Paris – days 3 and 4

Last week, Laura and I returned to Paris for the first time in 20 years. Laura flew out during the previous week for work and I followed her on Saturday for a few days of fun in the City of Light. After exploring the city over the weekend (see here), Monday’s primary focus was the Musée du Louvre – one of the world’s largest museums in one of the world’s most famous buildings.

Louvre 3

Among the 35,000 pieces of art and historical objects in the Louvre are some of the world’s most iconic paintings, like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Dürer’s self portrait and Vermeer’s The Lacemaker,Code of Hammurabi sculptures like the Aphrodite (aka Venus de Milo) and Michelangelo’s Captive, as well as historical artifacts like the famous statue of Rameses II, the Seated Scribe and the Code of Hammurabi (the oldest written legal code known to man).

With just an afternoon to explore this massive treasure trove, we focused on the Dutch Masters and spent quite a bit of time on the Rubens exhibit. Later we explored  the Mesopotamian collection, including the Code of Hammurabi, the giant friezes from the Palace of Sargon II, as well as some of the oldest writing samples known to man.

Winged Bull from the Palace of Sargon II

The history of the Louvre Palace itself is also quite interesting: it dates back to the a 12th century fortress of King Philip Augustus, also called the Louvre, which was razed in 1546 by King Francis I in favor of a larger royal residence. The Louvre was the residence of the French Kings until King Louis XIV moved his residence to Versailles in 1678.

After the Louvre, we went to Cafe RUC on Rue Saint-Honoré, just a block from the Louvre, and had a very nice dinner. I had the best liver I ever had! After dinner, we strolled up Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, past the Elysée Palace – the residence of the French President – and all the fancy boutiques.

Élysée Palace

On our way back, we picked up a nice bottle of champagne and then we climbed up the Arc de Triomphe to enjoy a fantastic night-time view of Paris. After that, we retreated to our hotel to rest our tired feet.

Arc de Triomphe

The next day – Tuesday – we did some more shopping, then we headed to Montmartre. Montmartre - Sacre Coeur - usWe had a nice pizza lunch at Restaurant Le Saint-Regis on the Rue D’Orsel. We also visited Sacré-Cœur, in front of which Laura and I got engaged 20 years ago. Then we walked around the Northern part of Montmartre, around Rue Caulaincourt and Rue Coustine.  That neighborhood is much less touristy and has lots of little shops and cafes.

We slowly made our way down to the Boulevard Barbès and got on the Metro at Mercadet-Poissoniers to head over to the Champs de Mars to check out the Eiffel Tower again and for another river cruise on the Seine. This time the Pont Alexandre IIIcruise took us past Pont Alexandre III and 16 other bridges on the Seine, past the Île de la Cité, around Île Saint Louis and back to the Eiffel Tower. Due to high water levels, they had to deviate from the usual route a bit.

 

 

At 324 metres (1,063 ft), the  Eiffel Tower is still the tallest structure in Paris and the sTour Eiffelecond-tallest in France. When it was completed for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, only to be surpassed in 1930 by the Chrysler Building in New York. Still, today it dominates the center of Paris, especially at night when it is lit up.

Obviously, the view from the tower is just breathtaking, especially on a clear night. We had a pretty good view (photos below) but we were pretty tired and did not stay for a long time.

Afterwards, we walked back to Avenue Wagram and had a very nice, late dinner at L’Etoile 1903. We both had salads (mine had duck gizzards, foie gras and bacon) and a bottle of Chapelle de Venenge Brouilly 2012. Around midnight , we strolled back to the Hotel Ceramic.

Wednesday morning, we took the Air France coach to CDG (through terrible rush hour traffic) and flew Air France to ATL and Delta back to RDU.

More photos below

Palais du Louve

Louvre 2

Louvre 1

Louvre - Tour Eiffel

Louvre - Tuileries

Montmartre

Montmartre - shopping

Montmartre - Sacre Coeur 1

Eiffel Tower

Tour Eiffel from 2nd floor

Tour Effel view East

Tour Eiffel view West

 Dinner at Etoile 1903

Etoile 1903 dinner

 

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