Ridin’ ‘Round Paris | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we put our Paris Pass to use visiting a few art museums before celebrating our engagement with dinner at Auberge Nicolas Flamel.

Many photos incoming, Yelp reviews for the below spots to come soon.


Sunday morning, we woke up super duper early because we had a photo shoot scheduled at 8AM! While we ultimately wound up staying in a hotel, we did a lot of AirBnB browsing before coming to Paris and discovered that AirBnB offers “Experiences”. These range from tastings to bike tours to yoga on the beach, and one that caught our eye in Paris was a photo shoot. We had a great time with Alex, who took photos of us at the Louvre and the Palais Royale, which were both startlingly calm and empty in the wee hours of the morning before the museums opened up. We noticed during the evenings that Paris gets quiet very quickly at night and we learned that it stays quiet for longer than we would’ve expected.

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Fooling around after the shoot ended and before the Palais Royale got swarmed by people

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And that was just our first Paris engagement shoot!

After shivering through the photo shoot, as people swarmed on these picturesque spots (we saw another woman in a wedding dress being photographed), we strolled through the Jardins des Tuileries before stopping by Angelina (review soon) for breakfast and their famous hot chocolate!

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A raspberry pastry, a selection of breads and spreads, fruit salad, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and Angelina’s famously rich hot chocolate

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Went a bit crazy and got truffled scrambled eggs, too

Breakfast really hit the spot and we were very hesitant to leave the toasty tea room but we wanted to do some more strolling though the expansive Tuileries before… going straight to lunch. (Spoiler, we were not nearly hungry enough for more food at this point.) Since we weren’t able to visit while we were in New York, we hit up the Ippudo Paris location and had a really lovely bowl of ramen. It reminded us why Ippudo was such an enchanting first-ever ramen experience that maybe remains our favorite. Also, it was fun to hear people switch between French and Japanese, and Ippudo was one of the few places where we heard Japanese being spoken (by both staff and diners) versus English and French.

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Classic tonkotsu
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Plus a pork belly bao and green tea because it was cooooold that day!

Completely and totally full at this point, we started walking our food off and decided to take our Paris Pass day to the hop-on/hop-off bus tour. For readers who remember my first Europe posts (I realize that I have now been back to Paris before finishing the recaps with London and Paris… but they’ll be out!), I am a huge fan and proponent of doing hop-on/hop-off as a first day/only day in a city way to explore. (I also like calling it a ho/ho bus but I don’t know if that’s catching on…) (I’m going to be calling it that in this blog post though.)

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Back at the Arc du Triomphe

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Ben was at first fairly lukewarm about the ho/ho bus idea but glad to have a place to sit and rest. He didn’t realize that the buses all come with a little audio tour, so we’re still engaging with the city as we ride around! We had been doing some fairly intense walking the past 3 days in Paris, so being able to just sit on our butts while still exploring the city was blissful. Having the little audio tour made that rest all the better because there is just so much to learn about this city. And one of my favorite things about ho/ho specifically is that you can get off, explore on foot, and get back on. Usually, I like to start my trips with ho/ho but ending with the bus tour was exactly what we needed.

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Notre Dame
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Back at the Louvre
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Luxor Obelisk in Place de la Concorde
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Holy Trinity Cathedral in the background with the Eiffel Tower
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Flame of Liberty, replica of the one that the Statue of Liberty holds in New York, that sits atop the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, where Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul died in a car crash. The site has become an unofficial memorial for Diana.
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View from Trocadéro

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Les Invalides

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We rushed to get back on the last ho-ho bus and high-tailed it to Sainte-Chapelle to see the famous stained-glass windows and squeeze more value out of our Paris Pass.

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Sainte-Chapelle tip: It is recommended to visit early in the morning for a quieter experience with morning light or at sunset to see the light come through the rose window. However, on overcast days, like the day we visited, the light comes through the windows more evenly so don’t despair!

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From Sainte-Chapelle, we walked next door to the Conciergerie, which was originally part of a royal palace but is now famous for its role in the Reign of Terror, during which time it served as the main prison for those suspected of being enemies of the republic.

