Notre Dame and the Islands: Paris Edition

Yesterday, we finally were able to see the quintessential Paris. And we found all the other tourists! 

Our first stop was Notre Dame. I didn't expect to spend much time here. I knew Notre Dame was a popular place to visit, but I didn't have a clue as to the beauty associated with this church. It was breath-taking! As we wandered around the outside and throughout the inside, every inch of space was beautiful. I don't even really like old churches, but we ended up spending a lot of time here just taken away with what we saw.

Even the grounds surrounding the church are beautiful. In the back, there is a garden with the most beautiful roses. These two in the pictures are pretty small. The really big roses were two fists big! 

For lunch, we packed sandwiches and ate them along the Seine River with the pigeons and the tour boats. It was a little breezy, but not too cool, upper 60s for the most part. We expect the weather to be about the same today.

These apartments were in Notre Dame's back yard. They had fantastic gardens on the terraces on the top floor. We have now decided to purchase one of these penthouses :) When, of course, we win the lottery!

Along one of the bridges, we discovered this art. Hundreds of thousands of padlocks were attached to the railing - but only on one side. Very strange. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with declaring your love, but I'm not sure. If you know what this is about, leave a comment! I'd love to learn about it more!

Public toilets in Paris are crazy. I waited in line for this particular bathroom for nearly an hour, not because the line was long, but because the bathroom itself is slow. It is all automated, and it is a flush toilet! First, you push a button and the door slides open automatically. Then, you step inside and the door slides shut automatically. It says somethings to you in French, not sure what. Afterwards, you push the flush button, but nothing happens - yet. The soap automatically dispenses onto your hands and the water automatically turns on for a specific amount of time. It isn't sensors, it is mostly timed and triggered by an initial sensor. The hand dryer turns on automatically. Finally, you push the button to open the sliding door and step out. Then, the door closes and the entire bathroom is washed, including the floors. Then, the next person can go in. I've never seen something like this before! It was nice to have clean bathrooms, even though the wait was a little excessive.

We stopped at Berthillon ice cream shop on the small island. Our couch surfer last week told us about this place and we fell in love!

I got the Rhubarb and martin got the Vanilla cone. The Rhubarb was really intense in flavor but not as smooth as I had wanted. Martin's Vanilla was out of this world. There were so many vanilla bean flakes in there that it was almost brown! So creamy and rich. I may have to go back for a vanilla cone another day!

Martin was excited to find a street named after him. :)

The Centre Pompidou is a crazy building! The outside is escalators in what reminds us of hamster cages. It's super fun. We were too tired to go inside, but we sat outside it for a long time and enjoyed the atmosphere.

I was surprised to find they have an Anne Frank park. It was quite small, but lovely nonetheless. We didn't realize the Luxembourg park would close, so we were disappointed that it was closed by the time we arrived. The flash on the camera makes it look much later than it really was. It was only dusk.

For supper, I had Croque Vegetarien - a vegetarian sandwich with melted cheese. It also had zucchini under the tomatoes and mozzarella. It was delicious, but I actually enjoyed the mustard seed vinaigrette on the salad much better than the sandwich itself.

These are my favorite fountains so far. They are mechanical fountains, so they move and spit water as they move. Fascinating. The creepy graffiti on the building behind the fountains was really well done, but a little strange. 

This fountain was outside Hotel de Ville. It looked more like a government building than a hotel, so we aren't exactly sure what it was - besides HUGE!

Today, we plan to see the Arc du Triomphe and maybe the Eiffel Tower - if we can ever get ready to go. 

A beinto!