Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brioni European Vacation - Paris, France

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Here's the second installment of our European trip. Enjoy!
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Bonjour from Paris! After taking the high speed rail from London, we went straight to our hotel. We stayed at the New Orient Hotel and it was really cute! It was a little bigger than the hotel that we stayed at in London, with really nice inn owners.

Like London, we couldn't help ourselves and signed up for the two day pass for the double-decker tour bus. We waited until the next day to get started off for a full day of sightseeing.

First stop was Notre Dame Cathedral:

The stained glass in Notre Dame was breathtaking!

Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. There were a lot of tourists and street performers around that area. After snapping some pics at the Arc de Triomphe, we had to make our way to to Champs Elysees. Champs Elysees is such an amazing street full of shops and restaurants, which meant that I had to make a stop...
At the Louis Vuitton flagship store! I purchased a handbag and wallet, and after completing my purchase, (while they were wrapping up my items) they gave me a glass of champagne! #treatyourself

 A picture of of the sun setting over the Seine...

After a full day of sightseeing, we grabbed a bite to eat at one of the many Parisian bistros. The food we ate was good, but more or less the same, consisting of a protein/sandwich with fried potatoes (frites), and a side salad, like in the picture below.

And of course each meal was accompanied by cute cups of coffee!

The Ecole Militaire lit up at night...

Because there wasn't any room on the lower level of the bus, Justin and I made our way to the top...which wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't so cold, but Paris is super beautiful at night. Plus, it gave us an excuse to cuddle for warmth :)

That night we we went to the Louvre. I highly suggest visiting in the evening when at all possible. We were able to enjoy all the artwork without all the huge crowds.

Instead of showing you typical snapshots of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, I'll show you works that I the picture below. It reminded me of me and my sisters, LOL...

Egyptian cats...
After a long night of sighseeing, we busted out our box of macarons from the famous Laduree. Can you believe we spent nearly $80 on macarons and pastries? Darn exchange rate. #Treatyourselfsomemore

On our second full day in Paris, we decided to wrap up our sightseeing tour by visiting some of the other well known attractions we hadn't seen yet.  First, we took our double decker bus to Pigalle, Paris' old red light district where Moulin Rouge cabaret is located.

We didn't bother going in, and took a few photos of the outside, as well as other nearby cabarets.  After being hassled by beggars, and other shady characters, we got back on the bus.  The next stop was none other than the Eiffel Tower.  Yes, it took us awhile to make it to this iconic tourist attraction, but there is so much to see in Paris.  When we arrived, we couldn't believe how tall it really was.  We decided not to go to the top of the tower, considering that the lines were pretty long, and we had many friends who have made the trip up that elevator say that it wasn't worth it.  Just seeing this thing up close and personal was good enough for us.

After the Eiffel Tower, we made our way to the Musee d'Orsay.  Here, we encountered our first "long tourist attraction line".  Although it was cold (as demonstrated by me being bundled up below), the wait was worth it.  Some of the notable works we saw were Seurat's The Circus, Whistler's Mother, and various works by van Gogh.

For dinner, we tried out a restaurant that I read about in my Frommer's guide book.  Upon our arrival, it appeared a lot more people got the same idea.  We once again were confronted with another line.  Le Relais de l'Entrecote provided a simple menu: salad, steak, and fries.  The steak came with a dijon sauce that went well with the meat.  When I initially read about this restaurant in the Frommer's guide book, it appeared that this place gave generous helpings of steak to its patrons.  I interpreted it as an "all you can eat" steak menu.  When I told Justin about it, he took it upon himself to "starve himself" for the day.  Unfortunately, "all you can eat" is not the case here.  They do provide patrons a second helping of steak, but no more.  When Justin asked for a third helping, our waitress was puzzled and finally broke the bad news that two was all he was getting.  Other than that, the food was great and would definitely say the wait in line was worth it.

Me realizing my "all-you-can-eat" steak mishap...

While we were walking around our neighborhood, we came across some electric car charging stations. As green as I think a lot of Americans are, I still haven't seen a car charging station in D.C. I know they exist, but I'm sure they're few and far between.

We had a blast in Paris seeing all of the wonderful sights, but after hitting up two major European cities, we were ready for a change of pace. The next city on our tour, Brussels, although metropolitan, isn't as big as London or Paris.  We're definitely looking forward to a little more relaxed schedule. See you Brussels!

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