Paris (And another bike Tour)

That’s right everybody, it’s time for another episode of “see Europe by bike.”  But seriously, it’s a fun, fast way to see all the highlights.  We went with Fat Tire Bike Tours this time, and they are no small operation.  We met under the Eiffel Tower and there were close to 40 people there for a tour.  Luckily the group got split in half into 2 groups.  Our first stop was the French Military School.  Napoleon himself studied there, and people still study there.

French Military School- Ecole Militarie
Directly behind the Academy is another wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.

Next stop, Napoleon’s burial place.  I believe it was originally a church built for Louis the XIV, XV, or XVI (they seemed to be the ones we kept hearing about).

So our tour guide was a very nice young man, but his personality just didn’t quite jive with Hubby’s.  Let me just paint you a little picture: every time we rounded a corner, crossed a street, or hit a stop light our guide insisted on screaming “dominate!” which is code for “stay close together as a group.”  He also expected the rest of us to scream it back to him, which most of our group did happily.  However, it wasn’t exactly our cup of tea…

This is Hubby’s level of enthusiasm for our tour guide-not impressed.

 On the other side of that is the French Army Museum or Les Invalides.  It used to be a military hospital and was raided for weapons before the storming of the Bastille (beginning of the French Revolution).

Next was a quick stop for lunch in the Tuileries Gardens.

More of the Tuileries Gardens.
Faux Arc du Triomphe across from the Lourve.

So another fun fact we learned is that the Lourve was actually a palace of one of the Louies before it was an art museum.  The royals decided they were sick of being too close to the common folk and moved out to Versailles (stay tuned).  The building is huge and it’s hard to imagine it was a place of residence for someone.

The Lourve Art Museum.

That pretty much concluded our bike tour.  Even though we weren’t crazy about our guide, we still loved it and were able to learn a lot about french history and important sites and events.  On our way to our next destination we found a Starbucks!  Any time I see one now, I have to go in, because I’m never sure when my next chance will be!

Happy Seattlites.

We then found our way over to the famed love lock bridge.  If you haven’t heard of it, couples write their names on a lock, fasten it to the bridge, and throw the key in the Seine to symbolize their eternal love.

Cheaters-we didn’t actually put a lock on the bridge.
The true romantic.

A little further down the way, we found Notre Dame!  It is an incredible cathedral.  Again one of my favorites.  There’s something about French cathedrals that is just striking.

Beautifully lit by chandeliers.
vaulted ceilings
rose window
donations to the church

Last stop of the night was the Lourve.  We waited until the evening because we heard the crowds die down, and on Fridays it’s open late and tickets are cheaper.  It just so happened that while we were in line to buy tickets, some people leaving the museum offered us their 2 tickets for free.  Then when we were at the kiosk another person offered us their 2 tickets for 5 Euro, so we took them.  All four of us visited for 5 Euro!  Our lucky day!

Some of the highlights…

Venus de Milo
Winged Victory
Crown jewels of France

Here she is, the most popular girl at the Lourve…

Through the crowds (which aren’t even that bad compared to other pictures I’ve seen) sits the Mona Lisa.
Up close with Mona Lisa.

The Lourve is massive, and has so much to see, you really can’t see it all in one visit.  We thought though that the pieces were better presented than in the Vatican museum.  It seemed much less overwhelming-which could have been due to the amount of people there too.  It was a great idea to go later after the masses died down a bit.  It makes it much easier to enjoy when you’re not fighting hoards of people to move through the corridors.

Looking up through the glass pyramid.

Busy day in Paris!  We went off to bed as early as we could to prepare for our next marathon day at the Palace of Versailles.