You can catch up with part 10 here. A few years ago I had seen an episode of Bizarre Foods set in Paris and the host went to a mustard store that looked really neat. I love mustard, so I was dying to get over there and check it out. Moms and Cuz were both too tired to go back out, so Jules, Nina, Uncle D, & I set out to buy condiments. We hopped on the Metro and made our way to the Madeleine stop. Maille sells oils and vinegars, but mainly mustards. I mean all kinds of mustard – gingerbread & chestnut honey, mangoes & thai spices, cocoa & raspberry, etc. A really wide variety of flavors. My desires were for something a little more extravagant. Maille sells a couple of mustards that aren’t pre-bottled and when you buy them they are pumped up from the basement. The one I bought was a black truffle mustard and it was not cheap at €20 (about $30); but I can bring my jar back and get free refills for like, so I think the math works out. The mustard was absolutely delicious. It was a sad day when I finally emptied that jug. The shop was really cool and I’ll definitely go back if I’m ever in Paris again. – Maille store front – mustard taps We left and headed back to the pizza place the others had eaten at the night before. They got some pizza since I didn’t know what Moms wanted. She was feeling a little more rejuvenated by the time we got back so she and I went back out and grabbed some pizzas. – me taking the previous picture – the entrance to the Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel – my pizza – Moms’ pizza This was our last night in Paris, tomorrow we’d be staying near Disneyland Paris for a night. We just had to get there. After eating I was looking up the route to get to Disneyland Paris and the information I was finding said it was going to cost us €15/person to travel to Disneyland Paris. It seemed really high, but I couldn’t find any info to the contrary. Moms found a car service, ACS Transfer, that would take us for the same price. I emailed them and they responded right away and we got everything set up for the morning. Tomorrow we’d be getting our Disney on! – the Maille mustard jar
Moms still wasn’t feeling that great this morning. The others wanted to visit Notre Dame when it opened. We’ve been there and with Mom’s illness we decided we’d take it easy today and let the others go out on there own. We had purchased two-day passes for the tour bus since it was a really good deal, but they ended up taking a taxi since they left before the buses started running. Moms and I used our passes and started passing by the famous sights of Paris. I’m not sure where we were planning on going that morning, but as we got to the Louvre, Moms informed me that we would be getting off here.
– this little pathway on the side of the Eiffel Tower offers a different perspective and in the early morning it’s just you and the joggers
– Les Invalides (military museum and the tomb of Napoleon)
– La Madeleine
We weren’t planning on going here, but Moms loves this place (I’m pretty partial to it myself), so she just had to go in. After I hastily gathered up all my belongings and made my way down from the top of the bus, we were in this magnificent space. We took it in for a minute and then I spent the next few minutes taking pictures like crazy. The line was starting to get more people (who had just finished their picture taking sessions also) so we got in line before it got too long.
– the entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries
– Moms took this picture & I wish I could take credit for it
We bought our tickets and went straight to the Mona Lisa. Just like everybody else. We’ve already explored this area on our last trip so we didn’t spend much time here. We made our way to the Venus de Milo, which we missed last time, and passed the spot where Winged Victory of Samothrace normally sits, but it was out for a major restoration. (This was the first time Winged Victory had been moved since WWII, there is a great documentary on Netflix [yes, streaming also] about the effort to save art during WWII and you should watch it.) The Louvre is just too massive to really explore on a vacation. Last time we spent about 5 hours here and completely missed an entire wing of the building. We hadn’t eaten breakfast so after seeing the Venus de Milo and the other Greek antiquities, we made our way to the cafeteria.
– you’ve got to work your way through this crowd to see the Mona Lisa
– another view of the Mona Lisa room
– The Coronation of Napoleon
The Louvre cafeteria has different sections that offer different foods, so we split up since we didn’t want the same things. Moms had roasted chicken and I don’t know what else, while I had a beef empanada and an apple pie. The Louvre cafeteria does a good job which is good since you can spend a lot of time in the museum and be too tired to try and find food when you finish. After we ate, we browsed the gift shop and ran into some familiar faces. That’s right, the rest of our family had made their way to the Louvre after visiting Notre Dame and they were finishing up here as well.
– beef empanada & apple pie
– Moms’ roasted chicken (she ate her sides before I got back to take a picture)
With our group complete again, we all hopped on the tour bus to take us to the Champs-Elysee
We were on the Eurostar making our way towards France. There was an older British couple sitting near us and we had a great conversation with them which helped pass the time.
We got into Gare du Nord train station and got 2 taxis to our hotel. Nina and family of course paid a little extra. The hotel, Mercure Paris Centre Eiffel Tower, was very close to the Eiffel Tower. The rooms were much smaller than the London Marriott we had just left, but not so small that three of us were right on top of each other. They offered free wifi but you had to log in every time you used it which got old quick.
We didn’t care though we were in Paris and the Eiffel Tower was right there just tempting us to say hello. I had forgotten just how big it really is. If I didn’t already mention it in another post, I am terrified of heights. On my last trip here I went to the first level observation deck and it took me a long time to feel “comfortable” there. I don’t think I can go all the way to the top. Whenever the Eiffel Tower was brought up before the trip everyone but Moms and me said they were going to the top. You couldn’t not go to the top. Seeing it in person brought out a lot of trepidation amongst our party.
It was still early and the line wasn’t too long so we decided we’d go up to the first level. Once we got off the elevator all thoughts of going any higher were put on hold. There was a breeze and it was freezing out there. After checking out the sights and no longer being able to stand the cold we checked out the gift shop before heading back down. We weren’t too impressed with the official offerings and I don’t think any of us bought anything.
– Eiffel Tower from outside our hotel
– Trocadero from the Eiffel Tower
– Arc de Triomphe from the Eiffel Tower
– Champ de Mars & Tour Montparnasse
– these guys are at the base of the tower trying to sell you those cheap souvenirs, they really try to pressure you and you can see just how prevalent they are.
– the Eiffel Tower lights up on the hour
After watching the Tower light show, we were tired and hungry. We found a little restaurant that was across the street from the hotel. I don’t really remember what anybody had here. It was not a very good meal. We were just too hungry to care at that point. After dinner we went back to our rooms to get some sleep.
The other day I was thinking about my trip to London & Paris back in 2009. Specifically, the Arc de Triomphe’s ridiculous amount of stairs. 284 to be exact. If you’ve never been, the steps just spiral up all the way to the top and seem to never end. The memorable part comes when you finally make it to the top. There’s a number of benches at the top and upon reaching the finish I saw quite a few people sitting up there taking a break. They all seemed to look at me as I came up the final steps with a sort of knowing look. For a brief moment you and these strangers share an unspoken moment of understanding as you join them and take a seat at a bench. The cycle is maintained because you will look at the next person to reach the top of the steps and welcome them to this brotherhood of the exhausted.
I took this from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. I increased the contrast to bring out some of the details in the buildings and converted it to black and white.