Day 6, Sunday, 5 July 2009

Since it is Sunday, we had a later start today.  Breakfast was from 8:30 to 9:30.  There was cereal, croissants, and coffee.  The coffee came out of a machine where you just push a button for what you want – any of about 8 coffees drinks (most of which I’ve not heard of).  I tried coffee long, coffee short, and cappuccino.

We left the hotel at 10:00.  The first stop for the day the Paris Opera House, the Palais Garnier.  Two of the box seats were open for viewing.  From the seats, we could see the entire spectacular house, including the famous chandelier.  The lobby areas and stairways were beautiful as well.

The next stop was Mantmartre, the former Bohemian artist community and highest point in Paris.  Teagan and I climbed to the top of the Sacre Coeur, the church that sits atop the hill.  From the dome, there were spectacular views of Paris and surrounds.  We tried to identify as many landmarks as we could from the top.

After we descended, we toured the crypt.  There were many small chapels there with ornate sculptures.

Once we exited the church, we headed to the neighborhood to find some lunch.  Everyone in our group of four had crepes.  Teagan and I split a savory crepe and a dessert crepe.

After lunch, we stopped in a gift shop so Teagan could buy a shot glass souvenir.

The next stop was the Louvre.  We were set free about 3:15 for a two-hour visit.  We started by trying to find the Mona Lisa.  It turned out that today was a free ticket day and the crowd there was huge.  So they had closed off some of the hallways to redirect traffic.  This made finding the Mona Lisa a little trickier for us since we were all first-timers.

Eventually, we found the correct section and fought through the crowd for a look.  There was a lot of shoving and pushing, so the viewing situation wasn’t ideal.

After the Mona Lisa, we headed to the second on our list of the big three, the Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Using our map, we actually walked right past it and didn’t realize it.  Kind of embarassing.  But when we couldn’t find it where we thought the map showed it, we backtracked and found it.

Third on our list was Venus de Milo (Aphrodite).  We found it with no problem.

Once were were done with the big three, Teagan wanted to go outside to see the famous I.M. Pei pyramid entrance.  So we took an escalator to the main entrance and exited.

We walked around outside, taking pictures, for a few minutes.  We saw an arc across the street which we thought might be the Arc de Triumph.  We walked over to look at it, but it was another, smaller, arc.  The Arc de Triumph, it turned out, is a pretty good walk away.

Then we went back into the Louvre and used our final half hour to look at one of the sculpture galleries.  At about 5:05, we headed back to the carousel to meet the group.  We were about 3 minutes late and the last ones back, so everyone else was very punctual.

We headed for supper at Restaurant Le Saulnier.  Tonight it was salad, chicken cordon blu, and chocolate mousse.  The salad was really good, the chicken dish had a manufactured quality about it (how else can you feed 147 people?), and the mousse was good.

After supper, we went on a cruise on the Seine.  The huge double-decked boat left at 8:05 and returned at 9:15.  It went as far as Notre Dame in one direction, and past the Eiffel Tower to the Statue of Liberty in th eother.  The narration was given in several different languages sequentially.

After the cruise, we all returned to the hotel, arriving about 10:00.

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