Friday, July 11, 2014

3 days in Paris! Ohhhh la la!

So our adventure of Mom and teens continues with our super fast train trip to Paris via Eurostar. Honestly the only way to travel - door to door in about 2 1/2 hours. The train is so smooth and quiet - you don't even register that half of the trip you are traveling beneath the English Channel! FYI - I recently found out that Americans are the only ones who use the term "chunnel" here. Too funny.

We took a cab to our hotel, the Renaissance Vendome near the Louvre and immediately headed out to the Eiffel Tower. 3 months ago I set my alarm for 2am so I could wake up, jump online and buy tickets to the top of La Tour Eiffel. You can book them online 90 days in advance to skip the lines (which I highly recommend if you are set to go up top). Problem is all of the tour companies do the exact same thing and book up all of the tickets in about 30 seconds. I was only able to get tickets to the second floor which... ended up being JUST FINE for this giant chicken! Even the kids were happy not to go all the way up! Yeesh!

It was a gorgeous day

View from the 2nd floor

The hair on my arm is already standing up just looking at this pic at the moment

And I nearly fell over taking this while looking up! eeeck!

Next we headed to a favorite cafe that Tommy and I found on our favorite little street in Paris,
 Rue Cler.
Cafe Rousillon is a fabulous cafe and I wish we had headed back here for dinner on our last night versus having a less than average experience at a Chinese restaurant. Oh well...

Jen had an amazing Risotto...

I had the most incredible Farm Salad they called it that had a big chunk of yummy baked french cheese on top. Oh the french cheese... and the french butter... and the french pastries!

And Drew spent the trip in search of Europe's best burger! Haha!
He eventually judged the burger at the Booking Office at the Renaissance St. Pancras as the hands down winner!

We spent some time walking down Rue Cler and checking out the sights.
It's an open air market of flowers, veggies, fruit, wine and of course a patisserie

Crepes au chocolat... Mmmmmm!

The kids found this Glacerie (ice cream shop) and were relentless to go back every day!
They had no idea what they were in store for when we got to Italy and had the Gelato there...

One of my favorite things about Paris and Europe in general is the abundance of outdoor cafes
Almost every 10 feet there is another cafe with beautiful outdoor seating. I wish I had taken a pic of the cafe's seating, they have tables all along the street with seats that ALL face out to the street for street watching. Pretty cool.


At this point we called it a day and headed back to our hotel. I scored a junior suite
(that's being generous with the terminology as the Paris hotel rooms are TINY and the 3 of us were tripping over each other in said suite...)
But the best part of this was the terrace where I spent a lot of time...

doing this! Wine glass and bottle not pictured... :-)


So we had a rough day Tuesday and decided to sleep in on Wednesday. We tried to power off a bunch of the sights and started at Notre Dame. We bought tickets for the hop on hop off open top bus which also included tickets to the Batobus on the Seine which is fabulous. This is a pic of the "love lock" bridge as we are going under it. All of the pieces you see on the bridge are padlocks with initials of couples on them.



Notre Dame from the Seine

The lines were long to go in but went very quickly

We lit a candle for our sweet Remy kitty who just died. We found out Tuesday while in Paris and it
made the days in Paris very difficult for us to say the least.

The stained glass inside is just amazing

Heading back out on the Open air bus to the Pont Alexandre and heading to Arc de Triomphe

beautiful bridge - Pont Alexandre seen in lots of films

then off for lunch at another of Tommy's and my favorite Parisian cafe's - Le Sens Unique!

and I was able to order the same lunch I had when we were there last year - amazing Spanish stuffed pesto mussels! Mmmmmm!

One thing we all noticed with displeasure was the abundance of smokers in Europe. You take for granted the fact that most if not all of the US has a no smoking policy in the restaurants. It definitely makes the meal less pleasant having to breathe in someone's cigarette smoke. :-/

Off to Arc de Triomphe

I splurged for the kids on dinner at a cute albeit rather expensive cafe across from the Eiffel Tower
called Chez Francis. Nice meal, alot of euros but the view was stellar!

We walked back to the hotel and caught the light show - twinkling on the hour every hour!


Since we really didn't get to much the previous 2 days we got up early, had a fabulous breakfast at the Renaissance then hit the pavement. First stop - Montmartre! 

The kids found out embarrassingly that this is also the "red light" district of Paris!
Needless to say they saw some interesting sights!

We hiked up the huge hill to see the Sacre Coeur. Beautiful.

This is one way to burn off those fabulous pain au chocolates!!

then headed to Montmartre where all of the artists are and lunch at another awesome french cafe
(at this point my Marriott Visa is starting to tremble...)

If I had means of transportation I would have come home with a lot more art than I did...

Back on the HOHO bus...

Gas is about 1.5 euro per liter or 8 bucks a gallon so you see these teeny cars, mopeds and motorcycles everywhere! We joked that this will be Jen's first car! Ha!

We headed back later and made a "must do" stop for french macaroons at the famous Laduree!

What an experience! Yum!

We got a care package of them for Tommy who flew in and met us at Charles de Gualle
en route to Barcelona on Friday. It was a great and fun week with the kids but we were all so excited to have Tommy join up with us for the rest of the trip!

Hoke family adventures continue in Barcelona on the next blog entry!

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