August 19, 2007

Shopping in Paris

On Saturday we slept in due to our late night at the Eiffel Tower. We then went shopping, primarily for Tiffany. She had fun at her favorite clothing store in Europe, Alain Manoukian. However, Scott and the kids were bored out of their minds. Brooke and Tyler entertained themselves by making faces in the mirrors and dancing to the music in the store. Scott talked with another bored American husband who was on vacation from England where he and his wife were working.

Shopping maniac

Brooke and Tyler loved our apartment building's little elevator. To prevent contention, we made them take turns pressing the buttons. We could just barely fit in the elevator together. However, if we had the stroller or groceries, we had to make multiple trips.

Tiny elevator

On Sunday, we attended the Paris ward for the last time on our trip. We were very surprised to run into Elder Miles, who had served as a missionary in our home ward in Oregon. He was just as surprised to see us there. He was there with the BYU basketball team since they were playing five exhibition games in Paris. Brooke and Tyler were thrilled to see Elder Miles. He is 6 foot 11 inches, so he was a very memorable missionary for the kids.

Church sign

At church, we made friends with Michael and Elise, a brother and sister from Canada who were on a trip through Europe. We invited them over for dinner and the kids had a blast playing with them.

Fun with friends

After our new friends left, Tiffany and Caleb took a nap. Brooke and Tyler were bored, so Scott took them on a walk. We went to Notre-Dame because Tyler wanted to look at the model of the construction of Notre-Dame again.

Notre-Dame facade

While in Notre-Dame, Scott managed to get this picture of one of the rose windows.

Notre Dame rose window

Scott and the kids happened to be in Notre-Dame during a Sunday evening concert. The video below is a little clip from it.

Concert in Notre-Dame (video)

As usual, Caleb has been pretty happy. He loves smiling at people. Everyone is amazed at how good he is.

Happy Caleb

Posted by sjbowden at 11:09 PM

August 17, 2007

The Eiffel Tower at night

On Friday, we let the kids stay up late so we could see the Eiffel Tower at night. A little while after dinner we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. We arrived around 8:30 pm.

At dusk

We were amazed that the lines to go to the top were so long. Fortunately, we had no intention of going to the top. Instead we wandered around the grounds and even let the kids play on the nearby playground equipment until it got really dark.


The kids did pretty well for it being so late. There was very little complaining. They were very excited to see the Eiffel Tower light up.

Staying up late

At night

At about 10 pm, the lights on the Eiffel Tower start sparkling. It only lasts about 15 minutes. You can see part of it in the video below.

Sparkling (video)

Before returning home we bought cotton candy and popcorn. It is interesting that when you buy popcorn in France, they ask you if you want it with salt or sugar. We chose the salt. The kids enjoyed our "midnight" snack. We enjoyed the chance to finally see the "City of Lights" at night.

Fun treats

Posted by sjbowden at 11:25 PM

Climbing Notre Dame

Thursday morning we decided to get up early and get in line to climb the towers of Notre Dame. Tiffany and I had climbed it on a previous visit to Paris with Tiffany's sister Tawni. It was a sunny day, so we figured it was a good time to do it. Whenever we had walked by the line before, it was very long, hence the plan to arrive early.

We got in line before the towers opened. It was cooler than we thought it would be since we were in the shade of the cathedral, so Scott stepped out of line to get a warm chocolate crepe from the stand across the street. He was the first customer of the day so he and Tyler got to watch the man make a few practice crepes before the griddle was ready.

From the line

There are 386 steep spiral steps to the top. The kids did surprisingly well. Another advantage of going first thing in the morning was so they would be fresh and full of energy and not yet worn out from a day of sightseeing.

Tyler on the stairs

On the way up

The view from the main platform was great. We had fun identifying major landmarks and counting how many French flags we could see.

View from the top

We had a beautiful view of Paris. We could see the Seine in front of our apartment, the Eiffel Tower and lots of Notre Dame gargoyles.

