La Course Extraordinaire, Partie Deux

The Jennettes'*

Part Two

* Still with Aunt Janet

P . . . . A . . . . R . . . . I . . . . S

We are back, and our journey continues in Paris. You can view Part One right here. I will tell you now that this leg of the trip produced the most Stitch-Em-Up pictures, so enjoy! We landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport at around 7PM on Wednesday 8th April, and made our way to the hotel: Citadines Louvre. We got there, and were promptly informed that due to "difficulties" we had been transferred to another Citadines hotel near l'Opéra. The hotel was set up like an apartment, and each room had its own kitchen and lots of space.* After settling into the rooms, we went out for something to eat. Luckily for us, Paris is open much later than England; it was around 11PM that we finally sat down to dinner, at Pizza Marzano, a clone of Pizza Express. Don't judge us - it was late and we were hungry. Food is food.
* Schmerm-note #3: Compare to itty-bitty living space in London hotel. Also, this is the closest we came to the circuitous journey to even get to the hotel.

The next day we went off to Disneyland Paris. This will get its own coverage in a separate post.

Friday the 10th was our discover Paris day. We would be leaving the city on Saturday, so fitting everything into Friday was a must. Of course, we couldn't do everything, but I think it was enough. For now... We began our tour by walking past the Place Vendôme to the Jardin des Tuileries. It was a bit weird just walking through the streets when all of a sudden a monument from your art history textbook appears the next street over. My reaction to the Place Vendôme was pretty much, "Huh? Oh, that's the Vendôme Column. Look at that." Crazy. The garden was largish, and very broad, and had a surprisingly random Richard Serra sculpture in it. I admit, I couldn't think of his name when we were actually there and had to look it up. So sue me, he's boring anyway. We wandered along the Seine, and past the Musée d'Orsay (see photo). I didn't know that the banks of the Seine are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. "The evolution of Paris and its history can be seen from the River Seine." (unesco.org) Okay, I can give them that. It's still weird, though; the Seine itself I can see, but the banks specifically? Whatever.

We walked along until we got to the Musée du Louvre. Actually trying to get into the Louvre would have been crazy; though the line was not that long, it would have taken more than the few hours we had to get through even a fraction of the museum. So we contented ourselves with just walking around the grounds and viewing those I.M. Pei pyramids that the Louvre is so well-known for.

We got to Notre-Dame de Paris (You know? From that movie?) by walking the wrong way around Ile de la Cité. It had slipped my mind that it was Good Friday, but alas, it was, and the Veneration of the Crown of Thorns was going on as we got to the Cathedral. It's not everyday you go to an ancient cathedral and there's something going on. Mom and Aunt Janet left to join the queue for the Veneration, and Anthony and I continued around the cathedral. We heard choirs and organ, and found out that they were beginning to say the Stations of the Cross. They had stopped the Veneration for now. We met up with the ladies and went round back to check out the flying buttresses.
The Jardin du Luxembourg was next on the list. We headed on down to walk around. The Gardens are quite large and open, in typical French style: very grand and impressive. Everything in the main promenade is carefully designed and maintained, leading your eye to the Palace, home of the French Senate.
After a little while, we caught a bus from the garden to the Eiffel Tower. It's definitely bigger in person. The queues to climb the tower (there were three) were all really long, obviously. When we got to the ticket window, we found out that the Pilier Sud,* where we were, only had steps. There was no lift service as with the other legs. That was fine for us, but it was a shame seeing elderly couples with no choice but to turn back and join the queue for another leg. You'd think they'd put that sort of information on the huge LCD screens above each ticket window. Go figure. We climbed the 347 steps to the first level. Nice view. (see photo: Champ de Mars and l'École Militaire) They had little placards telling you what all the sights were, but since it was only 57 meters (187 feet) high, you could barely see any but the closest buildings. Mom and Aunt Janet went to the toilets, and whilst they were waiting in the queue (yes, even on the Eiffel Tower...), Anthony and I continued to the second level, another 321 steps. From there the view was a bit better, but we wanted to go all the way to the top, 276 m (905 ft) from the ground. Only problem? The queue for the lift (the only way up) was massive. We joined anyway, and slowly made our way to the top.
* 'South Leg'
The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is amazing. They have posted distances to major cities across the globe in all directions. Unfortunately, Paris only has a few easily visible monuments, the Tower itself being one of them, so there wasn't a lot that we could actually make out from the distance, but there was enough. Not much can be seen in the following photograph, but if you look closely at the previous two (taken from the second level) you may be able to spot a few sites, most in the second photo: Palais de Chaillot, the Grand Palais, Musée du Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, Notre-Dame de Paris.
Now, since it took nearly an hour and a half for Anthony and I to get to the summit of the Tower and back to the first level, Mom and Aunt Janet had no clue we would take that long. Begin hour of waiting and searching for two people whom we had no way to contact. After climbing the steps back up to the second level to look for them (no avail) and climbing back down to meet back up with Anthony, it was getting dark. And neither of us had eaten anything since lunchtime back around 1. As these things always happen, I found that I had missed a call. Assuming this was Mom who had somehow gotten hold of a phone, I dialled my voicemail. "In order to receive or save your messages from overseas, you must first set up your mailbox." My battery was on its last legs, let's hope this is quick. After setting up my mailbox and receiving via text my access code, I got the message that Mom was waiting for us at the foot of the tower. I had ruled that they wouldn't have left, as you can't get back up. Anthony proved me wrong. Score one for him. We got out of the tower just in time to see it light up at 9PM. Rather pretty. We took tons of pictures with nighttime Tower and, after being practically beaten over the head with little light-up plastic Eiffel Towers by the same vendor who kept coming back in hopes that we had changed our mind about his "bling-bling", we decided to get out of there and find some food.*
* Schmerm-note #4: While no search-and-rescue operation occurred on our trip, something like this would have happened eventually.**
** Actually, the feeling was rather similar to when our van died in Granada.

After eating at a sidewalk café, we walked over to the Arc de Triomphe. Pictures were difficult since it was after 10PM, but we were able to see François Rude's The Departure of the Volunteers in 1792.* It was all very Romantic.**
* Or, The Marseillaise.
** Go ahead, laugh. No really, you're supposed to.

The next day featured an evening flight, and a 3PM taxi to the airport. Needless to say, we didn't have a whole lot of free time. Most of the morning was spent finagling our luggage to fit under Ryanair's 15kg limit. After that was finally done, we walked to the Place de la Concorde and ambled down the Champs-Élysées for a bit, to the Grand Palais. I tried to teach them the song. By then it was time to head back, so we did. And there I shall leave you until our next outing. Paris was very pretty, and to tell the truth, better than I had expected. I'm glad I was able to see at least bits of it, as who knows when I'll be able to return. As usual, the complete Paris photo album (including Disneyland) can be found on Facebook here.

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