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Reign of Terror fact: During the 10 months that the Reign of Terror lasted, 2700 people were sent to prison in the Conciergerie, with most of them going to the guillotine. 1 in 5 people in Paris could find themselves going about their days, being charged and imprisoned in terrible conditions, and then being executed the very next morning.

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A fraction of the names of folks whose executions were recorded

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As we arrived near closing, I was really speed-reading the informational placards. (I always read every placard in every museum/gallery/aquarium/zoo I’m in.) (Or in this case, I try to.) This was a particular challenge because the sheer quantity of historical content for me to consume was enormous but also because half of the placards were written only in French and I read a lot slower in French than I do in English! (I also had to slow down a bit to make sure I could then give Ben a briefing of what I learned as he enjoyed things like videos and interactive exhibits.) It was pretty sobering walking through and seeing prison cells and artifacts from before Marie-Antoinette was executed.

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A lock of Marie Antoinette’s hair

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“All of Europe is at war against France”

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From the Conciergerie, we hustled over to Notre-Dame even though the cathedral was closed, just to see it again, before hopping back on the very last ho/ho (close call!).

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The hardest thing about these Gene Kelly homage poses is getting up on lamp posts that don’t have a spot for your foot to rest. I gave up on this one real quick.

Although it had been raining while we attempted to endure the open-top seats, the weather had cleared and we were enjoying just really beautiful scenes in Paris, where the trees leaned down to kiss our heads (and drop big spiky things, what were those?!) and a cool breeze blew through the open air markets and cobblestone streets. God, Paris is so beautiful. And before we knew it, we arrived near the last Paris Pass thing we wanted to do: the Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise.

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Pont Alexandre III
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Notre Dame

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I really do have to recommend this river cruise, because you can see so many of Paris’s most famous and most iconic sights from the Seine. We loved going at night because the sun was setting and the monuments were all illuminated. It was pretty freaking dreamy, let me tell you.

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The Louvre
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Musée d’Orsay
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Pont Alexandre III less than an hour later

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While the sun was barely setting when we set out on our river cruise, it was completely pitch black when the boat docked and we were super cold and super starving. With a quick internet search, we quickly became really interested in eating Moroccan food so we found ourselves at Essouira, which is about 2 blocks from Trocadero but was on a super quiet street.

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The interior of the restaurant was incredible. We felt totally transported, especially when we considered that a few blocks away we were pushing through crowds and vendors trying to sell us things, thanks to the lush decor, the soft music playing, and the warm emanating from the smells, the music, the textures, the foods, and the people.

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Bone-warming harira soup
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Savory lamb tagine
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Sweet chicken tagine

Except for the people sitting next to us. I have never felt my heart break so much for strangers I was so close to before. I don’t want to overtake this travel recap with this anecdote, but we were sitting next to a Chinese-American girl who was about our age and her mother. The mom would enthusiastically ask about certain sights and the daughter would just shoot her down repeatedly, venom with every single word she spat out. Even then, the mom kept trying to connect and get her daughter excited about something but the daughter was SO MEAN. And it was painful for us to hear because we could understand both the English and Chinese frigidness and pain, and for me it was extra painful because I know that sometimes I lose my patience with my parents and don’t sound too different from that girl. I really wish I had done something to comfort that mother, somehow, but it just wasn’t my place.

That experience aside, we had a really lovely meal and felt so warmed through that we went back out to Trocadero to take in some more Eiffel Tower sights. Trocadero is one of the best spots to get photos of the Eiffel Tower, so coming really early in the morning or really late at night will get you some amazing shots without too many people in the shot. There is a lot of room, though, so you may still luck out.

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With that, our day ended and we headed back to the hotel, feeling so satisfied with how much we maximized that last day of Paris Pass value! Without having to run around too much to do it!


Do you get a thrill out of maximizing value like we did? The value of maximizing value is up there with the actual value of sightseeing we got out of this, no joke. It was so much fun and we felt really proud of ourselves, if a little exhausted at the end.

What are your favorite ways to cover a lot of ground when you’re sightseeing? I love love hop-on/hop-off, and I also really liked the river tour. I also got a kick out of hop-on/hop-off boat tours in the canals in Copenhagen. (That blog post will eventually come up!)

