We caught the 2 1/2-hour tube train and enjoyed a pleasant ride to Paris. We arrive in Paris by the skin of our teeth. Took the Metro to within a few blocks of our hotel thanks to the good directions we received from Europe Through the Back Door prior to our departure. We make it to the lobby of our hotel 10 minutes before rendezvous time -- hardly enough time to take our luggage to our rooms.
Tammy longed to shop at the open-air antiques market we passed on the way to our Paris hotel, but there was no time to spare. We stayed at Hotel Beaugency on Rue Duvier.
Met our tour group and had a wonderful dinner out at Le Terrasse. This is our first day with our tour group. Our guide Reid Coen gets us prepared for the next two weeks. From then on we call him the schedule nazi.
Neither of us had a strong desire to go see Paris, as we had heard how Americans were not treated well there. We were quite surprised. Paris was warm and friendly. It ended up being one of the highlights of the tour. There was just so much in Paris to see and do. Reid had coached us to be friendly and make an effort to communicate with them on their grounds. We had to be Americans in Paris, but we did not have to be ugly Americans.
Took Seine River cruise after dinner and saw beautiful views of Paris at night. It was a lovely evening and all the buildings were lit up. Paris truly is the city of lights.
The day started with a visit to Ste. Chapelle, with it's beautiful stained glass. Next we went over to the Palace of Justice, then on to see Notre Dame. We were in awe of the varied architecture of the building, complete with flying buttresses that had gargoyles as downspouts. Inside it was just as awe inspiring. The artwork told stories for people who did not know how to read, or have the bible so they could read it themselves. After Notre Dame we ate lunch in the Latin Quarter at La Boulangerie de Papa. The food was delicious at the little café that we chose. The lady behind the counter did not speak English, but we communicated fine.
After lunch we toured the Louvre guided by Elizabeth. The Venus de Milo was very impressive! What shocked Mike most about the paintings in the Louvre was the immense size of many of them. But the Mona Lisa was very small as we had been told before, but we were still surprised when we saw it. The Louvre was built on top of an old medieval fort. There is an area in it that has been excavated and you can see the walls, and other parts of the original building. After the tour was over we refreshed ourselves at the snack bar, and explored the Louvre on our own for a little while.
We decided that we needed to get outside some, so we left. The gardens outside of the Louvre made us want to just sit down and enjoy the beauty around us, but felt like there was still so much to see so we moved on. We walked from the Louvre down the Champs Elyse all the way to the Arc de Triomphe.
Crossing streets in Paris was interesting, wait for the light, then look carefully and move fast. The cars and scooters moved very fast. We stopped for dinner at a nice little bistro on the Champs Elyse. At the Arc de Triomphe we went up the steps to view Paris from the top. The view from the top was incredible, we could see the city going off in all directions as far as the eye could see. All of the major attractions of Paris were within our view. We almost went to the Eiffel Tower, but Tammy was feeling tired, and we had several good views of it already, so we returned to our hotel neighborhood and had Tiramisu at an Italian restaurant close to the hotel. We visited with Mike, Chris, and their son Tim before turning in.
We started off the day by going to the Orsay Museum. Through our guides, Reid and Martin, we were able to get into the museum about half an hour before it opened. It was wonderful, being in one of the top museums of the world, and hardly anyone else is there. The only other people we saw for some time were students honing their skills by reproducing works of art by the masters. Mike absolutely loved the Orsay. The sculptures were amazing and there were so many of them. The main hall of the Orsay is a big open room several stories tall with sculptures everywhere. Many of them by sculptors like Rodan. One room in had several very beautiful sculptures in it, but the room itself was also a magnificent work of art. It was fun just to watch as someone would walk in, you could hear them gasp at the beauty of it all. There were many famous works of art here such as Whistler's Mother. We also enjoyed the impressionists. It was such a wonderful museum, we did not want to leave. We had a fabulous lunch with Karen in the exquisitely decorated museum bistro.
As soon as we left the Orsay it was on to Beaune by bus. Juan of Spain is our excellent driver. Juan became a great addition to our group.
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