Traffic, detours, and a car full of human navigation experts, our drive from Bruges takes longer than expected. We check into our Airbnb and grab a couple of pizzas from a nearby restaurant for dinner as we figure out our sleeping arrangements. As we slowly wander through the long, narrow apartment counting sleeping surfaces, we discover a child’s bed and crib are included in the advertised, sleeps eleven.

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Waiting to board our tour boat for a cruise down the Siene River.

We awake early the next morning with eight hours to explore as much of Paris as possible before seeing Jimmy Buffett preform at La Cigale. We begin our tour of Paris with a one hour Vedettes de Paris Sightseeing Cruise on the Seine River. For 15€ per person, we enjoy a glass of champagne while seeing the highlights of Paris with an English speaking guide.

Notre Dame Cathedral

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We sip champagne as we float by Notre Dame, the most famous Gothic cathedral of the Middle Ages, constructed from the ruins of two churches. Rising from a stone foundation, this architectural landmark with stained glass windows, gargoyles, and ornate steeples took two centuries to complete. Visitors can climb the North tower of the Notre Dame Cathedral for a panoramic view of Paris.

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Point Alexandre III

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Point Alexandre III, the most extravagant bridge in Paris, connects the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower. The bridge is adorned with lampposts and sculptures of cherubs, lions, cupids, maidens, water spirits, fish, sea monsters, and nymphs, each created by a different artist.
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The bridge symbolizes the new relationship between France and Russia owed to Tsar Alexandre III. Each of the pillars is topped with a statue representing a different era in France: King Charlemagne, the Renaissance, King Louis XIV, and the modern era.

Musee d’Orsay

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Originally constructed as a train station, the Musee d’Orsay is one of the world’s most visited museums. Here, the largest collection of paintings, sculptures, designs, and photography of the modern era can be viewed among the three floors.

The Louvre

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The Louvre is one of the world’s most popular and largest art museums. Reaching almost two miles in length, over thirty thousand works of art are on display and over four hundred more are in storage. The Louvre was originally build as a fortress, later transformed into a royal castle, and finally developed into the famous art museum it is today.

Institut de France

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Formerly the College des Quatre-Nations, the Institut de France holds the largest public library in France. There is a sundial located on the chapel wall.

The Conciergerie

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The Conciergerie, originally one of the grandest castles, was transformed into an administrative building when its resident relocated to the Louvre. In the late thirteen hundreds, the castle was converted into a prison. During the French Revolution, the building became known as the last stop for prisoners before execution. No longer operating as a prison, the Conciergerie became a national monument open to the public in the early nineteen hundreds. Visitors can peak into the prisoners’ cells including the final holding place of Marie Antoinette.

Assemblée Nationale

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The National Assembly Building, also known as Palais Bourbon, houses the French parliament three days a week.

Eiffel Tower

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Attracting over seven million visitors every year, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Constructed for the World’s Fair in eighteen eighty-nine, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building for forty-one years.
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Once, visitors could climb the one thousand six hundred and sixty-five stairs to the top of the tower. Now, an elevator takes passengers to a champagne bar on the top floor. Every seven years the tower is repainted.

After our cruise we break for lunch at a nearby café, before walking down the world’s most famous shopping avenue, Champs Elyseés, meaning Elysian fields. The avenue runs directly from the Louvre into the Arc de Triomphe on avenue del la Grande Armee. Darting in and out of the high end designer stores, we shop quickly as our eight hours being to dwindle.

Arc de Triomphe

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At the beginning of the Champs-Elysees, is the Arche de Triomphe. The arch was built in the early eighteen hundreds as a monument for those who  fought in the Grande Army for France. At the base lies the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Place de la Concorde

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At the end of Champs-Elysees is Place de la Concorde. Formerly known as an execution site, the square is now famous for the gift from the Egyptians. The pink granite Luxor Obelisk was built in the early eighteen hundreds. Framing the pillar are two identical fountains created from bronze and cast iron, Fontaine des Mers and Fountaine des Fleuves.

Returning to our Airbnb, we change into our Jimmy Buffett attire. We attract quite a bit of attention in our leis and Hawaiian shirts walking to a restaurant nearby the La Cigale for drinks and dinner before the show. We had not envisioned the crowded streets, beggars, and piles of trash along the sidewalks when we thought of Paris.

Jimmy Buffett at La Cigale

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Originally a concert hall and café, La Cigale opened in eighteen eighty-seven. Closing twice for renovations, the concert venue has remained open since the nineteen eighties expanding its performances to comedy and fashion shows.
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Jimmy Buffet’s Work’n and Play’n Tour at La Cigal

Eiffel Tower at Night

After the concert, we take the metro to view the Eiffel Tower at night.

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Five billion bulbs light up the Eiffel Tower at night. From sunset until 1:00am, the lights sparkle for five minutes every hour. Taking photos of the Eiffel Tower at night is actually illegal, violating the artist’s copyright. However, taking photos during the day or from the top of the tower at night is legal.

We stop for a quick dinner before taking the metro back to our Airbnb for a couple hours of sleep before leaving for the metro in the morning. The exhaustion the next day was worth every minute we stood in front of this stunning tower. Au revoir, Paris!


September 2015