Notre Dame view (panorama)


We got to see the largest bell in the tower, which is named Emmanuel. It weighs 13 tons and is only rung on special occasions.

The big bell

Next we climbed to the very top of one of the towers. Here is the view over the top of Notre Dame to the west.

Bridges over the Seine

While we were on top, we heard the bells ring. It was beautiful and very impressive.

Notre Dame bells (video)

After we descended we bought some French pastries and a baguette for lunch. The pastries were some of the best we have ever had. Then we went back to our apartment and rested so that we could all stay up late to see the Eiffel Tower at night.

Posted by sjbowden at 4:41 PM

August 16, 2007

Musée d'Orsay and Sainte-Chapelle

On Wednesday we went to the Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum). It is best known for its collection of impressionist works. We were able to get children's activity pamphlets from the information desk. The pamphlets had things for the kids to do, like look for certain works of art, draw shapes found in the architecture, complete a maze, etc.

Brooke had decided at the Marmottan Museum that she likes Monet's Japanese bridge series. She found one in the Orsay to pose in front of.

Japanese bridge

Tiffany liked the juxtaposition of these two paintings of Monet's wife Camilla.

More Monet paintings

The Musée d'Orsay is located in what used to be a train station. One of the activities in the children's pamphlet was to look for the parts of the building that are still the same as when it was a train station.

Musee d'Orsay

It took a long time to get home from the museum because the area around Notre Dame was shut down due to a Catholic holiday. When we arrived home we walked around Notre Dame to see if anything was going on. There had been a procession in the streets around Notre Dame while we were at the museum, so we missed it.

On Thursday morning we went to Sainte-Chapelle. It is less than a block from our apartment. Whenever we passed the entrance we had seen long lines, so we went pretty early in the morning.

Sainte-Chapelle is in the middle of the Palais de Justice complex. The Palais de Justice contains the highest courts in France. Part of the reason the lines are long is due to the security screening necessary to enter the complex.


We happened to enter the church just as a guided tour was starting. It was in French, but Scott listened and was able to explain it to the rest of the family. We learned many things about the history of the church and its famous stained glass. For example, the reason it is a sainte chapelle instead of just a chapelle is because it was built to house holy relics such as pieces of the cross and thorns from the crown of thorns.

There are large stained glass panels that go almost all the way around the building. They tell stories from the Bible. We learned that you "read" the stories by starting in the lower left corner of a set of four windows and read left-to-right and then work your way up. This is the last set of windows and tells the story of how the holy relics were found for the Sainte-Chapelle. It cost Louis IX three times more to purchase the relics than it cost to build the church.

Sainte-Chapelle panel window

This rose window dates from the 15th century and not the 13th century like the rest of the stained glass windows. One way you can tell is that the colors are different. In the two centuries between them a lot of technology was learned about how to make better colors of glass. The color red is more vibrant and there are more variations in color.

Sainte-Chapelle Rose window

Brooke is pointing to a carving of a castle. The castle and fleur-de-lis symbols were a recurring theme throughout the architecture and decoration of the church in honor of King Louis.

Sainte-Chapelle carvings

After some lunch, we went to visit the shopping complex in the Louvre and to plan out our visit to the Louvre the next week. Brooke and Tyler especially liked this small pyramid. You may recognize it from the movie The Da Vinci Code.

Climbing the pyramid

On our walk home, we stopped on this bridge to watch a boat pass underneath on its way down the Seine.

The Seine

Posted by sjbowden at 10:22 PM

August 14, 2007

La Défense

In the mornings, Scott sometimes goes out to get a baguette or pain au chocolat to go with breakfast. Here is a picture of Notre Dame one morning as Scott walked home from the boulangerie (bakery). Our apartment is about 25 meters to the left of the picture.

Notre Dame and the Seine

Caleb has been a really good baby. On Tuesday he was in an exceptionally good mood.

