Day 2: ParisPosted: June 13, 2012
I stayed up as late as I could yesterday – 10:30. Which is 3:30 Dallas time. Does this guy know how to party, or what? I crash. But only for about 6 hours. The TV in my bedroom has a blue power indicator ring, and when I wake up at 4:30 or so, my room is awash in an annoying blue glow. I grab a towel and thrown it over the screen to extinguish the blue washing over me. I crash again. When I wake up, there’s a warm glow peaking through the blast shield I’ve lowered over my bedroom window. It’s 10:30. 12 hours since I turned out the lights. 12 hours of sleep. In Paris. This is so hard it’s not even funny.
So, I get up, head down to the apart/hotel complex and grab a coffee and some French, strawberry Twinkie for breakfast. Back to my room and I start making my attack plan for the day ahead. Paris. What to see? Where to go? Relying on Claire’s notes and my trip last year, I have my tour in quick order. Shower, shave, get dressed and I’m back down in the lobby pre-noon. My luck, the personal shuttle is on stand-by and 5 minutes later, we’re on our way to Charles de Gaulle.
Back at CDG Terminal 1 for the RER into Paris. Last year, I asked for a round-trip on the RER and an all-day pass on the Metro. 35 or so Euros. Today, the teller sells me an all-rail, all-day pass for 25 Euros. They’ve either changed systems or I got ripped off last year. It doesn’t matter. I make my way downstairs and on RER is pulling away from the station, but another one is sitting there waiting for me. I board and grab a seat. Shortly there after a young woman sits down across from me.
If a woman with dark hair is a brunette and a woman with light hair is a blonde, what do you call a woman with purple hair? Purplette? Let’s go with that. So I help purplette with her backpack, loading it into the overhead shelf. And the train is pulling out of the station. About half way into Paris, I make a comment how bumpy the ride is, and she realizes I speak English. “I’m from Dallas, where are you from?” “Montreal. I’m in town visiting my boyfriend and his family.” We talk about the F1 race this past weekend and the student riots. “Oh, you’ve heard about the riots down there in Dallas?” Yes. And then the standard question comes out: “So…do you have any horses in Texas?” Sigh…no. We small talk on our way to St.Michell/Notre Dame. We part ways and I make my way up the stairs. And just like last year, I’m immediately greeted with this.
I explore the grounds for a while when I’m approached by an English couple. They see my camera and recognize I’m a professional and ask me to take their picture. I graciously oblige. Upon returning their camera, I ask them if they’d return the favor.
Finally, proof this isn’t an elaborate ruse and that I’m really in Paris. I hang around a little while longer before making my way towards the Louvre. Last year, I tried this and got ferociously lost. This year, not so much. I know right where I’m going. And as I walk towards the Louvre, I see the same monuments I saw last year and wonder how in the world I took the wrong turn last year. Either way, I’m making my way down Rue de Rivoli and I finally see it. The east side of the Louvre.
A short walk later, I find one of the entrances and I see what I wanted to see last year. Just through the arch…I.M. Pei’s masterpiece.
As I exit the hallway, I see a couple taking a self-portrait of themselves in front of the Pyramid. They try, try again, try again, and again. I finally ask them if they’d like me to take their picture. “Sure thanks.” They’re John and Ginger from Virginia and they’re celebrating their honeymoon in Paris. We chatted for a while and parted ways. They were very friendly and I wish them the best of luck. I probably spent an hour on-ground and took dozens of photos. While I may have better pictures, here is what it looks like.
Behind me is the Tuileries Garden. It’s absolutely majestic. I’m a huge fan of the Dallas Arboretum, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Tuileries. Created by Queen Catherine de Medici for her son King Francois II between 1559 and 1564, it was opened to the public in 1667, you enter the garden through this monument.
Off in the distance, the Eiffel Tower calls to me. The clouds may have something to say about that, but in the meantime, I have these beautiful grounds to explore.
Scattered about the grounds, are various sculptures and surrounding one of the central fountains are works like these.
At the West end of the Tuileries, these horses guard the horseshoe.
Just beyond the horseshoe, I make my way towards the Place de la Concorde where the Obelisk and Fontaines de la Concorde. The Maritime Fountain and the Fountain of Rivers.
I enjoy the grounds for about an hour before making my way towards Place Vendome. At the center of the Place is the Vendome Column. Originally erected by Napoleon, it dominates the Place.
Just beyond the Place Vendome is Harry’s New York Bar. The walls of Harry’s are lined with pennants from various US universities.
After enjoying a scotch and a pleasant conversation with a couple in town from Vancouver, I make my way back towards the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Originally, I planned on hopping the Metro up towards the Arc de Triomphe, but then I thought when am I going to get a chance to walk this famous avenue. Walking the Avenue, it’s lined with shops, restaurants, and Parisians galore. It’s about 5:30 and it’s absolutely packed. And it’s glorious. About halfway up, I find the Toyota showroom, where inside is a mock up of the Le Mans competitor, the TS030.
Just as I get to the Arc, the skies open up and what begins as a light drizzle is quickly becoming a full-on downpour. I duck under an awning and put on my new REI rain jacket. I scramble up under a tree and I notice repeated police sirens going off. Walking up the Champs, towards the Arc in the pouring rain is some procession.
It’s now about 7:00 and this is a good time for me to throw in the towel. I find the nearest Metro entrance where I make my way to the RER and finally back home. It isn’t until I get home that I realize I haven’t eaten yet. I change clothes and head into central Roissy where I grab a table at La Vitrine for breakfast/lunch/dinner.
While my day in Paris is cut short by the rain, I’ll make up for it on Wednesday. The Eiffel Tower, Bir-Hakeim, Sacre Ceour, Musee d’Orsay, and the Invalides.