Day seven brought an official close to a whirlwind tour of two of Europe’s most infamous cities. There were still sights to see and experiences to savor before our goodbyes. Come along with me for a glimpse.
The day began when our group traveled to Notre Dame Cathedral. Before we stepped off the coach, our French guide gave us a briefing on the pickpockets that hang around the area. We were warned against people who might approach and kindly ask whether or not we spoke English. Apparently the correct answer to this question–no matter your native language–is a resounding NO. Bonus points for the best French accent you can fake.
In any case, our morning at Notre Dame was a rainy one. The rain did make for a cute photo, at least.
To this point in our tour, I had come to so appreciate the inside scoop our local guides had offered. I’m sure that sightseeing at these historic places can be wonderful in and of itself, but our experience was so much richer because of the insight our guides were able to share. I’m sure that Notre Dame was no exception, but Torri and I had other plans that morning.
Up to this point, our schedule had been rather tight. We did not have extensive time to explore Paris on our own. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am nothing if not a foodie. And so I simply could not leave Paris without experiencing some true Parisian treats. We listened to a brief history of the cathedral, but we opted not to climb the tower with the rest of our group. Instead, we took to the street of Paris on our own, in search of two things: ice cream and eclairs.
We had not even made it down the block, though, before the pickpockets we’d been warned about approached and–surprise!–asked if we spoke English. In response, Torri offered a most convincing “no!” and they let us go on our way without any trouble.
Our first stop was Berthillion ice cream. My friend, Sherrelle, convinced me that I could not leave Paris without trying Berthillion. She was right. I chose praline amaretto. It was creamy and rich and delicate and everything ice cream should be. I only indulged in a small single scoop because I had to save room for the eclair my heart was set on.
The walk to our eclair boutique of choice was not far. After reading a review of two Parisian eclair boutiques, I opted to try L’Éclair de génie. When first we approached the storefront, we saw that the lights were out and nobody was home. With no sign on the door, we had no idea when they would open, but we took a chance and waited around out front for twenty minutes or so. Much to our delight, the doors did indeed open on the hour. Inside, we were met with a display case of eclairs that can only be described as art. I did my best to decipher the French descriptions of each flavor. Between context clues and my very limited language skills, I think we managed just fine. Torri chose a chocolate/raspberry (rouge framboise) one while I chose passion-framboise, which had the most insanely delicious passion fruit filling. Oh. Be still my heart. I’ve told my husband that those eclairs alone are reason enough to return to Paris and I am not exaggerating one bit. That single eclair was easily the most magnificent thing my taste buds were treated to over the course of our trip. Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard.
After our brief detour, Torri and I rejoined the group outside of Notre Dame. From there, a short walk led us to a bridge where we stopped for what I still believe to be one of the most touching moments of our entire trip. This particular bridge in Paris was overflowing with “love locks”, like as in padlocks. They were clipped to the links in the bridge. There must have been thousands of them. So many, in fact, that there was scarcely a free link left on the bridge.
Our Adventure guides paused at the bridge to tell us that each lock had been placed by people who had locked their love away on the bridge and then thrown away the key in the Seine below. Our adventure guides proceeded to hand out locks to each family. We were also given Sharpie pens and encouraged to write our names on our locks and then affix them to the bridge and throw away the key.
While maybe more appropriate for newlyweds, I thought it was still a fitting sentiment for our mother/daughter journey.
After the “locks of love” bridge, we were on our way aboard a water taxi to the Louvre.
I would be lying if I said that I was overly excited to visit the Louvre. I am not an artsy kind of girl. Here’s the thing, though: I absolutely LOVED the Louvre. Seriously. There’s a caveat, of course. I could have wandered aimlessly around that place for days and been bored out of my mind. What brought the experience to life were the insights that our guide shared about the pieces she featured as part of our tour. It was fascinating. My only regret is that our stay there was relatively short.
No, wait. Make that two regrets. I also wish we had been given the opportunity to pause for a photo in front of the iconic glass pyramid on the ground level. I guess I’ll have to be sure to do that next time. The good news is that I fought the mob (and I do mean mob–it was outrageous) to snap a quick photo of this lovely lady.
With the Louvre behind us, there was but one event left before the close of our tour. Our big group farewell dinner took place at Laduree. It was our final chance to socialize with the friends we’d made. And that we did. Our guides even surprised us with a slideshow of photos they’d taken over the course of the week. At the close of the meal, we’d load onto the coach one last time for the return trip to the hotel. En route, we were treated to the unforgettable final sight of the Eiffel Tower lit up and twinkling like stardust. The sight made for a magical memory indeed.
**This is the final installment of my trip report detailing my experience in traveling with Adventures by Disney. I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments below. I would also like to give special thanks to Instant Impressions Travel Services for sponsoring this post. Instant Impressions is a boutique travel agency that exclusively offers vacations to Disney destinations worldwide, including both land and sea-based vacations. Their services are complimentary. The perks for booking through them are numerous and include: 24/7 on-call service when traveling and covered gratuities for the Adventure Guides (a value of approximately $288 for an eight-day trip). For more information, be sure to visit Instant Impressions online. Of course, I’m also happy to answer any questions specific to our trip.**