After our 10am stop at Cafe Victor Hugo on Saturday, June 10, we took the metro to Puces de Vanves, which was a big ol’ flea market area.  I got some vintage pipes with artwork on them; my bride got some coat rack thingy for the children’s backpacks that was like 85 years old or something.  My youngest found a vintage doll from Brittany that she named Josephine and carried around for the rest of the trip.

Then we went to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, because I really like exploring old cemeteries when traveling, and we saw the graves of folks like Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, Abelard and Heloise, etc.

After another wonderful outdoor meal (this time at Le Cavalier Bleu), we traveled the escalator on the exterior of Pompidou Centre– the museum of modern art, exploring the outdoor terrace with a water feature first.  My 8-year-old was very excited to see some works by Mondrian, whom he’d learned about this year from his retiring art teacher.  He bought a postcard to send her that featured the painting below:

I enjoyed seeing items I walk by in my bathroom every day and noticed that when they’re presented upside down and with added colors, they become art!  There were some huge works of art, furniture, photography, and sculptures that were interesting to explore.  Plus, it was very cool (whereas outside, it was very hot on this day)!

We went to bed fairly early, as we had a 9am date with catacombs planned for Sunday.

On Friday, June 9, we arrived at the Louvre at 10am.  An hour or so later, our friends arrived, and then the 10 of us meandered about the museum, checking out artifacts and art among the roughly 5 million Chinese tourists who were also checking out the artifacts and art.  I took several Instagram “stories” that I thought were really funny at the time but are now gone forever, since they only stay published for 24 hours (including of a goddess taking a selfie), but I did get a picture of our 3 children crashing the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine (but not the strong, intoxicating wine that my children shouldn’t be around); we left before things got too rowdy.

Mona Lisa gazed at us reproachfully (best I could tell, as she had at least 500 paparazzi in front of her).

We picked Friday to go to the Louvre, because it stays open for extra hours on Fridays, so when it got really crowded at about lunch time, we left to have lunch.  Since it was lunch time.  Jim Bob and I had beers, because the wine Jesus made went to the guests who were actually invited to the party, not to us crashers, it seemed.

We strolled about the Tuileries Garden after that, and the children ran around and played loudly, so as to ensure that all around recognized that we’re Americans.

Then, we went to Musee de l’Orangerie, which had fewer oranges than I’d hoped for, but did have lots of paintings.  There were giant paintings of water lilies by Monet–in fact, there was an entire room that was nothing but enormous canvasses he created, and they were huge and, at times, fuzzy, as his eyesight was pretty bad by the time he painted for this museum, having already painted for the Louvre and other museums that are more crowded.  I liked its scale.  Beneath these giant paintings were several regular-sized paintings by Monet and other impressionists, and I found myself enjoying the Manets quite a bit.

Then, we went to a creperie, and all 10 of us had crepes, and it was amazing.  Mine had apples and cinnamon and vanilla ice cream on it, baby.  I then decided we should go back to America and start a crepes restaurant smack dab in the Bible belt called “How Crepe Thou Art” and serve up deliciously thin pancakes for the rest of our lives, but I probably won’t.

After crepes, we returned to the Louvre.  It was much better at 6pm, and we got to see all kinds of ancient sculptures and artwork without having to make sure our wallets were still in our pockets every 10 seconds or so (or maybe that was just me).

Our companions the McAllisters returned to their place of rest (but not the eternal kind of rest), and my family took the metro back to our place, wondering if 8:30pm was too late for dinner; it wasn’t.  We walked over to a pub called The Honest Lawyer for burgers and beers (plus whatever the other 4 members of my family  ate), and I decided I’d sell How Crepe Thou Art after a decade or so and run The Honest Lawyer until the end of my days.

This is what happy looks like:

And thus concluded our 4th day in Paris.

“When in Paris, the only thing one should leave to chance is the Loterie Nationale.” – Ernest Hemingway

June 8 was our third day in Paris.  Deciding the attacks with hammers were finished, we went to Notre Dame cathedral and the nearby archeological crypt (after our usual cafe au lait and croissants breakfast, of course).  We elected to skip the long line to go to the top of the cathedral, but we did use our museum pass to bypass the line to see the inside (tip:  get the museum pass.  It saves lots of money and lots of time!), taking in the French Gothic architecture from the 12th century.  The crypt gives visitors a glimpse of what life in Paris was like when it was under Roman rule and was an interesting trip way back in time (and a welcomed reprieve from heat and crowds).

We then ventured to Shakespeare & Company, one of my favorite places in Paris.  It was full of old books, old reading rooms, and old history.  I bought a book full of stories and photographs called “Hemingway’s Paris.”  I had a hard time leaving, but eventually, children want to eat.

We stopped for lunch, and my 10-year-old had her first bowl of escargot–and liked it!

Content we’d had enough happiness at lunch, we visited the Memorial of the Deportation, which memorializes the 200,000 French (mostly Jews) sent to Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. The architecture is pretty, and the exhibit is moving.  I’m glad we took our children there.

After that, we shopped the bouquinistes along the Seine and got ice cream at Berthillon, which some say is the best ice cream in the world, but I was too busy enjoying it to ponder its ranking. The children took advantage of the local vendors’ selection of berets.

The children seemed too happy at this point, so we took them to the prison where everyone awaited the guillotine; it’s called La Conciergerie.  And then for redemption, we saw over 1100 Biblical scenes across 15 stained glass windows, and Christ’s crown of thorns, at Sainte-Chapelle cathedral.  Built in only 7 years, it packs a lot of impressiveness in a relatively small space (for a famous cathedral).

Then we took the metro to the Orsay, an old train station now full of impressionists (choosing Thursday for the extended hours).  We got the audio tour for the children (we all 5 did this at most places, but it was really helpful when a museum had a children’s version), and the grownups did Rick Steves’ audio tour from his app (we also used his book–among others–to plan much of this trip, but his was the only one we carried with us every day in Paris).  Everyone really enjoyed this museum, as impressionism is pretty easy to understand and appreciate without an art history degree once you get past the nudity.

That night, we dined in the Trocadero area at an old bakery called Carette that had great food (including macaroons for dessert) and views of the Eiffel tower at night.

See how happy the full moon, Eiffel tower, and Parisian night sky made us?

This was an action-packed day with lots to see and lots of walking; it was a good way to power through my “it’s no longer my birthday in Paris, and I’m a little sad about that” feelings.

Next up:  day 4!