|Arc de Triomphe|
We arrived in the late afternoon on our first day. The drive from Reims wasn't long but we left the car at Disneyland Paris since the parking rates are much more reasonable than those within the city. It's an easy 40-minute train ride from Disneyland into Paris. We emerged from the Metro right under the Arc de Triomphe. In all honesty, it really took my breath away. It was a great moment and the perfect way to begin our weekend in Paris.
After we checked into the hotel we got right down to sightseeing. I'm sure you already know this, and I think I probably also knew this before I visited Paris, but it didn't really hit me until I was actually there; Paris is HUGE! Perhaps I thought the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur (and on, and on, and on....) would all be in a neat little row. They aren't. And we decided to walk to all of them. If you plan to do the same, allow me to assure you of this: Those delectable baguettes, croissants, and chocolates won't go anywhere near your thighs because you'll burn the calories off as fast as you eat them.
We decided to forego the visit to the top of the tower this time. The line was insanely long. Very fortunately for us, we'll have at least one more opportunity to visit Paris again and wait along with everyone else. And when I say everyone, I literally mean everyone in Paris (at least every tourist in Paris).
Lunch gave us the energy to continue our stroll/power-walk. We made it to Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris. During the French Revolution it was called Place de la Revolution. At a guillotine in the center, 1119 people were beheaded over just a few years. Notable victims of the guillotine include King Louis XVI and Marie-Antionette. The obelisk in the center of Place de la Concorde is called Cleopatra's Needle. It's from the temple of Ramses II and was installed in the 19th century.
|View from Montmartre|
Since it was late and cold we took the Metro back to the hotel. On the way, we detoured over to that most famous of cabarets, the Moulin Rouge. We didn't see any shows but we did stand outside long enough to snap some very touristy photos.
At the end of my first day in Paris, I had two important observations:
1.) It's filled with tourists! It's one of the world's most visited cities and it certainly feels that way. Granted, we were there on Easter weekend so we were vying for sidewalk space with spring breakers and other vacationers, but I can't imagine the crowds dwindling over the next few months and I don't think I would ever want to visit in the middle of summer.
2.) I'd heard so many horror stories about how rude the French are and that all of them are unwilling to speak anything other than French. I took three levels of French in college so I wasn't too concerned about being about to navigate, even if it was clumsily. Much to my surprise, we didn't come across one rude Frenchman. Or woman. They weren't only kind and accommodating; some even switched to English once they realized it was our native language. Maybe it was a fluke, or perhaps the Parisians have an unfair reputation.