Paris Day 6-Chunnel

Hello Everyone! Sorry for the delay...
Paris was wonderful, and we were sad to leave, but very excited to start the next part of our trip. Yesterday we slept in a bit then packed up our stuff and headed to Gare du Nord where we jumped on the Eurostar. Neither of us had never been through the Chunnel so we were pumped to experience that. The train was really nice actually, we read and ate some yummy food from the Waitrose car, and before we knew it were in Londontown!
We arrived in London and took a cab to St. John's Wood, where we are staying with friends from home who now live in London. They have graciously put us up here, and we have been so blessed by them. St. Johns Wood is a bit south-west of Kensington, near Primrose Hill and Camden. We arrived and put our stuff down, caught up, and then headed out to Camden Market. It was a pretty quick walk down the high street, through the park and next to the canal. We walked right through the London zoo, which was pretty neat. It was a beautiful day, still quite warm at 3 pm. We made our way to Camden and were blown away by the stables. This was the birthplace of punk, people. You can only imagine. Amy Winehouse actually lived in Camden before she died.  Very interesting place, with loads of interesting and colorful peope. We grabbed a quick Falafel and then walked a ways to a cute pub right at the end of the Primrose Hill high street where we grabbed a pint! After that we headed to this fabulous greek restaurant called Lemonia and had some yummy meat balls, spanakopita, and fried haloumi cheese. It was delish, service was great as well. All family run, of course. Perfect way to end a munchy day.
After dinner it was almost sunset, (around 8:30, sun is already setting much later here) so we walked to the top of Primrose Hill in Primrose Park, which has a fantastic view of London. From there we could see the Eye, the Shard, St. Pauls, Parliament, Big Ben, the Thames, and all the other famous buildings. Soooo beautiful.

Neither of us have checked out these areas when we have been in London before so it has been so cool to explore. The parks in London are just incredible....they put our American city parks to shame. I'm sorry, but Central Park really has nothing on Hyde Park or Kensington. More on that from Johnboy tomorrow though, when he blogs about our day today.  So many beautiful groves of old trees and lovely lawns and rose gardens. Everything is in full bloom, and the weather is lovely. London really is bustling and fun. We are very happy to be here!

Paris: This one's for you Coach

Today was a big day -- so many activities. We ventured off to several locations in the 7th and 1st Arrondissements. Before getting on our metro we had a petit dejeuner at our local bistro -- omelettes, croissants, cafe au lait, and an espresso for Em. After hopping off the metro at the Invalides, we headed for the tallest building in sight, Napoleon's tomb. When we arrived to find out that the Musee d'Armee was closed on the first Monday of every month, we were still happy to find out that Napoleon's tomb was open.

So, we bought the tickets and walked through the beautiful courtyard of the Army Museum's courtyard. 

 Napoleon Bonaparte and his son "the Eaglet"  had an unbelievable crypt.

Napoleon Bonaparte and his son "the Eaglet"  had an unbelievable crypt.

The inside of the dome of Napoleon's crypt was extremely detailed. About five stories high.

After Napoleon's tomb, we ran across an antique market outside the ecole militaire. Then, we stopped by Rue Cler. Rick Steve's had a big section on Rue Cler, it was great. No cars allowed and super good food and markets. We ate at le Petit Cler.

 We both had healthy dishes because we knew what was going to be in store for us for our afternoon snack. We highly recommend stopping by Rue Cler since it gives you a good feel for a Parisien street, it is very close to the Eiffel Tower in the 7th. 

 My favorite painting in the Musee de l'Orangerie. (Alred Sisley)

My favorite painting in the Musee de l'Orangerie. (Alred Sisley)

Following Rue Cler, we hopped back on the metro and arrived at Concorde in the 1st. We then walked to l'Orangerie. We spent a solid two hours taking in all of the magnificent paintings. It was a great museum -- small line (even on the day that the D'Orsay was closed). I would say that they had about three hundred fantastic paintings from the 19th and 20th century (Matisse, Renoir, Sisley, Rousseau, Monet, etc.) We also rented the audio guide for the museum for five euro. We shared it, and I really enjoyed using it on the paintings that I really liked or was curious about. For example, I learned tons of new info about how Picasso and Rousseau were tight. Picasso made Rousseau famous by taking an interest in his art (even though all the critics thought Rousseau's art was elementary.) 

