Paris was lovely.
We stayed in the 16th arrondissement — a fabulous neighbourhood to play Embassy Hunting which is fairly self-explanatory. (We managed to find Libya, Peru, Argentina and Brunei by the second night.) Walking around the neighbourhood was pretty too — I love the Parisian architecture.
For Bastille Day, we decided to walk with the parade and headed towards the Eiffel Tower. It was odd seeing the roads entirely clear of vehicles and hoards of people densely packed. This didn’t really compare to what occurred in the evening, however. With a “Be safe!” from our charming night receptionist, we walked towards the Trocadero and it was insane. It was two hours until French dialogue was spoken and then the English translation (which was booed) and then, finally, a countdown that we could all understand. It was mind-blowing.
A run-down: the Notre Dame and Pantheon are beautiful. The religious who visited the Notre Dame were incredible too; it was entirely possible to see beyond the initial “ah” of visitors to the genuine believers. The Pantheon’s crypts are creepy in the way that you are staring at Voltaire’s tomb but still fairly fascinating. Versailles is stunning but perhaps a one-time thing. It impressed me but not in huge significant way like the Notre Dame; more like this is somewhat extensively extravagant!.
On the last day, we visited the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. I broke up the quartet by insisting they climb to the top whilst I baby-sat the luggage. I became a coffee patron to the cafe located at the foot of said attraction, and enjoyed an interesting view of arguing families, tour groups, and scam artists doing their thing. It was an eventful area.
I also have to make comment that, despite popular opinion, the French we interacted with were actually quite nice. Perhaps it was because we stayed in the 16th or because we didn’t end up anywhere local (as those unforgivable tourists) but they weren’t rude or unfriendly. They were unfailingly polite and generous with their time. Thank you, French people; I will never call you cheese-eating surrender monkeys or reference Waterloo again.
flickr: 2011-07: Paris, France.