June 11-13: Paris, France August 10, 2010Posted by Stefanie Olivier in Travel Log.
Tags: france, Georgia Tech Lorraine, Paris
During the first of our few “short” weekends (the weekends that lasted “only” two days each), we traveled to Paris. Desiring to spent as long a time as possible there, we departed for Paris Friday evening and checked into our Americanized hostel as soon as possible. Ravenous, but not willing to spend a great deal on dinner, we looked for a local kebab restaurant. (Kebabs are some of the best things Europe has to offer!) While we ate our kebabs, it started to pour, but that didn’t hinder us from walking towards the Eiffel Tower, which lights up at night. Few words can describe the ordinary Eiffel Tower, so just imagine looking at a sparkling one. I had few comparable moments in my life up to that point and expect few from now on.
The Eiffel Tower was our first stop again the next day, followed closely by the Arc de Triomphe. Although I have been to Paris several times, I have never climb the stairs up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and I enjoyed looking at the radial layout of the Parisian roads and following the Champs Elysees with my eyes to the Louvre, which is situated at its end. What interested me more, however, was the traffic around the Arc. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes freely entered and exited the circle surrounding the landmark and traveled around it without anything indicating the amount of lanes in the circle or where, when, and how one can turn out of it.
Next up was a small Peugeot museum, which was randomly located along the Camps Elysees, lunch at a small Asian café just off of the Camps Elysees, and then (of course) the Louvre at the end of the Champs Elysees. It’s needless to say that we did not see the entire Louvre; it is impossibly large! But I especially enjoyed its expositions of African and ancient Middle Eastern art. By the time we made it out of the museum, it was already past five o’clock and thus past the closing times of most tourist attractions. So, we settled for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Early the next morning, we descended into the Catacombs of Paris. I found out that the purpose of catacombs is to store the bones unearthed from cemeteries when they are emptied to make room for more burials. But bones weren’t the only things to be found within the catacombs. One person who worked on the team that constructed the catacombs was impressively artistic and made a couple of very detailed carvings into the walls of the catacombs. After descending quite a few feet down into the ground, we decided to make a U-turn and ascend quite a few feet up into the air by visiting the Notre Dame. The view of Paris from its top was almost as attention grabbing as its architecture, yet I preferred to admire the Notre Dame from its foot.
The view of Paris that I would rate as better than any other is the one I had from the steps of the Sacre Coeur, our last stop in Paris. It’s no wonder many artists prefer to paint and sketch from the top of the hill where that Basilica was built. Their paintings and sketches, however, were not only of the city, but also of flowers, food, and, most exciting of all, tourists’ faces. The last thing I can remember of Paris is walking from the Sacre Coeur past the Moulin Rouge to the train station. And once again, I wish I were there.