 Emily outside l'Orangerie

Emily outside l'Orangerie

 For Coach Dawson.

For Coach Dawson.

After walking through the Orangerie we headed for our big afternoon snack. Many thanks goes out to Coach Dawson for telling me that he would be seriously disappointed if we didn't go after he sent me the recommendation. His recommendation made my fiancé the happiest woman in Paris after having the best, most richest hot chocolate east of the Rhine at Angelina! On top of that we had two desserts -- stuffed.

 Chocolate Lover's Heaven. #foodcoma

Chocolate Lover's Heaven. #foodcoma

After having Angelina we stopped by the Apple store so Emily could get her adapters for England and France. 

On our way to the Apple Store we ran into some policemen with rollerblades... hmm. I think we all know the jokes about rollerblades...

Out of the recommendation from my future father-in-law, we had an extremely nice and elegant meal for our last dinner in Paris. Located in the Gare de Lyon Train Station, Le Train Bleu has a top notch environment and atmosphere. 

The ceilings and walls in Le Train Bleu are covered with gorgeous murals and cool chandeliers.

 Just finished her cheese platter, could not be any happier.

Just finished her cheese platter, could not be any happier.

 Selfie: Me and our garçon while he cut my lamb...

Selfie: Me and our garçon while he cut my lamb...

I got the smoked salmon and leg of lamb with au gratin potatoes --highly recommend the combo. 

Tomorrow we are off to England. We are taking the Eurostar train out of Gare du Nord. We are both really excited to take the Chunnel into the motherland since we have never done it before. 

A demain (or, have a good one),

JR & EPV

Paris: Day 3 (Belated Post)- Bon Dimanche!

So sorry that this post is late! We took a late night walk up to Montmartre last night and by the time we got back I was too exhausted to write about our day!

On sundays, instead of saying "Au revoir" when you leave, the french say "Bon Dimanche", or happy sunday. Well.. we had a very bon dimanche!

We decided to check out a sunday market at Motte-Picquet in the 15th Arrondissement.  We left the hotel and hopped on the metro to the Motte-Picquet Grenelle stop, then we got off and looked for a little cafe to have a quick brekky. Once we had finished our 2 coffees each (still kickin early am jetlag) we headed off in pursuit of the market. We didnt quite know where it was in relation to the metro, we just knew it was near by. After observing the people on the street though we started to notice people with grocery bags and fresh baguettes coming from a certain direction so we decided to head that way! Sure enough, a few blocks down we found the market.

It was amazing! We would definitely recommend going if you are going to be in Paris on a saturday or sunday. First of all, the 15th is a very residential area and we really got a feel for the type of neighborhood that real parisiens live in. Very cool area. Secondly, the market was an amazing cultural experience. This market in particular has tons of vendors: boulangeries, fromageries, patisseries, fruits, vegetable, charcuterie, scarves, shirts, kitchen tools, you name it. Oh and the flowers! Les Fleurs! Tres tres belle. Many of the vendors come in from Normandy, and many sell organic. Great place to grab a picnic lunch, and great place to buy gifts for friends and family, both of which we did!

We had decided that Sunday would be our cheap day. Meaning we were going to try to not eat out expensively, but opt for picnics instead. It worked out great! For 35 Euro we got: a quart of fresh strawberrys, a fresh baguette, 2 beautiful cheeses, a bottle of bordeaux, a rotisserie chicken, and some saucisse salami. More than enough food for lunch an dinner.

After exploring the market we headed through the 15th and into the 7th, where we took a page from the WDRs and picniced under le Tour Eiffel, on the Champs de Mars. It was a beautiful afternoon, and we ended up spending almost 2 hours there reading and people watching and munching.

