Paris - Day 4 (Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, Musee d'Orsay and Seine River Cruise)

This is our 6th day of the trip but our 4th day in Paris. We slept in a little bit this morning (until 9 or so) and then had a quick European style breakfast at the cafe near our closest Metro stop... croissants and coffee, standing up at the counter. So good. We took the Metro to Notre Dame (which is located on an island in the middle of Paris) and since the line wasn't too long, we went in. Pretty magnificent (not as impressive as St. Peter's at the Vatican but still pretty amazing).

From there we visited Saint Chappelle, which we managed to accomplish with little time standing in line. We must have gotten lucky - when we came out the line was about 5X as long.

After the chuches were taken care of, we headed across the river to the Left Bank. We sat in a cafe and people watched with some coffee and water for a while, and then stopped at a crepe stand for a little lunch. I had ham, cheese and egg and Rachel had just cheese and egg. It was so fresh and delicious, and only a few dollars each.

We strolled through the Latin Quarter for a while, just walking up and down different streets. I've always wanted to go to the Left Bank - I expected it to be full of artists, bookstores, coffeeshops, poets, etc... but I think that may have been in 1920. Now it's full of shops and restaurants like everywhere else. We were very happy to find a Starbucks however.

We walked some more and headed towards the Musee d'Orsay, which was a train station until the 1970s when the city converted it to a museum to house art from the period after the Louvre's collection stops. The building itself is fantastic - it's just brilliant how they converted it. It also looks brand new, as opposed to old, marble, dusty spaces that I often think of when I think of art museums. We really enjoyed the building itself.

The museum is known for their collection of Impressionist paintings and I was wowed by the collection. So many works by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and others in one place. One famous painting after another, after another. Just fantastic. I spent a long time looking at this, which has always been a favorite of mine - wondering about the sad woman under the tree on just to the right of center, staring right at you, the viewer. I think the painting is all about her. From there we took a taxi back to the cafe near our hotel where we had a snack of goat cheese, camembert, bread and wine (for me). We relaxed and people-watched for a while before heading back to the hotel to rest and shower.

For my group next May, I'm are taking them on a very high end dinner cruise down the Seine river, so Rachel and I went on one of their boats to check it out. The boat we sailed on was for individuals, not groups, so it was much smaller - only about 40 people maximum. The evening started with a glass of champagne on the deck and then a 6 course dinner inside a dining room. It started with foie gras (ugh) and then lobster ravioli, veal steak, a cheese course and 2 desserts. Rachel got a vegetarian meal which featured lots of veggies and a mushroom risotto. Most of the dishes were not our taste but it was fun to try them all.

It was really interesting looking out the windows and seeing how many people were picnicking, drinking, hanging out, even dancing along the river. We must have seen a thousand people over the course of 2.5 hours sailing up and down the river. They're everywhere. We're going to ask our driver tomorrow if this is something just kids do (instead of going to bars?) or if this is typical for many Parisians.

Around 10 PM, the boat slowed down as we passed the Eiffel Tower so we could see the tower lighting up with sparkling white lights as it does every hour for 5 minutes. It was so pretty and really wonderful to see it together from the top deck of the boat. We took a taxi back to our hotel. We need to rest up for our visit to Giverny (Monet's home in the country) tomorrow morning.

A few other random photos from today: