24 April 2017- Exploring Paris: Tuileries, the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe…. [France]
Our first full day in Paris on this trip and we decided to take advantage of the lovely Spring weather and explore Jardin des Tuileries and the area around the Louvre, before heading down the Avenue des Champs-Élysée for a visit to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and those spectacular views over Paris. The day was finished off with a play in Astrid and Soren’s favourite park at Les Halles, some shopping at our favourite kitchen stores and some delicious French patisserie…..
After a rather late night with our arrival into Paris, we all mostly slept through the very large amount of noise early in the morning from all the shops on Rue Montorgueil opening up. The downside of being on an awesome street is that it can be noisy, a fact that we were all too aware of when we stayed on this street for 2 months in 2012. Despite the noise we still managed to sleep until 8am, glad to not be in a rush to start the day or get on a bike!
Due to the lack of supermarkets open the previous night, we’d only managed to obtain some very chocolatey cereal, coffee and milk. The kids were happy to eat their bowl of chocolate-sugar while the adults caffeinated. After we were organised for the day we popped downstairs to one of the many open boulangeries and picked up some croissants and pain au chocolat for second breakfast. Having spent quite some time staying on Rue Montorgueil we were familiar with all the best places to pick up pastry products. The kids were happy to scope out which items they wanted to consume over the next 4 days……
After a week on bike tours, with too many late nights, and no washing facilities, we had quite the quantity of dirty washing. When planning the trip we carefully booked apartments with washing facilities and had discovered the night before arriving into Paris that our apartment had a washing machine, but no dryer (which is not unusual) but there were no drying racks and not a lot space. All a bit desperate for things to wear we ended up running through most of our 2 suitcases of dirty (and previously spewed on) clothes through the washing machine and dried what we could in the bathroom with the heater on tropical/desert mode. This worked surprisingly well but was a little time-consuming so when we found there were some laundromats within 2oom of our apartment, we took our suitcase of wet clothes down and had them dried in 20 minutes in the supersized driers.
Between drying loads of washing we wandered the streets and checked out some of our favourite stores, and figured out what was new in the area since our last visit in January 2016. After almost 5 weeks of this trip, and being in new cities every day or 2, it was nice to be somewhere familiar.
Washing deposited back in the apartment, and the luxury of clean clothes, we decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and walked down towards the Louvre. As much as we wanted a chill-out day, it appeared today was the best the weather was going to get during our short time in Paris, so we figured we’d better make the most of it.
Aside from the amazing food on Rue Montorgueil, one of the other reasons we love it so much is the location. It’s a fairly short walk down to the Louvre and along the Seine. First stop was a visit to the dodgy souvenir stores across the road from the Louvre so the kids could pick out what they wanted on this trip. Then it was over the check out the courtyard of the Louvre and the glass pyramid. We weren’t visiting the gallery today since it is too much hard work with little kids, but they love checking out the glass pyramids and the statues. It was also the first time we’d seen the gardens around the Louvre is flower and everything looked a little different…..
People watching is always fun and like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there were no shortage of people taking silly shots in front of the pyramid. We were happy soaking up the sunshine and glad to be outside rather than lining up to get into the Louvre.
One of our favourite walks in Paris takes us from the Louvre through Jardin des Tuileries (the garden that runs from the Louvre down to Place de la Concorde). The garden is full of famous statues, landscaped garden beds and 2 large ponds. This was our first visit to Tuileries during Spring (we had visited several times previously but always in Autumn or Winter), and boy does it look different! The was green everywhere, trees with leaves, and the scent of spring-time flowers.
We were heading down towards the Arc de Triomphe on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées but the area between the Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries is separated by the remarkably similar (but smaller) Arc de triomphe du Carrousel, which was built to celebrate the victories of Napoleon and was in front of the parade ground for Tuileries Palace (which no longer exists).
This area is usually swarming with souvenir sellers, which are more than a little irritating, but with terror attacks in Paris in the preceding few days there were a very large number of police and military patrolling which kept the souvenir sellers at bay, much to our delight.
We happily wandered through Tuileries and down towards the Roue de Paris, the 60m Ferris wheel that stands in front of Place de la Concorde. We also stopped past the ponds to say hello to the ducks, who were happily enjoying the Spring time weather. Astrid has been communing with the ducks in Tuileries since 2012!
We were starting to get a little hungry and as inviting as the cafes in Jardin des Tuileries looked, they were quite expensive for not very interesting food so we decided to keep walking and go elsewhere for lunch. Quite often we walk all the way from Place de la Concorde, down des Champs-Élysées, but today we were feeling a little lazy so we hopped on a metro at Concorde station and we were pretty soon exiting at the Arc de Triomphe.
The kids liked checking out the Arc from across the road but it had been about 40 hours since we ate anything containing protein, so the first stop was lunch, before returning to climb the Arc. We decided it was best to wander a little away from the Champs-Élysées in hope the prices would drop. We eventually found a cafe that looked mildly interesting and was not ridiculously priced, it even had something that I could eat!
Anto ordered the ‘dish of the day’ which was a roast beef with fondant potatoes and jus, which was apparently tasty. The kids requested a duck salad which had warm potatoes, hardboiled egg and thinly sliced duck with an interesting dressing. It was also apparently pretty good. I had the croque vegetarian which was fairly tasty and not 100% sugar!
