Paris - Day 1 & 2

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bonjour!

As my five days in Paris were so full on, and there are about 400 photos, I have spilt the blog into 3 :) This entry will cover Wednesday 16th May and Thursday 17th May.

After an enjoyable 4 days in Amsterdam it was time to jump on the bullet train south on my way to Paris. It was a good ride taking a little over 3 hours which meant I arrived at Paris's Gare du Nord at around 1530. A quick ride on the Paris metro and a short walk through 19th district and I had arrived at my digs for the next few nights, St Christopher's Inn. Luckily for me it was also attached to Belushi's bar which served decent cheap food and cold beer to accompany. After getting the boring stuff (laundry!) out of the wat in the arvo I went for a stroll along the canal down to the nearby Stalingrad square for a cold beer and to enjoy the settings. With day light until around 930 in European summer I was in no hurry as I wandered back to the hostel, grabbing a delicious pizza along the way. I met my French roommates and pretended to understand what they were saying before heading downstairs to grab a sneaky few drinks with the rest of my roommates before hitting the pillow reasonably early ahead of a big day attacking Paris on Thursday.

I rose early and jumped on the metro over to the Arc de Triomphe, the starting point for my assault on Paris's most well known monuments. After admiring the amazing work on the arc de triomphe I started to make my way down champs de elysee, passing by all the shops a backpacker cant afford to go into. As I made my way slowly down to the louvre I stopped to admire le grand palais, petit palais, saint Louis des invalides (from across the river), place de la concorde and Tuileries gardens before arriving at arc de triomphe du carrousel, the beginning of the louvre courtyard. I arrived at the louvre around 11am and jumped in line. Despite the length of the line we moved quickly and I was inside in under 20mins. With next to no knowledge of art I went in with an open, and some would say blank, mind. I got my tickets and headed for the Devon wing to beginning my aimless wandering. Despite not knowing a lot about the artist, I found the place fascinating and can easily see how people get lost in there for weeks at a time. After working my way through the Devon wing, taking in the less than impressive Mona Lisa..... That's right I went there. It is small, along way away and badly lit, better off looking at a photo on the net or in a book. I tackled the lower sections of the silly wing to get in the Egyptian exhibits and then after a solid 3 hours decided there was much more of Paris that needed to be seen.

I grabbed a bite to eat down by the river and continued my way down and across to Notre-dame. One quick note, if ever in Paris be careful when ordering drink sizes. I ordered a coke with my lunch and when given the options of small medium and large chose large. What came out can best be described as a jug of coke with a straw in it. Not to turn down a challenge I finished my 10 euro coke before heading to Notre-dame. The line for the church was again long but was inside within 15 mins to admire the amazing architecture and finishing of the famous church. Silence was maintained as mass was ongoing but words were not needed to be able to appreciate the beauty of this place. After this I took in the beautiful canals that surround and headed back to the north bank. This was going to be the end to my assault on Paris before I saw a little sign that added a few hours to my walk - Bastille. The decision was made and I was off on an adventure to find Bastille square. It was a little further away than my little tourist map suggested however I was glad I made the journey. Some lovely little street, shops and quintessential Paris architecture lined the way to Bastille. I got there and decided my poor feet, one in particular, had had enough for one day so I jumped on the metro back to my little home in the 19th district.

After a clean up and a facebook catch up I had a renewed level of energy and decided to do the 3 hour walking tour of Monmartre which included Paris's highest point, the church of sacre couer. The tour kicked off around 6pm and was very informative. Although the walk up the hill was a struggle at times, the art history of the region was undeniable. From van gogh to Picasso, all the big names had visited this section of Paris at one time or another. Or any French cinema fans we also passes the cafe where Amelie was written, based on and filmed. Once at the top we enjoyed some of the best views of the Paris skyline, rivaled only by those from the tower, before heading to the nearby artist square to admire some of the local artist wares and soak up some more Parisian culture. We made our way back to the cafe of 2 wind mills (Amelie setting) for a glass of wine and a wind up to the tour. There was encouragement to kick on with the pub crawl starting at 930 in Monmartre but with an early rise looming I managed to resist. I headed back to the hostel, pretended to understand a little more French and hit the pillow around 11pm with my alarm set for 6am in preparation for my day trip to the world war 1 battlefields of Somme.

All in all and great first couple of days in Paris with a lot achieved. Hopefully you like looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Joke of the day: New South Wales state of origin team.

Lukey B
A Baker Abroad
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Comments

Tiff on

Still ridiculously jealous!!
You need more selfies though Luke!! :)

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