Paris really is a picture-postcard city. You feel that you are absolutely spoilt as to which way to point your camera, and I think I got a bit trigger happy initially, and took a lot of photos.
After climbing the Eiffel Tower the three of us wandered south along the Seine, to see a small version of the Statue of Liberty that Emmanuel had pointed out to me from the tower. The Statue of Liberty was of course made in France and given to Ameriaca as a gift, being placed in its new home in 1886.
After lunch, Emmanuel had to leave to return to work, and Philippe and I walked to l’Arc de Triomphe. It’s very big and very impressive. Philippe also had to leave then, and I went inside and climbed to the top. From there the view is spectacular, with the Champs Elysees streching away into the distance. The traffic on the roundabout below is also very entertaining, as there are no roadmarkings at all, and it appears to be a case of every-man-for-himself.
From there I walked down the Champs Elysees, passing through Place de la Concorde, admiring the 3300 year old Egyptian obelisk from Amon Temple in Luxor, which was given to France in 1829 and erected in the huge square in 1833. It is beautifully carved, and quite fascinating because of its age.
From there, a walk through the Tuileries Gardens leads to the famous Louvre, but time was against me, and a couple of quick pix was all I had time for before catching the Metro to see the Sacre Coeur, and meet with Stephen, who had kindly offered to put me up for the night.
The view from Sacre Coeur is again stunning, with the whole of Paris laid out below. There is a great panoramic picture of the view on the Wikipedia Sacre Coeur page here. Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated a bit, and it was raining on and off, spoiling the view a bit.
I waited about half an hour for Stephen, and because I had no idea what he looked like, had to just wait and hope he recognised me. I was having some communication problems in Paris, as the UK mobile that I had got when I arrived in London was not working in France, so all I could do was ring people from public phones.
There were no phones around the cathedral, so eventually I gave up waiting, and went in for a look around. It is an impressive feat of construction, and I sat quietly for a while marvelling at it’s creation. I also sat for a while as I was feeling pretty tired and achey, I thought perhaps still from my wakeboarding from a couple of days before, and all the walking around I had been doing.
Eventually I headed back down the hill, and managed to contact Stephen, who by now was looking for me in front of Sacre Coeur! Oh dear! After more confusion and crossed wires we eventually met up, and by that point I was feeling cold, achey and shivery. This wasn’t just aches from wakeboarding, I thought.
Stephen is Irish, married to Tiazza, a French girl originally form Morocco. He teaches English in Paris. He had very kindly offered to feed and house me for the night, as well as give me a little help towards my goal of speaking conversational French.
After a short walk, passing the famous Moulin Rouge, we were soon sat in O’Sullivans Irish Bar with a pint of Murphy’s each. After a couple of drinks we headed to Stephen’s home, as I was feeling pretty poor by then. I met Tiazza, and their beautiful daughter Jasmine, but I don’t think I was the best house guest they had ever had, as pretty soon after a lovely dinner I asked if it was okay if I went to bed. Oh dear.
I felt better the next morning, and hope I managed to be a better guest, if only for the short time I had before heading for the train for the journey back to London.
I slept over ten hours last night, and today feel great – I think I just needed to catch up – I guess it’s been a pretty busy and hectic month so far!
So a big thanks to Stephen and Tiazza, and apologies for my lack of enthusiasm. However, I now know that it is completely impossible to see everything that Paris has to offer in one day. I did not go inside the Louvre, didn’t even get to see Notre Dame, other than from a distance. I would also like to go to Père Lachaise Cemetery, where Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison, among many other well knowns, are buried.
So I will definitely be going back to Paris. It’s a beautiful and fascinating place.