Museums and pastries and walking, oh my!

“Coming [to Paris] has been a wonderful experience, surprising in many respects, one of them being to find how much of an American I am.” Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American sculptor
I brought all my cutest clothes for Paris because everyone said France is much dressier that the States and I didn’t want to look like an annoying American tourist and then it just rained the whole darn time and the only jacket I brought was a little sporty zip-up which I ended up wearing all day, every single day we were there.  My blow dryer and flat iron didn’t work with the European adapter either. Work with me Paris, work with me! 
Our first morning in Paris began as every morning in Paris should begin, at a Patisserie.  Valentin, to be exact.  We could not have asked for a more idyllic spot.  It was tucked away in a little side passage and had every beautiful pastry creation we could ask for.  A chocolate éclair was in order, as was a yummy strawberry pistachio tart and and another delicious creation I can’t remember the name of.  We took our time and enjoyed every bite.
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After we were nice and full we headed down to Notre-Dame on Ile-de-Cite.  Again, I’m blown away.  It’s the 850 year anniversary of Notre-Dame and so they’ve build a little grandstand and stage in front of the cathedral and all kinds of concerts and commemorations are happening there is year.  Admittedly, the stage and grandstand kind of ruin the magnificence of the facade, but it’s pretty darn cool that this building has stood for 850 years
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(This is point zero in France.  The spot from which all distances are measured.)   

Inside is every bit as amazing as the outside.  Catholic art is very didactic, and I especially loved one bas relief of Christ being “sprinkled” in baptism.  hmmmm…..
The line to climb to the top was crazy long (I think there are three themes to our trip–climbing, rain, and being awe struck) so we decided to come back later in the afternoon when the line was shorter.  And we are so glad we came back.  400 some odd stairs to the top. Awe Struck. Being up with the gargoyles was certainly one of my very favorite things that we did.  
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Next, St. Chapelle absolutely stole my heart. It is a tiny little chapel that you’d completely miss just walking down the street.  But the stained glass!  Incredible.  Awe Struck again!  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Each pane of glass tells a different part of the Christian history of the world all the way from Adam, to Jesus Christ, to the end of the world.  It was fun to pick out Bible stories from the panes.  
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Next up was the Conciergerie where Marie-Antionette and countless others were imprisoned before heading to the guillotine.  I grew up loving the story of the Scarlett Pimpernel, so I am fascinated with anything to do with the French Revolution. 
Lunch was at a boulangerie.  I had ham, cheese and butter (sounds weird but was actually wonderful) on a baguette and Rusty had a mozzarella and tomato sandwich.  We shared a perfectly delicious fruit tart.  In France the desserts aren’t overly sweet like they are most times in America.  We really enjoyed that and want to learn the secret.  
DSC_0931 We had flown through our morning list so we decided to make an impromptu stop at Pompidu.  Hands down this is my favorite Modern art museum.  We had a great time exploring the exhibits and reading about the art housed there.  And bonus–some of the best views of Paris can be seen from the top floor, and also from the tube-like, clear escalators on the outside of the building. 
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DSC_0933 This day was completely jam packed with things to see and do so next we were off to the Louvre. Here I go again–that building is amazing!  HUGE!  Opulent!  Random pyramid entrance!  I am a lover of all this modern and unique, but it’s not hard to see why that design was heavily critiqued. It doesn’t really sit in harmony with the ancient, exquiste palace of the Louvre.   Of course we saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, and looked at art until our eyes were crossed.  It’s true that the Louvre is pretty overwhelming, but I’m glad we decided to go for it, even just for a few hours.  
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I don’t know if I’ve blogged before about Life Dinner.  It’s an idea stolen from local Boulder entrepreneur Brad Feld.  Every month at the beginning of the month we go out for a fancier than usual dinner with the express purpose of talking about life.  Talking about our marriage.  Talking about our family.  Goals, what’s going right, what can we work on, calendaring, etc.  Basically it’s a night set aside to talk about all the things you should be talking about all the time, but never seem to have the time or energy to do.  Usually it also includes a gift to your spouse.  It can be small or large–small if things are going great in the relationship, large if you are going to bring up a touchy subject at dinner 😉   We decided this month to save our life dinner for Paris.  After we were done at the Louvre we headed toward the Tuileries Garden area to Le Fumior.  With so many amazing restaurants in Paris, how do you even begin to pick?  This was Modern European and the menu look great so we booked a table.  Rusty started out with cold creamy vegetable soup and I had seared tuna on a bed of zucchini and mint.  The main course was Lobster and Risotto for Rusty, Steak and Mashed potatoes in a cherry sauce for me.  The meal was rounded out with a cheese plate and a chocolate mousse dessert. (pics we took turned out awful)   Every bite was divine.  We spent hours savoring the delicious food and the Paris atmosphere.  I can’t imagine a more perfect Life Dinner. Rusty is such a fun travel companion-he’s handy with a map and never gets frustrated or upset.  This trip was so fun just to get to spend so much time with him.  I feel like life gets so busy that sometimes we are just two people who happen to fall exhausted into the same bed every night.  What a great chance for us to spend so much uninterrupted time together. 
Our walk back to the hotel was filled with Paris fun.  Bands and orchestra’s playing, thousands of people enjoying a late dinner at corner cafes, and even a little impromptu dance party.  DSC_0987

These are my feet at the end of our non-stop Paris day.  Wow—I’ve never seen dirt like that before!
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