Friday, May 27, 2016

Quasimodo's Place and an Imperial Tomb

Having been past it but not gone in yesterday, today was the day I went into (and up on top of) Notre Dame de Paris. I had to line up for a *long* time. But it was worth it; it's fascinating and the views (as you'll soon see) are amazing.

I took a few pictures along the way there.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Versailles (abridged) and wandering around Paris

Today I met up with a friend from Adelaide (who now lives in Germany) and her partner who came over to Paris so we could catch up. The plan was to go out to the Palace of Versailles, but we had to meet up first; not as easy as it sounds based on where each of us was relative to the right kind of train station (one with RER line C) that we needed to get out there. But after some digging we decided we'd meet up at Javel and go from there.

We got there, albeit after some confusion over the direction we were going in – since it does a kind of weird loop around Paris stations and the first thing was to get some food – I tried my first Croque-monsieur, a famous French dish; it's kind of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich and, as I learned from the Wikipedia article I've linked, there's a Proust connection there as well.

Le Musée du Louvre

Very easy to describe what I did this day: I went to the Louvre.

It is, if you aren't aware, the world's largest museum – a fact my feet are well aware of as I sit and type this – with some of the most famous artworks in existence, such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus di Milo.

So, I knew I had to spend some time there while I was in Paris.

Graves, a church on a hill and more art

It was grey and drizzly in Paris this morning – quite apt given my first destination was Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris's largest and most famous cemetery and resting place of some very important people; Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison being the most well-known. But they do have a few actual French people buried here as well – Marcel Proust, Édith Piaf, the playwright Molière and one of the first filmmakers, Georges Méliès.

Everyone had said to start at the top of the hill the site is on rather than the bottom – so, I took the metro from Quatre-Septembre to Gambetta and headed towards it. The downside was that I believe the most obvious places to buy maps are at the bottom, and I didn't see anywhere near the top that looked like they'd sell any – perhaps unsurprisingly, all the open stores I saw were funeral service places and florists (which, after some checking online, I discovered probably had them for sale).

So, I took a photo of the big map at the entrance and made a list of the names I wanted to visit, and flipped back and forth between the two. It's really not the best way to see it; my advice to anyone considering going is to sit down with the map (you can download it), work out whose graves you want to see and then plan an efficient route. It will save you a lot of time and energy. That said, it's a great place to just wander around in.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The JW Club and two Paris landmarks

Okay, now that I'd gotten things together and was starting to enjoy this whole holiday business, I had a few things to sort out. I had to go to Orange (telecommunications company) to get a SIM card – but it didn't open until 10 (like so many things) so I wandered around the Tuileries Garden, a little way up the Champs-Élysées, the Alexandre III Bridge, the Grande Palais, the Petit Palais and the Place de la Concorde first.

Got myself a SIM card and 1GB of data (20€ - France is more expensive for this than the UK, plus they took a photocopy of my passport; in London I just walked into a store and out with a card in my phone) which I'll need to reload in a fortnight (or when the data runs out). Walking back from there I spotted a patisserie, where I hoped to find a madeleine (blame Proust), to no avail; I had to settle for a pain chocolate. Which I thought was okay, but not by any means brilliant.