For our first full day in Paris, we began by sleeping in a little bit. Very fitting for a child-less vacation, right? I think so. It was a Sunday too, so yes...very fitting. We walked a couple of streets over to La Palette for breakfast...another of Lauren's suggestions. It was a perfect little cafe. On a quiet street with plenty of seating.
We each ordered petit dejuner (breakfast), which at La Palette is a special bread of choice (I chose the pain au chocolat and Casey chose the classic croissant) and a warm baguette with butter and jam (which is hiding behind my tea in the photo). You also get a glass of orange juice and your choice of a hot drink (tea for me, hot chocolate for Casey...we don't drink coffee, obviously). Here's our lovely spread...
We lingered over breakfast because we could. We had a very casual (not rushed) day planned. We started making our way over to the Eiffel Tower. On the way (because it was Sunday), we saw a market set up in the street near the cafe. Just look at the cheese...heaven! I'm still kicking myself for not buying some right then and there.
And then, a little further down the street...a flower market. I cannot resist the flowers. I had freesia in my wedding bouquet.
The walk to the Eiffel Tower that morning was quite a hike. Especially when you're walking with a guy who has a bad knee. Casey tweaked his already bad knee about a month before we left for Paris while he was playing flag football. Based on the number of injuries sustained in those games, it may not be the wisest thing for adult men to play flag football...at all. But, in any case, Casey did some physical therapy to help his knee. And it did help, but it didn't take the pain away entirely. So, he had to take it easy on his knee and it bothered him the whole trip. You just don't see Paris without walking...and climbing approximately 5 million stairs. He was the biggest trooper about all of it. We did take a few more taxis than we normally would, but you know, that also saved us some time, so it was all good.
The way we approached the Eiffel Tower, we literally turned a corner and saw this...
And it was a gorgeous day in Paris, if you can't tell. Big fluffy clouds and a beautiful blue sky. We wore our jackets in the shade, but stripped them off in the sun. As it was Sunday, there were many people out in the gardens, lounging, sleeping, and eating.
And what we did next is take about 1000 photos just of the Eiffel Tower. I make no apologies for that. Here are just a few.
I took a photo for a family of 5 on vacation from the US and they took our photo for us. Actually, not a bad photo.
We sat in the park for a while and then made our way all the way under the Eiffel Tower...and through to the other side of the river. We did not wait in the incredibly long line to go up the Eiffel Tower. We had plans to see the city from a similar vantage point later in the week...and that view would include the Eiffel Tower and exclude the long lines and waiting. (Spoiler...it was the right choice!)
And here she is from the Esplanade de Trocadero.
Photobombed by a bird!
From the Eiffel Tower, we headed toward the Arc de Triomphe.
We had intended on getting a closer look, but we were already hungry and decided to go find food instead.
So we turned our attention to the Champs Elysees.
Where we found food, shopping, and plenty of people-watching opportunities.
And beautiful metro signs...
And an after lunch treat...crepes! I had been anticipating crepes pretty much ever since I booked our plane tickets. I had the simple, but delicious, Nutella crepe, while Casey chose a Nutella and banana crepe.
After devouring our crepes, we continued our walk to the Place de Concorde with it's fountains, obelisk, and traffic.
The straight, but not-so-narrow Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe at the end.
We kept walking and entered the Tuileries Gardens, which were packed on this particular day. We spent several afternoons in these gardens but never were they so packed as they were on this Sunday.
Still, we were able to find a couple of lounge chairs in which to sit and take a break.
Our view...the Denon wing of the Louvre in the distance and the pretty, manicured gardens of the Tuileries in the foreground.
After we had rested a bit, we carried on all the way through the Tuileries and out to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The French are all about symmetry, so this arc mirrors the position of the Arc de Triomphe on the other side of the gardens and Champs Elysees.
On the other side of the arc is the Louvre. It may be hard to see, but there are literally swarms of people at the Louvre in this photo. The first Sunday of every month (which happened to be this day, June 2), the museums in Paris are free. So, we planned to completely steer clear of any and all museums on this day. I would rather pay the entrance fee than fight the crowds. (Plus, we got the Paris Museum Pass, which included entry - and often priority access - to 60 museums in Paris including Versailles. Definitely a deal for us.)
Silly pyramid photos are obligatory at the Louvre. Luckily, I have a husband who is perfectly willing to participate.
Now we walked along the Seine to complete our loop around the city that began and would end at our hotel. Look...Notre Dame in the distance...
We went down one of the stairways that leads to the bank of the river to walk along there for a while.
We noticed that the water level was quite high, and when boats would pass by at a certain speed and create waves with the wake, the water would actually spill over fairly high on the bank. Little did we know this water level would come into play later that evening.
The Seine is lined with these little green stalls that carry all sorts of goodies. Last time I was in Paris, I bought several antique French books that I still have on the desk in our downstairs office. This time I was eyeing the beautiful prints.
But I'm always drawn to the books...
Here is the Pont Neuf...the oldest bridge across the Seine. We affectionately called it "our" bridge since our hotel's street came right off it on the left bank. It really is a beautiful bridge with convenient little inlets to sit and have a look at the river.
Back at the hotel, we cleaned up and then headed back out for dinner. We went on a dinner cruise on the Seine with Bateaux Mouches. I had done this same cruise one time before when I came to Paris with my mom. We departed on our cruise at 8:30 pm, when it was still light outside.
Our assessment of the dinner cruise...the food was not good, but the whole experience was awesome. Eating dinner on a glass-walled boat on the Seine in Paris before, during, and after sunset? Well, it is as wonderful as it sounds. I wish I could say that the food was too, but it just wasn't. The lobster ravioli appetizer was decent, the champagne was good, and the chocolate bomb dessert was easily the best part. The steak entree, however, fell short. However, I would still go on the cruise again. We had a great view and it lasted over 2 hours. Just sitting and watching the city go by at sunset was perfect.
We met a woman and her mom from Texas who were sitting at the table in front of us who took our photo. And with the Eiffel Tower in the background as a bonus.
This is what the view looked like from my seat in just one direction. Obviously I could see all the way to my right as well. And out the windows on the other side of the boat too. That black anchor for the glass was not as prominent as my photo is making it look. (Take a look at it in the photo above where it's not distorted by my wide-angle lens).
The high tide that I mentioned earlier prevented us from making the loop all the way on the other side of the island that holds Notre Dame. But, it was only a small part of the river we missed and we got to see the other side of the church. It was only one bridge that was too low for us to pass under.
Toward the end of our cruise, at around 10pm, the sun finally went down and the city began to show it's lights. It was beautiful. Hey...here's the Statue of Liberty? A much smaller replica, actually. Remember, the French gifted our Lady Liberty to us.
Before our cruise went in to dock, we passed by the Eiffel Tower at night...completely lit up with colored lights. I love the reflections of the lights in the water too.
Just a lovely ending to a wonderful first day in Paris. We took a taxi back to the hotel and pretty much crashed.