Happy Baby

Laughing baby

We rode line 1 of the metro all the way to the north-western end to La Défense. La Défense is a huge business district on the outskirts of Paris. It is where all the skyscrapers are located. The most famous landmark is the Arche de la Défense, which is an office building in the form of an arch. The arch is so big that the Notre Dame cathedral could fit underneath it.

Arche de la Défense

Here are Tiffany, Brooke and Tyler at the top of the steps underneath the arch with the main plaza behind them. It was very windy since the arch acts like a wind tunnel.

La Défense

We paid to visit the top of the arch where there is a museum and a balcony. We rode to the top in these cool glass elevators.

Arch elevators

Here are Scott and Caleb on the balcony of the arch. The view is down the Champs-Élysées, and if you look carefully you can see the Arc de Triomphe.

View from the Arch

La Défense has a huge shopping mall. First we bought advance purchase tickets for the Orsay to let us bypass the lines. Then Brooke and Tiffany bought nail polish at Sephora. We all had fun in Toys R Us. It was the nicest Toys R Us we have ever been in. Tyler especially liked the huge Eiffel Tower constructed out of Legos. He was happy he was wearing his "Lego" Eiffel Tower T-shirt.

Lego Eiffel Tower

Afterwards, we shopped at a large grocery store called Auchan. We were thrilled to find they sold Scott's favorite kind of Belgian french fry sauce. We also bought chocolate covered Belgian waffles in addition to many other fun treats.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:20 PM

August 13, 2007

Success at the Eiffel Tower

On Monday, we got up early so that we could be in line at the Eiffel Tower when it opened. We ended getting in line about 10 minutes before the elevators started running. We only had to wait about 30 minutes to buy our tickets and then board the elevator. It was much easier than waiting in a two hour line in the afternoon.

Eiffel Tower (vertical panorama)

The elevator took us to the second level where we immediately got in line for the elevator to the third (top) level. The kids were thrilled that we were finally going to the top of the Eiffel tower.

At the top

Here is a panorama along the Seine River.

The River Seine (panorama)

We could see lots of Paris sights from the top.

Arc de Triomphe from the Eiffel Tower

This is what it is like to look straight down over the side.

Looking down

After a while at the top, we descended to the second level. We wandered through the souvenir shops and walked around the tower looking at the sights.

This is what it looks like to look up from the second level.

Looking up

A little later, we took the elevator down to the first level. There we ate sandwiches we bought from a little cafe. We went to the post office and mailed some postcards and watched a short film about stunts performed on the Eiffel tower.

We also saw some exhibits about the history and facts of the Eiffel tower. One showed how the Eiffel tower bends slightly away from the sun as the sun heats one side more than another.

Just the boys

From the first level, we looked down in the center to see the lines which had since gotten a lot longer.

Ohhh! The lines

At about 2 pm, we finally descended to ground level.

Brooke and Tyler with Mr. Eiffel

Just the girls

We let the kids play at a nearby playground, then went grocery shopping and headed home for an early dinner.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:03 PM

August 12, 2007

Ratatouille, Frites, Vincennes, Sunday dinner

On Friday morning we decided to see the movie Ratatouille. We thought it would be fun to see it in Paris since it takes place here. We researched the English show times and took the metro to the theater. Unfortunately, we learned from the ticket office about a law in France that prohibits children under the age of three from being in movie theaters due to a risk of hearing loss. So Tiffany took Caleb back to the apartment and Scott, Brooke and Tyler watched the movie. They ate popcorn and lots of candy and had a great time.

There are ads for the movie in many metro stations since it just opened here on August 1st. The descriptions of the two rats translate as "Rat of the sewer" and "Rat of taste".


We often take out the garbage and recycling when leaving the apartment. Tyler and Brooke love carrying down the empty containers. We thought this was a good chance to show you our spacious elevator. Scott and Caleb don't usually ride in the elevator with the rest of the family because it is such a tight fit. Fortunately, it's only one flight of stairs.


Later, we went to the only Belgian french fry stand in Paris. Scott found it on the internet. It was fun to have twice cooked Belgian fries (frites) with Andalouse sauce to dip them in. We ate the fries at a park while the kids played.