 Handsome man   

Handsome man

 

A note on the cheese: We picked two cheeses we had never heard of, one big and one little. They turned out to be both fantastic. Seriously, we cant stop talking about the Cabecou du Perigord. There was also a crottin de chavignol. Delish.

After our picnic we were going to go to the D'Orsay but unfortunately the line was too long and it was too late. A disapointment for sure, but we have both been so we wern't heart broken.  Instead, we headed to the Marais to check out the scene down there. On our way we ate tiny Creme Brulées that we picked up from the market. Yum! Who eats Creme Brulée on the metro?!

Marais is a very cool neighborhood. Definitely understand all the hype. Tons of cute stores and cafés. We wandered for a couple of hours, stumbling upon the Hotel du Ville, and the Place du Vosgues, both beautiful and interesting, especially after our trip to Versaille. Place du Vosgues and the Marais in general are where the French nobility lived for a while after the revolution, and the illustrious Hotel du Ville is evidence of that. Sort of off the beaten path but definitely worth checking out. We also saw the Pompidou, but didnt go inside as it was getting late. But really...its pretty interesting even from the outside!

 The Pompidou

The Pompidou

We passed the French Open being screened live outdoors on our way to the metro, right next to Notre Dame. Waved at Federer and hit the metro, headed home. We had a lovely little picnic dinner in the hotel, and ate our left overs from lunch as well as the rotisserie chicken, which was so yummy. It was fun, and cheap, and relaxing. Overall, for those of you looking to maybe save a few euro here and there we would definitely recommend our "cheap day" itinerary. We didn't pay for anything but metro and our picnic, and we saw so much!!

After dinner we headed up to Montmartre for a romantic view from the Basilica at sunset. We got there just as Evensong had started so we went in and stayed for a while. The nuns had the most beautiful voices, and it meant a lot to spend time with God in His house on Sunday. I was really moved by seeing all the people there, by their singing and words of worship, even though it was all in french. After this, we explored Montmartre and then headed home to bed, tired but so happy and excited about all we had seen. Seriously feels like we have explored the city from one end to another, all corners, in only three days, and we have still managed to squeeze in some good people watching, reading, and napping.

 Basilica

Basilica

Will update about today later, after we head to a special dinner on our last night. As I write, Johnboy, or "Jean-Garçon" as I have taken to calling him, is napping. I am going to start the biography of Marie Antoinette by Stefan Zweig that I got at the Army Museum today.

Adieu!

Emily & Jean-Garçon

Paris: Walking is for Champions- Chez Louis

 Hall of Mirrors, Versaille

Hall of Mirrors, Versaille

Today marked our first full day in Paris. While all of the travel blogs and books continually tell one to wake up as early as possible to get into Versailles when it opens at 9am, my fiancé took her dear sweet time getting pampered up for the big day of walking. Once we got out the door around 845am I realized that we actually had all of the time in the world. We planned our entire day around Versailles because we had heard about its grandeur, and that it was worth spending an entire day there. Looking back on our day, we highly recommend doing that because it takes a while to see everything (Its huge!!) but we also had some time to relax and sit and take it all in as well. It truly is beautiful, and deserves more than to be rushed.

 After a metro ride on the 14 train and then transferring to the C train, we found ourselves at the foot of the Versailles Chateaux in 35 quick minutes. We were guided to a quick-line, where we could skip the long wait for tickets and get immediately into the queue when we arrived at the palace gates. For an extra few euros, I think it was worth it. The whole museum for the two of us was 52 Euros, but we paid for the Chateau, Jardins, and Trianons, as well as Marie-Antoinette's Hamlet, and we spent the entire day exploring.

Instead of going straight to the Chateaux we were absolutely famished, so we decided to sit down in the town of Versailles and enjoy a couple of cafe au lait et petit dejeuner anglais.

While the lines were probably getting longer, we could have cared less because the sun was starting to peak through the clouds and we were pumping each other up for the big day. The best part about our petit dejeuner was the old local men outside the restaurant catching up on the latest news. Half of them were dressed in full demin attire--so bro. I guess the 80s never ended in France. Might I remind you, Versailles is not a sprint, it is a marathon. When we arrived at the palace gates we were completely amazed by the spectacular courtyard (still had nothing on Bancroft).

