In La Defense

Literally. For dinner. At Chipotle. With Cindy as she emerged from work.  La Defense is the tech sector section of Paris about 8-10 Metro stops from the heart of Paris. Think of it as Ballantyne to Charlotte or Buckhead to Atlanta. Cool role reversal – I’m not sure I have ever met her with our three kids after she’s finished work.

Allow me to revisit Chipotle for a moment. After a few days of bread, cheese and fruit across all meals we were looking for some much needed variety. Yes, even me. Not variety like snails and not variety like eating something different over a 3.5 hour butt-sweating seating. Just something simple. Tasty. Reasonably healthy. Fast. And then we saw it. Like the Mona Lisa across a crowded room of tourists taking selfies. I swear a light from heaven was shining on it. Done deal. Chipotle Management aside:  You should know that food quality at this new store was right on par.  Speed was French-like but friendliness was top of the charts good. Well done C-team. I’m sure we should feel some guilt for Americaning out on this meal but it was exactly what we needed after another marathon day of touristing about the City of Lights. 

After a ver late night we mostly took the morning off getting out of the apartment just before noon. The temperatures were better, somewhat helped by the cloud cover. We descended the 80 circular interior steps from our 4th story apartment and opened the two sets of secured heavy wooden doors to the street. The cost of forgetting something in the apartment is high. Sunscreen was the man down today. We powered on thanks again to the early cloud cover and Dad’s promise to seek out shade. 

Our first stop was the Louvre for the 48 minute Rick Steves’ tour via pre-downloaded podcast.  But not before Will’s daily ritual of a croissant selfie. 


Will lead us like a champ. Greeks, Romans, Italian painters, sculptors, French painters and done. Took about 90 minutes but a power tour given the immensity of the museum. Note the cool elevator rising behind the kids. 

Venus De Milo in all of her balanced grandeur.   
Augustus – the last of the rising Roman emporers. Sorry Rome, all downhill after this one…

Then the hall that honors the French Renaissance inclusive of Napolean’s crowns and all of the greats during the Renaissance. A who’s who of the French in their heyday.   Stewart liked this room. She said it had mojo and swagger. 
And then, Mona. Ms. Jaconde.   So peaceful, right? Sit in a quiet room and contemplate whether she’s smiling, smirking, whatever, right?  

Or not so much…seriously people. Why all the selfies with Mona? She’s a painting. You can Google her anytime and see her. Dearest phone makers: you may have ruined the world. Not sure just yet. Back when I have confirmed.  

 Alright…you’d take a picture of a little man this cute too, right?  He scratched and clawed to see her from the front. Easily a 15 minute commute of all smells imaginable to get there. He’s a trooper. I’m merely his photo journalist. 

 Then to Will’s favorite picture. He says it captured Napolean’s ego perfectly. Not even the Pope was worthy of putting his crown on him.  Spot on, Will. Spot on. 
Then the Michaelangelo sculptures. Not quite his David, but pretty darn good. Apparently some of his best body work per Rick Steves.  We also learned he didn’t spend much time on the faces because the beauty was in the body.   

Ahhh…a much needed rest. We learned today that neither the Louvre, nor the mall offers much in the way of seating. Keeps people moving (and in the case of the mall, buying).  I also reconfirmed that malls make me sad. So much wandering hoping to find something to buy. Seems like looking for happiness they might not find. But. I. Digress.   
We are now moving through the Tuilleries (think pretty huge gardens). I’m pushing lunch to the limit (again). Let the pigeon counting begin. Charlie made it to 150 pigeons counted today including the last picture below from the mall. A new record high for pigeons seen in one day. I also learned a flying pigeon doesn’t count. It should also be noted that the last shot in this post was taken sitting behind the elevator – cause sitting is not why we are here, right?  

Lunch in front the Musee D’ Orangerie. More hot dogs in good bread (and a Cherry Pie Larabar for me).   Apparently even hot dogs are great in French bread. 


Place de la Concorde. Lots of monuments, cars and the Tour de France seating being assembled (I CANT WAIT!!!). In Paris, museums under construction get pretty decent facades to fake like they aren’t. Ooh la la. 

The “Orange Museum” is filled with great impressionist paintings. Think Monet and Renoir. And air conditioning. And our Charlotte friends who we ran into again today. I swear Paris is a huge city. 


Then over the Pont (bridge) to quickly run through Napolean’s tomb. This is officially the cheap side of me wearing out my kids to squeeze the last bit of value out of our 2-day museum pass. A grande total of 5 pass uses totaling 89 Euros of entries (kids under 18 are free to most museums) when the pass only cost me 42 Euros!  Stick it Paris museums…I won!  I know, it’s a sickness. Sorry kids. 

 The “modest” altar above Napoleon’s tomb. Ridiculous ego on this man. Just ridiculous.  I have no idea why he had so many enemies. 

 We made it!  To La Defense and the Grande Arch (that’s the arch above us) to meet mom!  No lost kids today. Yea Dad!  And we get our second set of eyes back tomorrow. Yea, Mom!  

My friend the 5-toed pigeon in one of the few seats in this mall. Why are we even in this mall?!?  Oh yeah, Stewart wants to buy a French outfit for school. Bad news for her, they look like the American ones. Please don’t break this news to her. 

 By the by…these are the biggest trend over here besides the high-waisted jeans (sorry, they are actually coming back). Get them now and be uber hip in the Carolinas.  

Questions the kids asked today (the ones for which Dad had no answer):

  1. Why are the Mexican and French flags flying together on the Champs-élysées? Answer: visiting Mexican dignitary. 
  2. Who lived in the Louvre when it was a palace? Answer: Francois the 1st until Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles. 
  3. How did Napoleon die? Answer: Stomach cancer after being exiled to Helena. Some believe he was poisoned. 
  4. Why do they call it the Museum Orangerie (Orange Museum)? Answer:  The building was originally built to shelter the Orange trees of the Tuilleries during the long Parisian winters. 

Au Revoir. 


One thought on “In La Defense

  1. Love reading about your adventures! Jason, you are really a talented writer! You all have given me a great smile for each day! Luv you all!

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