The routes that the L’Open hop on hop off buses take provide us with ample opportunities to move around Paris above ground and to take in all the major sights at a glance. The ticket comes with earphones to listen to a commentary as the bus weaves through the city and we quickly pick out the museums and monuments that we want to visit and plan our itinerary for the day. It is freezing cold sitting on the top of an open top bus, my hair is a mess and I constantly worry about pigeons pooping on me from the trees we drive under, still it is a great way to get an overview of the city.
Hotel des Invalides has us in awe, walking through the gates and seeing the size of the building has me spinning around as I try to take it all in. Where to start is the hardest part, our Paris museum pass provides us with entry to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Musee del Armee, but there are many sections covered by the title Musee del Armee including Medieval Armour and weapons and a WWI and WWII exhibition.
We booked a tour of the city, seine river cruise and tickets to the second level of the eiffel tower, this gave us a really good overview of the city of paris and we saw more monuments and arrondisements this way. The time at the eiffel tower was windy and cold, there were hundreds of people queuing for tickets to the top level and the crush was overwhelming and frustrating. The view of Paris is awesome from the top level, we took lots of photos and tried to avoid getting in people’s way but it wasn’t easy, after about 15 minutes I’d had enough of getting pushed and shoved and was glad to head back to the bottom and catch a bus home. We didn’t do the cruise, it was too cold and I really wanted to see the Musee d’Orsay, it opens late on a Thursday night and the art on display is by some of my favourite artists: Renoir, Monet, Seurat and Degas.
Lunch had been a hasty baguette in the Tuileries garden prior to doing the bus tour and dinner wasn’t much different. We dined at the cafe in the Musee d’Orsay, the staff were less than personable and the service extremely slow especially given the number of people lined up – only one person was working. The collection of Impressionist paintings is excellent and although I had seen a few exhibitions of impressionist art in Australia, this was my favourite, possibly because of the location but who cares, I loved it! Our feet were sore and our legs tired after a long day, we cruised through some of the other exhibits and then walked back to our hotel in the Latin Quarter. At night Paris is a magical city, the Eiffel Tower glitters and the boats cruising the Seine use spotlight to light up the banks of the river and the various monuments and attractions.