We hit the ground running in on our first day in Paris, visiting Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle, making a quick detour to the Cluny Museum, and finally walking up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. Before we left, I’d ordered a Paris Museum Pass and Paris Visite Metro passes. I would definitely recommend the Paris Museum Pass if, like us, you planned to see a lot of museums. We visited the Louvre, Orsay, the Towers of Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Centre Pompidou, and the Cluny, and it was extra worth it because in most cases, you did not have to wait in the ticket line.
We stopped for breakfast near our hotel at Le Grand Cafe Capucines, and ordered the petit-dejeuner Paris, which consisted of a croissant, bread, and brioche with butter and jam, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a hot beverage. We both ordered hot chocolate, or chocolat chaud, and this turned out to be the main reason we ended up coming back to this cafe twice more for breakfast. The chocolat chaud was delivered to the table as a jug of warm milk and a jug of melted chocolate, and you mixed these together in your cup to your own liking. I was able to order, get the bill, and pay, so I was feeling bit more confident in my French skills. When we got to the Metro station, the Visite cards did not work, and I successfully asked the ticket lady for new ones, and that was another confidence builder.
We took the Metro to Chatelet and were momentarily confused on coming up from the Metro, but signs for tourist attractions were prevalent. We followed the signs across the bridge, turned the corner, and there it was, fronted by a giant Christmas tree and a wreath.
It was Sunday, so we were there as one mass was coming to an end, and by the time we left the next one was starting. Mike was impressed with the mass’ thundering organ finale and tried to get it on video, but it ended before he could. We wandered around the church, and paid extra for entrance to the treasury. This was probably not worth it, although we got to see a bunch of dead saints’ bones in there.
After exiting, we walked around the corner to get in line for the towers. When I first saw the sign for “Tours de Notre Dame,” I thought, “We don’t need to take a tour,” and then a few minutes later my brain kicked in: “tours” equals “towers.” We had to wait about 30 minutes to get to the front of the line, and amused ourselves by scouting out cafes and creperies to hit up for lunch. I’m sure everything in the area of Notre Dame is probably classified as a tourist trap, but I didn’t really care. This probably sounds like blasphemy to most people, but being vegetarians, I didn’t expect much from the food in France. I was focused more on the sights and museums than on the food, and it was difficult finding vegetarian items on menus. Mike fell back on eating fish, which he sometimes does when we travel to non-vegetarian friendly places.
The climb up the tours is not for the faint of heart, and I was out of breath well before the top. However, it’s the only place where you can get photos like these: