Before Barley gets into her recap of our trip, we just want to say our thoughts are with all of the citizens and tourists in Paris right now. It started raining pretty heavily while we were there, and now the city is facing terrible flooding. We hope everyone stays safe and that the rain lets up soon so that everyone can go back to enjoying this beautiful city. ~Theresa & Scott
For my mama's birthday one year, my pappy became a Sustainer (monthly donor) of WUNC, our local NPR station, because he knows how much she loves listening to Morning Edition, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, and Car Talk (among many other shows). Each time the station does a fundraiser, they also hold random drawings for amazing vacation trips. Sustainers are automatically entered into these drawings, and one day my pappy got a call saying he won a trip to Paris for two! We didn't believe it until we got the official letter in the mail (see pic above).
The logistics of me going with the humans clearly wasn't going to work, so meet my mini-me (my humans got the idea from their Intuit Contest pals over at Dairy Poop). Mini-me is going to show you my adventures throughout Paris. Above is the train ride from the airport to Paris.
Our first stop was Notre Dame because our hotel was a mere 5 minute walk from it (way to go Louanne, our fabulous travel agent!). As you can see, it's as glorious as you would imagine it to be.
We took advantage of the city's bike share system called Velib. For just 8 Euros, we had unlimited use of the hundreds of bikes stationed around the city for the entire week. It truly was the fastest, most convenient way to get around. If you decide to do this, we recommend using Google Maps on your phone and ear buds to navigate -- it worked great for us.
From Notre Dame, we hopped on our Velibs and rode to the Louvre. I met a lion and saw a LOT of really incredible paintings and sculptures.
After spending about 3 hours at the Louvre, we took a much needed break for dinner at La Brigout. My mama is a planner, and she found a site called TheFork.com, which is basically the European version of Open Table. It was key to finding delicious restaurants and easily making reservations prior to our trip.
We ended our first evening in Paris with a group bike ride through the city. Paris Rando Velo, an association of bike enthusiasts, hosts a free group ride every Friday night. It was a lovely introduction to Paris.
On our way to the Rue Mouffetard Market the next morning, we saw this cute little guy high up on a wall. While riding/walking throughout Paris, we saw all kinds of street art like this.
We picked up a baguette and some cheese at the market and headed back to Luxembourg Garden for a morning picnic. The gardens were breathtaking (as was the baguette).
One street market was not enough, so we hopped on our bikes and headed to Rue Cler where the humans bought chocolate, had lunch, and sniffed some beautiful flowers.
Then it was off to the D'Orsay Museum, where all the other visitors thought my humans were nuts for posing with a dog figurine. Psh. A dog can appreciate Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and Cezanne as much as the rest of them.
The next day, we stumbled upon even more art riding through the city. There were a bunch of modern sculptures on the Pont des Arts that we stopped to admire. I call this photo "Dog vs. Mouse Man."
We also stumbled upon one of these -- yes, fellow fur-friends. They have vets in Paris, too. We saw so many people with their dogs out and about (many off leash and incredibly well behaved).
It was wonderful being in such a dog-friendly city.
All of that walking and riding finally brought us to the Eiffel Tower. It's even bigger than you imagine it to be. It also is just as magnificent as you hope it will be.
As we were leaving the Eiffel Tower, we ran into the Garmin Triathlon on the Seine. My humans love going to races and cheering on competitors (even if they don't know anyone competing). It was at that moment they really wished they knew how to yell "Way to Go!" in French...so they just clapped and smiled instead.
Next it was on to the Arc de Triomphe. Nearly as impressive as the monument itself was the crazy traffic circle around it. Also, for those of you who will take our advice to bike around the city, the ride from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe was the hilliest we encountered. It wasn't impossible, but my mama (who is not a biker), did have to walk hers up a hill at one point.
From there, we walked down the Champs Elysees -- where the rich and fabulous shop, and we just look.
After a very long day of sight seeing, we relaxed the only way Barley Labs knows how -- with ice cream from the famous Berthillon and beer from La Parisienne Brewery on the Seine.
The rain really kicked in so we spent most of the next morning at Centre Pompidou, the modern art museum. Many may not agree, but my humans say it was their favorite museum of the three they visited in Paris.
We then made our way to a place called 59 Rivoli. It's an "artist's squat" where local artists work and visitors can roam through the space and admire their art for free (donations accepted). It felt a little odd -- as if we were invading their private work space -- but it's the entire point of 59 Rivoli so go, enjoy, and make a donation if you can.
Our final day in Paris included a stop at Place de la Bastille...
A few beers at Frog Revolution Brewing...
...a 3-course crepe dinner (of course)...
...and a visit to the Pantheon.
On behalf of my humans, I just want to say merci beaucoup to WUNC for sending us on this trip and for providing great programming for the Triangle area. If you're a public radio fan, please be sure to make a donation to your local station. Who knows...in addition to feeling good about supporting your local NPR, you also might just find yourself on the trip of a lifetime.
Woofs & Love, pals!
P.S. For anyone out there wondering, we didn't win this prize as Barley Labs. My pappy won as an individual monthly donor through one of the random drawings WUNC held last year. The humans tend not to win much, so this basically makes up for any contests, drawings, races, etc., they may have lost in the past ;)