However, my impressions of Paris changed a bit when we took a tour of the city. We walked around the city for 4 ½ hours (for free!) with a funny, more than likely gay tour guide from the United States who had spent the last two years working on his graduate degree in Paris. He showed us as much of the city as he could in four hours and then invited us to go to a mom and pop Parisian café. We had a lot of tasty food, for relatively (compared to the other restaurants, where most meals are 25 euro) little money. I had a delicious cheese sandwich thing, shared a meat and cheese platter, and had a glass of wine for 11 euro. I was stuffed for the day and that was a late lunch doubling as dinner, too! The restaurant owners were very nice, but spoke little English so our tour guide had to order for us. He then led us to the correct metro line to get to our next destination, where all of the shopping was. Needless to say, we tipped him as generously as three broke college students on a trip to Paris could afford.
The main reason we went to the shopping center was to buy a pair of pajama bottoms for myself (I forgot to pack mine) and a pair of socks for Ginger because her socks were soaking wet from the constant drizzle we enjoyed all day. Canvas shoes + rain=very cold, wet socks. We also went to the Lafayette mall, which has pretty much every high dollar designer brand imaginable. It was weird seeing them all in the same mall. However, we just mostly window shopped because designer clothes only come in designer prices. The mall was all decked out for Christmas, inside and out. Then we walked to Moulin Rouge before retiring to bed.
Day two in Paris was spent going inside some of the museums and churches. We started at Notre Dame. It cost 5 euro to climb to the top of Notre Dame, but I got in for free posing as an Irish student (a citizen of the European Union) under the age of 26. I saw the sign saying EU citizens can go in for free and gave them the card I had to get in order to register with immigration in Ireland. All they saw was my birth date and Ireland and they waived me through free of charge. However, once I got to the top of Notre Dame (after 400+ steps), I decided that it would have been worth the five euro if my guise had not worked. There were dozens of quite interesting gargoyles lining the catwalk. I loved them. Then we went to see the bell of Notre Dame, which Quasimodo would have rung. It was pretty sweet!
After Notre Dame we went to San Chapel, which is supposed to be beautiful with an alter surrounded in gorgeous stained glass. Unfortunately, they had covered most of it while they were restoring the building. I felt cheated out of both my time and money.
Next we went to the Louvre, which was about to close. We only had 30 minutes to find the Mona Lisa (the only reason most people go to the Louvre) and to look around. Thankfully, my European Union citizen trick worked again and we got in for free. Another 7 euro saved! We found the Mona Lisa and then through the windows of the building we saw a beautiful Parisian sunset. It was wonderful.
We then walked along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Triumph. We were running a little low on our budgeted cash in Paris so we thought it would be funny to have McDonald’s under the Eiffel Tower. It really hit the spot, and it’s ok because we were having French fries in France (even though French fries came from Belgium as we found out on a previous trip). Paris at night is wonderful with all of the lights. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a November evening than by the Eiffel Tower eating McDonald’s and watching all of the people.
Then, we left for the Arc De Triomphe. I stopped at the coolest automated bathroom ever where it sterilized the place after every use and had a super neat automated sink. And the toilet was free! You can’t ask for anything better than that.
Arc de Triomphe was cool because it is surrounded by a huge roundabout. 12 major roads intersect at this roundabout and neither your car insurance nor your health insurance covers you or your car in this area. There are not any marked lanes or traffic lights, so dodging traffic is out of the question. Thankfully there is an underground tunnel that takes you underneath the arc. We tried the European Union citizen trick again, but failed this time and decided going directly underneath the arc wasn’t worth 5 euro, so we walked through the tunnel to the other side. We spent the rest of the evening window shopping at all of the closed shops along the road leading up to the arc before going to bed for our early flight the next morning. Overall, we had a brilliant time, but there were many things that we missed in Paris, which turned out to be a quite lovely city at night. I hope someday to return to spend the amount of time in this city that it deserves.
|This bridge is lined by faces of different people|
|You put you and your lover's initials on a lock and lock it to the fence. Then you throw the key into the river, forever sealing your love.|
|Allegedly the world's first greenhouse. It has oranges in it.|
|I don't think this one needs a caption|
|This is where hundreds of people lost their heads to the guillotene|
|Cheese with my wine!|
|The Galleries Lafayette shopping mall|
|Inside the Galleries Lafayette|
|Inside the mall again|
|All these "presents" were hanging from the ceiling|
|Moulin Rouge (obviously). Crazy street!|
|I guess this is what French people think we wear in Indiana.|
|The large organ in Notre Dame (I wanted a better picture, but mass was going on and we weren't allowed to use flash)|
|A model of Notre Dame|
|Walking up the 400+ steps to the top!|
|I think this gargoyle is dreaming about a Parisian romance|
|A view of Paris from the top of Notre Dame|
|The Parisian skyline|
|There's my boyfriend!|
|ok, so I really liked the gargoyles|
|About to take flight (wait, he doesn't have any wings!)|
|I'm getting ready to walk up the belltower|
|Ginger climbing up the belltower|
|I found the bell, but no Quasimodo|
|An elephant, and I don't know what that other one was|
|Heading back down|
|The floor of San Chapel|
|San Chapel stained glass windows. They tell the story of the Bible.|
|This keeps people out of some sort of government building.|
|Inside the pyramid entrance to the Louvre|
|In the Louvre|
|Ok, so I found the building more interesting than most of the art. I saw very similar artwork in Rome, so I was pretty sick of this style.|
|This picture does not do this sunset any justice at all|
|I liked this room, but most of it was roped off.|
|Underneath the Eiffel Tower (Megan has a lot of the other Eiffel Tower pictures, so I will put them up when she uploads them to facebook)|
|Arc de Triomphe|
|This means "walk under the street to the Arc de Triomphe", lol.|
|Aaaaaahhhh, Harry Potter! They had to wait longer than we did in Dublin to see it. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to see it still. Too much travelling!|