Note: this is the entrance of Versaille, but behind us there were two giant buildings that were "stables". They must have been able to fit over 500 horses in each in the 18th century.

 Emily fell in love with Marie-Antoinette's chamber in the Chateau, since the fabric in her room was so chic....

Emily fell in love with Marie-Antoinette's chamber in the Chateau, since the fabric in her room was so chic....

The inside of the chateau is pretty awe-inspiring. It's amazing how the original building once was a hunting lodge until Louis XIV had decided to outfit it a little.

The free audio guides were helpful, I just wish I had done a bit more research on the French monarchs. When we exited the Chateau our legs were already exhausted. I think I've walked more in the past two days then I have in my entire life. The decorating in the chateau was so unbelievable though! It seemed like every piece of furniture and door was practically coated in gold mint.

Le Jardin de Versailles was really quite magnificent. That was something I had never seem before and was able to appreciate its size and creativity. We saw a few golf carts driving by and we were so tempted to steal one! Suprised though that none of the Louis built a golf course...not bro. When we got half way through the gardens, we were ready for a WC break and lunch. It was lovely sitting outside on a marble bench, people watching in the sun, but next time we think we will bring sandwiches and our own wine. Or at least we would recommend splitting a sandwich from Versaille and bring a bottle of wine. The Jardins really do make for a splendid place to have a picnic. We saw a few couples with blankets laid out on the fields, and I was so jealous. By 200pm we finished the garden tour.

On the last section of the garden, one of the Jardin Anglais,  we sat down on a bench to take in the view of one of the gardens, and I managed to squeeze in a ten minute nap (clutch).

We got some refreshing sorbet in waffle cones and a couple of waters before we entered the Trianon. Those were equally impressive compared to the chateau. I actually liked them a bit more. Marie-Antoinettes house was shockingly bare. I would have thought her house to have unbelievable art and architecture. But it had a rather dungeon feeling to it, maybe because they were renovating?

By the time we finished the final bits of Versailles we were weary but happy. When we got on the train I immediately passed out while Emily stayed alert so she could finish her reading requirement of the Hobbit for her class. Once we got back to our hotel, Emily then took the time to nap while I planned dinner. We wanted to have dinner in the 5th arrondissement, so I did some research and we had dinner at a wonderful little French restaurant. It took us about 25 min on the metro to get there. While the waiter thought we were initially French, he found out very shortly that we were English speakers. He spoke perfect English, so I guess we didn't mind. I got the fois grae and salmon. While Emily got a vegetable soup (probably because we hadn't had a vegetable in two days) and Beef Bourgignon.

Both dishes were fantastic. And we got a nice bottle of white wine. The restaurant was called Le Perraudin. The environment was really fun and cozy. The waiter and waitress served all of the tables are were extremely nice. We would highly recommend people to go there if they wanted an authentic and not too expensive French restaurant. We had wanted to go on the Seine for a night river cruise but we were a tad bit fatigued and it was already 11pm, so we figured we would make our way back.

All in all- an amazing day at Versaille. We could go back again and again just to stroll around. Bucolic heaven.

Tomorrow: Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower market, Napoleon Tomb and Army Museum (for me), and maybe some bikes?!

Bon soir,

JR and EPV

Paris: Day 1 en Paris

Hello everyone! Here marks the very first post of our blog which will chronicle our trip to Paris, London, and Bath, and then hopefully my stay in Bath and beyond! Who knows...maybe this will be a thing. We shall see. At the very least, I hope that this helps our family and friends keep up with John and I as we travel in the next few days.

First... a little about our trip! I am graduating this fall from the University of Mary Washington and was given the opportunity to apply for a program studying J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and early Anglo-American fantasy in general at the University of Bath this summer. I jumped at this, of course, because (nerd alert) Anglo-American fantasy is a passion of mine, and I have long been fascinated by the work, lives, friendship, and faith of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I will be spending 5 weeks in Bath, starting June 8th, with other students from Mary Wash, taking that course and then also taking a course at the university on Jane Austen. Yay! Jane! She is also an old friend, and I am beyond excited to dive into her work in the city where she lived and wrote!

