Paris Improved

Trip Start May 22, 2005
Trip End Aug 09, 2005

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Tuesday, June 7, 2005

June 3
We slept in this morning after our long day of travel. Once up, we headed to the Metro station on our way to Pere Lachaise Cemetary. The cemetary was huge, more like a park, and easy to get lost in. After wandering around for a while we found our way to Jim Morrison's grave, which was the only one with a security fence and guard. After snapping a few pictures and paying our respects (one girl there lit a candle), we headed off in search of Oscar Wilde. His monument is quite strange -- large but very stylized. All over the front people have left red kisses (see picture). It started to cloud over and so we decided to head to the Louvre. However, after a bite to eat the sky cleared up so we made our way through the Tuilleries and down the Champs Elysees, which is the road leading to the Arc de Triomphe. We took a long walk to get to the Arc. All along the Champs Elysees there were booths being set up for the exhibition Paris was hosting in hopes of winning the Olympic bid for 2012. The Eiffel Tower was our next stop and, though we decided that going up to the top was not necessary for us, it was amazing to see the structure close up. (R: Personally I think that it is quite ugly up close. But it was fun nonetheless.) Next we boarded the metro for the Pantheon. The inside is filled with incredible frescoes and the soaring dome is quite a site. We went down into the crypt, where notable Frenchmen Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas are entombed. We also saw Foucault's Pendulum, which hangs from the ceiling of the centre dome and proves that the earth rotates. We walked up to Notre Dame Cathedral and were lucky enough to catch the choir singing and a mass in progress. It was kind of weird that hundreds of people circulate the building while a few faithful are attending service. After an extremely busy day we headed back to the hotel for a rest.

June 4
Today we took the metro to Versailles, the site of one of the largest French palaces. The palace was swamped with tourists, and this wasn't even the busy season yet. The building was amazing, but the intricacy of detail that was contained in the Pantheon and Notre Dame was missing. It was as though the palace was meant to shock you into awe due to its size. However it was impressive, nonetheless. It was neat to see where so many French kings have lived and how lavish their lifestyle must have been. Kevin was figuring that any servant who had to go from one end of Versailles to the other on an errand must have been ready to throw in the towel -- it would take at least 20 minutes at a run! It was also interesting to see the Hall of Mirrors (though it is still under restoration), where the Treaty of Versailles was signed. After a leisurely day we had a nice dinner and called it quits.

June 5
Today we went to the Lourvre for free, due to it being the first Sunday of the month. The line was long when we arrived at 10:00 a.m., but got ridiculously long as the day progressed -- seriously a mile long. The Louvre is almost too vast to comprehend in one visit. There is so much to see that your brain stops processing information after about an hour or two. We did take in the "big" exhibits: the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the chambers of Napoleon III, and the Code of Hammurabi which Kevin thought was cool. Rebecca particularly enjoyed the Egyptian antiquities, such as the statue of Ahkenaten. Although there are endless fascinating things in the Louvre, it got far too crowded as the day progressed and we ducked out around 2:00 p.m. We found a wonderful curry place for dinner and gorged ourselves on delicious, delicious food. That evening we walked around the neighbourhood we were in (we had changed hotels that morning) and enjoyed the sites and sounds (but not the smells because a lot of Paris smells like pee -- no kidding, we saw men peeing on the streets in broad daylight -- so sophisticated!). Good night.

June 6
Our last day in Paris was a lazy sort of day. We started off mid-morning for Saint Sulpice, which was one of the most beautiful churches so far (K: the most beautiful church so far). Here we saw many interesting statues, very different from the ones in Notre Dame, for example. There was a statue of Mary (which one?) surrounded by children (whose children we weren't quite sure). There was also a tablet commemorating the "scientific" obelisk with quite a lot of the inscription gouged away. What does the church hide? No one knows. (insert evil laugh here). Next we went to Sacre Coeur on Montmartre, the highest point in Paris (even higher than the Eiffel Tower). The view was stunning, even though it was hazy. There was an interesting old artist who informed us that he had been to Canada and knew where we were from. He told us about a statue of Quasimodo that was on the Sacre Coeur church, though he himself had only been told about it the previous year. (see picture) Another busy day of sightseeing was over. Au revoir, Paris, next stop, Amsterdam!
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