Paris By Night! Nov 27

I left Nice on Nov 15th, and headed for Paris on one of the world’s fastest train.

The trip from Nice to Paris took a whooping five hours. The first two and a half hours were spent traversing the south of France towards Marseilles. It made a few stops in between Nice and Marseilles, but they were quick stops. After Marseilles the train made a straight shot for Paris with no stops in between.

I arrived in Paris at 10pm. I was worried about losing my reservation at the hostel, so I caught a cab from the train station. Luckily, there was no traffic, so I made it to the hostel quickly. I was able to check in without any problems and went straight to sleep. Travel days are always tiring.

The next morning I decided to walk around the city rather than wake up for tours. I wanted to lose myself in the city and eat food wherever I was. Paris was perfect for this. It was also a sunny day which made taking pictures much easier.

Entrance to the Louvre

I started my walk at the Lourve. The museum was massive. It was comprised of three buildings and an underground basement. I saved the museum for a later day, so I walked from the museum towards the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.

On the way to the arc, I walked through the peaceful Tuileries Garden. It reminded me of the park I rode through in Valencia. The park was mostly covered in sand which was a pleasant change from walking on concrete for the past few weeks. There were some ponds and chairs out for the public. It was a nice escape from the crowd around the Louvre.

Arc before the gardens

Walking down the Champs Elysees was like walking down tourist streets in any other big city. The road was wide and there were shops, hotels, and restaurants along the sides. If I needed my American food fix, this was the definitely the street to go to.

Arc de Triompe

Of course, at the end of this street lies the Arc de Triomphe. This was a massive arc, and I’ve seen plenty of arcs on my travels. I stood on the opposite side of the street from the arc for five minutes looking for some pedestrian crossing until I found some stairs that went beneath the road. I guess with five streets intersecting at the arc, it would take an eternity to move cars through if there were pedestrain crosswalks.

Eiffel Tower

After the arc, I made my way to the Eiffel Tower. Having seen the Tokyo Tower last year made me not as excited to see this tower as most people would be. Although, just like the Tokyo Tower, it’s dizzyingly fun to view to the massive structure from the base. Sadly, the only good shots I could take of this tower were from afar. My 20mm lens can’t handle the scale of this structure. :(

I could only see one leg of this building

To top the attractions for the day off, I headed down towards the Musee d’Orsay. Like I mentioned, I didn’t want to visit the Louvre this day, and especially after spending most of the day walking around Paris. The Musee d’Orsay was perfect. It doesn’t take that long to see everything in the museum. The museum housed many impressionist paintings including Van Gogh’s pieces.

Of all the art I’ve seen in Spain, Italy, and France, paintings were my least favorite. The only paintings I liked to see were those painted on the vaults and ceilings. Otherwise, normal canvas paintings don’t do it for me. After seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta and the marble sculptures in St. Peter’s Basilica, paintings don’t bring about the same excitement. For this reason, I was able to speed through the majority of the Musee d’Orsay.

When I finished the museum, the sun was setting and Paris looked so beautiful. Here’s a few shots down the river.

The Louvre was my next targeted tourist attraction on my second day in Paris. I knew that entering one of the largest museums on the world that I would not see everything. So, being an ancient Roman and Greek history fan I tackled these areas of the Louvre. I loved statues from these periods. It’s fascinating to see what the ancient civilizations thought as the perfect body for humans. For males it’s the muscular and lean figures that are the same in modern society. For women though, it’s the opposite of what today’s views are. The women depicted in the old sculptures were bigger and rounder.

After seeing plenty of ancient, naked men and women statues, including Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, I headed over to the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa was the most underwhelming painting to visit at the Louvre. Not because of the artwork itself – granted I’m not a big fan of paintings – but because it was small, encased in large thick glass, and surrounded by tourists. I came during the off season, so the amount of tourists around the painting wasn’t bad – I’ve seen pictures of worse crowds. Still, the amount of people waiting to view the painting made it uncomfortable stay and view the Mona Lisa for any length of time.

Our Lady of France

Having conquered two percent of the Louvre — alright it was more like one percent — I stopped by the Notre Dame. The interior of the building was dark. I assume it’s much better on a sunny day, but having been an overcast day the interior was hard to view. It’s definitely beautiful, but I wish it were lit more than it was. Every picture I took came out bad. Even with the fast 20mm lens on the GF1, I had to turn the ISO setting to it’s max setting, leaving me with extremely grainy pictures. I deleted most of the pictures of the interior because they were horrible.