Have you ever intervened when you saw strangers in an awkward situation? Nothing really bad was happening but I felt like I wanted to do… something. It was just so not my place that I didn’t know how to do something, but I literally cried in the restaurant for a while after that mother-daughter duo left because I felt so sad for the mom and so sorry I couldn’t do anything for her and so sorry that I couldn’t make the daughter see how terrible she was being.

Anyway, the Paris recaps are coming to a close very soon! I am actually heading to New Orleans for RubyConf today and am so excited because New Orleans has been at the top of my list of American cities to visit for the first time for quite some time now! I will try not to drop the ball with the Paris recap update schedule.

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Art & Alchemy | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we actually left the City of Lights to visit the Palace of Versailles, where we sauntered around the residences of the French royal family before eating one of our favorite French treats – crêpes! (Famous Breton-style ones!) But we had learned to adjust expectations after Versailles…

Many photos incoming, Yelp reviews for the below spots to come soon.


With our two all-day trips (to the Louvre and to Versailles) checked off, Ben an I had 2 more days on our Paris Pass to enjoy sightseeing on our own schedule. But first, more Breizh Cafe crêpes.

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We didn’t make the mistake of under-ordering this time: a savory crepe for each of us and a sweet one to share!

Bellies happily full of Breton crepes, we headed off to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Originally built to house orange trees, this beautiful art gallery is now home to impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Most famously, the Musée de l’Orangerie features Claude Monet’s Nymphéas series, the famous impressionist water lilies.

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Musée de l’Orangerie fact: The oval-shaped rooms that house the Nymphéas were, in fact, specially designed by Monet and architect Camille Lefèvre to utilize natural light and the plain, curved walls for these paintings.

The highlight of this museum is Nymphéas and the very striking rooms that house them, but the Musée de l’Orangerie is also home to other great works.

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Picasso
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I love paintings of Parisian landmarks like these
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Around the world, female artists are not often featured in museums and Paris is no exception. The Musée de l’Orangerie features one female artist on their roster: Marie Laurencin
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Renoir
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A miniature recreation of the office of the art collector whose collection was on display?

From there, we went to our next museum that Ben was super keen to visit: the Musée d’Orsay.

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Musée d’Orsay fact: Built in a former train station, the Musée d’Orsay is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist pieces in the world and is one of the largest art museums in all of Europe.

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It’s a good thing we visited l’Orangerie before d’Orsay, because that collection is completely dwarfed by the volume and breadth of the collection at this gorgeous, gorgeous museum.

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A piece featuring several of the artists featured in this museum!

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We were able to see the Cézanne exhibit, which was a really cool, in-depth look at this impressionist painter and his life and his career. (I didn’t take photos because I wanted ot just enjoy the exhibit, but also I was starting to feel a little hangry at this point and I took that out on Paul Cézanne, I am sorry.)

What got me really excited was seeing pieces by my favorite artist, Edgar Degas. Here is just a sampling of the many works they had by the man responsible for my love of both impressionism and the visual aesthetic of ballet.

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I was so excited to see Little Dancer of Fourteen Years again after seeing her at the National Gallery of Art

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Degas fact: Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans actually has 28 copies, and you can see her at 14 art museums around the world. Ten of her are privately owned. She is the only sculpture that Degas ever showed and it garnered an intense amount of negative criticism. I actually really love Degas’ raw “unfinished” sculptures, maybe as much as I love his gorgeous paintings.

From d’Orsay, you can get a really fantastic view of Sacré-Cœur Basilica in the distance.

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Spot the 🌈

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These views weren’t half bad either

As the museum started to get ready for closing, Ben and I found ourselves really regretting not dedicating more time to this vast collection and beautiful building. We sped through Van Gogh…

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… took in the building itself and a few sculptures…

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… and found this ballroom that somehow put Versailles to shame?

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And then, just like that, we were being asked by security to please get out.

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I just wanted to share this painting of a cat with extremely long legs and I had no good segue for it, here it is

DSC04864The sun was out for a rare moment, so we were grateful to be able to stroll along the Seine with blue skies overhead for once.

