On our trip to Dallas, Texas, we visited the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens for the first time. Although they are in the heat of the summer, the gardens were full of blooming flowers and lush green landscapes. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and I would highly recommend a visit when in Dallas.
Our final day in Paris began with our morning meet up in front of our hotel. We saw more great views on our walk to the Orangerie Museum to see Monet’s Waterlilies and had a wonderful tour of the museum. We then visited the Orsay Museum which is in a turn of the century train station. It still has elements of the beautiful train station but is an amazing museum with all manner of art.
We had to visit a patisserie for a chocolate eclair in the afternoon and then meet our tour group for a farewell dinner. After a wonderful meal, our tour guide Marie surprised us with a celebration of champagne toasts in front of the Eiffel Tower lit up against the night sky. It was a perfect ending for a great week. Au revoir Paris!
We spent an entire day at the Chateau of Versailles outside Paris. It was a beautiful warm spring day and we enjoyed being outside the city. The palace was truly impressive with lots of gold, rich fabrics and marble. The gardens are manicured with strange shaped topiary shrubs and beautiful fountains. There are several small mansions away from the main palace called the Trianons.
We were able to make it back to Paris in time for a lovely dinner at a street cafe to watch the sunset with the Parisians.
We were fortunate to visit the Cluny Museum of Medieval Art while in Paris. It is a small museum, but houses a wealth of pieces from that period. It is situated on the site of a previous Roman Frigidarium Bath – a cool place to escape the summer’s heat. The oldest known statues found in Paris are displayed here and date back to the first century A.D. During one of the French Revolutions, the people chopped off the heads of the statues of the Judah Kings that stood in front of Notre Dame. The heads were saved by a faithful Parisian and unearthed in a garden a few years ago. The museum also houses the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. They are truly beautiful and well preserved. We toured the Marais District which contains many layers of Parisian history.
We had a wonderful dinner together featuring Onion Soup, Escargot and Beef Bourguignon then finished our day with an evening cruise on the Seine. The views of the beautiful buildings at night from the river is truly breathtaking.
Today we took a walking tour of Montmartre to get the flavor of the small mountain on the outskirts of Paris. It originally began as a place to mill the stone into powder and wheat into flour. The area was also a magnet to artists. It was a place for fun and art. The Wall of Love has “I love you” written in over 500 languages. Fitting for Paris – no? There is a wonderful story about the Man in the Wall that is part of the culture here. The buildings are fit into small spaces and adapted to the hilly terrain but still beautiful. The crowning glory at the top of the hill is the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. A beautiful church with amazing views of Paris.
In the evening we had a tour of the highlights of the Louvre. We viewed the ancient city walls excavated underneath the original palace and then viewed some of the most famous paintings and statues in history. The Mona Lisa is still smiling and we are all the richer for having seen these masterpieces. I could have stayed in the museum for days – weeks, but alas our tour continues with more wonderful experiences to come.
Today we explored where Paris began – the Ile de la Cite – the island in the middle of the Seine River. We began by walking through the ancient streets and visiting Saint Chapelle. It was originally created as a private place of worship for the king and his household and while it is small in comparison to the great cathedrals of Europe it is very grand. The interior of the upper chapel is covered in stained glass windows depicting the stories of the Bible.
We then went to the great lady, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It is truly an impressive piece of architecture and a moving place of worship. The gardens surrounding the cathedral offer beautiful views of the building and inspiring meditation areas including a more recent statue of St. John Paul II. The interior of the cathedral is awe inspiring with the massive nave, beautiful Pieta at the main alter, wonderful stained glass and amazing small chapels surrounding the nave. We completed our day with a walk through the Latin Quarter.
We arrived in Paris and had some time to get acquainted with our neighborhood and viewed the sites from the Eiffel Tower. There are little flower shops, produce markets and patisseries on the street next to lots of cafes with outdoor seating. A simple lunch here is a gastronomical experience with everyone taking pride in the dishes they create. While it has a totally different feel than London, it is truly a magical city.