He’s like the god of nature…or something…???

Welcome to Paris Day 2! or Day 4 if you count our day trips…or Day 7 if you count our last stop in Paris…or Day 11 if you count the day trips of those stops… Anyways, the next two days will be filled with lots of aimless wandering and slightly more obscure sights (aka the ones we want to see but not so desperately that they made it into the itinerary of our first trip to Paris).

We started today with a mega metro ride. It took us 23 metro stops and one line change to get to our desired location, which was St. Denis church. Saint Denis, a patron saint of France and the first bishop of Paris, was decapitated on the hill of Montmartre. Followingthis, Denis supposedly carried his head northwards and finally stopped at the site he wished to be buried. A church was founded here in the 7th century and became the final resting place of the French Kings, nearly every king from the 10th to 18th centuries are buried here. Both from the outside & the inside St. Denis looked like a simple gothic cathedral. We later found out this simple cathedral is also important historically for its architecture. Built in the 12th century it used inovative structural and decorative features which are said to make it the first truly gothic building. The design of the 13th century nave has also been the prototype for gothic cathedrals in northern France, England and other countries.
It had all of the markings of classic gothic architecture, but none of the crazy extravagance you see in some churches. The simple columns and ceiling just allowed your focus to be on the complexly gorgeous stained glass. Each window was filled with a difficult pattern or realistic king or detailed biblical scene. And all of them were bursting with color.
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The tombs of the kings were interesting…which seems morbid, but what can you do? We got excited whenever we came across someone we’d heard of and Justine quizzed Kristin to see what she could remember of their lives. The tombs varied from simple rectangles to extravagant displays, but all featured a death mask carving of the person. Some are creepily realistic. The most interesting coffins included those of Clovis I (who died about 1500 years ago), Louis XIV (who has as crazy of a final resting place as he had of a home…remember Versailles?) and Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette (who were beheaded in the revolution and dumped in a random grave…they weren’t dug up until 22 years later and were buried in St. Denis in 1815…that’s why the graves look so modern).
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The Paris Opera House or Palais Garnier is an amazing feat of architecture. It was built between 1861 and 1875 for the Paris Opera. We originally planned on just going to check out the exterior, but once we started talking about it and the fact that this is the building The Phantom of the Opera is based in we decided to pay the money to go inside. The visit was well worth it! The grand staircase alone was worth the money to see. The detail work on everything from the walls to the ceiling to the statues holding the lights is just incredible. Then you start to wander the foyers and find hallways that look like they were ripped straight out of Versailles…so much gold, mirrors and decadence!
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The theater itself was the last thing we saw. You can enter into one of the plush boxes and get a full view of the venue. Every seat is made of red velvet and looks as comfortable as floating on a cloud. Everything is dark wood, gold covered or red velvet, leaving the place looking incredibly rich. It was the type of place that you would go to a show at just to be in the venue. The roof was painted by Marc Chagall…remember him and his modern-style biblical paintings? It looked just as odd as those painting and contrasted a bit with the 7-ton bronze and crystal chandelier in the center, but somehow it all still worked. Interestingly, the falling of one of the counterweights of the chandelier in 1896 inspired the famous scene in The Phantom of the Opera. The lighting was low while we were in the theater because they were doing lighting tests or set-ups or something on stage. This created an ambience of darkness & shadows that made you certain the Phantom could be lurking about, peeking out of one of the balconies.
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Lunch time drew us back to the Champs Élysées Christmas market. Our guide (on the Sandeman’s tour we did the other day) had told us about a local delicacy you could find at some of the stalls, so we decided today was the day to try it. Tartiflette is basically scalloped potatoes with ham, which anyone who has ever had ham & scalloped potatoes knows is basically deliciousness. We shared a hardy container of it on the side of the street.
We followed up our potatoes with one of these:
We’d seen these chocolaty creations at many a stall and were curious as to what they were. Kristin was so curious that she just bought one and bit in…
Turns out it’s chocolate covered homemade marshmallow, all balanced on a little waffle wafer. Again, deliciousness. It was starting to rain at this point, so we headed for a McCafé break. After hot beverages and blog posting we were feeling recharged and ready to face the still-coudy-but-no-longer-raining skies.

The no-longer-raining skies lasted about 30 seconds and before we could even get across the river it was pouring. We found refuge under a bus stop but the damage was done…Justine’s ballet flats were soaked right through. You may be wondering why she was wearing ballet flats when she knew it would likely rain today but you see, her runners were still slightly damp from Disney day so she risked it. Kristin was fine…her shoes are waterproof 🙂 To remedy the disaster we headed back to the hostel. First we did a little souvenir shopping though. We’re getting the stuff crossed off our list…literaly…if you know us you know that we have an actual shopping list.

For supper we hit up a place we’d noticed on our last visit but hadn’t had the time to go to until now:
Yes, it is a Canadian pub 🙂 The inside was decorated with hockey jerseys (mostly Montreal), flat screens playing various sporting events and a large RoughRiders flag. Oh and in case you didn’t notice, the door handles are hockey sticks! It was a nice jolt of home to get us through our last week, because we must admit we are getting a little anxious for Canada. For our meal we had a chicken quesadilla (not very Canadian, but something we often eat when we are in Canada), a poutine and Canada Dry ginger ale! Yay Canada!

What We Miss:
Kristin – Food court Chinese food…Justine misses it too…
Justine – Siesta…

Love, Luck & Louis XVI

Best Mash-Up Ever!

