A few notes from our first few days in Paris! Again, apologies for the lack of amazing pictures, but I promise I’ll make up for it later.
Day 1: Our first day in Paris was a busy blur of walking and sightseeing. We started out with Notre Dame Cathedral. A month or so ago, I started to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame in hoped that it would fully enlighten my visit to the cathedral. Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly dense read, and I didn’t get past the first few chapters, so my visit remained un-enlightened. But still nice.
We also came face to face with the fact that Parisians leave the city for holidays in August and tourists come instead. So you’re basically rubbing elbows with a million of your closest loud, confused, non-French speaking friends. Who all want to see Notre Dame at the same time you do.
The rest of the afternoon we spent wandering through the Latin Quarter, oohing at Saint Chappelle (below), imagining the French Revolution at the old prison, and resting our tired feet at a cafe.
I wore a dress and a hat today, so that when we strolled the Champs-Élysées I would look tres elegant. We started out at the Arc de Triomphe, in the center of the biggest roundabout in the world with 12 streets streaming from it. After feeling dutifully triumphant we proceeded to promenade down the lane along with all the ladies with pearls and small dogs. Pretending we were rich, we spent some time looking at Cartier and Louis Vuitton before getting two hot dogs and a Fanta to share on a park bench. Eh, we weren’t kidding anyone.
Next stop was the Louvre, which we only went to because of the museum pass we had, allowing us to skip the line. I think we might have set the record for the shortest amount of time in the Louvre. It was crowded and hot, and completely overwhelming. We paid our respects to the overpopular Mona Lisa, took a peek at a Vermeer they have, and proceeded to my favorite, the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
I fell in love with this sculpture the first time I was at the Louvre, and it’s just as amazing this time! It helps that it’s at the top of a flight of stairs, high above you, and perfectly framed by the arches. Beautiful.
Day 3: We began the day at Pere Lachaise Cemetery, where bigshots like Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, and even Jim Morrison are buried. My favorite was the tomb of Heloise and Abelard, who lived tragic a tragic love story in the 12th century involving an illicit affair, passionate love letters, and a castration. At least they are buried together, at last.
Next up we tested out the Velib system of bikes. A public rental program, Velibs are scattered around the city at various stations, and you can rent them one place, ride to your destination and drop it off. The first half hour is free, which is even better. We bought a pass online and used it with no problem, and were soon cycling down the boulevards of Paris! I was actually surprised at how easy it was– most of the bike lanes are protected and separated from traffic, making for a breezy, simple ride along the Seine. Highly recommended.
We ended the day by walking around Montmartre and pointing out Amelie locations. Tomorrow, who knows??
One week until we arrive in Amsterdam! It’s slowly sinking in that this is more than a short vacation. We’re not going home anytime soon…