DAY 3 – Paris, France

I think I will start each day with a lesson, as I have been learning so many.  Lesson of this day: do not over book yourself.

(picture is first even through it has nothing to do with my Breakfast…the first picture is the one that shows up on the blog and I am tired of it being of my breakfast so I am putting my favorite picture from the day now…something I am borrowing of Denise…who does 1 picture a day for her travels, very cool and a great way to sum up eat day)

I saw an episode of Rick Steve’s Europe where he went to Normandy and Mont St Michel….after seeing that I knew I had to go to Normandy, given the history and the significance, how could I go to France without that trip.  After seeing it, I booked a train ride out to Bayeux (closest town to the beaches of Normandy) and then, how could I go to the beaches of Normandy and not visit Mont St Michel (I mean look at it!!!???)

However, when I showed up to Paris, I had no idea how jet legged I would be, also, I had to pack for three different trips, Boston, Paris and Ireland…I have so much stuff!!!  It is hard to get around and legalistically it just is a nightmare and I was dreading getting up at 5 AM on Friday morning, taking a Uber to the Hotel, checking my bags, taking a day bag out to Normandy for 4 hours, then taking another train to Mont St Michel, arriving at 4 PM (yes all in the same day) and then staying over in Mont St Michel and training back to Paris the next day for 5 hours!!  WHAT WAS I THINKING???

Well, when I showed up for my Paris by Mouth Tour and our guide Jennifer told me she used to live in Normandy and that the train station is 30 minutes from the beaches of Normandy (a fact that I had somehow overlooked) I was almost thankful I had a good reason to cut my loses and just skip the trip to the coast!  It meant eating over $300 however it meant another 40 hours+ in Paris with no plans!!

Being a planner, I always have everything planned before I get there, I cannot express how good it felt to wake up Friday with NO PLANS!!  I could do whatever I wanted to do!!  This is a very important lesson as Friday ended up being one of my favorite days!  I was bummed I did not plan a “wonder around and get lost in Paris day” well I made that a right and made it happen.  Friday was lovely and I have no regrets and I am taking the loss of money as a lesson learned!

I woke up late on Friday, because I could! and I ventured to a Crêpes Cafe Nick and Anne had recommended – WOW it was fantastic!!!! I had a Cafe Creme and a Nutella Crêpe. (notice the ash tray on the table – classic Paris)

I enjoyed the Pomeranian that walked by…not the first I have seen in Paris as a lot of people have small dogs.  Made me miss Gizmo.

After a relaxing breakfast and some time just strolling I took the metro to The Louvre.  Here again is another lesson…I had no desire what so ever to go to the Louvre, I just thought I had to.  I wanted to see the Pyramid of course, but the only thing of interest to me whatsoever was the Mona Lisa….but I am not willing to wait in the line and go through the whole Museum to see her, I just walked by…and I am so glad I did…
The pictures do not do it justice…I cannot explain the feeling I got when I walked out of the Metro and the sky opened up to the massive buildings, statues, pyramid…it was 90+ degrees and I had goosebumps…it is a moment that will stay with me always – very powerful.  The history and the beauty was over powering and all I could do is take it all in (the selfies were hours later)

Something I want to note is that the line to get into the Louvre is very long, however, all these blogs and travel suggestions say to go in “at the mall” well that is hard to find and I would have no idea where that would be if I did not stumble upon it.  (and you cannot go around asking “where is the mall or secret short line to get in?”) Well the secret entrance is at the Accès au centre CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE.  Take the Metro line 1 and get off at Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre (DO NOT GET OFF ST LOUVRE)  Here you will be right at the mall, shops and the entrance to the Louvre if you want to get in without a line.  Walk to the exit (sortie) and you will walk up into the same amazingness as I did, right smack in the middle off the Louvre!

(the entrance to the Metro station to look for)

(the view that you see when you are walking down the stairs to the secret entrance to the Louvre)

(the picture of the side of the arches is what you see to your left when you come out of the station)
Another important lesson: if someone is wearing an American flag shirt (or a Yankee’s hat, etc) it does NOT mean they are American and thus speak English.  I found a nice looking women who was wearing a very obnoxious American flag shirt and I thought “for sure this women speaks English”  NOPE, not only does she not speak English, I think she swore at me in an another language and told her husband to “take care of me” when I had asked for a picture please.  He picked up my camera and lazily took this picture….you cannot even see the Lourve pyramid…he wanted nothing to do with the entire experience.  I decided it was time to go to a less touristy place (where selfie sticks were not allowed…The Musee d’Orsay,.

I learned about the importance of this picture on my walk around Montmartre the day before. It was one of the first times a picture like this has been painted…it did not win any awards and was actually looked down upon…now it is very famous.  Love stories like that!

