New Year's in Paris: Part Two
Welcome to part two of our incredible Parisian New Year's trip! In case you missed it, here is part one. I still can't get over our time in Paris, and I'm excited to finally share the rest of our adventure with you.
Day 3--New Year's Eve
We pretty much kept this day cleared for Versailles, as we knew we would have to travel a bit to get there and we weren't sure how long it would take. Once again, we planned to arrive 30 minutes before it opened, hoping we would have the same luck as we did at the Louvre.
Not quite as lucky. Even arriving 30 minutes early wasn't enough--the line was already a couple hundred deep. But as we waited, we got to witness this gold-trimmed palace sparkle in the sunrise, and it was truly magnificent.
The Paris Museum Pass covered our admission, and upon entering we took advantage of the audio tour at no additional charge.
Versailles is as grand and decadent as one would imagine, filled with chandeliers, mirrors (which were a premium then and were a sign of true wealth--and vanity), and gold trimmings. The audio guide was fascinating, describing each room we entered as either a place for parties or for eating, and then there were bedrooms for ceremony and then bedrooms for actual sleeping. And while Versailles was built as a place for the royal family to find some solace, it soon became the center for high society.
And let's not forget the gardens--such immaculate landscaping.
After Versailles, we made it back to Paris in time to go to one more museum, so we quickly made our way to Musee de l'Armee, which is a museum that houses French military paraphernalia, as well as Napoleon Bonaparte's tomb. This was right up Micah's ally as he recently read a biography on Napoleon and has been fascinated with him since.
When we left this museum, we were pretty tired and hungry, so we decided to gather a picnic of sorts from the shops around our hotel. We first stopped in a cheese shop, and one of the ladies kindly helped us pick out a few cheeses after we described our preferences. I wish I could remember the exact names of what we got, but I do remember we got a hunk of brie, two other types of cow's milk cheese, and one goat's milk cheese (for Micah--I have never developed a taste for goat's cheese). We then made our way to a boulangerie for a baguette and fruit tart, and then popped over to a wine shop for the least expensive bottle of bordeaux we could find. Lastly we picked up grapes and olives from a small grocery. Downright giddy, we spread our goodies out on our hotel bed and had the best impromptu picnic.
Once we were full, we looked at the clock and it was only 7:00--how on earth would we stay up until midnight? We discussed for a while if we should even try to go back out because we were exhausted. Finally we decided to have a short nap and so we would be energized enough to attend the fireworks show at the Arc de Triomphe--being in Paris for New Year's Eve is a once in a lifetime experience, and we couldn't just sleep through it.
I'm so glad we didn't miss it. When we arrived, there were several thousand people standing in the middle of the street, laughing and swaying along to the classical music playing. The trees that line Avenue des Champs-Elysees were draped in lights to look like sparkling champagne glasses. About fifteen minutes before midnight, they projected an adorable cartoon on the arc of a cat riding around on his bicycle in Paris--a sweet touch for the children in attendance.
Once the clock struck midnight, fireworks burst, music played, and 2018 was prominently displayed on the arc. It was a magical, teary moment, and one I will never forget.
Day 4--New Year's Day
This day was tricky, as it was a major holiday, so we knew most things would be closed. However, we set out to see if any museums or shops happened to be open. It was raining, cold, and somehow we got turned around and walked in the wrong direction for nearly a mile. By the time we finally stopped for a coffee, we were both feeling a little impatient.
But it was nothing a cappuccino and a bowl of French onion soup couldn't cure.
Next door to the cafe was this little jewelry shop, Ubu, that was closed, but had the most beautiful jewelry in the window. I immediately fell in love with a gold and mother-of-pearl ring and couldn't get it out of my head the rest of the day.
We walked around the Jewish Quarter for a while, peeping through the windows of the closed stores, and eventually we happened upon the Musee National d'Art Moderne (Paris's modern art museum)--finally, something open! Our museum pass allowed us to bypass the line and enter immediately.
This museum is a confusing building, with special elevators and escalators that will take you only to certain portions of the museum--the building itself is modern art. After wandering around for an hour or so, it became apparent that modern art isn't our cup of tea.
When we left, we were getting a little hungry, so we stopped at an outdoor stall for a falafel wrap. We were cold, damp, and it was getting dark, but we were happy to meander aimlessly through Paris, munching on our dinner.
Day 5--Our Last Day
We arose early once again and set out for the Picasso museum. I know I said earlier that we don't particularly enjoy modern art, but I actually love most of Picasso's work. I have had a print of his Girl Before a Mirror in my classroom for years, and I was hoping the original might be in this museum.
Picasso is an intriguing individual. He was emotional, a womanizer, and spent many years living in Paris.
I loved this museum. It may have been my favorite one we visited. His original work is so much more impressive than any print could convey.
The museum also had many of his sketches on display to illustrate the evolution of some of his greatest works.
To my great excitement, Girl Before a Mirror is here. I was completely captivated by the original work, amazed by its size, color, and emotion. I probably stared at this piece for fifteen minutes.
When we finally left the museum, guess what was right around the corner?
Ubu. I snatched up this pretty statement ring and am so happy to have it for a souvenir. In fact, I've found that little pieces of jewelry make the best souvenirs when traveling. They are easy to pack and every time you put it on, you think of the place you visited. I highly recommend visiting this chic little jewelry shop. All of the jewelry is made in Paris, and the price point and quality reminds me a little of Kendra Scott.
Our last iconic stop was to get a closer look at Arc de Triomphe--architecture filled with history and surrounded by the most luxurious shops.
Our last dinner in Paris was at a little cafe on Rue Cler called Cafe Rousillon.
The entire trip I wanted to try boeuf bourguignon (beef stew), so I was excited to see it on the menu. Micah had been curious about trying tartar de boeuf (a raw beef dish) because it was on just about every menu in Paris. So he ordered it, and this is what came out.
I begged him to order something else, anything else. But once Micah commits to something, he sees it through.
He said it wasn't bad, but that he won't be ordering it again. My boeuf bourguignon, on the other hand, was ridiculously tender and delicious. This is a must order next time you visit, especially if it's cold out.
Final thoughts on Paris...
Paris is the most enchanting place I have ever visited. Everyone we encountered went out of their way to be kind, the food is incredible, the history and art is captivating, and it is just beautiful. This city is elegant yet accessible--nothing at all to be intimidated by. I find myself daydreaming about this trip constantly since we left, and I cannot wait to return.