When I started planning our honeymoon, I asked Adam what 2 cities he was dying to see in Europe; his response was Paris and Rome. I happily took to planning our trip with the gusto only a travel enthusiast could muster! I've been able to cherry pick my favorite aspects of Paris, with knowledge gleaned from my previous two trips to the City of Light. We were able to score first class seats on our flight out of Atlanta (Adam's first experience with first class!) and after 9 short hours we arrived to our destination. Jet lag is fancier in first class.
Day 1: It was 8am in Paris when we started our trek with our First stop was the Arc de Triumphe which is right by our hotel. We meandered down the Champs de Elyssé where all of the finest shopping can be found and munched our first pastries of the trip. We crossed the Alexandre Bridge while wandering around- this where Adam got his first view of the Eiffel Tower. The bridge was built in 1896 and is widely regarded as the most ornate and extravagant bridge in the city. Finally we reached the symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. Since most tourists where either still asleep or at breakfast, we had the Champ du Mars Garden and tower almost completely to ourselves. It was lovely and when Adam saw the crazy crowds later that day, he realized how lucky we were that morning!
Next up: Notre Dame Cathedral. I love this place, I make sure to visit every time I am in the city. The Cathedral took over 200 years to build to completion (1163-1345) and is truly breathtaking. Imagine the faith of the workers who broke ground on this site in 1163 with the hope that their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren would attend the dedication mass in 1345! Notre Dame is also the "center of Paris", the point from which all distances are measured.
Across the street from Notre Dame is Shakespeare and Company- one of my personal favorite haunts. This bookstore became famous as a meeting place for Paris' expatriate literary elite. Ernest Hemingway borrowed books from it regularly. James Joyce struggled to find a publisher for his now classic novel Ulysses- until the owner of Shakespeare & Co. published it. Upstairs has seats, cots, antique typewriters and cozy nooks for reading secondhand English books; while downstairs customers can find a great selection of literature to buy. We spent awhile absorbing all the history and book titles in this lovely gem.
That evening, we perused the Christmas Markets on Place de La Concorde and sampled some street food like cured ham & Brie- so good! The lights were aglow as we watched ice skaters and ate chi-chis aka French Churros. Venturing on through the Jardin du Tuileries (circa 1667) and snacking on roasted chestnuts, we found ourselves in front of the Louvre. Walking through the grounds, it was again empty as most of the tourists were at dinner and the museum had closed for the day. We could hear the fountains echoing in the distance while we walked the cobblestone streets. We walked so far along the river, we ended up in the Latin Quarter for dinner. We tried to add it up, and we estimated walking around 5-6 miles that day!
Day 2: Merry Christmas! We started our day at the Sacré Coeur Church, which is located on top of the highest point in Paris. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871; crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ. There was a service being held while we visited, thankfully the attendees didn't hold grudges against us tourists.
After leaving the church we navigated the streets of the Parisian neighborhood Montemarte until we found an open bakery for breakfast. They didn't sell drinks so we went to the small grocery mart across the street for juice and milk to go with our eclairs and croissants. Well, all the product labels are obviously in French, so when Adam thought he was buying milk it was actually vanilla flavored yogurt! But, it was sold in a bottle like how we would buy milk here in America! After a big fateful gulp, he learned his lesson.
On to Montemarte Cemetary, the 3rd largest Cemetery in Paris. It was originally built in an abandoned gypsum quarry in 1825. The quarry had previously been used during the French Revolution as a mass grave. It was built below street level, in the hollow of an abandoned gypsum quarry with only one entrance and exit- so don't get lost! The cemetery is the final resting place of many notable figures, including Dumas, Degas, and Du Champ. Again, it was pretty much empty because of the holiday!
As we continued our walk, we ended up in the Pignalle District. Home to the famous Moulin Rouge, this area was a former haunt of French charlatans and hookers. It still retains some of the "red light" qualities today. After lunch, we wanted to rest our feet some more so we hopped on the city bus for a tour. We hopped off on Rue Royal and decided we needed some Macaroons. The most famous treats come from Ladurée, a French luxury bakery and sweets maker house created in 1862. It is one of the top premier sellers of the double-decker macaron, fifteen thousand of which are sold every day. Our fave was the salted caramel!
For Christmas Dinner we decided to visit Bowfinger Brassiere. Founded in 1864 mere steps from the Place des Vosges and Place de la Bastille, Brasserie Bofinger is considered to be the "most beautiful brasserie in Paris". Deeply entrenched in tradition, this restaurant has remained almost unchanged in a Belle Epoque setting from the Victorian era. We made reservations back in September for the prix-fixe Christmas meal. We had a 4 course meal, the details of which I cannot repeat because I'm not entirely sure what we were eating! There was definitely oysters, foi gras, and steak involved. I'm glad we went, but it was a little awkward trying to figure out how the hell to eat what we were being served! At one point, we were looking around to see how other people were tackling the maze of plates and cutlery we so clearly didn't understand. Adam's steak was amazing though, as was my raspberry tart dessert.
This has been my favorite Christmas ever :)
Below are the photos in order, from the paragraphs.