Part 7 London and Paris 10 Day Getaway - My 40th birthday in Paris!

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The big day has arrived. It's my 40th birthday! This is the day that I have all my favorite things about Paris planned to do! We began with a lovely French breakfast at the hotel. French breakfasts are one  of my favorite ones to have. They had croissants, rolls, meats, cheeses, cereal, coffee, tea and excellent jams and jellies. I don't know why, but the butter in Europe is just fresher and tastier than in the US. I used to think it was because it was unsalted but that isn't it. Perhaps it is the fact that I see more cows and small farms scattered around the countryside. Unlike in America where the poor cows are hidden away. After breakfast I put on my Hermes perfume, grabbed my Happy Birthday tiara and we headed out for the Musee D'Orsay.
The charming breakfast room at our hotel.
The D'Orsay is my favorite museum in the whole world...that I have been to, that is. It is a large museum built into a train station. The structure alone is stunning with the giant clocks, massive space and art deco glass and iron work. But what I love the most is the art that resides inside.
A view of one of the many giant clocks at the Musee D'Orsay

A view of the center portion of the museum
The Musee D'Orsay is the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world as far as I understand. I am a humongous fan of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art so pretty much every single work of art inside this converted gare is especially wonderful to me. We started walking the main part of the museum where most of the statues reside.
Here is one statue that greets you as you enter the  museum. There were many more fascinating works.
The we made our way room to room to look at the paintings. They have loads of famous works like Whistler's Mother by Whistler, and then whole rooms of famous artists like Renoir, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet...whole freaking ROOMS! I remember the first time I ever visited this museum. I became overwhelmed by the beauty. Once I stepped into the Van Gogh room, I began to cry. My body and mind were so full of emotion that I was just overcome with feelings so there I stood with  my head in my hands, weeping. I got emotional this time as well but I had a bit more control over myself.
Me, standing among only a small number of the Van Goghs in this museum. 
The bf and I go through museums differently. Visiting museums is a big part of me, my life, my hobby. I have a membership to several museums in San Francisco and I go as often as I can. Many times it isn't because of a special exhibit. I just like to spend time looking at the works of art, mostly paintings but sculpture too. I pick out the ones that catch my eye the most and I stare and I stare. I don't think there has been more than a handful of times that I have been to a museum when I WASN'T asked to move away from the art because I like to get in there and FEEL the brush strokes or chisel strikes in my mind. No, I don't actually ever touch anything, don't worry.
As you wander about the D'Orsay, you come across some alluring glimpses of the city outside. This is a view through the face of another clock.