 

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My favorite bridge, Pont Alexandre III

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If we had a dollar for every wedding gown photoshoot we saw… we’d have a lot of dollars, lemme tell ya…

And then it was time for dinner!

For this trip, we didn’t want to be restricted to too many reservation times to worry about and potentially be late for, but we did make one reservation for a celebratory dinner at Auberge Nicolas Flamel.

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Nicolas Flamel fact: YES, this is the same Nicolas Flamel that J.K. Rowling credits with creating the philosopher’s/sorceror’s stone. He is the only character in the Harry Potter universe that is based on a real person. The real Nicolas Flamel is associated with a pre-HP reputation as an alchemist. And yes, the restaurant offers a “Harry Potter” kids prix-fixe meal.

After some disappointing eats, we were worried that this restaurant wouldn’t live up to the hype, but after walking past a lot of super trendy art show lines (people were lined up around the block for shows featuring risqué photos and abstract paintings), we enjoyed one of the best meals of the entire trip.

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Complementary amuse-bouche
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Foie gras
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Lobster ravioi beneath a yummy foam
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Veal
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Fis
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Yuzu soufflé with ice cream
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Complementary lemon madeleines

Nicolas Flamel fact: Auberge Nicolas Flamel is the oldest stone house in Paris, commissioned by Flamel and his wife Pernelle to offer food and lodging to workers. Their generosity was granted with just one requirement, which is still inscribed above the doors today:

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‘We men and women laborers living at the porch of this house built in the year of grace 1407 are requested to say every day a paternoster and an ave maria, praying God that His grace forgive poor and dead sinners’

It was such a beautiful meal to end a beautiful day that I will always, always remember.
Because on that beautiful day, I got engaged.


While I would definitely highly highly recommend visiting the Musée d’Orsay, I would only suggest going out of your way for l’Orangerie if you are really intent on seeing the Nymphéas. The collection is significantly smaller otherwise, but Monet’s waterlilies are quite spectacular. It’s also a good stop if you don’t want to visit a really overwhelming art museum. Of course, if you have the Paris Pass, there’s no reason you can’t visit both!

Who are your favorite impressionist artists? I am really partial to impressionism largely because of Degas but also because of Monet’s gorgeous waterlilies. I’m not sure how I feel about post-impressionism, but it is growing on me!

Do you have a favorite art style/movement? I’m not sure I do. I like impressionism, but… it’s so hard to pick a favorite art movement as a whole and I’m not sure I consume enough art to make that call just yet.

And yes, I’ll tell you about how I got engaged really soon!

 

Gold & Galettes | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we hustled around the Louvre and walked down the Champs-Elysees to alight the Arc du Triomphe, where we took in a breathtaking view of the City of Lights. We only had one sleep to let our feet recover before another day of abundant walking…


Ben and I woke Friday morning ready for another all-day excursion to the Château de Versailles, aka the Palace of Versailles. We fueled up by stopping by the little café next to our hotel, Les Petites Canailles,  for some viennoiseries (aka croissants) (hmu Great British Bake Off fans) and coffee.

We were actually a bit nervous about getting to Versailles because it required us taking the RER (Réseau Express Régional, or Regional Express Network, a commuter line that extends out of Paris) rather than the metro that we were pretty comfortable taking.After a bit of a struggle trying to figure out if our Paris Pass included RER (the pass booklet said it did but we weren’t able to figure out how to make that work out) and narrowly missing our train because only one machine was dispensing tickets due to repairs on the others, we finally made it to Versailles!

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Versailles tip: The RER line C will take you to Versailles Château Rive Gauche, so get yourself to a metro station that will let you transfer to RER line C (we went from St. Michel-Notre Dame, which may be the only station where line C stops?) and buy yourself a round trip ticket for 7,3€ (3,65€ each way). The ride takes about 40 minutes and Versailles is the last stop. From the train station, the walk to the palace is a little over 10 minutes over flat ground.

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Unfortunately, it was yet another rainy day for us. (Again, we had rain every single day that we were in Paris.) While the sky was grey and tones were muted, it was still pretty dazzling to see how freaking glam and glitzy Versailles is. For all the European royal opulence that I’ve had the opportunity to see, it is still a sight to see every time, that all-gold-everything life.

