watched, saw a movie, and went to bed. Not terribly exciting, but it was nice to have a relaxing, "vacation" day.

But, there's no time for any more lazy days, so we were up much earlier this morning. Our first stop was Musée Rodin, a small museum with many Rodin sculptures in the museum and the museum garden. The garden is, by far, the highlight of the museum.

Josh in front of Musée Rodin.

Beginning of the garden.

The Thinker.

I am not a huge Rodin fan (although I love the museum that houses his works), but I was moved by this bronze sculpture. It is supposed to be Eve when she first realizes she's naked, but I think we have all felt this way at one point or another.

Another sculpture in the garden.

View of the museum from the garden. (Yes, you are being mooned by the fountain.)

My second favorite.

We walked through the inside of the museum after the garden, and then through a temporary exhibit the museum had on Matisse and Rodin.

After Musée Rodin, the plan was to go to Musée Picasso. Sadly though, it is closed until 2012. It's too bad, as I remember it being wonderful. Maybe next time. :)

So, our next stop was Centre Georges Pompidou, the huge modern art museum in Paris. The modern building and fountain are stark contrasts to the old buildings that surround them.

The orange tubes are escalators, and look like tubes you would connect for a hamster to play in. We took the escalators to the top.

The view of Paris was stunning (even if the windows were a touch dirty).

Some of my favorite things we saw were paintings by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.



After leaving Centre Pompidou, we had a late lunch at a cafe nearby and then hopped back on the metro to Galeries Lafayette, one of the most gorgeous department stores ever (second only, maybe, to Harrod's in London). I bought my very first suit at Galeries Lafayette right before I headed back to the States for OCI in 2004. (That feels like a lifetime ago.)

Galeries Lafayette was ridiculously packed. I managed a quick picture of the center of the store.

After fighting the shopping crowds, we headed back to our hotel to rest for a few minutes, and then headed to another of my favorite stores in Paris -- Shakespeare & Company, a small and ecclectic English-language book store in the Latin Quarter. (Stupidly, I did not bring my camera.) I loaded up on a few new books (they have such a unique selection), and then we headed to a late dinner at 10:00pm. (I was starving!)

One more day here in Paris, and still so much to see (and so much shopping to do)! But for now, bed.

Bonne nuit!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bonne Année!

Happy New Year!! Here is to a blessed and joyful 2010!

New Year's Eve was a blast, and incredibly memorable. After a quick nap, we headed out to dinner (I had the most delicious duck confit) and then took a taxi to the Eiffel Tower to watch the light show and countdown to the New Year. When I was here in the summer of 2004, we started our Bastille Day celebration at the Eiffel Tower fireworks display. The lawn outside the Eiffel Tower last night was just as packed as I remember it being in 2004. Luckily, we nabbed a prime spot on the street.

After staking out our spot, we broke out the champagne and toasted to 2010. At midnight, the Eiffel Tower glittered to announce the new year.

I adore this picture. Not only because it turned out cute of both of us and commemorates an awesome night, but also because of Technicolor Dreamcoat & Co. behind us.

Right after midnight, we decided to walk to the Champs-Elysées to enjoy the festivities there. The streets of Paris were packed.

And we were getting a little, er, silly. :)

The Champs-Elysées was incredibly gorgeous with the lights and all of the people hugging, drinking champagne, and shouting.

Kohl tried taking a picture of us, but a bunch of guys jumped into the photo, resulting in a pretty ridiculous set of photos. Here's one of my faves.

Finally. :)

Josh and Kohl.

We continued to walk along the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.

Then, we turned around and headed back to our neck of the woods. We stopped at The Highlander, a pub I remember from when I was here before. We had a few beers, danced, and had a little too much fun! By 3:30am, we decided to head back to our hotel so Jody and Kohl could catch their airport taxi at 4:15am!

It was a wonderful night, and a great way to welcome in a new year and a new decade. Although 2009 was a little touch and go, the past decade has been incredibly good to me. It started at a condo in Girdwood, Alaska and ended in Paris, France. Over the past ten years, I had an incredible college experience, studied abroad in Rome, moved from Seattle to Ithaca for law school and made more dear friends, studied abroad in Greece and Paris, graduated from law school, moved back to California, married my high school sweetheart, passed the bar, started working at my first firm, bought a house, made more wonderful friends, went to China, and switched firms. I have gained, lost, and regained more weight than I care to admit; I have been stretched, tried, and tested in ways I wouldn't have anticipated; I understand more now what I am made of, who I am, and who I am not. I would not trade the past ten years for anything.

Happy, Happy New Year to all of you! May the next year and decade bring much happiness, peace, and joy for us all!