Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bus Tour, Musee d'Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur

Day two in Paris has been another success... and another busy, exhausting day!  We purchased hop on/hop off bus tickets, like we did in London.  This time, though, we got them for two days, so we'll get to do it tomorrow, too!  It's a great way to get around the city, while simultaneously sightseeing and hearing an audio guide as you go along.

On the bus tour in front of the Louvre

Our first big stop on the bus tour was Notre Dame.  We hopped off the bus and explored.  It is beautiful, as you would imagine, but I have seen a *lot* of churches on this trip, and I definitely don't think it was the most impressive.  Bath Abbey probably wins that award, in my opinion.  (By the way, can anyone explain to me the difference between a church, cathedral, basilica, and abbey?!)  Here are a few pics of Notre Dame...

Next, we hopped back on the bus and headed to Musee d'Orsay.  But first, we had lunch at a small cafe across the street from the museum.  Jared and I were both craving a caffeine boost, so we ordered a Coca-Cola.  The drinks were 4.50 euro each (which translates to more than that in dollars, of course).  And Europe apparently does not believe in free refills.  We made sure to savor every last drop of that Coke...

Speaking of expenses, it has amazed me how quickly money flies away into oblivion here.  I haven't added up my total costs yet, and I probably shouldn't for fear of heart attack at age 28.  Here's a pic of the euros... the few I have left anyway.  LOL  Thank God for financial aid!  Sure, I'll be paying for it years from now, but I can chalk it up to life experience, right?  RIGHT?

After our lunch and way-too-expensive Cokes, we explored Musee d'Orsay.  This art museum is famous for housing works of Monet, Van Gogh, and many others.  Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the museum, but here are links to a few of the paintings that I saw:

...and lots more!

An artist outside of Musee d'Orsay, 
painting on the sidewalk with chalk

After wrapping up at the art museum, we hopped back on the bus tour and went to Arc de Triomphe.  This is an important landmark because Napoleon ordered it to be built so that he and his troops could march through the grand archway upon returning to France after victory in war.  Wikipedia explains it best:  "The triumphal arch honours those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I."  We not only saw the Arc de Triomphe, we climbed to the top!  (Well, to be honest, Jared wanted to climb and I hesitantly followed behind.... but was glad I did once we made it to the top!)

Long, winding staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

After conquering the Arc de Triomphe, we continued on the bus tour, and passed by Moulin Rouge - home of the Can-Can girls, and inspiration for the movie:

We continued on the bus tour to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful basilica atop a hillside of Paris overlooking the city.

By this time, the bus tour had closed, so we grabbed some dinner and did some souvenir shopping.  Then, we made our way on the Metro to the Eiffel Tower.  I bought a choco-banana crepe and a bottle of water, and we settled on the grass to watch the tower twinkle at 10:00 pm sharp.

And so another day closes in the beautiful city of Paris!

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