Frites and Andalouse

On Saturday we decided to visit the Vincennes Castle. We saw this man in the metro station while we were changing trains. Tyler and Brooke liked the puppet so much that we even gave him some money.

Metro puppet (video)

Here are Scott, Caleb, Tyler and Brooke in the metro on line 1. We had to take this line all the way to the end to reach Vincennes Castle which is on the outskirts of Paris.


We arrived at Vincennes just in time for a guided tour. Unfortunately the tour was only in French, so Scott did his best to translate. The area started as a hunting lodge in about 1150 and then became a castle in the 13th century. It was expanded to how it mostly is now in the 14th century. This was a place where royal families could come and relax away from the city but still feel protected.

The castle complex has a church called a sainte chapelle, or holy chapel. We learned that it is a holy chapel instead of just a regular chapel because it once held Catholic relics.

Sainte Chapelle

The ramparts offered a nice view of both the castle complex and the surrounding areas of Paris suburbs and the remaining forest.


A donjon can be translated as a keep, as in the central part of a castle, or as a dungeon. The Vincennes donjon served as both. In the 18th century, people were imprisoned there without trial, mainly to keep their political views quiet.

Donjon de Vincennes

The castle of Vincennes has multiple layers of defenses. The donjon is surrounded by a moat and the entire castle grounds are surrounded by a fortified wall and another moat. The wall used to be as tall as the gate in the center of the picture below.

Vincennes Moat

On Sunday we had another enjoyable time in the Paris Ward. The Shurtleffs invited us over for dinner again and we had another wonderful meal and a great time visiting together.


Posted by sjbowden at 10:00 PM

August 9, 2007

Galeries Lafayette, Arc de Triomphe and Petit Palais

On Wednesday we decided to go shopping at Galeries Lafayette, a huge and beautiful department store that has been in operation for over one hundred years. There are seven floors of shopping, if you count the basement, and that is just for women's clothing, children's clothing, toys and the restaurants. Men's clothing and home furnishing are in different buildings.

We thought the glass dome was especially nice.

Galeries Lafayette dome

The main levels are off of the balconies.

Galeries Lafayette balconies

The toy store that takes up most of one floor is amazing. Just the Lego section had nearly every Lego set currently sold. Of course it was nearly impossible to drag the kids out of the toy department.

Here we are on the roof of Galeries Lafayette where we could see much of Paris. There is also an outdoor cafe on top of the store.

Roof of Galeries Lafayette

We had fun shopping in the Galeries Lafayette gourmet grocery store. We bought some fun treats and food for dinner.

On Thursday, we decided to visit Notre Dame. When we entered, there was singing and a picture hanging from the ceiling of a man in priestly robes. As we wandered through the church, we noticed that there was a coffin next to the altar. We soon discovered that we had stumbled into the public viewing of Cardinal Lustiger, the former Archbishop of Paris. Oops. It wasn't quite a mistake, but it sure was interesting. On leaving, we noticed that there were hourly services scheduled all day long.

As an interesting note, we found out later that Cardinal Lustiger was Jewish by birth. We watched part of his funeral on TV which included placing a jar of soil from the Mount of Olives on his coffin and a relative reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning.

Right next to Notre Dame is the Notre Dame archeological museum. It is underneath the plaza in front of Notre Dame. It was very interesting to see the ruins of old buildings and models of how the buildings were situated hundreds of years ago.

Notre Dame model

It was a good museum for the kids because they enjoyed looking at the models and the ruins.

Admiring the ruins

Next, we went to the Arc de Triomphe. We decided that we would brave climbing the stairs to the top of the monument. However, when we got to the front of the line, the employee looked at us with our three small children and sent us over to the elevator. We didn't even know there was an elevator. It sure was a lot easier (and faster) than the stairs.

Here is a rare picture of Scott and Caleb. Caleb, as usual, is asleep. We think he looks very cute with his little French hat.