Some people would say that Disney has found the only way to make “the most annoying ride ever” more annoying…however we are not ‘some people’. We personally believe Disney has never had a better idea than to mix up the It’s a Small World music during holiday celebrations and create a really kick-ass mash-up…we’re talking the normal It’s a Small World theme thrown together with lines from both Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells…it’s a holiday spectacular!

Anyways, as you may have gathered from this rant and the last post, we love It’s a Small World in Paris…especially at Christmas time. If you are willing to love it as much as we do (or if you already do!), here is a flip book of images of the ride (because Kristin went a little crazy taking photos):
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Did you spot your country? How about Canada? And maybe the Gondola Man? And what about that sparkly Santa at the end? Fun! Fun! Fun!
Which is your favorite doll/country/holiday represented?

Love, Luck & Leopards with Umbrellas,

Only way you could make it more annoying? I think more awesome!

Today we visited the happiest, most festive place on Earth (except maybe Santa’s workshop at the North Pole…we imagine that place is pretty frickin’ festive). We spent our day at Disneyland at Chrismas time! If there was anything that could make the most magical place even more magical, it would be holiday decorations & Christmas carols!
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Warning: We are now going to talk about Disneyland Paris as if you already know all about it. If you do not, we suggest you refer to “Silly Mickey, you don’t know French!” as we go into great detail there.

We were at the park in time for opening, leaving us with a full day of Disney ahead of us. We started the the Walt Disney Studios park. This one has less good rides, no shows we wanted to see and has been far less Christmas-a-fied. The plan was to get though what we wanted to see here and move onto the main Disneyland park. This worked nicely 🙂 We rode the Rock & Roller Coaster (although they didn’t have to rock & roll music playing while we were on it…kinda diminishes the effect), the Tower of Terror…twice, as we will never get sick of that ride…and Crush’s Coaster (the Finding Nemo themed roller coaster). Crush’s Coaster was the only ride we wanted to go on that we had missed on our last Disney visit so we were happy to get a chance this time. It has you sitting in a turtle shell that rotates as you go through the coaster. It leaves you never knowing what way you’ll turn next or if you will be forwards, backwards or sideways for the next drop. Very fun!
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Oh! PS. Here’s us in cheese…
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We actually had to wait in a few lines this time. The lines were still nothing like you’d find in North America, but it is definitely busier here in December than September. The weirdest thing about the day though was that we were bundled right up. You don’t think about how much time you spend outside at a Disney park until you are faced with going to one in low single digit temperatures. We wore lots of layers, odd in comparison to the single sweater you sometimes need in California or Orlando. We also had mittens, scarves and, in Kristin’s case, a toque.

Once in the main park, the first ride we hit was Buzz Lightyear. You may remember this was a favourite of ours last time….today did not disappoint! We actually rode this ride three times today, which, when added to the two times last visit, ties it for the most ridden ride. We managed to improve on our previous scores and even broke the six digit mark on our last go! Don’t we look intense? (and bundled up?)

We also hit up Disney classics such as Pirates of the Carribean and the Haunted Mansion (Phantom Manor here in Paris). Pirates had a pleasantly long line…pleasant because it was inside and a good place to warm up. But then, in a disastrous turn of events, we got placed at the front of our pirates boat! Any experienced Disney-goer knows that people in the front frequently get wet! We avoid that though by doing this:
Finally there was It’s a Small World, which we have to admit we rode three times today. Momma P should be very proud because this is the ride that ties Buzz for most rides! The fun thing was that it had been Christmas-a-fied, or should we say holiday-a-fied. You could see a representation of festivities throughout the world, all easily contained in their proper country. In Canada we apparently become elves at holiday time 🙂 Guess it makes sense with us being so far north. As a side note, look at how smug that moose is…
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Since we’ve done all of the good rides before when we were here in September we chose to enjoy some of the other festivities Disney has to offer…for example, the parade! It was everything a Disney parade should be, with lots of dancers, bright colors, happy music and Disney characters. Also as a holiday treat Santa showed up for the end.
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And to make everything more magical the parade’s conclusion featured snow all down Main Street! (ok maybe it was just soap bubbles, but the effect was just as good)

We were now freezing and slightly wet from the rain so we ventured inside for a snack and hot beverage. After munching on a muffin and tea, we ventured back outside to discover all of the Christmas lights had come on. We snapped some photos and were drawn towards the areas filled with light…or maybe just It’s a Small World again (this is when we did ride number 3 of both it and Buzz).

We made it back to the castle in time to see it lite up by Princess Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty, aka Justine’s favorite princess. She came onto stage with her royal court, Prince Philip and the Sleeping Beauty fairies and did a little show en francais…we got the idea though: the fairies were fighting over what color to light the castle up in….bad fairies, fighting and setting a bad example for all of the children!
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The park closed with their Fantillusions parade. This parade turned out to be a more modern version of the Main Street Electical Parade. The floats were quite complex, including platforms that would raise the princesses up into the air and one that swallowed up Malifacent & then turned into a dragon. We enjoyed how all of the people were dancing around decorated in list (and carrying giant power pack backpacks).
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After closing we went for super at the same American diner as last time (located in the Disney Village area outside the parks). Justine had the same burger, with mushrooms, and Kristin mixed it up by getting one with bacon…yummy!
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But wait! We forgot to tell you about the most exciting part of the day! We think these pictures speak for themselves…
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What We Miss:
Being warm at Disney…or in general…

Love, Luck, Little Mermaid and Lion King,