Friday, May 25, 2012

Paris - Day 3

April 4

I had prebooked Eiffel Tower reservations for 10:30am on Wednesday. If you're planning on going up in the Eiffel, you definitely want to prebook tickets, I'd say. Our parents had no issues when they visited just walking up, but for us, in April and for my SIL/BIL in July, the line was hours long. It also didn't help that currently (Spring 2012), one of the elevator lifts is down; so there's only one in service (as of this post, 5/25, they’re still only operating one lift). We used Paris' transportation website to figure out how to take the bus there instead of Metro to have the extra view of the city.

We arrived at 10:00am and found the reservation entrance easily. However, they told us we couldn't go in until 10:25; so we grabbed a coffee and croissant and hung out. At 10:25, we showed our passes and within 10 minutes we were on the second floor of the tower (You can visit first and second floor under on admission; and for a few euros more, you get to go up to the summit as well). The view was amazing.
The skyscraper is Tour Montparnesse, where we were up on the roof our first night
Sacre Couer in the distance
The 3+ hr long wait below at 10:30am on a Wednesday
Looking up to the summit from 2nd floor
After getting a panoramic view on second floor, we headed up to the Summit.
I was a bit nervous when I looked out the elevator on the way up; but once I was on "solid" ground, I was fine. The view was even more spectacular!

Ant-like people
About an hour or so later, we got back down to real solid ground and made way over to the Rodin Museum.
Wall of Peace

Ecole Militaire

This was the first use of our Paris Museum Pass, and as promised, we just walked up to the entrance and walked in without any waits in a line. Rodin did sculptures, so the majority of art to see if outside in gardens. Lucky for us it was a gorgeous day.
The Thinker
(If only Ben would have said I was opposite!)

Gates of Hell
After Rodin, we hopped on the Metro and got off at Haussmen to go to Printemps for lunch.

Their rooftop cafe is recommended in Rick Steves' book as well as several internet sites for an alternative rooftop view of the city. It was cafeteria style food, but we had some great burgers.

Printemps with the gold and Opera Garnier in the background

Dome of St. Augustine Church
Sacre Couer afar and St. Trinite Church near
From Printemps, we took the metro over to Arc de Triomphe.  The entrance to climb the stairs to the top was included with our Paris Museum Passes, but the line was so long, and we’d been getting so many great city views, we decided to stay on the ground.
Tomb of Unknown Soldier

From there we strolled the Michigan Avenue of Paris, aka, Champs Elysees.  We stopped in flagshop Louis Vuitton, where my parents picked up my Speedy 30 a year ago (I paid for it though) and I contemplated on getting another bag since with the exchange rate and VAT return they end up being much cheaper than US, especially with Chicago’s 10% sales tax.  I decided on the GM Neverfull but decided it’d be smarter to buy in Barcelona so it was one less thing to carry around in Paris (as long/fate would have it, the Barcelona LV store was closed the 3 times we passed it. Boo!)
We sites saw along the Champs and then used our Paris Museum Passes to go to Musee de l’Orangerie  (Monet’s Water Lilies, 5 minute line with the pass on a Wednesday afternoon) and the Louvre.

Petite Palais
Grand Palais


The Louvre is open late on Wednesday nights and we were recommended to visit at night, with the hopes that it would be less busy. We followed the advice of our bike tour guide and went in a side entrance. 
Within 15 minutes we reached the Mona Lisa.  It took some pushing to get to the front for a picture, and none of them really turned out that great, but it was a lot bigger than I’d anticipated! 
The crowd to get up front
 The Lourve itself is such a beautiful building as is the artwork it holds.
Venus de Milo
Code of Hammurabi
We then walked through more of the museum before exiting out of the famous glass pyramid.
Tourist shots :O)
 After leaving, we decided we didn’t want to have another fiasco of deciding where to have dinner and be starving and grumpy by the time we ate, so we took the metro to St. Louis Island to go to a place that my parents had recommended and that was also in Rick Steve’s Paris book.

How charming is this?
Auberge de laReine Blanch (30, rue de St-Louis-en-l'Ile) is right across the street from the famous Berthillion Ice Cream shop. 
We got there around 6:45 and by 7:15pm, they were turning people away.  We had perfect timing (although they do take reservations, so I would recommend this if you want to try them out for dinner).

The food and wine was amazing. We opted for the set menu. One of us got a starter and entree and the other an entree and dessert. I had the French classic beef bourguignon and my first crème brulee in Paris. For 1 starter, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, one bottle of wine and the dessert drink (see below), we spent 77 euros (~$100 USD), which was well worth it and also our most expensive meal of the entire trip.

My goat cheese tarte starter
(To DIE for!)
Yummy beef

Per Ben’s request, we also had our first Absinthe experience too.
Having done the Eiffel, 3 museums as well as a few more tourist sites, Wednesday was our longest and most exhausting day.  After dinner we slowly walked our way home along the Seine River and through the Latin Quarter.
Notre Dame at night

One more stop at Shakespear and Co


  1. Curious... How much would the LV bag have cost in Paris? We are planning a trip for December and I'm trying to think about some purchases I may make. Thanks!

  2. Hi Joy, the best way to figure out the cost is to open two internet LV "shop online" pages (directly from their site); open one in English and one for France. Use the English one to locate the bag you're interested in and then use the same navigation to find the price in euros for Paris. The euros price will already include the VAT (value added tax); in France, as of Oct 1, 2012, I've read that VAT will be 21.1%

    So; let's say the bag you like is 700EU; take off the VAT (21.1%); 700*(1-.211)=545.3EU is the price you'll pay after you claim your VAT refund (this is something you have to do; you will not be asked to send it in). Keep in mind, if you're asking if you want to pay in USD ($) or Euros; pay in Euros! Then you will get your banks exchange rate instead of the stores (which is usually ALWAYS better). Also, use a credit card that does have a foriegn transaction fee.

    M parents bought me a Monogram Speedy 30 back in April 2011 in Paris. At that time, if I'd have bought the purse in Chicago (where we have over 10% sales tax); I would have paid $800 total. After the exchange rate and VAT refund; I ended up owing them "just" (ha!) $620 for the purse; so a savings of almost $200!


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