Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paris Plus

Continuing on our tour of Paris we headed out one misty, rainy morning for Versailles to explore Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles.  In a word, opulent.  I don't have a ton of pictures, but of course I took one in the Hall of Mirrors.

We rented little golf carts that we could use to drive around the large gardens behind the Palace.  This was a fun little diversion for all of us, since the dreary weather and someone's "sprained" ankle would make walking around not so enjoyable (*Note the "" around sprained--you'll learn why in a day or two).

Drivers License WAS required for this bad-boy.  By the way, I had never driven a golf cart, before.  Dad, I did stop at all stop signs.

Luckily for us, though, the next day was a gorgeous day in Paris.  After a late morning start, we made our way to Pont Neuf, a the oldest bridge in Paris that would lead us across the Seine River and to the island with Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle.  Ironically, Pont Neuf means new bridge.  But I digress.

Notice our French braids?

Sainte Chapelle was this beautiful chapel filled with stained glass.  It was built by Louis IX in the 1200's specifically to hold the Crown of Thorns.  Although now housed elsewhere, the chapel is still remarkable to view and continues to display the Crown on certain occasions and days (not the one we were there)
The chapel in the lower level for the "commoners"

The altar built for the Crown of Thorns

A chapel that was part of a larger palace area, this was connected to the current Justice building

Afterwards we made our way to Notre Dame.  With construction in the plaza in front of it and a rally of some sort going on as well, the arrival was less than spectacular.  In fact, even once we were inside one of the kids commented that it wasn't as beautiful as they had expected it to be...have we been to too many marvelous churches here?  I suppose it is hard to compare to St. Peter's or Florence's Duomo.  However, we continued around the side to see the flying buttresses and talk architecture, design and structure for a minute or two.  Lucky for the kids, the gardens around the side had some fun places to play, too.

After a bite to eat for lunch (and just a sip of coffee),

The kids were relieved to have a break from French food at this Italian place

we headed towards the Louvre...

Some sort of fire alarm delayed our access to Mona Lisa, so we strolled through an Ancient Egyptian gallery for a few minutes.

And then we made our way to Mona Lisa...

kind of small when you turn around and see this enormous painting on the wall opposite her (behind us in this photo)...

We used a Rick Steves app to listen to information about some of the artwork here.  We love the Rick Steves apps for touring Europe.

We separated for a minute trying to make our way to Venus de Milo.  Unfortunately, at about that time the museum began announcing that it was closing, and only a couple of us made it there.

However, the others in the group got to take in this lovely sculpture, which gave them all quite a laugh and maybe made up for it (thought word is that at least one of them cried when it was revealed they would not be seeing Venus de Milo).

We continued from the Louvre to the Tuileries Gardens where we relaxed for a few minutes and enjoyed the ultimate in French yumminess--crepes filled with nutella.

See--I told you we enjoyed it!

We then spied Avenue des Champs Elysees with the Arc de Triomphe in the distance.  Ted did not let me past here to do any shopping...

So, after checking off all those sites, we began the walk back to the apartment.  And I just have to say that our kids are so good at walking all day and amusing themselves while we haul them all over the place.  They will have their reward in the next post...

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