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The Royal Chapel
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Based on the Holy Chapel in Paris
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I love these rich sumptuous tones

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Hall of Mirrors
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aka Galerie des Glaces

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Our ticket through the Paris Pass included the audio tour

Versailles tip: The audio tour is informative but fairly slow-paced. It forces you to slow down a bit to listen and learn, which can be good or bad depending on how you want to go through Versailles.

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♥️

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Galerie des Batailles aka Gallery of Battles

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The Battle of Yorktown (The world turned upside down…) is a featured victory
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Hall of notable French figures

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The Mesdames’ Apartments, where Louis XV’s daughters lived
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I loved hearing about the kinship between Victoire and Adelaide, sisters who outlived the rest of their siblings and never married

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Both of us, Ben in particular, wanted to visit the gardens, but it started pouring when we left the palace and we were then told that our pass did not include tickets to the garden. While our pass did include tickets to Trianon, we weren’t really freely allowed to walk over since we had to bypass the gardens to get there. Feeling a bit defeated and, frankly, very damp, we decided to end our Versailles trip early and take the train back to Paris.

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At least the rain stopped as we walked back (without my umbrella, the wrong day to take it out of my bag) and we could walk through this lovely tree tunnel

When we got back to Paris, we were famished, having not really eaten lunch at Versailles. (Oops. In our defense, we did try to get lunch but the Angelina in Versailles actually ran out of lunch items!) So, we set out to try the super famous crêpes at Breizh Café (review), which had only just reopened after being renovated!

We really lucked out, as there was one teeny table next to an open window available when we arrived. (People had to wait thereafter, for quite a while!) We were able to enjoy the cool rainy air while still being served delicious Breton-style buckwheat galettes. Since Britanny is known for its galettes, oysters, and hard cider, but the weather was just a little too miserable for us to enjoy oysters, we nommed on crêpes and sipped cider. It was kind of exactly what we needed.

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Dame Fruits Rouges: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, buttermilk ice cream, whipped cream
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Lambaillaise: raw compté cheese, spinach, peas, fresh cilantro cream, turnip, duck breast
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Cider of the day

We walked in the drizzle back to our hotel but found ourselves really regretting not ordering more crêpes, so we ventured back out to eat more food and found ourselves at Au Passage (review) for some late night tapas.

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A salad with escargots

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They were supposedly out of duck breast so we were given pigeon instead

If I’m going to be honest, I don’t think Versailles is worth the hype, especially if you have been visiting other luxurious palaces/museums (e.g. the Louvre, the Summer Palace). To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to visit initially, but Ben’s parents told us it was a must-visit. I don’t agree. It’s nice to visit, and definitely interesting if you are interested in the royal family before the revolution, but it didn’t blow my mind and I would recommend skipping it in favor of visiting other places first if you have limited time in Paris.

The gardens may be worth it, as I’ve heard they are spectacular, but on a dreary rainy day, Versailles just doesn’t glimmer as much.

What do you think, would you want to visit Versailles?
What are your favorite royal residences?

What regional French food do you like? We really liked the Breton-style galettes, and were able to try other regional specialties at a French food festival later in our trip!

 

Pour L’Art et Les Vues | Paris 2017

Previously, on Paris 2017, we arrived fresh off a red-eye flight from New York, settled into our hotel in Le Marais, and went straight to eating before exploring our neighborhood. The real exploration, though, was about to begin…


Warning: A lot of photos incoming!

While planning the previous day, we decided that our first full day in Paris would be dedicated to the most famous and oldest art museum in the world: Le Louvre. We’d spend as much time as possible in the museum, not worry about seeing any “famous” pieces that we weren’t personally interested in (no Mona Lisa for us!), and just taking it all in, nice and steady.

That morning, we decided to walk to the Louvre and get breakfast on our way. It is a longer walk, with a grey and drizzly sky overhead. (Spoiler alert: It rained every single day that we were in Paris. Paris is beautiful in the rain but I don’t know how many places are beautiful when the sky can’t commit to really raining… Still, it was hard to be upset!) After getting a great head start on our steps, we stopped by La Couleur des Blés for coffee (thank you, time difference) and pastries. I later learned that this is a really popular shop, but there was only one man in the teeny tiny shop when we stopped by. We walked away with some croissants and a little hot coffee for Ben.

