Well, I’m currently zipping through the French countryside as I write this (same with the DLP post, actually). We’re traveling at around 120-150mph on the train to Lausanne. We spent a day in Paris yesterday, starting with allowing ourselves to sleep in a bit until 9am. I should note that, because DH is running a marathon the week after we get back to the US, he has been running almost every day that we’ve been here. I, on the other hand, have been lazy, mainly because my feet have been screaming as is at the end of each day.
There’s not much to remark on during the day. We rode the Metro between attractions. We had lunch at a creperie near our hotel before leaving for the day, and we had a snack at a bakery in mid-afternoon. For the snack, DH got a caramel butter (Caramel Beurre) ice cream, and I got a chocolate tartlet. Both snacks were yummy. Every meal in Paris came with little chunks of French bread (but no butter or dipping oil), and the bread was always very fresh and enjoyable. We had croissants the morning of our DLP day, and that was delicious.
We started at Pont Neuf, the ironically named oldest bridge in Paris. I had purchased tickets for us to take a boat ride on the Seine from Pont Neuf, but we had a little over an hour before the next departure. We noticed hundreds of locks attached to the grates of the bridge, and we later learned that lovers attach a lock to the bridge and throw the key in the river. Sadly, we did not bring a lock with us. Even if we did, it probably would have been a combination lock. Also, DH said, “That bridge isn’t going anywhere.”
Next, we walked on the farther quay (street) to Notre Dame, but we saw several buildings along the way that were pretty. Our intent was to stop at St. Chappelle, but it was closed when we were there. Notre Dame was probably the second most crowded place we visited (the first being the Eiffel Tower), but it was still nice and open inside. I really liked the stained glass, and we found it interesting that at least some of the stained glass windows could be opened. DH said it reminded him of Temple Israel (in Detroit) because of the stained glass…well, obviously, the presence of Jesus was much greater at Notre Dame than Temple Israel, but that goes without saying. We decided not to go up to the top of Notre Dame mainly because it’s all stairs, no lifts, and I was quite tired of climbing stairs all the time. Being as we had a busy day, we didn’t want to take the time to do it for a view that would probably be better from the Eiffel Tower anyways.
We walked back to the dock at Pont Neuf to get on a boat. Well, first, I stole a poop from the French. There was a toilet there, and there was a woman who was collecting Euros for using the bathroom. I had no Euros, and I just pretended to be oblivious American and trotted on into the bathroom to do my business. She said nothing to me, and I said nothing to her, and that was that. DH wanted to buy a soda at the snack bar, but they did not take credit cards. Because of the fees and penalties for changing money, we had avoided changing money over to Euros. I had argued before our trip that we should at least change over a small amount into Euros, as that’s both a relatively common currency (3 of the 7 countries we’d be visiting) and the currency we’d be paying our hotel bill in Venice in (we had pre-paid everywhere else). DH wanted to avoid it, and so now I got the rare chance to say, “I told you so.” Sadly, I don’t know how to say it in French.
The boat tour (with Vedettes de Pont Neuf) was a really nice way to see the city in an hour, and I do recommend it. The tour guide said everything once in French and once in English, and we got to see many buildings and monuments from the water, as well as the decorations on the bridges that wouldn’t have been visible from land. Also, the boat was decorated with trellises covered in flowers as well as live flowers and plants, so it was very nice looking. We saw the smallest building in Paris, the restaurant that Ratatouille took place at (the guide noted it as such), and we saw things like the Musee d’Orsee.
After the boat ride, we headed back across the river to walk through the Louvre complex and through the Jardins de Tuileries. I took lots of pictures of the Louvre. We didn’t stop in the Louvre because a) there was no way we’d have time to see everything and b) the highlights that are the must-sees didn’t interest us very much. I’d seen the Mona Lisa before, and Chicago’s Museum of Art has a huge impressionist collection. I know lots of people probably think we’re crazy, but neither one of us are all that into art. Walking the city was far more interesting to us, and that’s what we did. We walked to the Place de la Concorde, which has an obelisk that came from the Luxor (pyramid, not casino). Then, we got on the train to Franklin D. Roosevelt station, which is on the Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe. We walked up the street, window shopping a bit. We also had our snack along there. When we got to the Arc, there was some kind of remembrance service in progress, with older men (veterans?) in uniform with musical instruments.
It was another brief Metro ride to the Eiffel Tower. We walked around a half mile to the Eiffel Tower and got our tickets to the 2nd floor. (The Tower has three floors. The first floor is just above ground level, kind of. The second floor is just a bit above that. The third floor is at the top. You have to buy tickets to the 2nd floor to then buy tickets to the 3rd floor.) There were so many people already signed up to go to the top that we were not likely to be able to buy tickets. The view from the 2nd floor was still spectacular, though. Aside from the thrill of going to the top, I don’t think we missed much.
By the time we got down, it was 6:45pm, and we knew they did a light show on the tower at 8pm (and every hour thereafter), so we walked about halfway back toward the Metro and found a cafe for dinner. We also bought postcards so that we could write and prepare them during dinner. For dinner, I had spaghetti bolognaise (it was the special of the day), and DH had saucisses frites, which turned out to be hot dogs and french fries. 🙂 Then, we found a nice cut through near the cafe that let us get to a grassy area near the tower, away from the crowds and vendors. We plopped down in the grass to watch the show. I have a really good video of the show that I’ll upload once we’re back home. (It turns out that Android doesn’t recognize AVI, and my camera records in AVI. So, I can’t get my EeePad Transformer to do anything with the videos I recorded.)
We knew we had an early morning the next day for our train, so we headed straight back to the hotel to pack and prepare. I have to say that Paris didn’t leave me with the desire to come back the way London did. London felt much more comfortable, and Paris felt much more uppity. I also liked London’s underground far more than Paris’ metro. In fairness, though, we skipped probably many of the things that others would see as a reason to come back. We didn’t go to any of the sights outside of Paris (like Versailles) that were possible.