Sunday, September 21, 2008

Only a little late's Tuesday, really it is...not Sunday. I suppose I could just backdate this and convince you all that you're crazy, but that seems mean somehow. I've had a very relaxing weekend in Tours just doing homework and studying economics. We have completed our terms at the Institute so this coming week will be a bit of a vacation. I only have economics on Monday and Friday, and that's it since none of my other classes have started yet!! Hurray!

I'm going to split this into two posts - one about Paris and another about the 2 side trips we did over the weekend, Giverny and Chartres, just so that it won't be such a long post.

ok...heads is Paris, tails is Giverny/Chartres (oohhh it's with an españa 50 centimes coin)

Let us begin with Paris...

So we left on Friday at 6am and the place we were leaving from was a half hour walk from my house. Needless to say, I woke up super early, but I was still SUPER excited :)

After several hours in a coach bus that I don't remember, we finally ARRIVED! in PARIS! It was still very early in the morning so the first thing we did was take a 2 hour tour on the bus with a wonderful tour guide. She was a real character and kept flipping into English by accident because most of the tours she gives are in English. After the first hour around the city, we got out here, at the Palais de Chaillot which has an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower.

The place was positively filled with tourists and tons of guys trying to sell little Eiffel Tower key chains and statuettes. Kind of ridiculous, but fun at the same time. I'm happy with the photos that I got :)

After another hour in the bus seeing EVERYTHING (seriously, every major monument) we were set free in the city for the rest of the day. Bucknell bought us all huge bagged lunches with so much food in them so we found a park and ate!

After eating we decided to head to the Louvre (well why not? we were in Paris) and on the way we passed Notre Dame. So funny story, we were in Paris the same weekend as the Pope. Here's a tip, unless you're going to see the Pope, don't go to places where he's going to be. The crowds were massive, the security was even more massive, and we were told we couldn't see Notre Dame until Saturday because the Pope was preparing for holding Mass and needed all of Notre Dame to himself. True story. On the bright side, we practiced our French with some really cute French Gendarmes (policemen). Side shot of the back of the cathedral:

From the outside, there is no way of describing just how impressive the architecture of the Louvre is. Yup, gotta leave it at "just look":

The inside is really beautiful as well, as it should be, being the old palace and all, but I found that the intensely ornate rooms often distracted from the art being displayed. It was a history overload, but fun nonetheless.
Yes I saw all the famous stuff, but this post already has enough photos and you all should know what the Mona Lisa, Venus di Milo, and the Winged Victory look like, so here, have some cool Middle Eastern wall carvings:

After the Louvre we walked down the Champs Élysée seeing the Concorde and some really pretty fountains. France is the fountain capital I've decided. Everywhere, absolutely everywhere, there are fountains.

On the avenue we saw a couple of street performers doing dancing, which was fun and then we ran into other girls from Bucknell from our group (...what are the odds of that happening??) and so we all made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. One thing I've definitely taken from this trip is that Napoleon was a very cool, very rich, very VERY narcissistic dude. But hey, without him, most of these national monuments wouldn't exist, thus - good for you Napoleon, I like your trees.

Then, since our hotel was in the 14eme arrondissement (aka far away...Paris is split up into different sections in the pattern of a spiral shell starting in the center) we took the subway back. On a stop a guy with an accordion got on the subway and started playing, very awesome. Even better, as the subway went past the Eiffel Tower (gorgeous view) he was playing La Vie en Rose. Perfect moments. So of course, I took a picture :)

After refreshing ourselves we went back out and went to Montmartre which is the northern section of Paris where the Sacre Coeur is. We got dinner at a little café and then sat in front of the Sacre Coeur with about a hundred other université aged people just talking, drinking wine, smoking. It was the epitome of French culture. Then 2 girls started doing fire poi which was INCREDIBLE to watch, first time seeing poi in real life, let alone fire poi, at night, in front of the Sacre Coeur, over looking most of Paris. Brilliant.

The next morning we got up early and went to Giverny, which I'll talk about later. On the drive back, Professor Jordan pointed at a café and said "I think that's a famous place, take a picture and we can look it up later."

I indeed looked it up later and here is the wikipedia article:
Les Deux Magots is a famous café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris. It once had a reputation as the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual elite of the city. This derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists, intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and young writers, such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso.

Go figure.
The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent wandering around Paris, we tried to get into the Catacombs and failed (sad story), so instead we just ate chocolate crèpes. Then we decided to start wandering toward the Eiffel Tower to climb it at night. On the way we found a very cute little restaurant called La Petite Scala and each had our own very French, very gourmet pizzas!

After dinner we got to the Eiffel Tower just in time to watch it sparkle, which happens for the first 10 minutes every hour from 7pm to midnight, I believe. We then got in line and got up!! I was brave enough to get to the 2nd level, the rest of the girls went all the way up. Good for them :) While we were up there it sparkled again, and we got to leave during the twinkling, it was beautiful.
Normally, as you may have noticed - the Eiffel Tower is usually lit up in a golden color, but as you can see - it's very distinctively blue here. And usually doesn't have the circle of golden stars. As you may not know, Nicolas Sarkosy, the president of France, is also the current president of the EU, thus the Eiffel Tower, until December 31st, will be blue with the golden stars!

After the tower we went to much walking around, we were all exhausted.

Sunday morning we went to the Musée de L'Orangerie, which is where all of Monet's giant paintings of the waterlilies are, as well as a huge collection of Renoir's work and some other cool artists.

After this we got in the bus and said goodbye to Paris. On the way back we went to Chartres, which will wait until later.

Thus, here endth the trip to Paris. Hope you enjoyed. And yes, I have hundreds more photographs :)

1 comment:

gbieber said...

Sounds like a fun trip. I'm looking forward to the next post.

BTW, which needle is that you have in the picture?