Paris is for lovers! Part five…

Last few days of the trip! It’s so nice to look back over all the photos for these posts, we took over 800. Since it was the two of us there are a lot of selfies! I want to develop quite a few of them and put them in a nice album. Now that we do everything online, I feel like we’re losing the fun of looking through albums. Lately I have been developing hundreds of pics.

The second last day we went to this great cafe called L’atelier where we sat outside for breakfast in gorgeous weather.

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Pain au chocolat and cappuccino!

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I just loved the decor inside the restaurant, it was so charming and picturesque.

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Then we hopped on the bikes and took a long ride to visit the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, I had been so looking forward to this visit. Shakespeare and Company is an English language bookstore open in 1919 and it was a gathering place for Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Today it sells new and used books and writers still come from around the world to write there, they stay in the bookstore on cots and just write all day and night. I am a big reader and my first degree was in English so I loved visiting this store. I wish you could take pictures inside so you could see how unique and charming it is.

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There are so many side streets in Paris, every time you turn off one street you’re on another cobblestone side street full of cafes, shops and apartments. Just down the road from the bookstore was a street with a couple small cafes so we stopped for a glass of wine and dessert – we ate so much dessert on this trip! The place we went to was called The Tea Caddy, and even though the name of the cafe was English the staff did not speak a word! I pulled out the trusty phrasebook and dictionary and really had to rely on the French I could remember.

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This little street was right near Notre Dame.

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We then did a long bike ride around the city (to attempt to burn off some of the dessert) and went back for a day time visit to the Eiffel Tower. It was jammed!

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This is one of my favourite pictures of the trip, definitely a framer.

That night we went to a restaurant we had been looking forward to for a few days. It was in the same building as the apartment we rented and in the airbnb page for the apartment, the restaurant was really well reviewed. Walking by it literally looks like a whole in the wall but when you go in it’s really sweet and is all fine dining, called Le Parc aux Cerfs. The food was the best we had the whole trip, my husband had the veal and said it was the best meal he’s ever had in his life.

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We had quite a bit of wine there too! We then went across the street to Cafe Cubana, a bar/salsa club/cigar bar. The server only spoke Spanish and apparently when I’ve been drinking my University Spanish comes back to me! That night I spoke English, French and Spanish, first and probably last time I’ll ever be able to! I’m in love this red dress I wore that night.

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The next day was our last day! So bittersweet. We spent the day as real tourists, biking around the city, taking a boat tour down the Seine, going to Moulin Rouge and Montmarte, and exploring the architecture we hadn’t yet seen. It was the only cold day of the whole trip. By this point we had been biking so much that I felt like I was doing multiple spin classes a day, so at every hill I just got off and walked it up – I got really lazy.

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Montmarte cemetery. Jim Morrison, Leon Foucault, Olga Preobrajenska and many other famous names are buried here.

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Moulin Rouge

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This area is pretty sketchy, I probably won’t stay in Montmarte when I go to Paris again.

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Boat tour down the Seine, it’s a great way to see Paris from a different perspective and go by the things you may not have had time to see.

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We finished the day with one last trip to the Luxembourg Garden, it’s so beautiful there.

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Thanks for everything Paris! Until next time!

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Paris is for lovers! Part four…

We spent the next few days going to Disney Paris. They have two parks, Disneyland Park (the Magic Kingdom) and Walt Disney Studios Park, plus downtown Disney. Ryan and I are complete and total Disney freaks and we are not ashamed. We have read some reports and heard rumours about how the Paris location has faced financial trouble and isn’t on par with the other parks around the world.  We are, without question, devotees of Walt Disney World in Florida.  This was certainly fun but does not compare to World. It just didn’t seem as polished and spectacular as Disney World. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still Disney and therefore completely fab, but it’s not as perfect and amazing as World. The parks are only open to 8 (Disneyland) and 6 (Studios) which was such a surprise to me, we didn’t see any fireworks. The other thing I really noticed was the lack of characters and I mostly missed Mickey. It just didn’t seem to have the same feeling or incredible detail as our other experiences.

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One thing that was really great was that it was Halloween season and we have never been there for that decor.

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The floral at Disney is always so gorgeous and well done.

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They have this thing there called “Alice’s Curious Labyrinth” which is basically an Alice in Wonderland maze that takes you to the Queen of Hearts palace. We really enjoyed it, it seems like it’s for kids at first but it’s really well done.

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Matching Disney sweaters, and I’m not even a little bit embarassed!

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Their Main Street is really nice and you can walk behind the stores in back hall type atrium/arcade. We also went to lunch at a restaurant on Main Street called Walt’s where we got a window seat that looked over the street and we were able to watch the parade from there.

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We also really enjoyed their Space Mountain, it’s really different then the ones at Land and World, much faster and scarier!

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The next day we went to the Walt Disney Studios Park and spent some time in Downtown Disney. We had real issues figuring out the metro to get there, both days. You have to take two different types of trains and everything is in FRENCH!

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Waiting, waiting for the trains.

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They have some of the big rides here that you find in other parks; the Tower of Terror (where we found the cast members to be the best in the whole place), Rock and Roller Coaster, and they have two really cool new rides here that we had never experienced.  Ratatouille:The Adventure – a 3D ride where you’re “shrunk down” to the size of a rat and fly through the kitchen at remy’s level. Ryan loved it but the 3D made me feel really nauseous and dizzy.

