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Published: September 27th 2018
Place de la Concorde ObeliskTravel brings power and love back into your life
From Luxor, Egypt. The base of the obelisk depicts how the French removed the obelisk from Luxor and transported it to Paris.
We have had a very fun first full day in Paris, doing a full day Urban Adventures walking tour (a combination of their morning tour called Secret Paris
and their afternoon tour called Gourmet Marais
). Raphael was an excellent guide, and we ate lots of food and drank lots of wine!
But first, back to this morning. We slept well in the apartment, although there is lots of noise from the street in our room (in the front). Mom has the quiet room in the back. We wore our ear plugs and it was ok. We had a light breakfast in the apartment (yogurt and toast with peanut butter and marmalade, coffee and orange juice). Then we confidently headed out to the nearest metro station, Rambuteau. I had done the research on how to get to the places we were going on the metro, so I said the station is couple of blocks to the left. Umm, it turned out it was a couple of blocks to the right. Oh well. We found the station, and the line going in the right direction no problem, but when we got
to the station I wanted to get off at, Hotel de Ville, which was just one stop away, it turned out it was closed for construction. Hmmm. I guess that’s why the Paris metro app told me to go a different way (I checked the map and it seemed easier to go the way I had planned, but the app obviously knew the station was closed). So it didn’t really matter, we had to switch to line 1 anyway, and the next station worked out fine, we just had to walk further to transfer. We got to the closest station to the meeting point, Concorde, and walked to the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde, where we were to meet our Urban Adventures guide. We were a bit early, so we wandered around for a bit, taking photos of the obelisk and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Wow, we’re really in Paris! It was a beautiful sunny morning too, perfect for our day of walking. By the way, I discovered this morning that I had forgotten the camera battery charger (with the spare battery in it) in Morocco, so I'm using my iphone for all the Paris photos.
We soon found Raphael, and the rest of the group (7 in total including us three) and started the morning tour. We walked around Place de la Concorde, through cute little streets Including “le village royal”, past a little antique market just setting up where Susan saw a table she really liked but no time to shop, to the Eglise de la Madeleine (Madeleine Church). The church was constructed between 1764 and 1842, and it doesn’t look like a church from the outside, appearing more like a Greek temple. Napoleon had it built in honour of his armies. It has massive brass doors, and was very beautiful inside (as we walked in and looked up and around, a definite ”wow” moment).
We walked through streets lined with very posh shops, to the Place Vendome, where we admired the column, erected by Napoleon to commemorate a battle. We then had our first food stop of the day, at Laduree, for a macaron. The shop was full of beautiful displays and we very much enjoyed our macarons. I had a mint macaron, and it was so good, plus it gave us an added burst of energy to continue with our
walking tour. We walked some more, past many beautiful streets and buildings, and arrived at the courtyard of the Palais Royale, with its black and white columns (designed by Daniel Buren and known as the Colonnes de Buren).
We wandered through more fascinating streets, down little arcades lined with cute shops, past the Christian Louboutin fancy shoe shop, and soon made our second food stop of the day. We sat down at a nice outdoor spot, at the Brasserie de la Bourse, where we had a charcuterie and cheese plate, with lovely baquette, accompanied by a large glass of rosé. Very nice!
Thus fortified, we walked on to the Forum Des Halles and to the spectacular Saint Eustache church, which was built between 1532 and 1632, though its origins date back to 1223. Louis XIV received his first communion there. The interior was jaw droppingly amazing, with beautiful gothic architecture, stained glass windows and massive organ pipes.
We walked through the Les Halles area, through the Passage du Grand Cerf (another of these lovely arcades which we would never have found on our own). We saw the oldest building in Paris, the Madison de Nicolas Flamel, which
dates to 1407. Seriously, 1407. It is now home to a Michelin starred restaurant. We walked though the Passage Moliere, and eventually to the Centre Georges Pompidou. We admired the industrial looking building, the fountains and the street art. That completed our morning tour Secret Paris
. We said good bye to the others, and had an hour or so until the afternoon tour started. Mom, Susan and I walked over the Pont d’Arcole to the Île de la Cité, where we scoped out our meeting place for the afternoon tour, and stopped at a cafe for a very expensive coffee. It cost 6 euros for a cafe creme (strong coffee with hot milk). It was good coffee, but good lord. Susan also got a glass of beer, which I think was the same price as the coffee. It was a very touristy area, close to Notre Dame, so I guess the prices reflect that.
After our coffee break we walked to our meeting place, the statue in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, where we (and hordes of tourists) admired the outside of the cathedral. We soon met up with Raphael and the four others for our afternoon walking tour Secret Marais
. We walked back over the Pont d’Arcole to the Saint Gervais and Saint Protais Church, another very beautiful church. The current church was built between 1494 and 1657, on the site of two earlier churches. The stained glass, from the 16th C, is very beautiful. The church suffered damage from bombing in WWII, and the upper stained glass windows were replaced, in a much different style.
We walked past the Wall of Justice, on which are inscribed the names of people who assisted Jews during WWII in France, given the title of “righteous among nations“. We had a quick look at the Court of Appeal of Paris, located in a building called the Hôtel de Beauvoir, and it was time for our first food sample of the afternoon, a sort of creamy meringue at Aux Merveilleux de Fred. It was very sweet but good. Shortly after we had our second macaron stop of the day, at Pierre Hermé for a delicous macaron. These were more unusual flavours and really good, though I was starting to go into a sugar coma by this time!
We walked down the Jewish street in the Marais, rue des Rosiers, lined
with restaurants and shops. Here we stopped at Les Agapes de Nina, a wine bar, for a wine tasting. We ”tasted” two whites and two reds (much more than a taster, really a small glass of each), accompanied by cheese, bread, and charcuterie. We liked the second red so much we and Mom each bought a bottle. Shortly after we stopped at Maison Georges Larnicol for yet another sweet, called “Les Kouignette”, which was a dellcious puffed pastry. I had lemon coriander flavour and it was delicious, though I was already suffering from sugar overload (I still managed to finish it though).
We visited Saint Paul Saint Louis church, which contains graffiti from the revolution (“French republic or death”), saw the Hotel de Sully, then we finished up our tour at the Place des Vosges. This is very nice park, full of locals enjoying the sunshine. We said goodbye to Raphael, who was a great guide, and walked back maybe 10 minutes to our apartment. I’ve got over 20,000 steps now, so it was a day of a lot of walking! Mom did great, but I think we wore her out.
When we got back we put some
laundry on (wash was fine but the dryer is super slow to dry the load). None of us was hungry at all after all our eating on the tours, so we didn’t go for dinner. Mom and I had a beer, and we had some leftover chips, and I worked on the blog. Tomorrow we will explore the Louvre, and drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower! Goodnight from Paris 😊
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