The final stop on our European vacation was Le Havre, in the Normandy region of France. Our ship docked in this port which is situated along an estuary to the river Seine. The Port of Le Havre is a fair distance from a number of beautiful and important places with great historical value. So, once again, choices had to be made as to where we wanted to spend those precious few hours for sightseeing. For me, there was no deliberation, I wanted to spend my time in Paris. Our family had the great fortune to spend a week in France back in 2009. We rented an apartment on the left bank and took our leisurely time exploring the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, L’Arc de Triomphe and Versailles, to name a few. I felt no pressure to revisit any of these amazing sights, instead I could have a leisurely stroll around this amazing city, have lunch and revisit some of our favorite spots from eight years ago. The rest of my family wanted a new experience and chose to visit the Beaches of Normandy, which was another wonderful choice!
So we all got up early and headed out to our respective buses for the 2.5 hour ride to Normandy, or the 3 hour ride to Paris! Along the way our tour guide narrated what we could expect from the 3 1/2 hours that we would have to explore the city on our own. Right away there were many tourist who were unhappy to learn that they could not see even a small fraction of the sights available to them. I guess they really believed that they could go up the Eiffel Tower, tour the Louvre, shop along the Champs d’Elysees, hit Notre Dame, have lunch in a French Bistro and make it back to the coach for the 3 hour ride back to the ship. I felt bad for some of them as this was their first time in Paris, but I am sure they figured it out!
The bus dropped us off near the Boulevard du Paris Boulevard du Palais near the Île de la Cité. Right away, I knew where I was!
As you can see it was a gorgeous day in Paris! Actually a little too hot, but I stuck to my plan. I would set out on foot and follow the Seine until I reached Notre Dame. This impressive church is free to the public and is as stunning on the outside as it is inside. Which meant that if the line was too long, I would still get to see some amazing sights! As I started walking and I came across the Point Alexander III bridge. This is something to behold!
My favorite bridge in all of Paris.
As I continued the long walk, there were incredible visions everywhere I looked.
I spotted the Batobus de Paris several times. This is a great way to take in the sights, particularly on a sunny day like this one. One can hop on or off at various points of interest. Our guide recommended this for our group today as a means of taking a lot of pictures from the outside of the various attractions.
A gorgeous government building here, that I don’t remember the name!
After several miles, I saw the cathedral, it was just as grande as I remembered!
As I suspected, there was a tremendous line to get in so I toured the surrounding property and gardens.
By now, I was tired, hungry and my neck hurt from looking up! I knew there was a little bistro nearby that served wonderful crepes. My daughter and I ate there often eight years ago and I wanted to find the same place for lunch.
It took a few trips around the block, but finally I found it!
They also served the best gelato here, which we had many, many times!
While I waited for my lunch I had water, which was served in a wine glass of course! So French!
I ordered caramelized apples with vanilla crepes (minus the whipped cream) and a cappuccino. Scrumptious! But a cardboard cut out would taste fabulous along the Seine!
After feasting, and checking the clock (can’t miss my bus!) I decided to start back toward the Champs d’Elysees. But, when I turned the corner there was no line for entrance to Notre Dame. I had to capitalize on this good fortune and went in.
There was a service in session so I wanted to be respectful.
These stone carvings always amaze me-how did they do this so long ago?
The precision and detail is astounding.
I am not a religious person but always find it humbling to visit this special, ancient cathedral. And, I can’t help but think of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.
Now I really did need to head back to the area near our coach. I took a few more shots along the way.
Do you recognize this bridge? It’s the famous one for lovers to place padlocks along the railing. Recently, the city asked for this practice to stop due to the sheer weight of the locks on the structure. Doesn’t look like anyone is listening!
I guess I am a faster walker than I realized because I did have time to head over to the Champs d’Elysees after all. I was not interested in shopping but wanted to look at some bakeries. This is Paris!
I found this really cute bakery/bistro on the corner. There was a monstrous line inside so my shots are taken around the tourists.
It all looked so tempting, but no, I didn’t get anything from this store. I did find a much less crowded “mini Bistro” that had take away food (as they call it). I bought a toasted Croque Monsieur for the bus ride back to the ship. The french baguette was worth the price alone! Amazing!
It was a very long day (I walked 7+ miles in some high temps) but I was so happy with my time there that it might have been my favorite stop of the whole trip. I rode away knowing that I did not need to return to see all that I missed. Well, except for L’Arc de Triomphe. It was at the other end of the Champs d’Elysees so I only got a glimpse-I will leave you with that.
If you are interested in the previous ports of call, you can check out what we saw in:
Dublin and Belfast, Ireland
Greenock, Invergordon and Queensferry Scotland
Next up: Kauai, Hawaii!