a weekend in paris: the louvre and chartier restaurant

Ahhh (that was a contented sigh)....I'm in love with Paris...

We went to Paris for the weekend and met up with Trev's cousin, who is an exchange student in a nearby city.  I loved everything about it, our whole weekend was amazing.  We stayed in the Saint Germain area, which seemed to be a good neighborhood to set off exploring from.  

(a little side note: I literally took hundreds of photos, so it's really hard to choose which ones to share!) 

On Saturday morning we headed towards the Musée du Louvre, bright and early.  I always love getting up early and walking around when I'm travelling.  You get to see a different side of a city in the morning stillness.  We were trying to find a cafe or bakery along the way, but I guess 8am on Saturday is too early for most places.  We eventually found a little cafe, but it was right beside the Louvre, so prices were steep.  

After breakfast we found the Carousel du Louvre entrance, which made getting in so much faster - there was barely any line, we just walked right in.  I was so excited to visit the Louvre, but I was also floored by the enormity.  The building, the collections, everything was just so vast.  We knew we would only be able to see a fraction of the museum, so we each picked something we wanted to see.

Our first destination was the Mona Lisa, so we could see it with as little crowd as possible.  I'm not going to deny that the Mona Lisa is beautiful...but I just don't see what all the fuss is about.  There are so many other DaVinci paintings that are equally beautiful, but maybe they don't have the same mystique that she does.  Next we headed off to see the Egyptian antiquities (while enjoying everything we saw along the way).  The Egyptian gallery was pretty neat, especially the mummy.  After that we went to see the Greek and Roman sculptures.  We stopped to pay a little visit to the Venus de Milo and I loved Canova's Cupid Awakening Psyche.  The detail and luminosity of the white marble always enthral me.  After seeing all of these amazing things we were all feeling a bit "art-ed out" and it was time for some lunch.

grumpy face with the Easter Island head

grumpy face with the Easter Island head

face made entirely of vegetables - yay food!

face made entirely of vegetables - yay food!

the Venus de Milo

the Venus de Milo

The mummy was beautiful and creepy all at the same time.  The hands freaked me out a bit.

The mummy was beautiful and creepy all at the same time.  The hands freaked me out a bit.

Gilt everything...I love gooooold

Gilt everything...I love gooooold

Cupid & Psyche - so beautiful and graceful

Cupid & Psyche - so beautiful and graceful

I had tried my best to research some good restaurants before we went, so that we wouldn't end up wasting time and money at strictly "touristy" places.  One of the restaurants that I had bookmarked was Chartier - a Montmartre neighbourhood restaurant that has been open since 1896.  The entrance is tucked into a little courtyard, and we were lucky to be the first people waiting in line - a huge line formed behind us just after we arrived.  The interior of Chartier was bursting with character: first of all, it was much larger inside than I had expected.  The tables were squeezed in close to each other and the room hummed with activity as the waiters and waitresses zipped around the room.

The table was covered with white paper, where our waitress wrote down our order.  The menu was very reasonably priced.  I decided to have one of the daily specials, beef bourguignon noir and Trev and Brenna both had the steak & frites au poivre.  Trev and I also shared a tomato-cucumber salad and a bottle of wine.

My beef bourguignon was really tasty, the meat was so tender, but unfortunately the macaroni noodles it was served with were overcooked.  Trev said his steak was good, especially the pepper sauce, but it was a bit tough compared to what we would eat at home (we're super spoiled with Alberta beef).

Of course we had to order dessert, so I picked the baba au rhum, which ended up being a lot stronger with rum than I had expected!  Overall the meal was fantastic - it was such a fun place to eat and the food was excellent value.  Now it must be said that Chartier isn't exactly "undiscovered" - there were plenty of tourists (like ourselves) there, but it still felt authentic and I wouldn't hesitate to return or recommend Chartier to others.