Got back today from a trip to Cork–more on that in another post. I do need to update everyone still reading this blog about my trip last weekend to Paris.
I took the picture you see above from the top of Montmartre, and it’s my favorite picture of the weekend. It’s a beautiful view of Paris at sunset from the highest point in the city.
We visited the City of Lights from Friday to Sunday, with lots of traveling in between. On Friday, I got up and walked to the bus station to get a ride down to Shannon International Airport. From Shannon, we flew to Paris Beauvais Airport, a little runway so far from Paris that it doesn’t belong in the name. We took an hour and a half bus to the actual city (I swear, we did spend time in Paris!).
Our accomodations were at the St. Christopher’s Inn, an American-centric hostel company in Europe. They weren’t bad at all, in a pretty convenient part of Paris with comfortable beds, clean facilities, and free breakfast in the morning. For getting around Paris, we used the Metro system, which is one of the oldest in the world and pretty much covers the city. I felt like we saw just about everything, although I didn’t go into the Louvre. I think it’s big enough that I would have wanted a full day to see the whole thing, so I’m glad I didn’t cheat myself by trying to fit it in.
Saturday morning, we took a train out to Versailles and spent a few hours out there; I’ll devote a whole post to that trip, with pictures. I figure I’d post some more of my favorite pictures here, with some explanation. Thanks for reading, check out the pictures after the jump.
The Eiffel Tower is the symbol for Paris, but it’s only been around for 120 years–and the city is much older than that. I think what most impressed me about the tower was its size. I always knew it towered (no pun intended) over the Parisian skyline, but you don’t get a sense of the size until you get right under it. I took the first picture here right before walking underneath it. This area around the tower is rife with con artists and scammers (usually Rome, or gypsies), and one woman tried to stop us by asking us if we spoke English. We had been warned and quickly moved away, but you can’t be too careful in Paris. I took the second picture here from across the Seine. I can’t believe the tower was originally supposed to be temporary!
I really loved the Arc de Triomphe. Again, it was much bigger than I originally thought, as you can see from these first two pictures. There’s lots of detail up close that you don’t normally see in pictures. It was built as a monument to Napoleon’s victories, and it became famous after French and German soldiers alike have centered victory marches through Paris around it. From the Arc I took the picture below of the Avenue de Champs-Élysées, the famous avenue whose image was always ingrained in my mind from this photo of Charles de Gaulle after the Allied liberation of Paris.
On more than one recommendation, we headed Saturday afternoon to Montmartre and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur–or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It’s the highest point in Paris and it gives you a great view of the city. It was from here that I realized how BIG Paris really is (are you noticing a trend here in my size perceptions with this city?) because I couldn’t get a shot of the entire city in one frame. The Basilica itself is beautiful inside, and the little neighborhood of Montmartre is pretty cool and bohemian. You have to climb the hill to reach the Basilica, and con artists meet you on the way up, where they try to put their handmade bracelets on your wrists and then force you to buy them. It was at this place that I took my favorite picture, the first one on this post.
After a night of partaking in the customary French wine and cheese, I woke up, checked out, and headed to the Île de la Cité (one of the islands in the middle of the Seine) to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Notre Dame means “Our Lady” and it is an impressive sight, both inside and out. Not too long after we walked in, mass began, which was an interesting experience. As we and many other tourists walked around the cathedral, the priests said mass as if no one was there. The interior was just beautiful, and I was glad to find a shrine to St. Michael there as well. It’s amazing this cathedral still stands after all the turbulent history Paris has endured.
Speaking of: this monument was erected as a memorial to the Bastille, the hated prison stormed by Parisians on July 14, 1789 at the beginning of the French Revolution.
I stopped at the Louvre, and got some great pictures of the outside, but I didn’t have time to buy a ticket, stand in line, and see what I wanted to see if I wanted to catch the bus back to the airport. That will have to wait until my next trip to Paris. Still, the building is beautiful, and I even like the pyramids outside, even if lots of Parisians and art enthusiasts don’t.
Inside the main pyramid, there was the coolest elevator for strollers and wheelchairs. It reminds me of something out of Star Wars.
These little scooters are all over Paris, and they kind of make an annoying sound. Definitely not as cool as my idealized image of French motorcyclists from the ’50s or whenever.
This scary thing was one of several sculptures at a park just west of the Louvre that runs to the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées.
The Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde looks a bit like a mini-Washington Monument, except there are Egyptian hieroglyphics and drawings on its faces.
I liked getting multiple icons of Paris in the same picture.