I know there are plenty of photographers who go on holidays with just a point and shoot or an iphone. With regularly spending so much time lugging around a big camera and all the lenses involved, the idea of a vacation with that same camera can feel like a bit much. However, I reasoned why in the world would I not bring my good camera when I am going to FRANCE??? Fortunately I had a loving husband who kindly carried the camera bag for me about 80% of the time (hoorah for a camera bag which didn't look too girly so he was willing!). I did thin out what we brought along all day to my 5d mark ii and my 24-70 mm which is rather heavy but it was super versatile. Here are some of my previous posts if you missed any and are interested:

PARIS {PART ONE} MARKET TOUR AND COOKING CLASS

PARIS {PART 2} NOTRE DAME AND SHAKESPEARE AND CO. BOOKSTORE

PARIS {PART 3} THE SEINE

One of the most amazing parts of this anniversary trips with Ben was waking up everyday and asking "What should we do today?" It feels like most of our life right now is scheduled and dictated by work and kids' schedules that it was such a luxury just to hang out together. We usually got ready in our teeny, tiny bathroom, took the elevator downstairs where we turned in our key to the concierge and then wandered over to our favorite bakery. We'd walk in to a sunny, "Bonjour" from the beaming girls who worked there and order our pastries and our cafe creme. Then we'd head out for our adventures. We did end up doing a lot each day and walked miles because, after all, we were in Paris to experience as much as we could.

We found that we loved being in Paris in the springtime. The flowering trees, the great temperate weather, the climate on the streets were all so inviting. We took a walk through the fragrant Marché aux Fleurs (flower market) on the Ile de la Cité which is one of the biggest flower markets in Paris. There were some flowers that I wasn't familiar with but largely with a similar climate, they grow much of the same foliage as we do.

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I have to say, Ben is so flexible and completely game to look at anything that interests me. I appreciate that.

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Right near there was the Louvre. Now before I went to Paris, I had said that I really wanted to walk around and eat but the museums were not nearly as important to me. Well, I bit my tongue when I saw the grandeur of the Louvre. I knew it was large and the biggest collection of art in the Western world but I had no idea it was all housed in a royal palace which took 800 years to build. We walked the courtyard and then decided to head back the next day to see the art.

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I did a little set-the-timer-run-into-the-picture-to-kiss-my baby action.

 

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The Louvre houses art in three different huge wings of the palace: Sully, Richelieu and Denon. They are all ginormous and filled with masterpieces.

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So the next day was the first Sunday of the month, free day at the museums....yay! Though, I have to say, the rates to get in are very affordable at other times. We headed off to walk to the Louvre from our hotel after stopping by one of our favorite bakeries for some lovely quiche. I made Ben take profile pictures to see which one of us screamed, "TOURIST!!!" I believe it was the man in the bright red jacket whose wife later walked him through H &M and made him buy a new jacket.

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Here's one of the few pictures I have of us together. I figured if the nice Russian lady I handed it to, took off at a dead run with my camera, I had a good chance of running her down and tackling her in the pyramid entrance.

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We darted right up to the Mona Lisa and I was highly amused at how that tiny painting as already crowded at the beginnning of the day, enclosed in bullet proof glass with security guards nearby.

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What was astonishing to us was the amount of art that was so easily accessible through the museum. Art hundreds of years old was right there that we could walk right up to, without security guards breathing down our necks.

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There I am!

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There's nothing new under the sun, is there? Ben and I laughed at this "Peeping Tom" portrait.

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We focused mainly on the Italian, Greek, French and Dutch art.

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The palace itself was a work of art.

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Images that feel so familiar, ones we'd seen in books and prints our whole lives were right there. It was pretty awesome.

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Ha.

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Then out the back of the Louvre and we were in the amazing Tuileries Gardens. The broad expanses of grass, statues, flowering trees were so beautiful.

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We kept on going and found ourselves on La Place de la Concorde, where many royalty were guillotined at the square, notably Marie Antoinette after her "Let them eat cake!" comment didn't go over so well during the French Revolution.

 

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We snagged out our trusty map and figured since we were now on the Champs Elysee, we may as well keep going. It was such a busy street, packed with pedestrians and lined with shops. We marched along, with bits of a view of the Arc de Triomphe ahead that spurred us on.

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It was huge and impressive and busy. So much history is packed into each monument.

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Could I have married a more perfect guy for me? I think not :). He carried that camera bag like a trooper. We were pretty tired by this point and began walking back and later figured that we'd walked about six or seven miles that day.

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Another of our favorite walks was the Luxembourg Gardens, just a lovely place to walk and enjoy in Paris. We loved how clean it was and how well maintained the public gardens and areas were. It's interesting how task driven we are at times and watching the Parisians linger over meals and sit and enjoy the beauty was a good reminder to us to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

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There were hundreds of chairs available to just sit and enjoy how beautiful it was.

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We've been already talking about how we can twist Oma and Opa's arms into watching the kids so we can do this again. It was heavenly to have this time!

Next to come on the Paris series....the FOOD and walking the streets, some of my very favorite parts!!!

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