Etiquette tip: When you enter a shop, make sure to greet whoever is working with a “Bonjour!”  Also, make sure to say “Merci” on your way out; saying hello and thank you are very important and it’s considered rude not to. 

Ordering tip: Ordering “un café” is not the same as a regular drip coffee in the United States. It’s more like ordering an espresso, and it will come in a teeny cup. Asking for a “café alongée” will get you an Americano: espresso with hot water added. 

From the boulangerie, we walked about 2 blocks to the Louvre and parked ourselves on some benches to dig into our croissants. (The only problem with them was that we didn’t have more of them!) And then it was time.

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Our view from breakfast
Not pictured: Crumbs all over my face and coat

Because we purchased the Paris Pass before our trip, we were able to wait in the shorter line for pass holders and didn’t have to wait in an additional line to purchase tickets to the museum. Time and time again, the Paris Pass proved to be a real timesaver for us, even without considering the value of the tickets that we would have otherwise purchased without it. After descending down the escalator below the famous glass pyramids….

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… we arrived. Please enjoy some of my favorite photos from our visit interspersed with fun facts about the Louvre.

Nintendo Audioguide
The Louvre’s audioguide is provided on Nintendo 3DS XLs. You can also download the free museum app.
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I have so many photos of the ornate ceilings and mouldings at the Louvre. Always remember to look up. (But take breaks or your neck will cramp up.)
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Me in a Nook
After walking around this enormous museum, I frequently found solace in little nooks between gallery walls
Some of the art was delightfully weird…

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Tartine & Walt Disney Family Museum | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I enjoyed delicious seafood in the Ferry Building and had fun at the Exploratorium: After Dark with an old friend. This time, another day of solo adventuring!


One spot that was fairly strongly recommended to me to try out was Tartine, so I figured I’d try to avoid hanger by going to this crazy-popular bakery for some pastries. Even though I hate waiting in line…

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… there I was, in this sloooow-moving line, hiding my face from the people taking photographs of the not-even-that-crazy-but-still-embarrassing-to-be-part-of line. Eventually, I inched and inched and inched my way into the bakery, to the register, and even to my own little table in the corner to enjoy some pastries!

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Morning bun
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Lemon cream tart
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Luckily, a pair got up and I was able to snag this teeny corner table!

In general, I’d say it’s not worth the wait. The pastries were yummy but there is just no way to justify the long wait. When lines get that long, I expect to have my mind blown and mine simply wasn’t. I won’t be going back, it just isn’t worth the effort. (And I was pretty disappointed they were out of the almond frangipane croissants so early in the day.)

After nibbling on my pastries, I was a bit off-schedule because of the crazy line but I was finally off to go visit the Walt Disney Family Museum.

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I’ve been eager to come back to San Francisco because, during my last visit, I didn’t realize I spent the day really close to this museum! In fact, I didn’t know about this museum at all until I got back home and was using a map to visualize where I had been when I spotted this landmark on the map.

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Among Disney’s many awards are his Academy awards, including the unique Seven Dwarves-inspired one

This museum is amazing. It’s definitely a great museum for adult fans of Disney animations and of Walt himself, of course. You get a really in-depth look at his life, from his family tree to his death, and all the trials and tribulations in between. I learned a lot about Walter Elias Disney and the company that he started that I definitely did not know prior to walking through the museum. I’m only sharing about half the photos I took, and I tried to restrain myself to not take too many photos as well, to give you some small idea of the breadth and depth of the exhibits. When my mom hoards items from my childhood (old clothes, school projects, etc.) and tells me she wants to put them in my “museum” someday, I laugh, but looking at the thorough records of Disney’s life makes me wonder who was hoarding all of these things from his life, even prior to his animations.

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A collection of Disney’s cartoons from his school days in Kansas City
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This was one of my favorites: “I am too fat to fight and I guess there is nothing I can do help win this war.” “Why don’t you stop eating so much and save food for our boys over there. And you will reduce so you can fight.” SAVAGE.

