The itinerary for our last day in Paris was pretty simple: visit the Palais-Royal and Galerie Vivienne, meet a friend for lunch, and visit a museum. Thankfully, it was that simple because I had no idea what a hit the Palais-Royal was going to be with my daughter. If you ask her, riding the carousel was her favorite part about visiting Paris, but I know it actually was running around the Colonnes de Buren in the courtyard of the Palais-Royal.
I could hardly blame her, because what child doesn't like a playground that isn't actually a playground? While the striking black and white columns and beautiful surrounding facades might make for a photographer's dream (and whoa, were there a lot of photoshoots going on), the varied heights of the columns and wide open space are a dream-come-true for a kid. We couldn't get her to stop running the lengths of the rows, climbing up and jumping down from each column. If someone was in her way (e.g. a photographer waiting for everyone else to get out of his way), she stood and stared and politely shouted "Excuse me!" There was no stopping her. So while she had her fun, I had some fun of my own with the beautiful symmetry.
When we were finally able drag my daughter away with the promise of chocolate, we explored the rest of the gardens and the beautiful arcades, on our way to Galerie Vivienne. We paused along the way to watch a man play boules.
Galerie Vivienne. How this was my first visit to this beautiful place is beyond me. It is sublime. The shops and restaurants are impeccable. The tiled floors, beautiful. And at Christmas, the decor was my favorite in all of Paris: simple and classy. This place is a dream.
And after a lovely lunch with an old friend of ours from America, we made one last stop: Le musée de Gustave Moreau. While the entire museum is a fascinating tour through one man's art, home, and studio, I came to see one piece and one piece only.
The staircase that links the two floors of the atelier is a cast-iron spiral piece of art. Go to see Moreau's fascinating take on biblical symbolism, stay to stare at this masterpiece.
It had been a simple day, but after a delicious dinner at Marcel, we were exhausted and called it an early night. I rose early the next morning to head out for one last peak at the city before we hopped on the EuroStar for home.
Montmartre did not disappoint me, showing off with a gorgeous sunrise and near-empty streets on an early Sunday morning. It's my favorite time to get out and explore a city - just as it is waking up.
We leave Europe in two months, and I don't know when I'll be back to Paris again. I'm hoping it's not too long. It has been a part of my travel diary since I was a teenager, and I hope my adventures in this special city continue to fill the pages of journals (and my camera's memory card) long into the future.