Paris

Posted: August 2, 2010 in Travel

In the past the majority of January I have spent in the sun dressed in shorts and t-shirt.  January 2010 however I was living in England, where a unusually cold winter had hit western Europe.  It was considered a warm day if the temperature got above 0 degrees.

Mum was over from Australia visiting so we decided to go to Paris.  After massive delays at the Eurostar terminal due to a train getting stuck under the English Channel, we made it to the French capital, greeted by snow and an average temperature of minus 5.

The underground Metro system took us from the Eurostar terminal directly to the Blanche stop in Montmartre, where we would be staying.

The Moulin Rouge @ Montmatre

 We stayed in a really nice apartment with a view of… the Montmartre Cemetery!!

Montmatre Cemetery

Day two of course involved checking out some things around Paris. The first of these being the Louvre.

The Louve Pyramid

Once inside we admired the hundreds of Italian and French paintings until I gave into curiosity and followed the crowds to view what must have been the smallest painting in the building.

The Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

I have never studied art at a high level, or even had the desire to learn the basics of art theory.  Therefore I am completely unqualified in saying “There is nothing special about this painting”.  Closer inspection for an explanation was made difficult as there were 5 security guards, a thick bulletproof glass cover, 5 metres of floor and perhaps the biggest obstacle of all, a velvet rope between me and ‘the masterpiece’.  I’ve got two suggestions for the Louvre interior decorator – maybe you should put Mona in a smaller room to make her look more extravagant. Also, if you’re trying to show off a tiny painting don’t hang this directly behind it-

Behind Mona

Yes, it is a painting so big it wouldn’t fit in the camera shot.  Remarkably it was only one of many giant paintings scattered around the Louvre.  After some time however even the giant paintings started to lose their appeal to me. Luckily I stumbled across the best exhibition of all at the prestigious French museum…. the Egyptian exhibit!  Not only did it contain some of the oldest and quite clearly coolest artifacts in existence, it also had next to no tourists clogging up the corridors, and blinding me with their nonstop flash photography.  What was in there? Stuff that was 3000 years old including: examples of the first form of written language, giant statues of gods with animal heads, sarcophagi, and a couple of fully preserved mummies.  We struggle to preserve food for more than a month, yet here is a 3000 year old body sitting in the middle of the room for everyone to see.

Egyption Mummy

We left the Louvre and were greeted by fresh snow and darkness.  We also got our first glimpse of the Eifel tower shining across the River Seine.

River Seine

 

Shining Eiffel

We dashed across the river into the  Musée d’Orsay for a quick viewing of the works of my favourite artist Claude Monet.

Water Lilies - Claude Monet

Also featured was Renoir

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette - Renoir

Also, arguably the most famous piece in the building, Van Gough’s self portrait.  Like the Mona Lisa, I don’t really care for it much at all. Regardless here’s a ‘I’m a tourist that saw things and here’s the proof photo’.

Van Gough

It was time to get some hot food and catch up with fellow Tasmanian Kieran Ollier and his lovely French girlfriend Clara and her equally as lovely mum.  We hit up a Montmartre bar for beers and some banter.

The Pub

We were then ready to head out into the cold and up to the summit of Montmartre to have a look at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (yes I did copy and paste the spelling from Wikipedia).

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

 

In a day we’d managed to cover art, beer, extreme weather, and religion.  What to do with day two? Royalty, gold and wealth!

We got on the train and headed to Versailles to visit the Chateau de Versailles.  The palace was the centre of political power in the late 1600s for around 100 years until the French Revolution began and the royal family were forced back into the centre of Paris.  After that it didn’t serve much of a purpose other than looking pretty.  There is some serious artwork lining the walls and roof, and everything that doesn’t have a painting on it is coated with gold.

Hall of Mirrors - Versailles

 

Versailles grounds

Upon arriving back in central Paris we had a look inside the amazing Notre Dame Cathedral.  Admittedly this is one structure that I wasn’t dying in anticipation to see.  However, as soon as I first saw the monstrous Gothic structure rising out of the snow, I was instantly glad I made the effort.

Notre Dame

 

Notre Dame

 

Notre Dame

Our final day in Paris, what was there left to do?  Check out one of the weirdest looking giant structures in the world of course.

 

Eiffel Tower

 

Eiffel Tower

 

View from the top of The Eiffel Tower

Nothing really needs to be said about the tower, apart from ‘don’t visit it at the end of the day as it’s a long walk to the top’.  Once you’re at the top though you’ll have a fair amount of time to accumulate some energy for the walk back down, as you’re going to be mesmerized by the 360 degree view of Paris.

On the final day in Paris there was one last thing to do before heading to the train station… have a coffee.  Have you seen that French movie Amelie?  Remember the coffee shop

Well that is The Café des 2 Moulins and it’s just around the corner from where we were staying in Montmartre.

The Café des 2 Moulins

After the coffee was consumed it was time to head back to the UK.  Thanks Paris for being amazing, while not feeling crowded and touristy, and thanks mum for taking me there and experiencing it with me.

 

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