Ensign John R. Richey just graduated from Annapolis last friday, and has a month of leave. (I'm sorry Johnboy, ill never refer to you like that again in this forum, it just really hasn't gotten old yet. So proud.) This is the longest time that he will have off for quite a while so we decided why not go over to Europe and celebrate our engagement, his graduation, and my trip with a little adventure of our own.

And so  that is how we ended up here, en Paris.  What a lovely, lovely idea.

And so, without further ado, our first day...

Le Premier Jour à Paris

We left Boston at 6:15 pm last night flying Aer Lingus, through Dublin. Freebie for international travelers coming from Boston to Dublin-If you get to the airport very early and are hungry eat at the restaurant right next to the line for security. When you finish your meal they will give you a fast track through security so that you don't have to wait in line! Who knew?!

We had a quick breakfast in Dublin and then jumped on our plane to Paris and arrived around 9:30. Neither of us really slept on the first flight as I was readingThe Hobbit for class, and John was watching Zero Dark Thirty.

We napped on the second flight, but before we knew it we had touched down in Paris! As soon as we cleared customs and got our bags we hopped on the Roissybus from CDG to L'Opera, which is near our hotel. We decided at dinner tonight that we would definitely recommend this to anyone wondering how to get from the airport to where they are staying Paris. A cab would have cost us about 45 Euro, and the bus was 20 Euro for both of us. Yes, it was crowded, but we were so tired from the red eye that it didn't really matter. 35 minutes later we arrived in L'Opera, jumped off the bus and pulled out our map. We are staying at Hotel Langlois in the 9th. It took about 20 minutes to find, but most of that was probably due to the fact that we were functioning on zero sleep, in other words not functioning at all.

After brief naps, we headed out to walk off our flights. And walk we did! We left the hotel around 2:00 pm and did not get back until 7:30!! We walked from down Rue Lazare, down past Les Grands Magasins et La Madeleine on Rue Tronchet, down Rue Royale, all through the Tuileries, until we reached the bank of the Seine. We were thrilled to discover a Flower show and garden exhibition at L'Orangerie, which we explored for quite a while.

After that we walked to the Louvre, and down Rue Ravioli, where we stopped for a late afternoon glass of wine and some people watching. We took notes on French style and mostly came up with this: black...black...more black! Oh!! A pop of Red! More black...gray...camel...and more black! That being said, I have to admit I am very drawn to Parisien style, and I am storing away mental pictures. Eventually we walked back up Rue Montmartre and then made our way back to Hotel Langlois.

John napped for 45 while I did some research, and then we headed to dinner at a brasserie around the corner called Bistro Des Deux Théâtres, which we would HIGHLY recommend. They have a prix fix menu of an aperatif, three courses, coffee or tea, and a bottle of wine for a great price, and the food was wonderful. I had an amazing appetizer of artichoke hearts marinated in honey mustard with smoked salmon and a poached egg on top, and then a delicious rack of roasted lamb. John got escargot, and then roasted Duck, which he thought was to die for. (I cant stand the sight of duck since my Italian cousin offered me raw duck bacon which I couldn't refuse seeing as I was 14 and he was 80, and we had only just met...eek) For desert we had crepes and a vanilla custard flan type pastry, but I can't remember it's name...woops!

All in all a fabulous first day! We are weary from travel, but the walk did us so much good, as did our wonderful. Not to mention the fact that Paris is lovely and green and, well...Paris! We are blessed to be here, to say the least.

Please excuse my rushed entry, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Also, we have more pictures to share from the day but right now I cant get my charger to work with the adapter and my comp is about to die so we will have to post those tomorrow. Je suis tres désolee.

Tomorrow-- Versaille. Stay tuned. I am beyond excited.

Bon soir, mes amies. Nous vous aimons beaucoup.

Emily & John