Sunday, January 9, 2011

Paris Day 1

A recent trip to Paris left Matt and I wondering why we hadn't ventured the 3 hours drive, (or 1 hour by train) to see the city. We had been warned that it's a tough trip with kids. But what a fantastic visit! We covered a lot of ground in our brief 3 days there. Certainly couldn't have done it all that quickly without Aunt Julie and Uncle Pete along to "buddy up" with kids. The ratio was more favorable of 1 adult for each child, making train and metro maneuvering much easier.

We left a bit later from Belgium then planned. Had more potty stops than planned. Had more trouble purchasing train and metro tickets than planned. And enjoyed the first evening much more than planned, as we diverted from the original itinerary and ventured off to see the sights we'd initially only hoped to hit if there was time.

First stop Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre

Standing high on the hills of Montmartre, this impressive basilica has overlooked Paris for only 130 years. It's relatively young for a European church. Still, a landmark not to be missed, after a climb to the top, this basilica welcomed views over the city for miles.

Next stop - The Moulin Rouge,...just for a fun pic

We skipped the red light district though and headed for Arc de Triomphe.
The arch was built in 1809 to honor Napoleon's soldiers from the Battle of Austerlitz, but the arch wasn't completed until after Napoleon's own death. Today it's dedicated to the glory of all French armies. We arrived just in time for a daily ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier, where flowers are placed and a flame is rekindled.

After the ceremony, we climbed the 284 spiral steps inside a pillar for breathtaking views of Parisian skyline.

About 2/3 of the way up there was an exhibition where we caught our breath.

Oh la la, the Champs-Elysees was just beautiful.

Later, Aunt Julie and I strolled down Champs-Elysees with the girls and unknowingly met up with Colin Firth, the lead actor in the current film The King's Speech. I am not a paparazzi, and that unique moment you can read about here if you feel so inclined.

 We spotted the Eiffel Tower easily. Just before we headed back downstairs, the Eiffel gave us a surprise, setting off twinkling lights that made it appear to be sparkling against the night sky. A video camera would have been more appropriate to catch the glittering light show.

What a wonderful first day in Paris!

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