September 1, 2017 – We woke up before the sun today in order to get to the Trocadero to see the sunrise at the Eiffel Tower. Were we tired? Yes. Very.
We made it over there just before sunrise and all I can say is it was worth every second of sleep I had to give up. Ok, ok that’s not all I will say 😉
I was expecting there to be tons of people out there doing exactly what we were doing just based on how popular sunrise Eiffel Tower pictures are on Instagram. But there were only about 20 other people there and they were all spread out… no shortage of good picture spots!
We saw a bride and groom, a marriage proposal, and a few others just taking pictures. Overall, very quiet and not at all like it is at night where you have to fight for your perfect shot of the tower. We got some beautiful pictures; I’m so glad we did that!
After we got enough pictures, we stopped to grab some petit déjeuner (breakfast). I got a café au lait and we both got croissants!
After that quick bite, it was on to the Notre Dame. We got there right when it opened so there were no tour groups. It was peaceful, quiet, and I was able to stop and get all the pictures I wanted without being pushed or someone walking in front of my shot. We were going to go to the top, but as soon as it opened (it opened later than the main part of the cathedral) that’s when all the tour groups got there and it was a madhouse, so we left.
I couldn’t leave the area without getting the same picture I got almost 10 years ago!
We left the Notre Dame feeling great. Two beautiful spots in Paris seen without the crowds; pretty awesome if you ask me!
Then it was on to Saint Chapelle. This cathedral was small, but the stained glass windows were jaw-dropping. It cost €10 per person, but I thought it was worth it. Just be warned, the stairs to go up to see the windows are steep and narrow stone stairs. We saw a couple of elderly people have to turn around because it was too much for them.
There’s a beautiful building kind of in between the Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle that houses the Prèfecture de Police. According to their website, “…the Prefecture de Police’s task is to prevent and take action against a myriad number of threats: crime, public disturbances, natural and technological disasters, health risks and terrorism.” We had seen a ton of police activity while we were in that area so now it makes sense. Also, they have beautiful doors!
After Saint Chapelle, we made our way to the Pantheon. I had never seen this before so I was excited and honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that it was one of the top things to see in Paris.
I can’t remember what we paid for this one, but whatever it was, it was completely worth it! The Pantheon is enormous and just stunning when you first walk up to when you go inside.
What I didn’t realize (but felt like I should have known) was the amount of incredibly historical and influential people that are entombed there in the crypt under the main part of the building. Voltaire, Marie Curie and her husband Peter, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and the architect of the Pantheon, Soufflot. So amazing to see all of their final resting places.
We left the Pantheon around 11:30 am. So if you’re keeping up, we saw the sunrise at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame when it first opened, Saint Chapelle, and the Pantheon all before 11:30 am. I don’t feel like we rushed anything either which is the crazy part!
Next, we walked over to the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). I loved this place and I wish we had bought lunch to eat while we sat on a bench. The gardens were beautiful!
We needed lunch so bad after the gardens, so we tried our very hardest to find a restaurant with seating outside but not crazy expensive big plates. We found a place that looked nice, but as soon as we sat down, the menu did not look good. The waiter had already come over to tell us the specials so we were hesitant to be rude and leave, but we also didn’t want a giant plate of duck in the middle of the day… not to mention the prices too. So we were rude, got up, and left. The waiter was standing right out side so of course, he said something. But oh well, at least we didn’t have to eat there! We were walking along when we found this massive grocery store like thing. I have no idea what it was called, but it was huge and they had all these pre-made sandwiches on baguettes. We grabbed a couple and started our way back over to the Eiffel Tower. Our lunch was only €13!
We had been using Google maps this whole time to figure out which metros to take to get around. It was a lifesaver. However, trying to get back to the Eiffel Tower from where we were (not really sure where) was basically impossible by metro. Google maps said to take a bus. We had never taken the bus so what if we didn’t know what to do when we got on?!
There were some Americans waiting at the bus stop with us so we asked them if they knew how the buses worked. They said we should use metro tickets or possibly cash but they weren’t sure how it worked either. Well, we didn’t have any metro tickets and cash on a bus just didn’t seem right. So we started walking. For a long, long, long time. Finally, we happened upon a metro station that would take us to the Eiffel Tower. We hopped on and voila! We were back (with sore feet).
Our Eiffel Tower tickets were for 2:00 pm so being a bit early, we sat down on a bench by the Tower and ate our sandwiches.
Once it was time to go up, we headed towards the line for people with tickets. I was so glad we had booked this ahead of time! It was super easy and we only had to wait for an elevator. The wait for people without tickets just wasn’t worth it.
We first stopped at the level before the very top and had to stand in another line to catch another elevator.
Once at the top, we saw someone get proposed to which was super cheesy and cute I guess. Then as we were walking around we spotted a guy wearing a Georgia polo so obviously, we asked him and his wife if they would take our picture for us. We reciprocated. They told us they were from Kennesaw (a city 15 minutes from where we live)… small world!
It was so crowded at the top, so after about 20 minutes we decided to go back down. The top is not very big and they let way too many people up there at one time.
It was about 4:00 pm when we left the tower, so we decided to head back to the apartment to get into some warmer clothes before heading to Montmartre. We headed back out around 5:30 pm.
Once in Montmartre, we started walking towards what we thought was the funicular next to the stairs. Next thing we knew we were in Montmartre! We had unknowingly taken a back way to the neighborhood. I guess we should have known from all the stairs we climbed.
We decided to go inside the Sacre Coeur first and walked into such a treat! There was a mass going on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use my nice camera in there because the shutter was so loud. We were able to walk around the outer edge of the cathedral which was quite a unique experience. It added an extra layer of beauty hearing the French priest and the melodic hymns while wandering the old church.
We then explored the main part of Montmartre which has lots of cute restaurants, portrait street artists, and dessert shops. We tried to use Google to pick a restaurant but ended up going with the one that seemed the most lively.
We sat outside facing the street and were able to ‘people watch’ which was quite amusing. We had caprese salad as our starter. My main dish was French onion soup and Eric had duck breast. They were both delicious!
After our long and satisfying day, we were exhausted and ready to make the journey back home…right when the cold rain began. We luckily had our rain gear with us and made it back to the apartment without too much trouble. Except for the Moroccan street vendor that grabbed my arm when we were descending Montmartre. He didn’t just touch me, he full on pulled me by the arm. But he found out really quick that he grabbed the wrong girl. I jerked my arm away and screamed REALLY loud at him and he ran away. Those guys are ruthless. Other than that, it was a lovely day!