23.01.2008 - 24.01.2008
Unfortunately my time in Paris is coming to an end. To say the least it is a beautiful city. Unlike Rome which has fantastic landmarks but dirty urban areas, Paris too has its amazing landmarks but all the other buildings are also beautiful. No matter where you go there are coblestone streets with beautiful, clean houses, nearly every corner you turn is a picture.
Anyway, moving on. The first day I arrived it was late in the afternoon so I thought I'd leave the major sites to yesterday so instead I walked around the area near Gare Du Nord, the main intercity train station. Had dinner (including crepes, ohhhh the crepes) and a few brews before having an early night as I wanted to do a lot on the proceeding day.
The next day, I made my way in to the city, (in public transport that is incredibly easy to use) to the Louvre. I stood outside the world's biggest and most visited museum for about 15 minutes just admiring the beauty of the building, which was once a royal castle, before heading inside.
The museum is massive, I walked around for a little over four hours and even then I walked through some areas without taking it all in, it's not any wonder when it houses 35,000 works of art at any one time. The number of works of art that are noticeable is one thing but the inside of the building, for the most part is like a palace, opulent in every way. I made my way to the Great Hall and before I knew it I was looking at the Mona Lisa. It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be so I made my way to the front within a minute.
I walked around in awe at the museum, the sheer number of works of art and their beauty and the timeline in which they were all created, from Egyptian up to modern art.
As it was still quite early I decided to walk de Champs-Elysees as it is a straight line from the Louvre. Walking through the gardens at the Louvre, past the Luxor obelisk. I walked towards the Arc de Triomphe slowly taking in the passing cars and the citylife that surrounded me.
I finally got to the arc and watched as cars frantically made their way around it, dodging each other. I walked through the underpass, as trying to dodge the traffic is obviously not recommended. Looking at the various battles the french have taken part in and the tomb of the unknown soldier. I made my way to the top and what a view it was. It becomes apparent very quickly how everything is designed around the arc. There are 12 main roads leading off it, hence the massive amount of traffic that goes around it. It was something else to behold a perfect 360 degree view of Paris at what was now twilight. Looking back up de Champs-Elysees to the Louvre or over to my side at the Eiffel Tower that was now lit up to the main CBD of Paris, it was an amazing feeling.
Having walked from the Louvre, up de Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and seeing the Eiffel Tower what seemed relatively close I decided to make my way over to it. Walking through the streets passed numerous embassies and past an Italian who was trying to get rid of "genuine" Versace bags out of his car because he had to go back to Milan (sounds like the speaker scam in Australia but a little more classy), I was starting to think I headed in the wrong direction only to turn a corner and see the Eiffel Tower standing in all its glory.
The size of it didn't do it justice from the Arc de Triomphe but crossing the Seine and standing less than 100 metres away it is a massive structure, still the biggest in Paris. As I was about to cross the road a spectacle of lights, what can only be described as watching camera flashes going off over part of the tower starting to light it up even further. Unfortunately, the top level is only open on weekends but I was able to make it up to the second level. Standing here the view of Paris was even more breathtaking then on the top of the Arc de Triomphe. By this time it was getting late and my feet were sore from all the walking so I made my way back to the hotel.
Today, I decided to venture to Montmarte, which became an epicentre for bohemian culture aswell as a plethora of well known artists including the likes van Gogh; Matisse; Renoir; Degas; Toulose-Lautrec and most recently (and my favourite) Dali. Speaking of Dali, there is a museum showcasing some 300 works of his called Espace Dali, which I obviously went to and spent close to an hour just looking at numerous paintings and sculptures inspired by his paintings. I had wanted to purchase something of his but with prices starting at around $1,000 I decided against it.
Following my trip to to Espace Dali, I made my way to Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. A grande basilica, it was constructed in the area in response to the Paris Comune of the early 1870s, with Montmarte being the area they organised themselves. Based at the highest point it served as a way of enforcing the church and state in the area by offering a daily reminder. It is yet another great spot to the view the Paris landscape with the inside amazing.
I walked back down the hill in to the "city centre" of Montmarte where artists can be found painting in a quadrangle surrounded by bistro's and crepperies, so I stopped for a couple of hours, reading a book, having a few coffees and then on to a few wines.
I then made my way down to the main street where the number of sex shops would nearly put Amsterdam to shame. I walked by the Moulin Rouge before deciding to head back to Gare du Nord and have a slow dinner.
Tomorrow I'm off to London which unfortunately means my vacation is coming to an end.