On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, I woke up in Paris and the day ahead would take me across the city and leave me feeling a way I had never felt about any other place ever.
Our first major stop of the day was near the Eiffel Tower for our group photo, but there was some stuff spotted along the way, and a brief stop.
From the bus, not far from our hotel, I saw this somewhat amusing graffiti.
Those are quite the hats. hehe
We stopped for photos in front of Les Invalides. It is home to Napoleon’s tomb.
We then arrived near the Eiffel Tower for that group photo. While the photographer was setting up, we had time for some photos of our own!
Here we were doing a sort of Charlie’s Angels thing. We really didn’t have an explanation for Chris.
And here is the group photo. By the way, seeing Eiffel Tower never got old.
After the group photo, those of us who had signed up for it headed off to start our three-hour bike tour of Paris. Each of our bikes had a name. I can’t remember any of the others, but I ended up with Chucky Cheese.
As in London, there will be some mystery structures and statues. If you can identify some of the ones I haven’t captioned or written about that you see here, please feel free to leave a note in the comments section at the bottom. Thanks.
Our bike tour guide said the best part of Tour Montparnasse is that, from the inside, you can’t see it.
By bike is such a fun way to see Paris. If you have the time, I highly recommend it! It gives you so much energy, and you feel really good about eating lunch when you’re done.
A note, proper French has accent marks over many of the place names you see in these blog entries, but, unfortunately, Word Press isn’t too fond of them. So, no accent marks.
What’s funny is that I was having such a great time that, though you see quite the cloudy sky in many of these photos, I don’t remember it being so cloudy.
I mentioned feeling a way I’d never felt before. Well, it was as we were cycling around near the Louvre, through amazing paths like the one you see below, that I felt that if someone made me a job offer, I would seriously consider relocating to Paris for six to twelve months. I’ve never had that feeling about anywhere else. I am a native New Jerseyan and New York is my city. There are plenty of places I’ve been that I would love to visit many times, but never one I would actually consider living in. That is the power Paris had over me. It is a truly wondrous city and if you get the chance to go, don’t pass it up! Also, if you have such an offer, please let me know. ;-)
The tradition on the Pont des Arts is for a couple purchase a lock, sign it, attach it to the bridge, and then throw the key in the Seine – a symbol of their everlasting love for each other.
After the bike tour, our Contiki tour manager – Steve – lead those of us who wanted to go over to the Latin Quarter.
Some of the Paris metro stations are rather interesting in their design. You’ll see a little more of this one later.
Some of us found lunch.
I had a panini. I’m pretty sure it was tomato, mozzarella, and ham. Here’s the thing. The French really know what they’re doing with bread. Even before I got to the meat of the sandwich, I was already mighty happy. I love it when food perfectly hits the spot. This sandwich was exactly what I wanted. :-)
After lunch, a bunch of us made our way to Notre Dame. Before the Twin Towers, Philippe Petit walked between the two parts of the top. Just a little historical information for your blog-reading experience. Be sure to check out Notre Dame.
There were no signs asking us not to take photos, so I didn’t feel I was disrespecting the church by taking some. Of course, a tripod would have been helpful in getting better ones.
When we were done at Notre Dame (and a nearby playground) we made our way to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. A whole bunch of famous people are buried there – perhaps most famous is Jim Morrison (more on that later and in an entry to come).
Pere Lachaise is a very confusing place, even for someone with my sense of direction. We managed to find the grave of Marcel Proust, who Michael (who you saw in the Charlie’s Angels photo earlier) felt quite a connection to. In fact, we left the cemetery so he could buy flowers to place at the gravesite.
After we finished with Proust, we made our way to the grave of Oscar Wilde – and pun intended – it is a wild one. I mean, look at it.
People leave all sorts of stuff at Wilde’s grave – including quite a lot of Metro passes.
As the rest of the group went to find Jim Morrison’s grave, I had to run and get back to the hotel and freshen up before the evening activity for which I had signed up. More about that shortly.
People bring all sorts of stuff on the subway. I felt it photo-worthy to snap a shot of the man with the ladder.
Look, it says Picard. Yes, I’m a Trekker. It’s some sort of eatery chain, I think. But it says Picard, so I took a photo.
Yes, the evening activity was dinner and the show at the Moulin Rouge.
I don’t speak French, but maybe you do. So, here is this sign on the building.
If you get a chance to sees the show at the Moulin Rouge, take it. Yes, there is partial female nudity, but it’s very classy. But it’s much more than that. At one point, the front of the stage rose to reveal a water tank with snakes in it and one of the dancers went in and danced with the snakes. It’s also a variety show. So, there was a fantastic juggler and a man who played the drums with ping pong balls he shot from his mouth. There was also a spectacular ventriloquist who used a live dog as a dummy, but also used live people. He would interview each one (to get a taste of his or her accent) and then tell the man or woman that when he squeezed his or her wrist, that was the signal to open his or her mouth. It was very entertaining. If that wasn’t enough for you, the show also featured miniature horses!!!
Now, photography is, understandably, not allowed inside. So, Steve and Wiksy collected our cameras to give back when we exited. Well, when we turned them on, we found they had left a gift on each of them – a hilarious self-portrait.
After the Moulin Rouge, we headed next door to the bar O’Sullivans. Eventually, we all made it back to the hotel in one piece and the next day was full of more fun!
– Evan Bindelglass