On the Arc de Triomphe

Here is a panorama with the Champs-Élysées in the center and the Eiffel Tower to the far right.

Arc de Triomphe panorama

For some reason, Brooke and Tyler thought it was hilarious to hang from the bars of the telescope.

Silly kids

Next, we walked down the Champs-Élysées. We bought pain au chocolat to eat along the way. Tyler was very excited to go in the Peugeot store and even got to buy a matchbox car of the green Peugeot 307 we had in Israel. We also went in the Disney store but didn't stay long because it was very crowded and the kids wanted everything they saw.

Halfway down the Champs-Élysées, we saw a park and decided to stop and let the kids run around. They had a swing set, so Scott paid the 1 Euro per child to let the kids swing for 20 minutes. Brooke was in heaven since swinging is her favorite outdoor activity.

Pay to swing

Before we headed home, we wanted to take pictures of the Grand and Petit Palais (the Big and Little Palaces). We discovered that entrance to the Petit Palais is free, so we visited the art museum inside. It was fun to see Monet's impressionist painting of a sunset which is similar to his "Impression: Sunrise" painting.

Petit Palais

Posted by sjbowden at 10:28 PM

August 7, 2007

Monet's Giverny

On Tuesday, we went on a day trip to Giverny, where Monet lived and painted from 1883 until his death in 1926. Our train didn't leave until noon, so we took our time and relaxed in the morning.

This is the art installation outside the train station. Note that all of the clocks have different times. Pretty ironic for a train station.

Tyler and the clocks

Our train left from the Saint-Lazare train station. We thought that was appropriate because Monet painted it several times.

Gare Saint-Lazare

Here is the painting of the Saint-Lazare train station that is in the Orsay Museum in Paris.

Monet's Saint-Lazare

We arrived in Vernon 45 minutes after we departed Paris. From there we took a bus to Giverny. The train and bus schedules are coordinated to accommodate visits to Giverny.

We were a little disappointed by the weather. All morning it was beautiful and sunny. After we bought our tickets and went into the gardens, the sky turned overcast. It did make the temperature very comfortable though. We even had some light rain but fortunately it didn't last long.

Monet's garden

We were able to tour Monet's house. Brooke really liked it because it is pink.

Monet's house

Family in garden

Our favorite part of the visit was wandering around the water lily pond.

Water lilies

Kids in garden

Brooke on path

Posted by sjbowden at 10:53 PM

August 6, 2007

Saint Sulpice, Luxembourg Gardens and the Orangerie

On Friday, we decided to visit the church of Saint-Sulpice. It has become famous because some of The Da Vinci Code took place there. In the book and movie, the "Rose Line" runs through the church, and one of the villains breaks a hole in the floor looking for a clue to the Holy Grail.

In reality, there is no "Rose Line" and even the Paris Meridian Line is actually about 100 meters away. The obelisk and the brass line in the church were actually built to help determine when the spring equinox occurred so that the date of Easter Sunday could be calculated.

In the church there were posters with all sorts of warnings about The Da Vinci Code and how it was full of errors. We found it humorous that people have trouble understanding that it is a fictional novel.

Saint-Sulpice Rose Line (vertical panorama)

We thought the pulpit of Saint-Sulpice was impressive.

Pulpit of Saint Sulpice

After visiting the church we walked to the Luxembourg Gardens. It is a public park but is right next to the French Senate. Every year, the Senate members are given the fruit and honey that is produced in the gardens. The park is the largest in the city and is very nice.

In the park there is a fenced playground. It costs a couple of Euros to get in. We copied many of the other parents and opted to only pay for Brooke and Tyler and not for us. We sat in chairs outside of the playground and watched the kids through the fence.

Luxembourg playground

Here are Tiffany, Brooke and Tyler with the Luxembourg Palace and the fountain behind them.

Jardin du Luxembourg

On Friday night, Scott didn't feel very well. By Saturday morning, the only one who wasn't sick was Caleb. Fortunately we were all recovered by Saturday night. Scott wishes he could get a day of sick credit for his sabbatical.

