Our first destination of the day was Sacré-Cœur, a white domed basilica atop Montmartre, the tallest hill in paris. Getting there was part of the fun- two Métros and a funicular to the top of the hill. (You don’t prioritize stairs over machinery when you are with a 6-year-old). The church is relatively new, started after the Franco-Prussian war in the late 19th century, and completed in 1919. It is a beautiful church, topped with domes of white stone. The interior was nice, but we really enjoyed the climb to the top of the tower. The price was steep, as were the stairs, but that served to thin the crowds. It was single file to be sure, but unlike most of the other tower climbs we’ve done in Europe, they didn’t try to send people up and down the same path. Great views of the domes on the way up, and a great view of the city from the top. We lingered for awhile and picked out other landmarks around town that we had visited.
We descended and then walked down a few blocks (literally down- the “street” was a set of stairs) to L’Eté en Pente Douce. We had a great lunch of quiches and white wine. Dorinna ordered a glass, and then I said “no, let’s get a carafe.” The waitress frowned and asked again. We ended up getting a glass of wine and a carafe. Well, the wine was excellent, and we were on vacation, so I didn’t mind the mistake at all.
I wanted to explore the Montmarte neighborhoods, but unfortunately we had no time. Instead, we descended through the African quarter to return to the Métro. We traveled to Jardin des Plantes to meet my friend Eric Liprandi and his family. Eric worked with me at Schneider Electric in Fort Collins, but originally hails from Grenoble, France. Eric, Emily, and their son Mike were in France visiting family, and we thought it would be fun to get the kids together. It was raining, so rather than run around outside in the park, we visited the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution (Museum of Evolution) inside the Natural History Museu. There were tons of animal displays spread across several floors. It was probably very interesting, but we spent most of our time trying to catch up with the kids. Mike and Nate hit it off immediately, and chased each other around the museum, viewing each display for a maximum of 0.78 seconds. They had a blast, which was the point after all.
After the museum, we split up for awhile. We grabbed snacks and drinks at a bakery. Dorinna had a dessert called Paris Brest, a pastry with almond cream. This was immediately dubbed the best pastry in France.
We remet the Liprandis not long afterward at Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic cathedral filled with stained glass. It was the king’s private chapel, at a time when the French kings were the richest family in the richest country in Europe. We saw a chamber orchestra play Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Simply magical. Nate and Mike only made it 45 minutes before they started to fidget, and Dorinna took them outside. This was about 30 minutes more than we expected, so no complaints.
We joined their extended family for dinner afterwards (for me, Steak with pepper sauce, melon with Prosiutto, and crème brûlée). A long day, but a fun one.