Day Nineteen/ Paris II

Trip Start Dec 17, 2011
Trip End Jan 14, 2012

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Friday, January 6, 2012

Today we woke up to typical wintery skies and rain.  But since when does rain deter dedicated tourists?  Wearing the ski jackets we had assumed we were finished with in Canada, we set off for a full day of sightseeing.
We had researched hop-on and hop-off buses, and we found one that stopped not too far away, and we waited for it to arrive.  We were able to buy tickets on board, and got a 2 day pass that was only 3 euro more than the 29 euro for one day.
It was cold outside, so we watched from the inside of the bus.  We had been given lime green headphones to plug into the bus, which told us of interesting facts and information of landmarks that we passed.
We got off near the Arc de Triomphe.  We found the underpass and walked under to reach the underneath of the Arc.  Surrounding the Arc de Triomphe is a massive, chaotic roundabout.  There are no lanes specified, and there is an unusual rule that all cars already in the roundabout must give way to those entering it.  I have also heard that most insurance companies in France have a clause that dictates that if an accident occurs in this particular roundabout, that they will not be liable.
The Arc de Triomphe is bigger up close than I remembered.  We saw the grave of the unknown soldier, and read inscriptions all of the Arc.
We then went back down to buy tickets to go up to the top of the Arc.  Nanna took the lift up, while the rest of us took the spiral staircase that just seemed to go on forever.  We walked up stair after stair, and were absolutely exhausted once we got to the top.  I must admit, I thought my leg muscles were in better shape after skiing for so long, but I consoled myself when I saw similar aged people sitting on benches, trying to catch their breath.
Inside the Arc is actually a large space.   They had a small gallery, a souvenir shop, a dedication to the army.  I was surpised with how much was up there. 
The terrace provided a beautiful view of so much of Paris.  You could see the Champs-Elysees in its entirety, the Eiffel Tower in the distance and the Parisian suburbs connecting everything.  It was raining when we were up there, but we still spent a long time, circling the tower, making sure that we had not missed anything.
We came back down, just in time for another bus to arrive.  We quickly jumped on, and went for another tour around the city.  We got off the bus for lunch, in a little cafe near the bus stop. 
It was outdoors, but the heaters made it bearable.  Many of the Parisian cafes are outdoors, with the seats positioned so that you can watch others walk down the street.
We had crepes in another cafe, and walked into some souvenir shops.
Then, we got back on the bus and travelled around until we reached the Champs-Elysees again.
The Champs-Elysees; the street where Napolean's ashes were taken, is also the street where Charles de Gaulle led the Allied troops on an emotional parade.  Nowadays, it is a shopping district, famous for its exclusivity and expensiveness.  We popped in and out of some shops, but I felt so underdressed in my ski jacket and walking shoes, going into these shops.  We went into the Swarovski shop, which is known for its crystal staircase, which is really quite magical.
After the next bus came, we jumped on again to watch the city turn to dusk.  Paris lights up wonderfully at night, and it was a nice thing to see.
We walked back to the train station once we were down, and took our soggy selves back to the apartment.
After my recent travels to Canada and now in France, I have come to the conclusion that Australia is the only country IN THE ENTIRE WORLD where there is a noise made when the green man comes on when you cross the road.  It is quite difficult to get into the habit of watching the red man as you wait on the footpath for the change, as I am used to the distinctive sound to prompt me to go.
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Aunty Kate on

I hope you took a photo of the Swarovski staircase - sounds like it would be magnificent. Hop on hop off buses are fantastic. Enjoy Paris!

Peter on

Sounds just so fantastic Amy. How lucky are all you guys. Thanks for the blogs.
Keep em up. Bless ya all. Pete

ronlyn on

The staicase looks magnificent. was it lit from underneath , so it sparkled?

amandabeet on

Hi Amy - loving the Blog, you are going to make a great travel writer one day, then we'll all boast that we knew you when you weren't famous! Tell dad we appreciated the photos of him with the crepe - sent us into a jealous frenzy! Love to you all - Paris is beautiful isn't it!

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