On Sunday, we went to church. This time, at the request of Brooke and Tyler, we attended the English Sacrament meeting. We happened to meet two families who had lived in Israel. One family was in Israel with the US Embassy. The Shurtleffs were in Israel with the UN. They live in Paris and invited us over for dinner after church. We had a wonderful time chatting and eating good food.

On Monday morning, we had French toast. Contrary to what you may have heard, French toast really is French. They call it "pain perdu" or lost bread because you can make it after the bread has gone stale. Of course, we put Nutella on it.

French Toast

After breakfast, we went to the Orangerie. The Orangerie is a museum that contains enormous water lily paintings by Monet. We haven't been able to go in years past because the building was undergoing renovations. It took six years, four years longer than planned, to renovate the building, and the paintings stayed inside the whole time.


Monet designed the layout of the rooms himself. The first room is circular and entirely white. The next room is a large oval room with paintings of water lilies at sunrise and the last room is also an oval, with paintings of water lilies at dusk.

Tyler at the Orangerie

More Waterlilies

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called the Savoyard where we ate Raclette, one of our favorite French meals. Raclette is a special cheese that we melted over a burner and then poured over potatoes and sliced meats.

Eating Raclette

Posted by sjbowden at 10:48 PM

August 2, 2007

Monet Museum and the Jardin d'Acclimation

We have had several requests for more pictures of Caleb. This is a picture of Caleb at 6 weeks old. He is propped up in the corner of our apartment couch and is laughing.

Caleb laughing

He is a really good baby. He falls asleep almost as soon as Scott puts him in the baby carrier. Scott is the one who usually takes the pictures, so that is why there are very few pictures of Caleb. He usually sleeps through all of our sightseeing and just wakes up when he is hungry. He doesn't do as well at night, probably because he sleeps all day. He still gets up about 3 times during the night, so we often compensate by sleeping in. After all, we are on vacation.

On Wednesday we went to a large store called Carrefour. It is like a Wal-Mart or Super Target. It has food, books, music and things for the home. It is the same type of store we shopped at when we lived in Rennes, France. We had fun buying some of our favorite treats.

The nearest Carrefour is on the outskirts of the city, near Roland Garros, where the French Open is held. After shopping, we ate lunch at the park on top of the store. Our lunch included some of the wonderful things we bought at the store, such as a baguette, cheese, sausage and mini ice cream cones.

Later, we went to Les Halles, an area in Paris that has been a shopping district for over a thousand years. It now has a huge underground mall. For dinner the kids had McDonald's and we had sushi. This church is next to the park where we ate our dinner.

Saint Eustache

On Thursday morning, we went to the Marmottan Monet Museum. Monet's name has recently been added to the name of the museum, which is appropriate since the museum is mainly focused on Monet's works. The kids did surprisingly well at the museum. A couple in the museum saw that the kids were behaving very well and gave Brooke and Tyler one Euro each. Brooke used her Euro to buy an "Impression: Sunrise" multi-color crayon, and Tyler used his to buy an "Impression: Sunrise" bouncy ball.

Marmottan Monet Museum

We rewarded the kids for being so good by letting them play at a nearby playground.


We ate a small lunch with a large dessert of French pastries at a cafe and then went to the Bois de Boulogne. It is one of two sections that remain of the forest that used to encircle Paris. Inside there is a combination playground/amusement park. We paid extra for our park admission so we could ride the little train into the park.

Amusement park train

The highlight of the Jardin d'Acclimation for Brooke was to swing on the swingset. She loves to swing and is disappointed that while many French parks have play structures, they rarely have swings. The only other swings we have found are old fashioned double swings that you have to pay to use for a set amount of time.

Brooke gets to swing

Tyler loved this sand digger.


Tiffany was thrilled to have some "barbe à papa" or cotton candy. She thinks that no trip to an amusement park would be complete without it.

Cotton Candy

Posted by sjbowden at 10:27 PM