While I pick and choose which works of art I like to inspect and admire, the bf chooses to check out every single thing the museum has to offer. Because of this we did get lost from one another for a little while. We reunited eventually and it was time to leave my favorite museum. There was much more to get done on my birthday! The light rain from the morning had ceased and left us with some bright clouds as we walked through Paris on our way towards the Arc D'Triumph and lunch.
I won't participate in the destruction of the bridge by putting a "Love Lock" on it but I will take a photo there!
Along our walk we passed many popular attractions. We crossed over the Pont des Artes, which is famous for lovers putting padlocks with a love note written on them on the railing. The idea being that you write a note of love, or your initials on a lock, lock it to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine. We did not participate in this ritual because there have become so many that the historical panels of railing have been falling off the bridge into the water. I find that ugly and destructive. There were people selling locks and sharpies all along the way though. We, instead, bought a painting of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur from a woman who was making the paintings right there on the bridge.
You can see a bit of everything from the Place de la Concorde
We continued walking until we arrived at the Place de la Concorde and the Luxor Obelisk. We spent a good amount of time here because the views were spectacular. There is the golden obelisk standing 75 feet high. There were beautiful, ornate fountains on either side of the obelisk. Then you could look down the whole Champs-Elysees to see the Arc d'Triomphe. In the distance you can see the majestic Eiffel Tower. The Obelisk is an actual part of the Luxor taken from Egypt in the 1800's. It is over 3000 years old. Very well preserved if you ask me.
The view of the Arc d'Triomphe from the Luxor Obelisk. We were heading down this road next.
We walked down the Champs-Elysees towards the Arc d'Triomphe heading for a super special lunch spot. It was exciting to make our way closer and closer to the Arc. Just a beautiful, but long, walk. The walk takes you past lots of shops. The streets were full of people, both French and tourist alike. We were a little nervous and a lot hungry when we started to doubt our ability to find our special lunch spot but we were well rewarded for not giving up. We found Laudree!
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Laudree is more known for it's pastries and especially their macarons. I am a macaron F-R-E-A-K. I am not misspelling the word, it is spelled macaron because it is not a macaroon. It is pronounced the same, essentially, but instead of being a mound of toasted coconut, it is a delicate cookie sandwich that comes in any array of flavors. My favorites being hazelnut, earl grey, vanilla and green tea but I love every flavor. Laudree is famous for it's macarons but I learned that there are a few shops that sell lunch stuffs as well and that is where we ended up today. I ordered some sliders that came with fries and the bf ordered a veggie sandwich that had a million things in it.
Laudree Sliders and look at those FRIES! Very tasty.
So far, London was not too difficult to find vegetarian meals for the veggie bf but we started struggling a little bit in Paris. We found that if you asked what a bistro or restaurant had by way of vegetarian meals they would all just point to a lettuce salad which is not that satisfying to eat every day for every meal. After eating a wonderful meal out on the sidewalk in a cute little area with benches and tables we went into the little shop. There was a very, very long line to buy sweets. We could have ordered after lunch and they would have brought us the cookies and cakes but I really wanted to look at everything. The line went all the way back to the end of the shop then led along the long counter so everyone got a real good look at all they had to offer. There were cakes, champagne, perfume and much, much more. The decor inside was also a lovely, flowery, feminine design.
Large array of macarons.
We got the beige and red cakes in the center as well as a round box of cookies like on the far right.
I bought a mixed box of about 11 different flavored macarons then we both bought a cake. We got a praline cake and a raspberry one. They put it all in beautiful, delicate boxes and handed up the bag. I was literally like a kid in a candy store. Loaded up with cakes we made our way to the Arc d'Triomphe.
Pretty bag with pretty cakes in pretty boxes.
The Arc de Triomphe is situated in the center of a massive intersection of like 8 streets and there are no designated lanes. We wanted to get to it but couldn't find a way. We circled the whole structure. It is magnificent to look at as we walked it's perimeter. The traffic between us and the Arc was not quite as crazy as it could be. I recall having to cross this area when I was younger and it was just pure anxiety with cars going any direction they feel like trying to get to their destination.
You can see all the wild traffic and there is the ONE police man helping out.
We finally realized there is no way to cross the street to the Arc, instead you take a tunnel! Makes so much sense now. There are a couple tunnels that lead to the structure. They are not unlike a subway tunnel with tiles. When you emerge you get a remarkable view of the building. It really is breathtaking. We circled the structure once again, much closer this time. The carvings are so life like and intricate. We noticed that there were a lot of people gathered under the actual arches. Something was happening. All these young men began marching towards the center. They were dressed in some sort of uniform. I tried to listen in but couldn't get close enough. I think it was some sort of graduation. I saw firefighters and military looking people. We were not able to get to the very center of the building because of the ceremony but we found a little seat under the protection of the Arc and had a rest. We pulled out our cakes and cookies and had a snack.
We had a snack on one of the benches under the Arc. You can see the flags of the ceremony in the background.
After the snack we continued our trek to the Eiffel Tower to complete my birthday to-do list. A light rain started to come down but we had rain jackets and the umbrella so it was still a enchanting walk. The sun was just beginning to set and by the time we reached the tower it was night time. The whole walk we could see the tower so we got to see the sunlight leave and the lights go on on the Eiffel Tower. I must have stopped to take a photo every 10 meters because it was just so exhilarating, romantic, beautiful, endearing, bewitching.
You do not need a map to find the Eiffel Tower because you can see it from wherever you are. 
As we walked the rain came down harder and harder so that by the time we reached the Eiffel Tower, the whole area was thoroughly drenched....the tower, the ground, us, my bag of pastries. We stashed the delicate boxes of pastries in the bf's backpack and buffered it with jackets. We had planned on taking the stairs all the way up just to save money but it turns out you are not allowed to do so in the rain so we took the elevator.
Would you take the stairs all the way up there? This was actually taken from the first landing at the top of the elevator ride.
We got in the line for the elevator that takes you to the first landing. In line there was a group of young Americans who must have had a few drinks. They were being rowdy and yelling things out....generally embarrassing the rest of us. We had to go through a security check before getting on the elevator. I don't know if it was the annoying 20-somethings or just that the security guard was having a bad day but he asked us to take out all the stuff from the bf's backpack. So we happily obliged. The guard say the Laudree boxes. There is not a soul in Paris who doesn't know what is in a Laudree box. But still, he decided to dump the boxes of delicate pastries upside down and shake them. What a dick.

A look down the Jardins du Trocadero
 I was a bit upset, standing there with my jaw dropped wide open, wearing my Happy Birthday tiara. Like a kid whose ice cream just fell on the ground. It didn't keep me down for too long though. I knew that even if it was now deconstructed, the contents of those boxes would still taste out of this world. Thank the cosmos we got photos of them before! We took the cramped elevator up to the first landing. We circled the whole area taking photos and taking in the scenery. We could see how far we had walked today.

Still have my tiara!
We waited in line and took the other elevator to the very top and took a whole new round of photos. We went to take the elevator back down when we saw that there were some open stairs. We decided, despite our aching feet, that we would rather take the risk of hitting a dead end and having to come all the way back up for the chance to take the stairs all the way down to the bottom. I really wanted to be inside the actual structure. We were lucky and found no obstructions to the first landing. There was a little shop and a closed restaurant on the landing. The shop was so over priced it was laughable so we kept on moving. It was another highlight of the trip to walk down the stairs. There were no other people anywhere near us. We were all alone, on my birthday, me, with the person I love most in the world, inside the Eiffel Tower that was lit up almost like candlelight.
Inside the Tower
 We walked around a little bit until we found some more stairs. We made our way all the way to the bottom. It was so quiet and delightful. Every 30 minutes these white strobe lights on the outside of the tower go off and if you looking at it, it looks like it is twinkling. We never really got to see that view because we were inside the tower. We could tell when the lights would go off though because they were right next to us as we made our way down one of the legs. It was pretty cool being inside the tower, all alone, when the whole thing starts to sparkle.

A stop for some fun photos
At the bottom we found the rain had completely stopped. We walked back to our hotel. It was a long walk as I knew it would be. We stopped in the middle of a deserted street (pretty much all the streets were deserted at this time of night) to take some artsy photos with the good camera. We were so happy that we were just giggling and smiling the whole time. we walked along the Seine through little parks the whole way. We watched as the lights reflected off of the river. It was so magnificent.
Good night, Paris. Thank you for the best birthday ever!

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