A long weekend in Paris: Sorry Mum, no proposal
The sun came out after a recharge back at the hotel so we enjoyed an early evening walk down to the Louvre when the sun came out. Crossed the Seine river at Pont des Arts bridge with all the padlocks signifying couples love. Makes me wonder who is still together after all those years or were some just a flash in the pan and moment of Passion when they clicked closed on what was probably a very similar evening. It was also confusing that we came across another bridge exactly the same. Who started this trend and are people even locking them in the right place?
Morning at the Louvre. I must say that while it was great, I have been to better museums. The highlights were definitely the statues while Adela liked the Napolean III rooms. It was quite hilarious watching the other tourists that were obviously only there for Mona Lisa who after the 30 second photo-op with her would try to spend the rest of the time looking interested but failed miserably and would leave just as quick.
Grabbed a fistful of pastries and baguettes and lay in the sun next to the Eiffel Tower over lunch soaking up the suns rays. However the heavens opened up and we ended up under a tiny leaking shelter with some French Michael Jackson tribute singers and dancers who took to the rain like ducks to water. I love when you travel that anything can happen. They proceeded to entertain and weird us out at the same time for the next 20 minutes until fortunately we could escape as the sun came out again.
We cycled back down at sunset and climbed to the 1st floor of Eiffel Tower to end our second day in Paris. The other tourists seemed content to line up for over an hour to catch the elevator up while we waiting no more than 5 minutes grab our tickets and use these wonderful contraptions called stairs to walk up. It really is a beautiful and I can see why they call it the City of Lights.
That morning we had joined the locals and hopped on the Velibs. Basically you pay $1.70 for 24 hours and use the bikes, which are located about 300m apart on the streets all across Paris, for 30 minutes at a time for free. You just have to wait 5 minutes between uses which is perfect as you can cross huge distances such as between Montemartre and the Eiffel Tower in that time and then spend more time sightseeing at either end of your journey while enjoying the natural streets vibe and personality that you don’t see from the metro.
Back on the Velibs the following morning to the local food markets near the Bastille. Beautiful jambon, fromage and oeuf (ham cheese and egg) crepes for breakfast. Oh man they were delicious and I wish I had discovered them on the first day! Although my waistline thanked me that I had not as our bread babies from all the baguettes, croissants and pastries were already in force.
This lateness had a knock-on effect with an hour long queue at the Catacombes to the south of the Latin district. For some reason the Catacombes were not listed in our top 10 guide book nor was there information about them easily found elsewhere. I had heard about them through a friend and am glad we visited.
They were amazing and freaky and scary and moving all at the same time. The entire self-guided tour lasts on average 45 minutes, although we took over an hour, as you wander in caves and tunnels under the city itself. Approximately 6 million Parisians skeletal remains were dug up when the city ran out of room in the area to bury them so they were literally thrown in to the abandoned quarry tunnels. They were then rearranged after a few years and now lay stacked in patterns and shapes in the multitude of tunnels. It is a definite must see in Paris but get there early as they close at 4pm.
Spent the rest of the morning at the Army Museum at the Invalides Hotel which was built in 1671 for injured and sick soldiers. Now its a very interesting war museum that contains history from the 17th century through World War 2. The museum also contains the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte (not Dynamite) who led part of the French Revolution. Very interesting visit and one of the highlights of the trip.