paris, je te laine!

The city of lights
Shines, a spire sparkles, wine flows...
Paris in July.

A mere four hours' train ride from Frankfurt sits Paris, the most popular tourist destination on the planet. It's home to culture, style, and history of all varieties. I'm inclined to say that it's one of my favourite cities in Europe so far: tied, of course, with Stockholm. :)

Alex and I spent some time checking out the famous sights in Paris: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Seine, the Cathedral Notre Dame, the Military Hospital that is now Napoleon Bonaparte's burialplace, the Champs Élysées etc. The Tour de France was finishing on the Champs Élysées, though, on Sunday, so everything in Paris was packed.

Eiffel Tower : awesome. I can't believe this was supposed to be a temporary installment for the World's Fair. It's huge and gorgeous, and it was (sadly) too busy to wait in line to go up. At night it sparkles on the hour, and by "sparkles" I mean that there are thousands of strobe lights on it that blink like crazy. Lying on the lawn in the park and looking at this thing was an event in itself.

Arc de Triomphe : conveniently located in the centre of the craziest traffic circle I've ever seen. It's about 6 lanes wide, but there aren't painted lines, so there's no way to know. There are 12 roads that converge on this thing, and right-of-way goes away. Our tour guide also said that no insurance company in the world will accept claims from an accident here. So, naturally, Alex and I decided to forego the underground walkway and cross the exciting way. The Arc de Triomphe is also the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France, and there's an eternal flame burning to commemorate their fallen.

Louvre : Crazy awesome. Actually seeing the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, the Code of Hammurabi, and a zillion other works worth a zillion dollars each is a ridiculous sort of feeling. The building that this place is in is also gorgeous; each room is themed to match the works it holds, including amazing ceiling artwork in most of the rooms. The floors were gorgeous granite and marble and wood, and the place was huge.

Musée d'Orsay : Not as massive as the Louvre, but it holds works nearly as famous. That Van Gogh self-portrait? Saw it. Monet? He's there. Not as many drop-dead gorgeous rooms as the Louvre, but still mega-famous.

Seine : What do you call someone who falls off a bridge in Paris? Anyway, the Seine is pretty nice. There were boat tours drifting up and down along it all day. It's good to take a break for relaxing and watching the water.

Notre Dame : BIG. Home to stained glass windows as large as my house. I'd be kinda ticked if this was the church I attended, though, since despite sufficient signage, there was no semblance of silence in the place for prayer and whatnot. Alex and I decided that they should sell "Quasi is my Homeboy" t-shirts at the gift shop, but unfortunately they didn't get that memo, I guess.

Crypts : Near Notre Dame, there are some neat old crypts that you can walk through for just a couple euro. I couldn't help but think of Return to Castle Wolfenstein as I walked in them, though... hahahaha. :)

Les Invalides : This is the Military Hospital. Our boy Napoleon is buried here, and the tour guide informed us that the reason his tomb was constructed the way it is (a pit-ish thing) is so that whenever people visit to see him, they are forced to bow. I guess that when Hitler came to see Napoleon, though, he brought a mirror with him to avoid bowing. Hrm.

Champs Élysées : "The most famous avenue in the world." I don't really buy that, but it was really classy. There were car dealerships (Renault, Peugeot), a Nike store (Alex and I got LiveStrong bracelets in honour of the Tour... at 1 euro each they were definitely the cheapest thing on the street), clothing stores (Louis Vitton and other big names that I don't care about... I did buy a pair of sweet-ass earrings, though, to say that I did it), and restaurants (we ate at one on the second night and were highly entertained by a pair of ladies from New York, one of whom had indulged a little too much in the wine).

Cemetery : Burialplace of Chopin and... Jim Morrison? Also Oscar Wilde, but he was someplace in the back and we got lost. :-/ Anyway, it was curious that these two both rather famous musicians from vastly different times/walks of life ended up as neighbours.

Obelisk : Paris has a really big obelisk with heiroglypics on it. That was sort of weird.

Wine/food : Mmmmmmm... Baguettes, brie, crépes, creme caramel, and general French delicion. :D The Bordeaux in France is also tasty, but that's not a tough thing to figure out.

Oh, the French.

Random note: for some reason, Parisians get the reputation that they're a bunch of stuck-up jerks, but it wasn't true at all for us. Every time we pulled out a map, someone stopped, not prompted, to help us figure out where we were and where we needed to go. Also, everyone seemed to speak English, despite what you may have heard. Hrm. Also, they love pink toilet paper for some reason that I haven't figured out yet.

Yeah, I'd go back. I need to to see the damn Tower. Next time, though, I think I'll avoid going the weekend that the Tour is there; getting a train back home was a nightmare. They were all full because people had to fly out of FRA (Europe's biggest airport). ARGH. So I didn't get home until late, and then had the pleasure of sleeping in. Ahhhh...


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