On our second day in Paris, we woke up around 8:30am – a little sleeping in was necessary after our washing machine debacle the night before. We left the apartment within an hour, and stopped for croissants on our way to the Metro. We took the Metro to Tuileries, and walked through the Jardin des Tuileries and across the Seine en route to the Musee d’Orsay.
Once at the Orsay, we looked at the entire 5th floor, which consisted of Impressionist works, some of the 2nd floor, which included some Van Goghs, and most of the 1st floor, which was primarily sculptures. Pictures were not allowed in most of the museum, so I only have a couple. And like a few other places we went on our trip, I was excited to see the building itself. The Musee d’Orsay is housed in an old train station that was built at the turn of the 20th century, which means the inside is really neat and ornate. My favorite part, though, was the 5th floor – I really enjoy impressionist paintings.
From the museum, we walked to the Ile de Cite, passing over one of the bridges covered in ‘love locks’ and all the while looking for some lunch. Every cafe we looked at seemed to have a nearly identical menu, which featured very few vegetarian options and zero vegan options, and the veggie options they did have were very pricy. It was pretty frustrating, and we finally decided to throw nutrition (and veganism) out the window and just get crepes. Danny had a vegetable and cheese crepe, and I had mine with Nutella and bananas. We ate our crepes along the Seine, which seemed like a good idea until we realized that the smell of sewage was overwhelming in that spot…and I spilled Nutella all over my jeans…and I decided I didn’t like crepes because they tasted too much like eggs (which I’ve never really liked).
After our troubles along the Seine, we walked to Ste Chapelle, somewhere I remember learning all about in Art History in college, but can’t remember anything other than that – obviously it was a must-see. We started in the basement, which was nothing like you might picture a church basement to ordinarily look like, and then went upstairs to the main attraction. Many of the windows were covered up and being restored while we were there, which was too bad, but it was still a stunning sight to behold. I can only imagine what it would be like if all of the windows were uncovered and had sun streaming through them…pretty magical I’m sure.
Our visit at Ste Chapelle was short – there wasn’t much to see besides the windows – and we went from there to the flower market, which was nothing like the pictures I had seen or the descriptions I had read. I took a picture so I could remember the time we took trying to find it, and the subsequent disappointment. I know it looks like I took the picture in the garden department of Walmart, but believe me, I did not. This is Paris.
On the Ile de Cite, everything was in pretty close proximity to each other. It was a short walk from the flower market to Notre Dame, where we timed our arrival to coincide with one of the three-times-a-week English tours of the cathedral at 2:30pm. This was probably my least favorite guided tour we took, mostly because the cathedral was so crowded and we had such a big tour group that it was hard to hear at times, but it was interesting and our guide did her best. I would think that based on the popularity of Paris and of Notre Dame in particular, they might think about offering more than three tours in English a week, but I don’t know. I mean, they could even charge for them and I’m sure plenty of people would pay and it might even decrease the tour size and increase the tour quality as well.
We tried to visit the Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation, which is located right across the street from Notre Dame and is a memorial to the 200,000 people that were deported from France to concentration camps during World War II. Unfortunately, it was under construction and therefore closed, so we walked across the Seine and looked for Shakespeare & Company, a famous English bookstore a co-worker of mine had recommended. We didn’t have much luck with that, but we did find Le Grenier de Notre Dame, a vegetarian restaurant, instead. It was closed for the afternoon, so we kept wandering and found Shakespeare & Company. We looked around a little bit, but it was crowded (with both books and people), and we weren’t really in the market for any books, so we kept moving.
We kept walking and came across St Severin, another old church. We walked around the outside and then decided it was time for some ice cream. In retrospect, we just should have said no, as we were out of euros and the shop would only take a debit/credit card for transactions of over ten euros, which would have equalled about two cups of ice cream for each of us. However, we had already ordered, and it was hot and we were tired (and hungry of course), so Danny ran around looking for an ATM. Meanwhile, I sat in the shop with our ice cream, watching people come and go, all while our ice cream slowly melted. It’s sort of funny in retrospect, but wasn’t really at the time. But we got our ice cream – strawberry for me and blackberry for Danny – and it was delicious.
We decided to walk through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon while we waited for the vegetarian restaurant near Notre Dame to open for dinner, and we came across another beautiful church on the way. I didn’t catch the name, but I particularly enjoyed this church. The two spiral staircases in the middle of the church were a beautiful focal point, and the interior was so unique compared to others we’d seen.
The Pantheon was across the street from the church, and I’m still not quite sure what the Pantheon is/was. We didn’t go inside (I don’t even know if we could), but I suppose it is neat from the outside. We took a picture or two and then it started raining. It rained for most of our walk back to Le Grenier de Notre Dame (the vegetarian restaurant), and on the way we stopped at a grocery store because we had finally come to see the truth: Paris is not for vegans. Or vegetarians aside from those who want to eat a combination of croissants, crepes, cheese pizza, and spaghetti every day. We bought two loaves of bread, bananas, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly, and my hope for the rest of our time in Paris was renewed.
We were lucky to get one of the very few tables inside the restaurant since the outdoor seating was a bit risky with the on-off rain. Dinner was great, not necessarily because the food was outstanding (it wasn’t), but more because it was relaxing and quiet and our first sit down meal in Paris, and mostly vegan too. We both had “la formule” which included an appetizer, main dish, and dessert.
After dinner we walked back to the Ile de Cite, by Notre Dame, and on to the Metro. We made it back to our apartment a little before 9pm (practically a record for us on this trip) and enjoyed the cool, rainy evening from our warm apartment.
Our second day in Paris seemed to be filled (unintentionally) with churches. I really enjoy visiting old churches, especially those that aren’t crowded with tourists – they’re quiet and beautiful and peaceful and offer a place to sit and collect yourself in the midst of a busy day. Another highlight of day 2 was the Musee d’Orsay. The collection of impressionist works was, well, impressive and I enjoyed going in a museum with the intention of not seeing everything, only a few things we really wanted to see. I’d seen many pictures (on Pinterest) of Paris right after a rainstorm (and they were stunning), so it was sweet to get to experience it for myself. Paris in the rain was pretty, especially when we were indoors.