Tuesday, July 29, 2014

PARIS! And Champagne (the region and the drink).

Hello friends, I'm finally back with Part 2 of 3 of Europe.  I hope you're ready for an extreme photo dump!!  On Sunday afternoon, after my race, we got on a train to Paris.  I had never been to Paris before, and although I've never been dying to go for some reason, I thought I'd be missing out if I didn't.  Well, in my extremely informed and well-traveled opinion, Paris wasn't as magical as I'd heard, but it was still fun to see everything that I'd been hearing about my whole life!

On Monday we walked around all day, seeing the sights.  Turns out it was BASTILLE DAY!  It was pretty amazing to say I was in Paris on Bastille Day, but it was a lot different than say, DC on July 4th.  Yes the city was extremely crowded, and the Eiffel Tower was closed for fireworks, but all in all there wasn't much patriotism to be seen.  I feel like most of the people I saw were tourists, with very little evidence of French pride.  Basically, if I didn't know it was Bastille Day, I would never have noticed anything out of the ordinary.  Just a lot of people.

Moving on, here are a fraction the photos I took!

View from our hotel.  It rained the night we got there but was beautiful for the rest of the time.

After the rain cleared up we went for a walk in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens.  The night cleared up nicely!

My first meal in Paris.  Clearly we started every meal with a ginormous cheese and baguette plate.  I am normally one to avoid white bread, but not this trip.  No sir.  Bring on the BAGUETTE!

I had no idea that almost all of Paris is this lovely beige architecture.  I thought of it was just "quintessential Paris," sort of like brownstones in NYC.  But no, the entire city looks like this!  It's pretty amazing.

We started the next morning with a walk down to Notre Dame.

Apparently, the cathedral in my home town can fit INSIDE the nave of Notre Dame.  Holy moly.

Next we stumbled upon a bridge with love locks!

Clearly I had to be a sap:

Okay, Emily and Ryan, way to make us all look bad.
 We couldn't get very close to the Eiffel Tower so I was forced to pose awkwardly on a bridge:

And take selfies.  It's a rough life:

Next we walked to L'Arc De Triomphe.  This was one of my favorite sights.  It's just amazing!  I actually had no idea it was a WWI memorial and site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Bastille Day evidence

After strolling down Le Champs Elysees and buying 8lbs of chocolate, we took the metro over to the Sacre Coeur.  Holy beautiful!!  This may have been my favorite sight in Paris.  However, at this point it was late in the day and I was very hot and tired.  That's just part of traveling though...and this view was worth it.

Both of my parents ended up in the panorama.  Can you find them??

All in all it was a great, tiring, satisfying, day of sight-seeing.

The next morning my dad and I went for a run in the Luxembourg Gardens, then we headed to Epernay for the day.  Epernay is a region of Champagne, and wow is it gorgeous!  I loved getting out to the country for the day.

I didn't get great pictures of the landscape, but here's an example:

Turns out most champagne houses are closed from 12-2ish each day for lunch.  We got there at noon, womp.  We stopped into Georges Cartier and made a reservation for a tour later in the afternoon then decided to just stroll around the Avenue de Champagne.   We were lucky enough to find a champagne house that was open, so we had a mini tasting right off the bat.  SCORE.  Drinking perfect champagne, IN Champagne, at noon, with my parents - this is my life :)  We had a blast.

I really like these two:

After lunch (bread and cheese mostly), we headed back to Georges Cartier for our official Champagne Tour.   We went down into the caves and learned all about the process of making champagne.  It was fascinating, but I won't try to regurgitate it here.  Our tour guide really made the experience well worth-it.  She was a super cute French girl a little older than me, and was so funny about her "poor" English skills.  They were fine, by the way.

Dad rubbing the belly of this lucky Champagne god thingy.

These Champagne houses really know how to sell product.  Get your guests nice and buzzed in a room surrounded by fine champagne.  We left with two bottles.

I loved our day in Epernay!  

Last thought about Paris/France:  I had a great time recalling my French 1-level skills in multiple situations.  It was slightly hilarious.  On the other hand, I was very happy to be back in an English-speaking country.  Native Engish speakers out there:  do you ever feel "bad" when you're traveling and can't speak the language?  I find it odd that English speakers are able to navigate the world with the majority of people they meet being able to speak English, regardless of where in the world they are.  It gives a definite sense of privilege.  You feel me?

Ever been to Paris?  What'd you think of it?

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