So after a long day visiting some well known landmarks, we called it a day after our extremely long stint at the Louvre (you can read about that and the previous days in Paris in my other posts). Another early morning was on the cards as we tried yet again to get to the catacombs in time to beat the queues. The plan? To get there for 9.30am. That meant setting the alarm for stupid o’clock so I had time to straighten my hair (ugh the effort involved being a girl!). Unfortunately, as I was straightening my hair I made the most of the free Wi-Fi and had a look at tips to beat the queue for the catacombs and to see if we could book tickets. Unfortunately we were already running late and I saw that people suggested we should get there 15 minutes before we’d aimed for, and although it was only 10 minutes away max, we wouldn’t have gotten there in time to avoid having to queue for an hour and a half.
Seeing as it was our second to last day, we decided that we’d try again tomorrow and aim to be there for 9.15am. Making the most of our early start, we headed off to see what the markets were all about. We’re quite into markets, and love seeing all the different foodie stuff on offer. There’s a market right by Montparnasse tower where we were staying, so that was first on the list. There were some interesting stalls, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen a rotisserie at a market stall before, so that was a first. There weren’t a lot of stalls though, so we carried on walking in the lovely sunshine to the metro station and jumped on a train to Bastille, then another down to Ledru-Rollin. As we found our way to the market, it reminded me of the huge market we visited in Amsterdam. We were walking for a fair few minutes, and all we saw were fruit & veg stalls. They’re a lot more impressive than the ones we have here in the UK, but there is only so many times you can see a fruit & veg stall and be impressed. As we got to the end of the market street, it opened up into a square where there was a lot more on offer. I’m talking clothes, books, little statues…loads of different and random things. We had a quick look around and made our way back to the metro station. We’d read about a kind of ‘gourmet’ market that was in the area, and were quite disappointed we hadn’t managed to find it. As we were leaving, we popped into a bakery to pick up something for lunch and as we left it we saw the gourmet market! There were all different kinds of food there, from pigs and chickens, to snails and deli dishes.
From here we decided we’d check out the Musee D’Orsay. It was such a nice day we decided to get off the metro early at St-Michel and enjoy a stroll along the riverside. Luckily for us, we stumbled upon a bridge full of locks. I’d read about this, but totally forgotten about it until we saw it. We spent some time looking at some of the locks…there must be thousands on there! It’s nice to think that there was a couple there just like us who wanted to make a kind of permanent statement (more permanent than writing it in the sand, less permanent that a tattoo…). So we had a look at one of the stalls next to the bridge and saw they had locks on sale – shocker! So me being the hopeless romantic I bought a lock for my boyfriend and I and made him throw the key in the river. Ahh…so romantic! A little less romantic was me noticing that it was the 4th of May, so on the back of our lock I wrote ‘May the 4th be with you’. My geekiness will forever be locked to that bridge.
Next stop was our actual destination – Musee D’Orsay. We only had to queue for about 5 minutes before we made it to the ticket desk. The lady gave us the bad news that we wouldn’t be able to buy a twin ticket for Musee D’Orsay and Musee Rodin which would have saved us a few euros each. But she then proceeded to let us know that because we are both under 25 and EU nationals, we were able to get in for free…yay! Then we saw one of my worst nightmares – no photos. Me being me I had to see how strict they were with it, and stupidly took a photo of the museum whilst standing next to the no photos sign. I know…idiot. Next thing I know I have a security man shouting at me in French, and I put my camera in my pocket. The museum is really different to any I’ve been to before. It used to be a train station, so the main room is very open and the way the art pieces were arranged really worked. However, after our very long stint at the Louvre the day before, we only really wanted to see a few choice pieces before heading over to Musee Rodin. My boyfriend is now on a mission to have his photo taken by every well known or major painting or art piece that he can. Sounds like fun until you’re in a museum where you can’t take pictures. Fortunately for us, when we got to the big name pieces like Van Gogh’s self portrait and Monet’s waterlillies there were so many people taking photos we merely had to oblige.
We were only in Musee D’Orsay for about an hour and a half because we wanted to get to Musee Rodin before it closed. After seeing everything we wanted to, we walked the short way to Musee Rodin. It’s really not far to walk, maybe about 10 minutes, and I chose to take us through some of the back streets so we really got to see a little less of the touristy side of Paris. We arrived in no time, and after a very quick queue we headed into the gardens at Musee Rodin. I know what you’re thinking – gardens? In a museum? Well yes my friend, which is why I think this museum was one of my favourite. It was a beautiful day and we were able to enjoy art and enjoy the sun at the same time. We saw some well known pieces like The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell as well as some lesser known but equally enjoyable pieces. After you’ve made your way through the gardens you head in to Rodin’s house where you see the models Rodin made before he made the actual sculpture. Very interesting, and a bit further on you get to see them side by side, which I really enjoyed. The only thing I didn’t like about this museum was the fact that they have, shall we say, odd noises playing in the gardens. You can’t see any speakers, and more than once I thought there may have been someone hiding in a tree somewhere. It is borderline soothing once you get over how weird the noises are.
