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paris through pictures (and a few hundred words)

April 22, 2008

Last week’s post marked a small win in the battle against firewalls and spyware but I’m still losing the war when it comes to timely posting.

So. I guess I’ll start catching everyone up by (finally) finishing my Paris post.

Paris. It was pretty okay. Better than okay. Pretty amazing, actually.

Did it live up to the millions of sites, books, movies even music that mention vacations to the ‘City of Lights’? Was it tres stylish? Where the Jardins de Tulleries (i spelled that wrong I’m sure) in full bloom? Did we find incredible trinkets at the French markets? Were the natives slightly rude? What were the crowds like at the Mona Lisa? Did you have the best meals of your life?

(you might ask)

To all of the above, I would say…. ‘Meh. I don’t know. Sure?’

Such a noncommital response is the result of somewhat unconventional approach to Paris. We were at once tourists and anti-tourists. We didn’t have guidebooks or a strict itinerary. We didn’t rush to the Louvre or meander along the Champs Elysee (I think I mispelled that too).  Yet. We spent 100% of our time at tourist spots and stood in awe as the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. Every cliche in the book passed my lips, “It’s so pretty. Look at the lights! Oooh! Sparkles!”

With the city a short 3 hour drive away, we decided to pretend like we had all the time in the world. That we could come back any time we had a free Saturday in the next 3 years. Rather than see and do everything we decided to be open to possibilities and stay at each spot until we stopped having a good time. If it meant 4 hours walking around the Latin Quarter, then that’s what we did.

It went like this:

Wake up at 5am on Saturday morning. Tell BF to wake up. Take a shower. Make coffee. Tell BF he has 45 minutes. Pack an overnight bag.  Eat breakfast. Push Boyfriend. Tell him the car is leaving for Paris in 15 minutes whether he is in it or not. Fall asleep while BF is getting ready.

On the road to Paris at 9:30am.

A few ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ as we pass through the adorable French countryside. Which, strangely enough, reminded me a lot of Pennsylvania. You know the hilly green part with the cute little farms that you pass as you are coming into Pittsburgh on the PA turnpike from Ohio? Looks JUST like Northeast France. (except France had a few more gothic spires next to their barns. but gothic spires are overrated anyway.)

Hit a little bit of traffic outside the city but otherwise had few problems finding our hotel or a parking garage right by the hotel (thanks Tom Tom). At 12:30, walked up the stairs from the parking garage and were greeted by the imposing dome of the Pantheon. (Do I know how to pick a parking spot or what?) Took some pictures of the area then got our bearings and decided to start the tour at Notre Dame.

View of the Sorbonne from our parking spot.

Spent an obnoxious amount of time at Notre Dame. Toured it inside and out. Took approx. 91 pictures (not an exaggeration). Thought about paying to climb the stairs and check out the gargoyles but the line was incredibly long so we decided to save that for the next trip.

 

Walked around ‘Il de Cite’ a bit more and took another 100 pictures of the Seine and old buildings and railings and weathervanes and street musicians and graffiti.

 

Then we headed on over to my favoritest chapel in all of Europe, St. Chapelle. We hopped in line and I started to jabber on endlessly about the weather and stained glass windows and how cool it would be to have ‘Remember that one time when we were Servers at mass at Notre Dame?’ in your arsenal of ‘when I was a kid’ stories. In the middle of some monologue about the gloriousness of Nutella and Banana Crepes BF interrupted me and pointed out a poster advertising a live performance of Handel’s Four Seasons. (if you are like me and know little about Classical music, just go ‘Ahhhh! How exciting!’ since apparently this is a big deal) As luck would have it, the performance was that night IN ST. CHAPELLE! (you know, the place that the KING used to have private performances). Of course, we decided that this was too good an opportunity to pass up so the moment we got to the front of the line we purchased two tickets to tour the chapel and two tickets for the concert.

Spent the next hour taking another 100 pictures of St. Chapelle:

 

Then wandered about the Latin Quarter for a bit, grabbed a gourmet dinner of a Hot Dog with cheese in a baguette and a crepe with nutella & banana then went to the concert.

As a general rule, I am rather ambivalent when it comes to classical music. It’s nice and relaxing when you are trying to study or sleep but otherwise – ‘meh.’ However. Classical music performed live. In a chapel filled with stained glass windows. At sunset. With only 35 other people.

Incredible. Breathtaking. Memorable. Highly, highly recommended.

After the amazingness we headed for another Paris staple – the Eiffel Tower at night. Rather than ride to the top, we just walked around the base and took another 50 pictures of the sparkliness:

 

Got back to the hotel room around midnight and immediately forgot my prior objections to the room. The fact that the bathroom was ever so slightly dirty was ignored. That it barely held one person at a  time was irrelevant. That there wasn’t enough room to put my purse in between the bed and the wall (on either side) was just fine. That the tv had only two channels – one showing ‘Kyle XY’ dubbed in French and the other featuring some kind of ensemble Disco performances – was lovely. All that mattered was that there was a bed.

Woke up Sunday morning refreshed and relaxed. Made a quick trip to the McDonalds around the corner for take away coffee (!!!!) and fruit & yogurt parfaits. Used the coffee as a bargaining chip to get BF to wake up.

After (literally) kicking BF out the door of the hotel, we headed to another McDonalds (I know, I know, ‘you’re in PARIS and you are eating at McDonald’s?!!!’ BUT. In our defense – it was inexpensive, had free wireless and felt like home. So there.) then made our way to the Musee d’ Orsay with our To-Go cups in hand.

Walk out of the Metro Station and see the line. It wrapped in and out of the museum courtyard and down the street. As veterans of Cedar Point and pre-Fastpass Disney World, we saw the line and, unlike another couple that took one look at it and turned in the opposite direction, we hopped on at the end. One ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ Podcast later, we got free entrance to the museum (it was ‘Free Museum Sunday’ – thus the long line).

Over the next two hours, took another 51 pictures:

After the whirlwind of culture and picture taking that was the Orsay, we called a ‘State of the Union’ meeting:

Me: “Soo… what do you want to do next? We could go to the Louvre, stand in line for an hour, see the Mona Lisa and the wing statue then head back. Or we could walk around the Champs Elysee and see the Arc de Triomphe. But that’s pretty far and more fun at night. Or we could do the top of Notre Dame – but it’s kind of rainy and I’m not sure how good the view would be right now. Or we could do Sacre Cour – but that’s far too. Or we could head out and be home before 7pm and get a good night’s sleep before work tomorrow.”

Boyfriend: “Ummm…”

Me: “My feet hurt.”

Boyfriend: “Mine too.”

Me: “I don’t want to persuade you, we can stay if you want. Totally up to you. This is your present.”

Boyfriend: “I’m tired, let’s go back and save the other stuff for our next trip.”

 

So we did. And it was great. And

 

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