September 2, 2017 – We woke up early again (surprise surprise) to get over to the Louvre museum before the crowds. This time we took the bus. It was our one and only Paris bus experience. It wasn’t terrible, but the bus driver just stared at me when I tried to scan my ticket in the wrong spot. When I finally figured it out I was just like really? You couldn’t have just pointed? The answer is no, ya dumb tourist! We got there around 8:00 am.
We had another gorgeous day. It was a cool and sunny morning; just perfect! We took some photos in the Tuileries Garden and then slowly made our way over to the glass pyramid.
We had just finished taking our “no people around” pictures when a HUGE busload of Chinese tourists came spilling out of nowhere. They were kinda funny to watch. I knew we looked like typical tourists with our cameras up snapping picture after picture, but these guys were taking it to another level.
At one point we were sitting on these concrete blocks so we could take a selfie with the pyramid in the background. Eric was waiting until the road behind us was clear so he could get the perfect shot. He almost got it and then a bus suddenly appeared in the background. He said, “bus” just stating that there was a bus crossing in the background. But he said it kinda forcefully and this little Japanese girl taking a selfie right in front of us thought he was asking her to move! She just kept saying “sorry, sorry, sorry” as she moved out of the way. It was hilarious. So we now any time we want each other to move, we just say “BUS” and laugh.
The Louvre opened at 9:00 am, so at 8:40 am we made our way over to the line that had already started to form right outside the entrance to the pyramid. It wasn’t long, maybe 20 people ahead of us. The line for people with tickets was much longer. This was the only thing we did that I didn’t get tickets for ahead of time and I’m so glad I didn’t. Why? Well, we had already scheduled quite a few things to do in Paris and we weren’t really sure when we would be able to get over to the Louvre. So I didn’t want to get stuck with a date if we ended up not being able to go on Saturday morning. Also, getting there first thing in the morning allowed us to enter without hoards of people. To buy tickets, we just went to the self-service machine right inside the pyramid. We were in with tickets in hand within 10 minutes of the Louvre doors opening.
The first wing we went to was where the Winged Entry and the Mona Lisa are housed. We decided to knock this out first since it would only get more crowded throughout the day. Of course, as everyone knows that has seen the Mona Lisa in person, it’s a bit underwhelming and crazy with all the people around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredible painting, just a bit overhyped. BUT Eric needed to see it once in his life.
After that, we actually made it to every wing in the Louvre. Don’t ask me how. Also, if you’re not a huge fan of portraits of noblemen on horses, just skip the 3rd floor. The stairs leading up to it are beautiful, but I definitely could have skipped that floor and been perfectly content.
One part that I hadn’t seen the first time I went to the Louvre was the Sully area where you walk through the old moat that once surrounded the Louvre when it was a residence. I was so excited for this part and it didn’t disappoint! It was so interesting to see how the Louvre went from a medieval castle with a moat to what it is today.
We completed our morning at the Louvre around 11:30 am and then it was off to lunch. We wandered around outside the other side of the Louvre to see if we could find a nice place to eat. We stumbled upon this cute place that had a great table right outside on the sidewalk. There were some Americans sitting next to us and they offered to take our picture. So sweet!
This place looked pretty touristy, but we didn’t care. We were handed menus and were told to get pizza, but I had noticed a separate menu written on a chalkboard near our table. It had all types of sandwiches listed. I had been dying to get a croque monsieur (ham and cheese) so that’s what I got and Eric got a sandwich with a bunch of Italian meats and cheeses in it. They were both so good! We also got 2 glasses of rosé because why not!
After lunch, we were off to the Opera Garnier! I was so excited to see this because it’s another thing I didn’t get to do last time I was in Paris and I heard it was beautiful. We were pretty close, so we just walked over. The outside was stunning! The details of the building were so beautiful!
We walked over to the entrance and were met with utter disappointment… the Opera Garnier was closed just for that one day! They just happened to be having an event that day and were closed to the public. At least we weren’t the only ones who were expecting to go in. As we stood outside the gates trying to figure out what to do next, person after person walked up and were met with the same disappointment. Oh well!
I had asked for suggestions on Instagram for places to see and eat while we were in Europe. One place that had been suggested a few times was an ice cream place called Berthillon. Since I couldn’t see the Opera Garnier, at least I could get some amazing ice cream!
We hopped on the metro and found the little ice cream shop which looked to be in a more residential area of Paris. I got passionfruit (the flavor that was suggested to me) and mango. Eric got salted brown butter caramel. Both were incredible! It reminded me of Jenni’s ice cream in Atlanta.