The Musee d’Orsay was amazing, it was beautiful and my favorite part was Vincent Van Gogh’s room.  I actually went back about 4 times, I just loved that each time I got goosebumps and smiled…something about knowing that he touched those paintings and the thoughts that went through his mind when he painted them gives me chills.  However, I found the beauty in the museum to be in the building and the views  (above and below) I was constantly looking at things other people were not – so many things to give pause to!

Series paintings were a big thing for Impressionists. Something I learned on my impressionist tour, it was something they would do to show the difference construction, environment, or development would make, or make something look different based on their ideas.  Here is a classic series…
And then there was the amazing originals that we grew up with

And then my favorite, Vincent….

Pardon the selfies, I had to, this is probably my 2nd favorite Van Gogh.

Second to this one, which I was bummed was not here, must need to do to Amsterdam I am guessing.  Café Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, is a coloured oil painting executed by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh on an industrially primed canvas of size 25 (Toile de 25 figure) inArles, France, mid-September 1888. The painting is not signed, but described and mentioned by the artist in three letters. There is also a large pen drawing of the composition which originates from the artist’s estate. (I would have loved to visit this site but it is 38 minutes away by car…in south-east Paris.  Next time it will be at the top of my list as this painting has been hung in my house or apartment (or dorm room) for the last 15 years.

BEYOND BORDEAUX: A TOUR OF NATURAL WINES & WINE BARSA new generation of internationally-trained sommeliers and cavistes, sustained by a loyal and discerning local clientele, are challenging the stereotypes of French wine. In this bustling corner of eastern Paris, these wine geeks are offering wines that go beyond the usual Bordeaux and Burgundy classics, in environments much livelier than the zinc-and-formica standby. What we’ll taste: We’ll visit multiple locations and taste a range of wines that will change with the available selection – anything from Jura Chardonnay to cult cru Beaujolais to sparkling Grolleau from the Loire. The emphasis on what are often called vins natures: vibrant artisanal wines made with a minimum of preservatives and a maximum regard for terroir.

Very interesting an nontraditional Rose, it is orange in color and in a green class…but it was perfecto!

Our great guide, Aaron Ayscough, former sommelier and author of the wine blog Not Drinking Poison In Paris, designed the tour to promote exploration in wine, and works to ensure that all participants discover something new – be it an acclaimed winemaker, a rare grape variety, or a wine bar to remember – regardless of prior wine experience.

Once again a world famous restaurant (in blue) and it’s sister restaurant in Green with no labeling or signage…it is a Michelin Star restaurant!!
After returning to the room I was exhausted.  I have been crashing around 7:00 PM and wanting to go to bed, but it I power through I am wired from 10 PM – 2:00 AM.  We I was not only contemplating going to bed early, I was also thinking I should stay in for the night.  The guide above had invited me out to the neighboring neighborhood (where the tour was) where he was going to be with some friends at a Paris brewery (yes they are getting better at this!).   I did not want to walk that far at night and I also was so tired…I thought long and hard as it was not only a lot of work to go out to dinner, but in Paris is hard by yourself as the dinners are long and to be by yourself it just defeats the purpose.  Also, I was not even hungry! I do not know how I was able to do it, but I had not had a true meal yet.  This fact started me thinking I really should go out, I seriously thought about whether I should do it or not for over 30 min.  And another reason, to be honest, is I was still nervous and uncomfortable about stumbling through my French to order. In the end I did decide to fight through my comfort zone (as that is the reason I am here!) and go out!
Once deciding to get out of my comfort zone I headed to Le Gorille Blanc (the White Gorilla) thanks to a suggestion from Nick and Anne (they had been there a night before).

I was feeling like a salad as I was not that hungry and I had not had any vegetables or anything green in days!  I asked the food tour guide about this and she said that since so many Parisians eat vegetables and greens at home, they want to eat meat when they go out. Interesting!  I ordered this amazing “salad” above, it was melon and duck with raspberry vinaigrette.  It was wonderful but as you can see, hardly a salad.  I also ordered a Rose for 5 euros and I got a small crate and then I ordered a “water with gas” which I thought had to be bigger as it was 4.5 euros (almost the cost of a crate of wine!) but as you can see by the picture was very tiny and disappointing, I do not know if they were ripping me of or not, but I did not care, everything was wonderful!Midway through my meal through there was a protest in the streets and we heard loud bags and blasts and the sound of motorcycles (it sounded like a motocross) I was slightly worried as all the servers ran out to see what was going on, but my server laughed when I asked him what was going on, he said that oh you know someone is upset and protesting, again, today something, tomorrow, something else.  So I relaxed a bit, finished my meal, ordered fruit for dessert and waited for the noise and commotion to reside.  Where I am staying Bastille was the beginning of the revolution, so it is known as a protesting place (as well is France I guess)

I got back to my room and I was literary breathless when I saw the view – it was one of those moments you will never forget.  I sat there for hours just watching the moon move around the Eiffel Tower.  Simply amazing and probably my favorite picture I have ever taken.

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