Seattle to Paris

After a five-plus hour flight to New York, a three-hour delay at JFK, a seven-plus hour flight to Paris, and a delay at the Paris airport due to a controlled detonation of a suspicious package, we were finally on vacation!

I know: a controlled detonation of a suspicious package? They actually do things like that?? They sure did. Everyone was cordoned off from a specific part of the airport which blocked us from the exit while the military took care of the situation. And by “took care of the situation,” I mean we heard three loud beeps followed by a small explosion. And then we were allowed to leave. Welcome to Paris.

Our first challenge was to get to our apartment we’d rented for our four-day stay. The Paris metro system was surprisingly easy to navigate and soon enough we found ourselves in the Montmartre neighborhood, where our apartment was. I initially wasn’t sure of our decision to stay in Montmartre – it’s home to the red light district of Paris (the site of the famed Moulin Rouge) so I wondered if it would be sketchy at all. A friend of ours stayed there though when she was in Paris and gave it a glowing review and once there, I found I couldn’t have been more pleased with it! Montmartre is filled with cute little shops and cafes and is a short metro ride away from the main attractions in Paris. The entry to our apartment building was a small and nondescript door sandwiched between two cafes (we missed it the first time down the street). Even though we met our apartment host  a few hours later than anticipated, he was very gracious and sweet to us, and provided us with croissants, bread, jam, and orange juice before leaving us to spread out our things and get comfortable.

Our studio apartment in Paris - the futon is
behind us.
And then we got moving! Paris had some unseasonably nice weather the day we arrived, so it was about 80 degrees. We walked around Montmartre and ended up at the Sacre Coeur, a church on top of the hill that gave us some great views of Paris. It was our first glimpse of how ornate and grand everything in Paris is. Since it was Sunday, the tourist crowds were out in full force!

The Sacre Coeur
The city behind me.
See the soccer ball dangling from the
performer's foot? He entertained the crowd with
his soccer juggling and lamppost climbing skills.
And then the police came.
 After roaming Montmartre, we took the metro to the Notre Dame cathedral, which is much more grand than I’d ever imagined. It’s absolutely massive! But then again, everything there is massive. It was free to enter the church, but you have to pay if you want to climb the stairs, which is what we did. I think it was worth it (somewhere around 8 euros) – the view was fabulous and we got some great pictures of the stone gargoyles up top.

The Notre Dame

Inside the Notre Dame

The line to get into the Notre Dame -- we
were already at the top.
The bell of Notre Dame
My favorite gargoyles: aren't they funny looking?
Gorgeous view that day

The rest of the day was spent wandering and trying to stay awake until at least 9 so our bodies could get used to the new time zone. We tried to get into a church called Sainte-Chapelle, which is on the same island as Notre Dame, but it closed minutes before we got there. I heard Sainte-Chapelle has beautiful stained glass though, if you’re into that sort of thing!

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