We took a TGV from Angoulême to Paris and arrived in the evening. It was cold and raining but that did not discourage us from exploring. I decided to focus my attention on enjoying the night with Lindsay so I left my camera at the hotel. I did get a few iPhone shots of our night though. We took the metro to the Hotel de Ville, and walked in a bit of rain to a great little classic French Bistro called Le Trumilou on the Seine. It was delicious. Classic French dishes were consumed, including duck breast.
By the time we left it was absolutely pouring and we were lamenting our lack of umbrella. Within a few minutes we were soaked to the bone. We continued our explorations one overhang at a time, until we found a little shop selling umbrellas near the Centre Georges Pompidou. Then we headed over to Pont Neuf. Eight years ago I proposed to Lindsay in this very alcove on Pont Neuf. That March was much more pleasant than this one. Still, it was nice reliving that memory, even in a little bit of freezing rain. We explored a little bit more near Isle de la Cite, Hotel de Ville, and Chatelet before it started snowing on us. It was a freak storm -- never before have I seen snow in Paris in March. My feet were soaked and it was freezing, so got on the metro back to the hotel to escape the cold. It was still snowing when we woke up in the morning. We had a great breakfast of crêpes, omelette, and hot chocolate at a brasserie on Rue Sebastopol.
Before long my feet were soaked again, so we headed down to Rue de Rivoli to do some shopping, where I got some new shoes and socks. Best purchase of the trip. Despite the snow I had my camera. We walked over to Pont Neuf once again and I took a few shots as we looked around for gifts for the kids.
Pont Neuf. This is the spot. A few of the bateaux mouches were still running, although I don't think there was anybody on them. Notre Dame de Paris. And more Notre Dame. These ducks were regretting their early flight north. Paris is such a wonderful walking city, it's a shame that it was so cold, wet, and slushy. It really slowed us down and despite the beauty of snow, the city is not built to deal with it. We actually went inside the cathedral for a little while to escape the cold. We were racking our brains for fun things to do inside, and instead of visiting one of the many art museums, we decided to go underground to Les Catacombes. Turns out we were not the only ones with the idea, and we waited in line in the cold snow for 45 minutes to get in. The Catacombes of Paris is an underground ossuary that holds the remains of about six million people, and fills a section of extensive caverns and tunnels which were originally stone quarries dating back to Roman times. This is the entryway to the Catacombes. which says "Stop, here is the empire of death!"
Much of old Paris including Notre Dame was built with the stone quarried beneath the city. There are an estimated 186 miles of tunnels under the streets of Paris, and the entrance is a spiral staircase that descends 19 meters. The Catacombes of Paris was originally established in 1786. Due to the extremely unsanitary conditions of Paris' overcrowded church cemetaries, millions of bodies were exhumed and carried into the tunnels over the course of many years. In the early 1800s the Catacombes were renovated and the bones were arranged in the configuration in which they are seen today. The skulls are often arranged quite artistically in patterned designs of hearts, crosses and the like. Below: Skulls, femurs, skulls, tibias, skulls, femurs. It was pretty dark down there and flash photos are not allowed, so I had to use my tripod to get a few shots when I could. While the Catacombes are a great place to dispose of old bodies, they also serve the purpose of limiting the height of Paris buildings. Because of the underground city of tunnels, large foundations cannot be built and thus there are not many tall buildings in Paris. I think it's a good thing. After the Catacombes, we got lunch at a kebab place, and then went back to the hotel to defrost (in spite our metro stop being shut down due to the snow). Then we headed back out to Montmartre. Once again, I left my camera at the hotel so I could just enjoy my time with Lindsay. I love Montmartre and it's one of those places in Paris at which I have a lot of fond memories from the time when I lived there.
After climbing up Montmartre to the Sacre Coeur, I somewhat regretted leaving my camera at the hotel, as I missed a great opportunity to get a unique snowy shot of the Montmartre steps, which looked beautiful despite my burning thighs. The iPhone had to do it.
We walked around and talked on Martmartre--the place was so empty because of the snow, which was nice. It's such a romantic place.
We headed down the hill to a wonderful French hipster restaurant called Cheri Bibi. It was so French, except with great service, and really delicious.
In spite of the snow, cold, and wet feet, we really had a memorable day.
We headed back to the hotel in along the deserted snowy streets after midnight, for our last night of the trip. Little did we know the troubles we would encounter getting home to Seattle. Suffice to say that trouble with metro tickets, a cancelled flight, a delayed flight, an unplanned stop in Boston overnight (got to spend a few hours with dear friends Marcus and Sarah at least!), another missed flight, a rescheduled flight, hundreds of dollars down the drain, and missing luggage for 3 days made the journey home pretty interesting. When we did get back, it was so sweet to see the kids again.