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As well as a roller coaster called Crush’s Coaster that is Finding Nemo themed, it has really unique shell style cars that turn 360 degrees.

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They also have an animation studio that shows the steps of animating a movie and different sketches from classic movies. They have these types of attractions at all the parks we have been to but we still really like visiting them. The parks are much smaller here, particularly Walt Disney Studios compared to Hollywood Studios in Florida.

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We did a little bit of shopping at Downtown Disney, which they actually call the Disney Village, we ate a late lunch at Earl of Sandwich, a sandwich place we love! If you have never been to one, go! They have them around the states, we always go at Disney and they have them in Vegas too.

I’m glad we went to Disney while we were there, what kind of Disney freaks would we be if we didn’t? But we felt like it takes you out of the charming feel of Paris, and we didn’t love it as much as our other magical Disney experiences. If it were just Ryan going to Paris again, I don’t think we would go. We love Disney so much and therefore love Disney Paris, we definitely had a fun time but it’s no Walt Disney World!

We headed back to the city around dinner time and had a pretty romatic walk around our neighbourhood and the surrounding. It’s a really neat feel walking the city at night. We also went for dessert at a restaurant called La Cote Sauvage. We went to this place three times when we were in Paris, it was about a 15 minute walk from our apartment and the lady who owns it spoke great English and was so sweet and helpful. They make mostly crepes, buckwheat gluten free savory type crepes and dessert crepes. I had one that was tomato compote, goat cheese and chorizo sausage for lunch and this day after Disney I had a melted toblerone crepe….so good! I would recommend going there if you plan to go to Paris. It’s on Boulevard Montparnasse.

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Wine at every meal and basically every time we sat down somewhere!

Only two more days left on the trip at this point! One more installment of Paris adventures then some fun in Vegas. Have a great weekend!

Paris is for Lovers! Part Three…

Our next big excursion was to the Palace of Versailles which is located just outside of Paris in Versailles (a wealthy suburb of Paris) in the Ile-de-France region. My husband was looking forward to this more than anything else we had planned the whole trip, so we were thrilled when we got such a beautiful day to go there. If you don’t know about this history of Versailles and the French Revolution you can go here to learn more, but it began as hunting lodge for Louis XIII in 1624 and overtime it became one of the largest palaces in the world. During the reign of Louis XIV and Louis XV there was much expansion, including the amazing gardens. During the French Revolution (1789-1799) the royal family (of Louis XVI) left Versailles and ultimately Versailles became a museum, historical site and is still used for political functions to this day. For many people the idea of Versailles is synonymous with Marie Antoinette when she was Queen of France through her marriage to Louis XVI, and her extreme opulence, spending and extravagance, while the financial situation of France was rapidly deteriorating. It is believed that at Versailles Marie Antoinette said the famous words “Let them eat cake!” upon learning that the peasants had no bread, but this has never been proven. Going to Verailles today is a glimpse into the lives of the former royal families, and the palace is exquisite and wildly over the top.

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Gold everywhere!

You have to get comfortable because you’ll be on your feet a lot during this trip! 10 hours in our case!

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The hall of mirrors is so amazing, it was originally built for the sole purpose of impressing people, and it does!

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You can tour the apartments and bedrooms of the former King and Queen.

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Every ceiling had elaborate painting and decor.

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I can’t tell if the beds are really short or if they are dwarfed by how huge everything else in the room is.

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We spent a lot of our day in the gardens, the grand canal and exploring the grounds. I can’t even explain how enormous, detailed and elaborate all the gardens are. The grounds are so beautiful and perfectly kept. We rented a boat, bikes and a golf cart and we weren’t even able to see half the gardens.

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Boating on the Grand Canal.

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There are various shuttles that will come by to take you to different areas of the palace to tour the multiple complexes; the gardens, the main palace, the farm land, 2 smaller palaces and Marie Antoinette’s hamlet. We chose to rent bikes and spent a couple hours riding around the property, all the way out onto the farm land and the edge of the grand canal.

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Lavender gardens at the Grand Trianon, a smaller palace on the grounds where the king and his guests could take light meals away from the strict etiquette of the court in the main palace.

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Hameau de la Reine (the Queen’s hamlet) is a fantasy-like village of the past consructed for Marie Antoinette as a place of leisure for her and her friends.

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The gardens of Versailles are so fantastic and absolutely immaculate. They take up over 800 hectares and are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Besides boating the grand canal, the gardens are what I enjoyed most at the Palace of Versailles.

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I know ten hours seems like a long time to spend there, but there is so much to see! We were lucky that the weather was s gorgeous and we seemed to time the day right, everywhere we went it was like we just missed the crowd or were right before the crowd. We went back to the hall of mirrors later in the day because we wanted to see it when the sun was shining in and we basically had the whole place to ourselves.

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I wasn’t super excited about this trip going in, it was more Ryan’s thing and he loves history. After going I would definitely recommend it to anyone going to France, I enjoyed it immensely and would go back in a heartbeat.

After a very long day and a couple long train rides to get back to the apartment, we had a quick dinner and crashed at our apartment with a glass of wine. We still had half our trip left at this point! It’s crazy how much there is to see and do. Part four coming up!