"A moveable feast"

Trip Start Jun 05, 2010
Trip End Jun 26, 2010

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Saturday, June 12, 2010

"When good Americans die, they go to Paris." - Oscar Wilde

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in (or visited) Paris as a young (wo)man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for all of Paris is a moveable feast.” - Ernest Hemingway

While it would certainly take many lifetimes to truly experience all that Paris has to offer, seeing Paris in a day and scratching the remarkable surface is possible!

Saturday, we set off on the 8h00 TGV and headed to the City of Lights! By 9h45 we were at the Eiffel Tower, and while Paris was decidedly not luminous underneath the rainy, gray sky, it was no less marvellous to us.

After walking up to the first level of the Eiffel Tower, which requires 360 steps and even more "I think I can, I think I can's," we arrived on the first level. The Eiffel Tower was built for the World Fair, held in Paris in 1889, and it commemorated the centennial of the French Revolution, as well as the progress of the industrial revolution and the modernism of the Golden Age.

The Tower has not always been a beloved, internationally recognizable symbole for Paris. It, too, has suffered the slings and arrows of (outrageous) critics. The girls were particularly surprised to learn that the Tower was once called "useless and monstrous" at the time of its inception, but compared it to the way we might feel if someone wanted to build a "giant Iron Lady" that dominated our Historic Charleston! If they didn't know what they know now about all that the Eiffel Tower has come to mean to so many, which side of the debate would they have fallen on back in 1889? That is the question!

After the Eiffel Tower (and a pause cafe at the 1st floor restaurant), we headed off in the drizzle to L'avenue des Champs Elysées to see the Arc de Triomphe and then walk the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the 8th arrondissement, past the US and UK Embassies and the Palais de l'Elysée, where the President lives.

No glimpses of Carla Bruni or Sarkozy, but we did get hollered at by two lovely guards to put cameras away! That was just as exciting, I think.

After a walk through the Tuileries, we decided to take advantage of the slice of sunshine (despite the brisk wind), and we ate at an outdoor cafe in the gardens. It was such a well-deserved meal, especially after walking and traveling for 6 hours already, and it is just 12h45 in the afternoon!

Then we were on to the Musée d'Orsay for a 1 1/2 hour visit of the Impressionist collection housed in the former train station, incidentally designed by the architect from Tours who also designed the City Hall we just visited on Friday.

The girls were recognizing artwork left and right from projects or assignments at Ashley Hall, and were so excited to already know a good deal about the artists and the mouvement. The crowd favorites wre definitely the works by Van Gough, Sisley Manet, Renoir, Monet and Degas.

By this time, we were ready for another break pause, so we naturally headed off to the Latin Quarter to find a delicious creperie. Nutella, banane, jam, miam!

We peeked at Notre Dame de Paris and then walked around the Latin Quarter, and we saw Les Deux Magots which was the favorite cafe frequented by Sartre, de Beauvoir, Hemingway, Camus, Picasso and many others in the literati society of the early-mid 20th century. Just soaking up the sights and sounds of the city is a worthwhile past time, and should by all accounts be considered a requesite activity as much as visiting the major attractions and monuments. We did a good amount of people-watching as we walked along and saw how diverse and fascinating the Parisians really are.

After a leisurely walk up Saint Germain, which is 100% guaranteed to have at least one accordeon player or some sort of busker on the street corner to serenade you, we headed back down into the underbelly of Paris, the metropolitain, in time to catch our 18h00 train back to Tours.

Au revoir, Paris. A la prochaine!

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