Sunday, June 9, 2013

La Vie Boheme

After battling the crowds at Versailles, we didn't feel like another super-touristy day.  So we took it easy in the morning, ate baguettes in bed, and watched French cartoons.
Baby Levi was in toddler heaven.

He didn't care what language they were speaking, cartoons are cartoons!

We decided to do a self-guided walking tour of Montmarte, where so many famous bohemians lived and worked.  We started with the Sacre Couer, one of my favorite Parisian spots, both because it's a really beautiful cathedral but also because of the fantastic view of Paris.

Jenny and Tom walked the famous steps up to the Sacre Couer, but with little Levi in tow we decided the ride the funicular to the top.  It was free with our metro pass, anyway.  And a fun little ride!

The funicular.  I can't believe I remembered that word.  Actually, I might be remembering it wrong, too.

The view at the top was gorgeous, but also so windy and so so cold!

A pair of Levis in Paris.

Everywhere we went in Paris was crowded that week.

The Sacre Couer.  Not very old (relatively), but really beautiful.

I really loved this depiction of Christ with the gold heart (sacred heart, or sacre couer in French, thus the name!)

After the Sacre Couer, we walked the hills of Montmarte.  Montmarte used to be just outside the city walls of Paris.  It was a cheaper place to live (and a cheaper place to drink alcohol, as they didn't have Paris' taxes), so a lot of starving artists gathered here.  So many famous people lived here, like Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Dali, Renoir, Degas, and even Langston Hughes!

Weird Mary Poppins lady playing an accordion?

Saint Denis is the patron saint of Paris, and particularly Montmarte.  Legend says he was to be killed at the top of Montmarte Butte for spreading Christianity.  When the executioners got tired of the walk, they beheaded him halfway there.  Then Saint Denis picked up his head and walked the rest of the way.  That's how I remember the story, anyway.  I love these statutes of St. Denis.  We saw a few.

Toulouse-Laurtrec prints.

Walking the hills.  It got really fun when little Levi screamed and insisted on being carried instead of strollered.  Not his best day.

The houses and buildings were so beautiful.

I think this is Dali, but there was no sign.  Just a man coming out of a wall.

One of the original windmills.

So many cool buildings tucked away.

Where Toulouse-Lautrec lived and worked during the Belle Epoque.

Where Van Gogh lived and worked.

Van Gogh's door.  Wonder if it was blue when he lived there, too?

Because we can-can-can!  The Moulin Rouge!

After Montamarte, the babies were ready for naps.  So we took a midday break and subwayed back to the hotel.

The Whitneys!  The one and only picture I took of them (with my camera, anyway).  Isn't Brooke a cutie?

In the afternoon we went to Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame.  I had never been to Sainte-Chapelle and didn't know what to expect. It was amazing.  Floor to ceiling stained glass that almost looked like it was suspended in air.  All the light coming in was rose-colored.  Pictures just cannot do it justice.  Definitely a  must-see.  

All of the stained glass depicted stories.  For instance there was a row that had pictures representing Noah and the Flood, a row of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, etc.

Little Levi was not too impressed.

After Sainte-Chapelle, we went around the corner to Notre Dame.  We were too late to climb to the top, but we went inside and decided to climb the tower another day.

Another cathedral that you just can't capture in a picture.

The rose window.  Love it.

My gargoyle 

While we were inside, they began a mass service.  It was so so cool to see.  The beginning was all done in song, with one priest singing in Latin (well, I'm guessing Latin).

See the priests coming in under the rose window?  So cool.

We didn't get to stay for the whole Mass (life with a toddler), but I'm glad we got to see as much as we did.  It was a very cool experience.

After Notre Dame, we ate some crepes (so yum!!), then went back to the hotel to get little Levi down to bed early.  It was date night!

He looovvved crepes!  And I don't blame him!

Walking along the Seine.

Jenny and Tom watched little Levi that night so that we could go out.  Then the next night we watched Brooke so that they could go out.  So glad they suggested it!  

We had a great night.  We went to a really nice, very French restaurant.  It was very small, and they had everyone sitting elbow to elbow, literally.  The people next to us were Americans, and had been coming to Paris every year for forty years!  It was fun talking to them.  They were in their 70s, and kept calling us "You young people."  I never get called "young" anymore!  

We had a three course meal, and I had escargot and creme brulee.  Levi had a great filet mignon.  And of course, it lasted over two hours!  Not something we can or would want to do every night, but it was a very fun French experience.

As we headed home, we could see the Eiffel Tower lit up, as well as the Arc de Triumphe and the obelisk.  It was so surreal to walk out of dinner and see so many iconic sites.  

We had a really great day, and a great antidote to the madness of Versailles.

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