After spring break, we went back to Paris for another nine days. After the mostly nice weather we enjoyed in Rome, Paris greeted us with chilly weather and cloudy days. We made the best of it, though, and on our first full day back, we visited La Défense, one of Paris's major business districts. There is a lot of art to admire, everything from sculptures to statues. Scholmo Salinger, the artist we visited the first time we were in Paris, has numerous works in the area. The Grande Arche, which you can see below, is also located in La Défense. Built in 1989, it is a fairly new monument which was built to be the 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe. In fact, you could see the Arc de Triomphe visible, straight ahead, from the Grande Arche.
Just before you reach the Grande Arche, there is a large fountain... the perfect photo op!
The bright colors contrasted nicely with the dull and overcast day.
But that's not to say signs of better days weren't in sight. Flowers were in bloom and we crossed our fingers for warmer weather.
We also visited with another artist, Slobodan. He showed us artwork he had completed when he lived in Rome. It was really cool to see the familiar sights of Rome as he drew them. He was very welcoming and was happy to host us. I enjoyed our visit with him.
Cat, Ian, and I went to Angelina's, where they have world-famous hot chocolate (delicious) and I snapped this shot of the Eiffel Tower and the pretty pink-and-blue tinged sky on our way back to the metro.
A few of us also went up the Eiffel Tower. We opted to take the stairs instead of the elevator... it was cheaper and we could burn some calories, haha.
It was 668 steps to the second level. To go to the very top, the third level, you must take an elevator. Lyndsay, Owen, and I decided not to go to the top because there was an extremely long line.
But there were incredible views from the first and second levels. I probably took way too many pictures, but there was just so much to capture!
Everywhere you looked, there were famous Paris landmarks. It was cool to see these monuments from above, from the nice vantage point we had within the Eiffel Tower.
There was the Seine...
The Arc de Triomphe...
Paris urban sprawl...
And (barely visible in the distance) the Sacré-Cœur.
As luck would have it, the weather did turn in our favor. We traded cloudy days for sunshine and gorgeous skies. One afternoon, Cat, Leah, and I went to Luxembourg Gardens and it was just beautiful.
This fountain below was one of my favorites.
The Gardens were full of people, many of whom were just sitting, basking in the glow of the sunshine.
If we weren't tea drinkers before we came to France, ALL of us are definitely leaving with at least a newfound appreciation for tea. We all visited a tea emporium and museum one afternoon after touring the Picasso Museum.
There were hundreds of teas lining the walls--it was crazy! I never would have imagined that many different flavors.
The Picasso Museum and the tea emporium were located in the Jewish Quarter, which had a very cool feel to it. There were falafel places everywhere and various aromas floating through the air. Later that day, on our way to the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, Lyndsay, Owen, and I stopped at a nice little park that I hadn't been to before.
Here's the pyramid of the Louvre against a pretty late March sky. :)
And then we began our LONG walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. It took us awhile to make it all the way out there!
But after a pitstop at McDonald's, we finally made it!
We also went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and got a really good view of the Champs-Élysées traffic... there are no visibly-marked lanes, it's crazy! I would not want to be one of those cars, haha.
You could see the Grande Arche from the top...
As well as the Eiffel Tower.
Leah and I also visited Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides.
Napoleon's son is buried there, as well.
Leah, Matt, and I went to the Sacré-Cœur to wrap up our last day in Paris. The Sacré-Cœur might just be my second-favorite place in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower. I just think it is so striking, especially when you're down at the very bottom of the hill, looking right up at it. Of course, the brilliant blue sky didn't hurt, either.
We said goodbye to Paris and took a train back to Toulouse, then another train to Albi, and a bus back to Ambialet. It was an extremely long travel day, but I was glad to be back at the monastery. We'd been gone for three weeks and it was nice to be back home. :)