Instead, of taking pictures of the inside, I decided to take pictures from the outside. I bought an eight euro pass to climb the stairs up to the top of the Notre Dame. There were two levels that allowed me to rest and take pictures: first, the area right under the bell towers; and second, at the top of the bell towers. The first area was my favorite. Up here, I took pictures of every gargoyle that could fit into my camera. These gargoyles were awesome. Have a look.

When I climbed to the top of the bell tower I immediately wanted to come back down. The weather was very windy at the top and the only thing I saw was a slightly higher view of Paris. Unfortunately, I had to wait at the top of the bell tower because other tourists were climbing up. There’s only one set of stairs to climb up and down the tower and the stairs could not fit more than one person on the steps at a time. Bummer.

Later, I met up with a friend and we topped off the night at some bars in Paris. Now, being an alpha city of the world, I thought Paris would have a fantastic night life. I was dead wrong. Parisians were boring. Of the few bars I went to, there was light music and everyone talking quietly to one another. I know Americans are loud, but at least we’re having fun at bars. Parisians looked bored to death. It’s as if they were forced to come to the bars to have mediocre conversations. This was mind boggling to me. Also, I saw none of the youth in Paris at bars. It felt like everyone around me was in their thirties and forties. This was not the experience I was looking for.

The next morning, I visited the opera house. I wanted to attend one of the English walking tours of the house but they weren’t available the day I visited. I went in anyways and took plenty of pictures. Here’s what I saw.

After the opera, I spent my afternoon and night hanging out at the hostel. Having traveled for over a month, I felt the need to rest and sit in a single place for more than two hours.

Having seen the majority of the big items in Paris, there was one last place I wanted to see before I left – The Palace of Versailles. I’ve seen the works in Madrid’s palace so I was very curious to see what was in Versailles.

What I saw was interesting. Not only did I see extravagant art and over indulgent rooms, but I saw modern art from a Japanese artist. My visit to the palace coincided with the exhibition of Takashi Murakami’s works. So every room in the palace had one of his pieces. There was even a large piece outside in the gardens. Take a look at the pictures and see.

Alright, enough with of the tourist attractions. My absolute favorite thing to do in Paris was to eat. Every morning, I walked down the street to a little cafe and bought a sandwich for breakfast. It had ham, cheese, and a little mayonaise, but the best part was the bread. The bread was so delicious. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. When I bit into it, the initial feeling was the crispy exterior, but as I continued the bread easily separated and gave way to the delicious ham and cheese.

Other than baguettes, I went for every possible crepe I could get my hands on. Crepes are my downfall. I love crepes so much. I always order the same thing: nutella and banana. It’s classic, and it’s extremely delicious in Paris. If I wasn’t full or holding a crepe in my hand I would buy a crepe from the next stand I saw. I even had a crepe from a stand where the pancakes were premade. I was very doubtful of how this crepe would taste, but it still came out better than most crepes in the U.S.

Finally, I want to mention a fear I had when entering Paris. Every city I visited, I’ve heard stories of how people in Paris were rude. A friend mentioned how a waiter at a restuarant scoffed at him and delayed taking his order. It was bad news for Parisians, or so I was told.

The stories I had were the complete opposite experience I had in Paris. Every French person I met was nice to me. They were talkative and tried to accomodate for my lack of French. One of the restaurants I ate at, the waiter forgot I was there and apologized profusely. It wasn’t his fault though since the host sat me down in an empty area – this was due to the rest of the restaurants room being occuppied.

When I think back to the stories I’ve heard, they all came from Australians. Maybe the French don’t like the crazy Aussies. Maybe because the Aussies have fun at bars. Who knows. :)

Now for more pictures! Of all the cities I’ve visited, I took the most pictures in Paris. My total set has 415 pictures. Here’s just a few.

Obelisk at the end of Tuiliers Garden

I love nutella
Huge nutella jar

Winged Victory

Venus de Milo

Crazy detail

A semi-okay inside shot of the Notre Dame

Paris from the top of Notre Dame

I’m not in Italy, but this is still damn good.

Hahah I’m so immature

Cafe du Nord! I took it because it reminded me of the one in San Francisco.

Moulin Rouge

One last thing. The title of this post is a play on the Vietnamese show of the same name. It’s an insanely popular show for Vietnamese people in the U.S. My parents and relatives love watching it. It’s super hilarious to me. Check it out.