It was about 2:30 pm and our next activity, The Catacombs, wasn’t until 4:00 pm. We were about 30 minutes away by metro, so we just decided to go ahead to that part of town. We were really getting a hang of the metro system by now… just in time to leave.
When we arrived near the Catacombs, we both had to use the restroom pretty bad. The Catacombs don’t have a bathroom, so we wandered around until we found a public restroom. This one was unique. It was totally free and was just this little station on the sidewalk. You pressed a button to go in, a button to close the door, then once you were done you hit the button to leave. The bathroom then cleaned itself. It was actually cleaner than some of the train bathrooms we had used!
After that experience, we walked over to the entrance to the Catacombs. The line to buy tickets was so long! This was a time I was thankful to have booked this in advance. We went right up to the door, showed our tickets, and walked right in. No wait at all!
We paid for the audio guide which was a definite plus. You learn so much more about what you’re looking at.
This was one of my favorite things we did in Paris. It was something so different that you wouldn’t expect to find there. Winding tunnels below the streets and sidewalks contain the bones of over 1.6 million people. It’s a little creepy, but the history is so interesting!
For some great tips about visiting the Catacombs of Paris, check out my post about what to know before traveling to Paris.
I wasn’t sure if the Catacombs would be worth it, but they totally were. I highly recommend going if you want to learn more about the dark history of Paris.
After the Catacombs, we made our way back to our neighborhood. We saw a grocery store right as we came out of the metro, so we made a pit stop there for dinner. Our plan for this evening was to picnic by the Eiffel Tower and watch the first twinkle of the night.
We bought salami, cheese (mimolette and Camembert), and a baguette, bien sûr. We also got a beautiful French wine to go along with it all.
We were back at the apartment around 6:30 pm. We changed, got everything we needed for our picnic, and were back out the door by 7:30 pm.
Once we got to the Eiffel Tower, we realized we forgot one critical ingredient for our picnic: a blanket! So we found a nice bench to the right of the tower and just hung out there. Once the tower started to twinkle, I just ran over quickly to snap some pics, then ran back to the bench. No big deal!
Our dinner was so fun! I loved everything about it from purchasing everything in the grocery store to eating all of it on a bench in front of the twinkling Eiffel Tower. It makes me smile just thinking about it!
Something funny/weird happened when it got dark. There are all these signs around the parks near the tower talking about the rats and how they are trying to fix the rat problem. We had read about this and how people think this is just a myth; the rats are just an excuse to keep people off the grass.
Well, I am here to tell you this is no myth. There is truth to the rats of Paris and these are not your cute Disney Ratatouille rats. Oh no. As soon as it got dark we heard scurrying in the grass behind us. I thought it was squirrels, but as soon as I turned on my phone light there were rats EVERYWHERE! Eric decided to throw some of the rind of our cheese at them and they went wild. So, Paris, you can thank Eric for feeding your massive rats. And, Paris, you IN FACT have rats.
Once we had our fill of cheese, meat, bread, wine, and rats, we decided to go to the other side of the Eiffel Tower up to the Trocadero to see the twinkling tower from a different vantage point. I had been trying to think of what I should do for my mom for her birthday and I think I found the perfect gift. I recorded a message to her in front of the tower while it was twinkling and posted on her Facebook wall. I couldn’t call her so that was the next best thing!
After we fought the crowds for that iconic view of the tower at night, I was in need of a crepe with Nutella. We just went to a random stand by the tower and got one there. I couldn’t leave Paris without having at least one! It was perfect.
Our last night in Paris couldn’t have been better. We had a packed day and we were both so tired, but all the exhaustion was 100% worth it.
I told you this day was packed! Our adventure to Switzerland is up next. Warning: it’s a rough one.
Continue reading the diary here: Day 5: Traveling from Paris to Murren
1 thought on “Day 4: Louvre Museum and Catacombs of Paris”
Loved your story about the rude French bus driver. What visit to Paris would be complete without experiencing a rude Parisian. It is legendary. Good for you for taking the bus. Mastering the metro was enough for us. We couldn’t bear of trying to do the same with the bus system. Also what a stroke of luck that not buying tickets ahead of time for the Louvre worked out so well. I too agree with Eric’s assessment of the Mona Lisa. We didn’t ever do the moat in the Louvre and I know we won’t ever do it because we decided that our last trip to Paris would be our last. Ah well, you can’t see it all. How annoying that the Opera Garnier was closed. We did that for the first time in 2015. The most shocking thing that I learned was about the rats. How awful. I am sure they could be eliminated if they wanted to.