Friday, February 28, 2014

Paris Trip Part 2: The Happy Parts


So, I went to Paris for a weekend late February and my time was both good and bad. Luckily the bad parts were solely dependent on the people I walked around with, not the tour or Paris itself.  So, this part will be the good parts, essentially, of Paris. I will include some criticism, but not my personal problems. That will be in the next part mostly as a form of Catharsis.
The trip into Paris was fine and so was the hotel (I stayed in the Ibis on Rue Clichy). Also as part of the tour we had an hour or so long panoramic tour of the city which was very nice to go on and help with understanding the size of Paris and the orientation of the areas within the city. I would recommend one of these tours, and not to drive yourself. The French are crazy drivers.  We then went to the Louvre in the evening. The Louvre is free to students under 26 on Friday nights so this is a great option for students. The Louvre is magnificent, and stunning, and so overwhelming and beautiful. The Mona Lisa was underwhelming; it is very small and under 6 inches of bullet proof glass which tinted it blue. You also have to stand several meters back.  It honestly wasn’t that crowded for me and so I looked. But, if it’s crazy just see the Giorgione Pastoral Concert in the same room and then move on. The other areas of the museum were not crowded at all. The Greek and roman marbles are gorgeous and worth the stop on the way to the Mona Lisa. The upper levels were even less crowded.

The next day after the Louvre I went to see Notre dame which was beautiful, free, and I didn’t really have to wait to go in. The stained glass is gorgeous and so in the wood carving. I then went on a river cruise down the Seine which was very pretty and nice, but unfortunately cold for me because it was only 12 degrees Celsius and windy.  Near Notre Dame there is the latin quarter (named after the universities that used to teach latin). This is a great place for cheap food and souvenirs.  I then shopped on the Champs Elysses which was quite nice. The shops aren’t anything unique specifically, but it’s nice walk toward the Arch du Triumph. I went into the Sephora, H&M, and some other ones. Also as a side note, many places you have to pay to use the bathrooms and many restaurants do not have one. Your best bet is always McDonalds. Everyone I’ve been in have free toilets and they don’t even check you bought food. There are two on the Champs Elysees.
After the Champs Elysee I went to the Rue l’opera for more shopping and stopped at Pierre Herme for macarons. They were 2.05 euro each which is a bit expensive, but I think worth the splurge.  I got slated caramel (which was good but not as fantastic as the review make it out to be), rose (which was delicious), and Passion fruit, rhubarb and strawberry, (which tasted mostly like passion fruit and was the best thing I’ve ever eaten).

The next day I went to the Eiffel Tower and took the elevator up (which took like 2.5 hours to get on). I then went up to the top level. The 2nd floor wasn’t very cool because it was open and windy and the very top was also windy. But, the first place you get off at the very top is enclosed, and I enjoyed the view a lot. Just as a note, you need to buy a special ticket, or two tickets, to get to the top floor.
I then took a walking tour through Montmartre and saw the Sacre Coeur cathedral. It was pretty from the outside (you had to pay to get in) but the trek up was so long and steep and there honestly wasn’t that much to see and the food was overpriced, so I wouldn’t do it again. 

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