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Crêpes, Croissants, Planes, and Paris August 5, 2011

Posted by Joseph Mattingly in Travel Log.
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Bonjour, people.  Paris holds the distinct honor on our trip of being the city in which we spent the most consecutive days (except, of course, Oxford, which doesn’t really count because that’s not really the travel portion of our trip), which, given the accommodations, was most certainly not the brightest idea in the world.  That aside, it turns out that Paris is a pretty interesting city.

Getting to Paris ranks among the less desirable parts of the trip.  After 14 hours on a bus (and in departure of Prague, no less), I came to the conclusion that ground-based transcontinental transportation is not my cup of tea.  Nevertheless, since every cloud has a silver, faux-silver, or off-silver lining, we were treated to a nighttime view of the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower as we rode into the city.

On our first day in Paris, we took a class trip to the Musee d’Orsay, a museum specializing in Impressionist and Realist art.  Since I am not particularly enamored with either of those styles (I like Surrealism, Cubism, and ancient art), I found much more interesting my travel to and from the museum.  Not willing to spend money on the faster, more convenient underground transportation and also wanting to see more of Paris, I traveled on foot to the d’Orsay.  Along the way, I found the French Military Museum, most notable for housing the magnificent tomb of Napolean.  I really wanted to see this, but there was an entrance fee, and it would not have been a wise use of my time since I had to rendezvous with the rest of the class at the museum at a certain time.  It was here that I got my first good glimpse at the Eiffel Tower and the Seine.  On the return from the d’Orsay, I decided to walk the entirety of the legendary Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which was a bit more of a task than I had expected.  Starting at the Louvre end, I pushed my way through huge throngs of people toward the Arc de Triomphe.  Along the way, I had a run-in with a Georgia Tech graduate who was on vacation that week.  A bit later, I found myself at the end of the Champs where the Arc de Triomphe stands in the middle of what must qualify as the world’s most absurd roundabout.  It turns out you have to walk underground to get to the Arc, which is a good thing, because there’s no way anybody could ever cross on level without getting hit by at least 50 cars.  If pedestrian travel around the Arc was a video game, and getting there was novice difficulty, getting away would be classifiably mythic.  There are no fewer than eight roads feeding into this nightmarish roundabout, and the one I needed to take to walk to the Eiffel tower necessitated crossing the most number of these feeder roads.  I must stress that despite the fact the Eiffel Tower looks just like a pile of metal trusses, it is truly magnificent when standing beneath.  The shear enormity of the structure is awe-inspiring.  For those curious and not, I did not shell out the steep asking price to ascend to the top of the tower.  Later that night, our music class went to a jazz club, which was interesting, but irksome to get to and from after dark.

Because what else to you take pictures of in Paris?

The second day in Paris was dedicated solely to the Louvre.  When one considers the amount of work in the Louvre, it is easy to understand why we would spend the whole day there.  You may be happy or sad to note that I got my tacky tourist picture of the Mona Lisa.  I’m not including it in this post, because it really won’t add any value, and it isn’t difficult to find nearly identical pictures elsewhere.  The museum was enjoyable but tiring, and as it is just another museum with lots of art in it, I will leave it at that.  On our way back from the Louvre, we stopped by Notre Dame, the famous Gothic cathedral where we were unable to locate any hunchbacks, whatever those are.

The third day in Paris, Sunday, June 26, was a completely free day where we could do whatever we wanted.  For me, that was the Paris Air Show.  That Sunday just happened to be the last day of the biannual Paris Air Show, and I, an aerospace engineer, had a 100% free day to attend.  Talk about exciting.  Tickets were €13 apiece, but I would argue they were worth a lot more than that.  I would have gone out to the airfield (which was on the opposite side of Paris in relation to our hotel) first thing in the morning, but I had to pick up my ticket, which was only obtainable at one store on the Champs that didn’t open until noon that day.  On top of that, the bus that stopped at the air show got stuck in the horrendous traffic of like-minded aerospace enthusiasts.  The air show was fantastic in every way from the vendor displays (vendor, as in airplane salespeople, not popcorn salespeople) to the static aircraft displays to the live aerial demonstrations.  They even had an ESA (European Space Agency) hangar and a couple rockets, including the Ariane V, on display.  It follows, thus, that I was very disappointed when the time came to leave.

Our last day in Paris was given to a tour of the opera house, which was very similar to our excursion in Vienna, and the Pompidou museum, which is dedicated to modern art.  By this point, we were all starting to get a bit tired of Paris and were ready to move on.

Paris was a lovely segment of our trip, and the Paris Air Show was definitely my favorite part.  Going into the trip, I didn’t think I would like Paris so much, but I was pleasantly surprised, and I even left myself more things to do if I go back.

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Comments»

1. Baba - August 5, 2011

Finally. I wondered when you were going to post again. 🙂

2. harga hp Evercross - February 12, 2014

On our first day in Paris, we took a class trip to the Musee d’Orsay, a museum specializing in Impressionist and Realist art. Since I am not particularly enamored with either of those styles (I like Surrealism, Cubism, and ancient art), I found much more interesting my travel to and from the museum.


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