Fortunately we didn’t hang about in Musee Rodin as it was closing as we were leaving, and on our way to find a metro station we walked past Hotel les Invalides where disabled veterans of war were once housed. Now it’s an army museum and home to Napoleon’s grave/tomb/this is where he’s buried. We couldn’t go in and have a look as it was closing as we arrived, but I was secretly happy as my feet were killing me. Instead we took a few pics then headed back to the hotel to rest our sore feet in anticipation for that evening.
After a delicious meal in a very friendly restaurant, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. We’d been up Montparnasse tower in the day, and wanted to see the city by night too. We also hoped there’d maybe be a smaller queue if we went later as families wouldn’t be there or people might be tired. As it was, we only had to queue for 45-60 minutes to get on the lift. Very lucky considering the length of the queue earlier in the day. One thing we will do next time is buy a ticket for an allotted time. We saw so many people completely skip any kind of queue because they’d bought their ticket online. The lift takes you to the 2nd floor, and you also have the option of climbing the stairs, which is a different, much shorter queue. As we got off the lift it was already dark as the sun had set as we were queuing, and we had a quick walk around to see what was about, get a postcard and take some pictures. There’s a glass plate on this floor where you can see down to the bottom of the tower. Not one for the faint hearted, but I loved it. Then we queued to get the lift to the summit of the tower. While we were queuing the tower began sparkling, which it does for a few minutes on the hour when the tower is lit up at night. Tried out a few settings on my camera, then before we knew it we were at the top. To say I didn’t get many shots in focus is an understatement. I don’t mind heights, but damn it’s high up there! After a few more photos, we made our way back down, and as we were going down in the lift the tower started to sparkle again. A little less magical when you can see each lightbulb flashing. From the second floor we decided to go down the stairs, which only took us about 20 minutes. 720 stairs. I wouldn’t like to climb those.
By the time we got back to the hotel it was half 1, and after getting ready for bed and everything it was 2am. Unfortunately for us, we were both so shattered we didn’t set the alarm to get up for the catacombs. Another missed opportunity, but if I’m honest I was glad for the lie in. We quickly packed and checked out, and then decided to do what we hadn’t had time to before. So off we wandered to Jardin Luxembourg, where we sat and soaked up the sun for a bit before wandering back to Notre Dame. Apparently we needed another picture with it when it was sunny, but we did see a lovely couple having their wedding photos taken with Notre Dame in the background. So sweet! From there we made our way to the lock bridge to see if we could find our lock (we were in luck!) before making the short journey from there to the Louvre. Again. I knew we’d return, but so soon? However, as soon as we got there we could tell there was no chance of us going in. It being the first Sunday of the month, people were making the most of the free entry. It was beyond rammed. We tried a different entry and saw that that too was just as crazy, so called it quits and went to pick up our bags from the hotel. On the way to the metro station we spotted some people on roller blades, so stopped to see what they were doing and for my boyfriend to pick up some tips. I’m still trying to learn how to brake, but he’s already wanting to try tricks! Before we knew it, time was slipping away and we had 2 more stops to make before home.
Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coer are close to Gare du Nord, so we thought we’d see those en route to the station. Bad decision. What we hadn’t done was put 2 and 2 together and realised that Sacre Coer is on a massive hill, and that we’d have to walk up that massive hill to get to it. My boyfriend bless him pulled our very heavy case up a ridiculous hill and we were able to see it up close. I’m gutted we didn’t go before or with more time to spare as I really love it there. The views of the city are amazing, as is the atmosphere. Next time we go we will be going there to see the sun set. Before I realised it, it was 6.25pm and we had to be at Gare du Nord at 6.30pm, and I had no idea where the nearest metro was. We followed the flow of people, forgetting about Moulin Rouge, and found a station. My panic lessened, until my boyfriend couldn’t get through the turnstile with our last ticket because the case was too big. It meant he had to queue again to buy another ticket and hopefully fit through. Luckily, as he was about to try again a lady went through the gate with a buggy and he and our case managed to slip through behind her. Also lucky for us was the fact that Paris’ transport system is quick, easy and very efficient. We arrived at Gare du Nord with no time to spare, and after a quick point in the right direction we were checked in and on the train home.
And there we have it, another city partly seen. Next on the list? A relaxing sun holiday. All we want is to put our feet up with a refreshing drink and a pool to take a dip in. Unfortunately for me, my work contract is due to end soon so that all hangs on whether I manage to find myself another job. Fingers crossed! Pictures will be in the next post because little miss technical here had some issues! They’ll be worth the wait – promise!