I cannot recommend this museum enough if you are a fan of animation, of Walt Disney, of Disney animated films, of Disneyland, of early live-action Disney films, or just of this particular time in American history that produced one of the most iconic figures of modern American history and the most recognizable cartoon character in the world.

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Ub Iwerks was the primary animator for Steamboat Willie, known for the quality of his animations and the quantity. He animated the first Mickey Mouse picture (Plane Crazy) singlehandedly and supposedly churned out 700 drawings in one day – a figure that remains legendary to this day. Here are just a few of the frames that comprise Steamboat Willie, with a few panels actually coming to life through animation.

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A few of the earliest-known drawings of Mickey Mouse

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Some of the earliest-known mass-produced Mickey Mouse merchandise

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I loved the themed foods at Walt’s studio restaurant

There was a curator talk about how Walt and his team were important ambassadors to South America at a time when the US government didn’t want the spread of Communism so close to home. I walked through the exhibit about this time (it’s where Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros comes from!) and then waited for the curator.

Well… I got a private talk. There was no one else there, so the curator spoke to me about all the work that Disney did to foster good relations with our South American neighbors. A few people edged by at some points but most just kept walking. I didn’t intend to stay for as long as I did, and the one-on-one nature of the talk made me a little uncomfortable to be honest!, but it was too rude for me to also move on given that I was the sole audience of the talk. Plus, I learned a lot about the nature of foreign relations at the time and where the research for The Three Cabelleros came from, as this was a movie that puzzled me a lot whenever I watched it as a child.

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One of the biggest things I learned was that Disney’s animators actually went on strike for a long time, ceasing all operations and nearly ruining the company and the man

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I loved seeing how involved the animation studios were with the war effort
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To add to the list of “What Can’t Walt Do?”, he was really into miniatures and hand-crafted this train car himself when a teeny train was built that could bear the weight of adults (although any adult looked ridiculous riding on it). He just casually and meticulously created this train and the to-scale furniture inside. Very casual.
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The original proposal for Disneyland

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This gorgeous, moving diorama of Disneyland was pretty magical
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You may remember that I love the Carousel of Progress, as it’s the only ride at Disney World that Walt himself oversaw the design and production of.

I started rushing through the museum, as I felt I was dilly-dallying through the exhibits, and I didn’t want to miss anything with closing time fast-approaching. But before I knew it…

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Walter Elias Disney had passed away. And while I knew this, in the back of my head, I was still kind of taken aback when I reached this portion of the museum. He was doing so much: he was trying to open a ski resort (!!), he had put out Mary Poppins, he was doing amazing things with live action films, he was getting ready to start work on Disney World…

… and then he was gone. And I felt a bit floored by grief, sitting in this museum. As Walt’s activities ramped up in quantity, with the parks and the movies and the television shows and more, I felt myself going through faster to make sure I didn’t miss any of it. And I was forced to stop and slow down and take in the fact that the museum was over, that his life ended, and the world was no where near ready for that when it happened. Just as I wasn’t really ready for the whole experience to be over when I reached the end.

I walked through the gift shop in a bit of a daze, unsure of how to step back out into the beautiful sunny day at the Presidio.

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The view from the museum is top-notch.

Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street (in the Presidio)
San Francisco, CA 94129
415.345.6800
http://waltdisney.org/

Admission: $25/adult, $30 with film ticket
Hours: 10am – 6pm except Tuesdays and some holidays


Do you know what I mean when I set such a high bar for a place with a long line? I know it’s a bit unfair, but a long line means the expectations are just much higher. I wanted to go to Golden Gate Bakery, but they were actually on vacation during my visit! I am a bit concerned that Tartine is considered one of the best bakeries in SF, though, because I really wasn’t wowed by the flavors? Where should I have gone for baked goods if you don’t think Tartine is a good representative of SF pastries?

Have you ever visited a museum dedicated to a person? I once visited a Freud museum when my family visited Vienna almost 15 years ago, but otherwise I don’t visit too many person-centric museums. Maybe I should visit more? Do you have any recommendations?