After lunch it was Arc de Triomphe time. We walked up to the Arc de Triomphe during our visit to Paris in 2016, but Soren had never been up the top, and Astrid last went up when she was 16 months old. So we thought we’d take them up since it was such a beautiful day and the views of Paris are pretty spectacular from the top. Soren had been begging us to go up the Eiffel tower, but we were having trouble getting Eiffel tower tickets and we think the views are nicer from the Arc de Triomphe anyway. So today it was the Arc, with a plan to attempt the Eiffel Tower the next day.
We went through the underpass and bought our tickets and then popped up under the Arc. You really can’t appreciate the detail in the Arc until you are standing underneath it.
Despite being a nice day, there was no line for tickets and the security line was also pretty much non-existent so we sped through. Soren was being strategically carried in the ergo so we were immediately ushered into the lift which saves walking up all those stairs!
Up the top and it was definitely a great day for checking out the view over Paris. Despite only being 50m high, from the top of the Arc de Triomphe you can see across most of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe stands at the Western end of the Champs-Élysées and in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, from where the 12 famous avenues of Paris radiate.
The kids loved picking out all the buildings we know and have often visited. The view from the top of the Arc also gives a pretty good view of the Eiffel Tower, something you can’t see when you are up the Eiffel Tower!
We had a pretty clear view all the way to Montemarte and Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which is always pretty easy to pick out as it’s pretty much the only hill in Paris! We could also clearly see all the way back down the Champs-Élysées to the Roue de Paris and Jardin des Tuileries, where we’d been a few hours earlier.
It was lovely seeing so much green through Paris and all the trees in blossom. We noticed there are also an impressive number of roof gardens scattered throughout the city.
The kids liked watching all the people wandering around below, along with the endless tourist buses and large number of police cars and motorcycles (many with sirens on).
Astrid has certainly grown from our October 2012 trip up the Arc de Triomphe.
After we’d checked out the views in every direction we decided to head inside and take the stairs down, rather than the lift, via the exhibition areas inside the Arc.The spiral staircase within the Arc de Triomphe is 287 steps and is not for the faint-hearted! It’s definitely not great if you have vertigo and is quite tricky with kids. Poor Anto ended up with Soren on his back in the ergo and carrying Astrid most of the way down. It’s certainly spectacular views on the way down…….
With one last walk under the Arc de Triomphe, it was time to head back through the underpass and over towards the crepe vendor that we had spied from the top.
We decided that we’d been in Paris for at least 18 hours so it was fair enough to succumb to the crepe vendor on the corner. We got the kids favourite, a nutella crepe, which was pretty good…….
We were still feeling lazy (too many days riding, perhaps?) and the kids were tired, so we caught the RER from Concorde back to Châtelet station. Once huge advantage of Paris for us, is that having spent so much time here, we know our way around pretty well and have no issues negotiating the metros.
Astrid and Soren had been bugging us to go back to their favourite park at Les Halles. It is quite close to Rue Montorgueil and we always visit frequently during our Paris stays. We figured that after weeks of rushing around we needed an easy afternoon. Soren had fallen asleep in the ergo on the metro ride back from the Arc de Triomphe, but activated when we took him out and he saw the park.
The park isn’t huge but the kids love the train and running around the park. In all our many visits to this park (we have spent an awful lot of time here!) this was the first time we’d seen it with leaves on the trees……
The Forum des Halles shopping centre (which is largely underground) has been under going renovation since well before our first visit in 2012, every time we come back the whole area looks totally different. It was nice to see on this visit that there is a lot of nice new park area over the top of the shopping centre.
We walked to the nearby kitchen shops to start filling up our luggage. Three of the best kitchen supply shops in Paris are within a few hundred metres of where we stay. Anto got his copper kitchen wear fix and made a few purchases at E. Dehillerin and Mova. We could always buy half the stores (they are amazing) but restrained ourselves to a few bits and pieces.
All exhausted after a hectic travel schedule, we were taking advantage of an early night. We still hadn’t made it back to our apartment after our day of sight-seeing until 6pm, but we could chill-out and watch the bustling street below while Anto whipped us up a dinner of leek quiche, roast chicken, carrot and quinoa salads and that wonderful French baguette with pesto.
The kids scored their favourite creme brulee for dessert (which comes from the supermarket but is amazing).
Once the mini-humans were soundly sleeping for the night Anto and I enjoyed a couple of our favourite patisserie treats, an ideale pistache and a tart aux framboise. We also cracked into one of the bottles of wine that we bought in the Loire Valley during our riding tour, the Monmoussou as we were still carrying it around and were not keen to take it back to Australia. It was pretty good and we were now too far away to ride back and get more……
It had been a beautiful Spring day exploring Paris, and we were all enjoying being back in one of our favourite places. With only a few more days left we were going to have to cram more of our beloved Paris and French food into the next few days!
Daily statistics for Monday April 24 2017, in Paris, France – the temperature range for the day was 1 to 17 degrees with light winds and plenty of sunshine. It turned out to be the best of our Paris weather so we were glad to have made the most of it! The total walking for the day was 11.7km (even when we were being lazy and catching lots of metros!).
Up next – a freezing trip up the Eiffel Tower and more Paris wanderings and delicious French food……