Saturday, February 20, 2010

L'Arc de Triomphe

Today started out with French Toast. Kim treats us too nice here! We are as spoiled as queens. After breakfast we headed out to see the Arc de Triomphe! We took the RER train systems instead of the metro and quickly learned that we will never do that again. The signs were confusing and you must pay to get back onto the metro. Not worth it. But when we reached our destination, the stairs back to groud level came up right in front of the Arc de Triomphe. I almost had a heart attack. That thing is huge! That and the traffic around it was mass caos. There were about 60 people standing around us doing the same thing: taking pictures and staring. We walked up by the road and Mamie took a picture of me with my arms in the air and the about 4 other Asian men crowded around her and took pictures of me too. Then they proceeded to each take individual pictures with us. It was ridiculous but quite funny.

We went in the tunnel under the road to get to the Arc. When we came up we were right underneath it. It was huge. I didn't realize that it had 4 legs. I thought it was just a solid mass of rock with an arch in the middle. We took at lot of pictures and then went back down into the tunnel to buy our tickets to go to the top. We climbed all 284 stairs, and by the time we got to the top my legs felt like jello. But outside was an amazing view in every direction. I could see the Sacré Coeur that we went to yesterday, the Eiffel tower and the Champs Elysées straight down to the Place de la Concorde. It wasn't as clear out as the day before but it was still beautiful. The trek down the 284 stairs was easier but I got super dizzy on the spiral staircase. I had to take a few breathers to look around and try to focas.

(The 284 steps up to the top of l'Arc de Triomphe - view from bottom up)

From there we walked down the Champs Elysées. We stopped in a watch store just to look around and then went in the biggest Louis Vuitton store I've ever seen in my life. We went inside just to say that we had been there. But the cheapest thing in the store was a LV keychain for 250 euro. Whoa. So we left empty handed. We continued down the rue to a cute little pizza place and stopped there to have lunch. I got a calzone that had egg in it. Definitely different...and huge...But good nonetheless. When we went back outside the temp had dropped and the weather was doing a nasty haze/rain thing that wasn't enough cause to bring out your umbrella but it was quite unpleasant wihout one. I opted to use mine. We passed by the Grand Palais where Romain told me I must go the first night i met him, as well as the Petit Palais. They were both gorgeous but we didn't go into either. One is for special exibits and the other is an art museum. So we continued on and reached the Place de la Concorde where we got to see the Egyptian Obelisk and beyond that was the Jardin de Tuileries which would be beautiful in the spring but was not much to look at during winter. So instead we went into the Orangerie where Monet's famous panorama water lily paintings are held. For students apart of the European Union it was free so we just went up and handed our french student cards to the lady and she gave us free tickets! The paintings were wonderful. I love Monet. But we didn't get enough of him there so we went a little out of town to the musee Monet where we got to see some of his most famous paintings. One of which I love called The Sunrise in English.

(Louis Vuitton store on Champs Elysees)

(Monet's Water Lilies at l'Orangerie)

By the time we were done there though we were exhausted so we took the metro home and took a nap. I also posted my two blogs from yesterday and the day before if anyone was confused. I didn't bring my computer and I'm writing them on my iPhone. We asked Scott when we came home where a good place to eat would be that night and he pointed us in the right direction. We went to this little café on Rue Cler called Cafe Central. I got Penne Champignon and a carafe of rose wine to share with Mamie. It went great together. After our dinner we went to a little corner cafe and got crepes nutella to go. She loaded them with nutella and I couldn't have been happier. We spent 20€ total tonight on dinner. C'etait parfait!! On our way home we spotted a Starbucks so we're going to run and get some chai tea to start off our morning. I love Paris!

So some funny things I saw/noticed today. (Mom this is for you) A man got pulled over today on the street by the police and I watched him get out of his car and go shake the police officer's hand. What?? You would get shot in the US for doing that. As we were looking for a restaurant on Rue Cler I noticed everyone was sitting on the patios outside. In February. In 30 degree weather! Only in France. At dinner we saw a girl eating a hamburger with a fork and knife.... I say again... Only in France.

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