We revisited the Sainte-Chappelle Gothic Church and arrived first thing when they opened up. While it is not an excessively large church, it is exceptionally beautiful. The stained glass work is absolutely phenomenal and each pane tells a different story. It gives you a glimpse into the distant past and an appreciation for the painstakingly well done artwork. Rick Steves offers a great audio guide tour, so make sure you download that ahead of time!
From there we went next door to the Palais de Justice where Marie Antoinette and many others throughout history were held captive. This is where Marie Antoinette was held before her beheading execution for high treason in 1793. The exhibit is well done and quite sobering.
We then found our way to Musée Rodin. It took a combination of public transportation and walking, but we eventually made it to the gates. It was so worth it! The gardens are filled with statues by Auguste Rodin as well as some that he collected during his lifetime. Once we combed through the gardens, we went inside his former house, which is now museum, filled with so much of his artwork in addition to his collections. I made use of the elevators which were hidden in the walls which added a mystic to the whole experience.
We then made our way over the Musée de l’Orangerie to enjoy gigantic impressionist paintings by Claude Monet. I would highly recommend this museum. It felt like a breath of fresh air and his painting are so cleansing and calming. There are benches there where you can sit and just soak in his artwork. There’s also a downstairs with works by Picasso, Van Gogh and various other artists.
What’s also great about the Musée de l’Orangerie is how close it is the Tuileries Garden and the oh-my-god-the-most-amazing-museum-ever, THE LOUVE!!! Don’t listen to all the people that tell you it’s overrated. They are LIARS!!! It’s impossible to overstate how amazing this museum is and what it holds within its walls… the Mona Lisa is just the start! Download the Audio Guide from Rick Steves and go ENJOY yourself! If you have an entire day to spend there, then by all means… DO SO!!! Granted, it is really crowded, so the one thing I would recommend is that you go during off hours and the shoulder seasons.
We caught the sunset as we left the museum and were once again struck by the beauty of Paris. We took our time and walked along the Parc Rives de Seine and enjoyed the city sites. The way the light danced across the river made my head spin and my heart dance.
Eventually, we found a nice little bistro, enjoyed dinner and a bottle of wine. It was the perfect way to decompress after a long day that contained over 26K steps and more sites than our brains could process.
My sister and I were both particularly excited about seeing the Musée d’Orsay. We had heard from so many sources what a fantastic museum it is and I was particularly looking forward to seeing all the works by various impressionist artists. Once again, it was a struggle for me to physically get there with fighting the stairs at public transportation and trying to not get knocked down by the storms of tourists trying to be the first in line.
We were already feeling slightly pressed for time, since we had scheduled a food class for later that afternoon, so I was trying my best the hustle along. We took note that there was a long line of taxis waiting out front if the Musée d’Orsay, so that would be a good option for us if time became a more pressing problem.
As I was getting mowed down by tourists, the museum staff came running to my rescue and took my sister and me to the front of the handicapped line and escorted me inside. I breathed a sigh of relief and wanted to turn around flipping all the mongers behind me while stammering, “I may be slow but I’m ahead of you!” However, I did not. I caught my breath and held my composure.
We turned on the Rick Steves Audio Tour and began to follow along. However, we quickly realized that they had closed the entire second floor and re-arranged the exhibits, effectively making it impossible to maneuver around using the Audio Guide. We turned that off and then was shuffled into a special exhibit of only works by Picasso. Once, again the staff sought me out and brought me to the front of that line as well.
Between all the construction and lines for elevators, we were quickly running out of time. The museum was impossibly crowded and felt chaotic and disorganized. We had to get out of there and knew we were going to hail the first taxi we could find. When we finally exited the museum, we realized that not only had the line of taxis disappeared but there was now a long line of people waiting for taxis. Panic!!!
Out of the blue, a bicycle taxi found us and insisted that he could get us to our next destination in “ten minutes.” We were hesitant to believe him but we also still had 30 minutes at that time, so we decided it was worth the gamble. He spun around in circles a couple of times and we decided we better get off. He insisted that, “No” we needed to stay on and he would get us there. It was mayhem trying to watch him navigate through Paris traffic and I decided it was better to just not look. I was oscillating between laughing and crying.
We finally made it to the Food Tour while the guide and our fellow “students” were waiting for us. The cyclist charged us $100 Euro and we did not have time to argue. Moral of this story? Don’t take a bicycle taxi in Paris. He may have a cute smile, but that includes a hand in your pocket.
The gastronomic food tour was comprised of mostly Americans and one Canadian. The guide was a very charming Frenchman. The tour was in the Latin Quarter of Paris which is an area that should never be missed when visiting Paris. https://parisbymouth.com/ This was likely the highlight of our stay in Paris. Granted, one woman from Boston kept one upping everyone and over talking the guide, but once I was able to pull my eyes back from the back of my head, I was able to enjoy the rest of the tour.
One fascinating tidbit that we learned from a world renowned pastry chef is that it is considered to be in vogue to bake with very little sugar. Sugars should be used as a “seasoning” only to accent the pastries. The focus should be on the very basic ingredients of eggs, flours and whatever flavors the pastry chef is trying to introduce. The pastries were absolutely amazing!!!
We also enjoyed several cheeses, meats, foie gras, French breads and, of course, WINE!!! You can never have too much wine in France! We enjoyed our time with our guide and the fellow tourists. After talking about our adventures for a bid adieu and went on our way.