day 4 ::: paris

I hope you're not getting tired of our France vacation recaps yet.  Each day really does get better and better - we stayed at and saw some truly beautiful stuff (and again, ate a lot of great food).  Today's recap is our fourth day of the trip - our final day in Paris (and Al's parents second day with us).  Onward with Paris Day 4...

After breakfast we marched through our neighborhood towards the Seine for a little river strolling and a quick walk down the Ile Saint-Louis.  We saw some neat stuff on our walk. 

The Sorbonne...

And a castle (it's actually a museum)...

...with a life size chess board.

Walked pass a bar with a familiar sign.  We probably would have stopped if they were open.

And then we got to the really pretty views along the River.

^^An artist painting the view.  I thought this was so Parisian. :) 

^^The back of the Notre Dame.

Our main reason for wanting to go to the Ile Saint-Louis was to check out the world-famous ice cream shop, Berthillon.  When we got there we were sad to discover it was closed until the end of August.  Don't worry though, several other merchants sell Berthillon ice cream so we did get a taste, just not from the original flagship spot.  

(Note:  for anyone going to France in August, a lot of stuff is shut down, as the locals all take holiday during this month.  The ice cream kids must take a longer holiday as we were there on July 29th and they, along with several other shops on the Ile Saint-Louis were already closed.)  

So instead we stopped by a cheese shop...

...and a sweets shop filled with all flavors of caramels and cookies.

Oh, and if anyone's curious, the pet stores in Paris look about the same as they do here.

After our quick tour of Ile Saint-Louis, we hopped on the metro to make our way to Montmartre.  A quick photo of the metro.  Very similar to New York, except the stations themselves are larger and brighter (which I liked).

We could definitely tell we were in Montmartre when we got out of the metro.  Montmartre is neighborhood in the 18th arrondissment that is know for its hills.  Over the years it was home to several famous artists and bohemians, as well as the Moulin Rouge.  It was also one of the settings in a book I had just finished.  

We headed to the very tip top to get views of the city and see the Basilica Sacre Coeur.  It was only a short climb ;) 

Still more stairs... (For those wanting to visit in the future, there is also a tram you can take to the top, but we needed our exercise for the day.)

Made it to the top!  Beautiful, right?

One of the better basilicas I've seen. ;)  Sacre-Coeur stands for "Sacred Heart".  It was built between 1875 and 1914 and is, according to wikipedia, "a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the supposed excess of the Second Empire and socialist Paris Commune of 1871".

And oh my goodness, the views.

^^Oh hey creepy guy in the background!

After all those stairs it was most definitely time for lunch.  We headed to Le Bruant for a delicious meal of croq madam and rotisserie chicken (pictures at end of our post in the What We Ate collage).  There were several other lunch spots closer to the Basilica, but I'm glad we walked a little extra to go here.  Much less touristy (and much better prices) than the other spots.

Still a little jet lagged, Al's parents went back to the hotel to rest, while we did some shopping!  I wanted to check out Le Bon Marche, the well-known department store.  It wasn't too far from our hotel so we took the metro there and shopped our way home.  Worked out pretty well and I was able to bring back some nice French linens for my mom and a surprise for my sister (I can't give it away because I haven't given it to her yet!)

(Note:  For anyone wanting to shop, there is a refundable VAT tax for anyone that is a resident outside of the European Union.  If you purchase a minimum of €175 at the same store on the same day, you can get a 12% refund on your purchase.  You can do the refund at customs, but at Le Bon Marche we just went up to the customer service desk and did it right there.)

After showering and packing up most of our stuff (we had to leave very early the next morning) the four of us headed to dinner at Au Bougnat.  This restaurant was referred to us by the lovely staff at our hotel.  Very tasty food and a convenient location for us before we boarded our river boat cruise (more about the food and the cruise down below).  

What great light on our evening walk...

Here's our What We Ate for the day.  We still hadn't had one bad meal.
Breakfast: croissant and cafe.  Lunch (from Le Bruant): croq madame and rotisserie chicken.  Snack: salted caramel.  Dinner (from Au Bougnant): cold zucchini soup, crab remoulade, prawns, lamb cassoulet.  Dessert:  mocha Berthillon ice cream cone.

After dinner we headed to our boat cruise along the Seine.  We went on the 9pm boat so we could catch a glimpse of things as the sun was setting.  We purchased our tickets in advance from here, but there are several companies that have boat tours. Some offer dinner cruises, but we had read that the food on those was pretty terrible.  It was a great way to end our time in Paris, and we were so happy to have Deacon and Retta with us for the last two days!


Some final shots of the Eiffel Tower from the boat.

What an amazing four days.  
It is safe to say that I'm in love with Paris and cannot wait to go back!
Tomorrow you'll get to see our time in Provence and oh my goodness, just you wait, it is stunning.


Follow along on our journey!  

{photos by me}
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