Day 9: The Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Seine

Here’s an updated version of last week’s post about our England & France trip last summer. This one’s got the pictures:

Below is the ninth journal entry recording the events of the trip Carolyn and I took to England and France in July of 2006:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Paris, France

We got up this morning in London at 4:00 a.m., having showered before going to bed. So we were ready right at 4:30, and our taxi was there right on time. The city was still mostly dark as he whipped around one corner after another until we arrived at Waterloo. We checked in and didn’t have to wait long at all until we boarded the EuroStar. I’m sure it was less than an hour en route before I fell asleep, not waking until we weren’t far from Paris Nord. It was weird waking up and not even knowing what country we were in. I saw the time and it threw me off–I didn’t realize that Paris is an hour ahead of London. So we’re now 6 hours ahead of Eastern Shore Time (isn’t that what EST stands for?).

We arrived at about 9:30 a.m. Paris time, and it was weird getting off the train and walking into the subway station, where all the signs were in French. Carolyn got in line and bought “ten tickets,” because that’s what the people in front of her got! Paris’ subway is in zones, and a ticket gets you one way in the city’s zone (or something like that).

The weather here is oppressively hot, and the luggage I packed was extremely heavy and doesn’t have a handle designed for that kind of weight. So it was very grueling and painful getting the luggage to the hotel–when we finally figured out how to get here. I must’ve sweated about four gallons on the subway, not to mention the walk. We took the metro from Gare du Nord to Strasbourg Saint-Denis, then switched lines to come to Ecole Militaire. From there it’s a short two-block walk to Hotel Relais-Bosquet, on Rue de Champ de Mars.

We came to our room–the check-in guy spoke fluent English!–which is really nice. And best of all, it has AC!!! Woo hoo!!! We bought two-day museum passes and cruise tour tickets for 90 Euro, then left the hotel. We stopped at a cafe around the corner for quiche, which was very tasty. It was kind of funny, because we pointed at what we wanted to order, then discovered the girl working the counter spoke English (she sounded like she was from New York). We ate on a sidewalk bench, then took the metro to the Louvre Museum.

The Louvre is bigger than a lot of towns. We covered a lot of ground and saw some incredible stuff: the Mona Lisa and other Leonardo paintings, some Michelangelo paintings, some amazing French crown jewels covered in diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, the Code of Hammurabi, some other ancient stuff from Moab and Assyria and Babylon, and that glass pyramid thing. We saw a lot of other things that were really cool and historically significant, like a statue of a headless angel and some ancient Greek and Roman stuff, and a ton of paintings, but unfortunately we couldn’t read any of it because it was all in French.

After the Louvre, we came out under the arch, toward the Eiffel Tower. At this point I thought I was just going to die from heat and dehydration. The sun was blazing down with a fury, with no shade in sight. We made our way across the Seine River to a sidewalk cafe. The waiter was funny–he said something to us in French, then English, so Carolyn said, “What’s that?” He thought she said, “What’s up?,” so he said–in his French accent–“What’s up? What’s up!,” the second one drawn out like in the old commercial, American style. Later he approached us with a carafe of cold water, which we had requested. He showed it to us, and then burst into a string of French as he poured it into our glasses. We were both thinking the same thing–wondering what he was doing since he knew we didn’t speak French (we’d asked for English menus)–when he quickly explained, “That’s the age of this fine wine.” Funny guy. (He reminded me of the funny beefeater who led us around the Tower of London–at one point he [the beefeater] asked all the Americans in the groups: “Are you here on holiday, or to learn the language?”) We got two different kinds of ham sandwiches–one was good and one was nasty–and drank two carafes of water. Then we headed to the nearby Cathedral of Notre Dame.

We took pictures from the outside, then waited in line for the tower tour. Meanwhile I bought postcards at a little shop across the street and drank my first Perrier in France… from a can.

The tour of Notre Dame was awesome. We climbed up 400-plus steps, saw some places mentioned in Victor Hugo’s famous novel set on the site, and finally reached the bell tower with the nearly-500-year-old bell. It was so cool! Then we took the winding spiral staircase even higher, to the very top. Right in front of us were the cathedral’s famous gargoyles; down below us was the river; and spreading for miles all around was the great city of Paris.

When we came back down (the climb up nearly did us in, with the horrible heat; the descent made us dizzy), we walked around inside. How blessed we are to be able to tour Westminster Abbey in London one day, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris the next day! Notre Dame wasn’t as intricately ornate and crowded with monuments and tombs as Westminster Abbey, but I think it was grander. It makes Westminster look almost cluttered. It has by far the most amazing, beautiful, stunning stained glass windows I’ve ever seen. Huge ones in grand patterns, all over the place. Very fancy altar. Huge vaulted ceilings. It was incredible. And unlike St. George’s Chapel and Westminster Abbey, we were permitted to take pictures inside, though I’m sure photographs could never do the place justice.

We took the subway back here to the hotel to cool down, get watered up, and rest before the cruise tour. But first we stopped at a local market and bought lemonade for Carolyn, Perrier, a French Diet Coke for John Coleman, some milk, and a small bottle of French champagne for my parents.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Paris, France Part II

The crown jewels we saw earlier were those of Louis XV and Josephine.

So after resting and writing earlier, we went past the Eiffel Tower to take a tour cruise on the Seine with Bateaux Parisiens. We made the 9:30 p.m. boat. It lasted about an hour and we had a great time. Not long after we set off, a really big storm moved in. It was so cool! As we moved along the river with Paris flowing by around us, the wind began blowing everything around. Lightning illuminated all the enormous historical buildings, and rain pelted the boat. It was a little unnerving, but lots of fun, and exciting. The Eiffel Tower is really something to see when it’s lit up at night–especially when it’s in the middle of a barrage of lightning! Unfortunately we couldn’t get a picture of it during the storm because of the rain. After the cruise tour we walked through the pouring rain back toward the room, stopping nearby for a pizza to go–or “take away”–from a local pizza place. Fortunately, the restaurants in Paris seem to be open much later than the ones in London! I took a much needed shower, then Carolyn and I ate the pizza here in the room–with Perrier from Paris!

Now it’s past time for bed yet again, and another busy day planned for tomorrow.

Published in: on June 25, 2007 at 2:59 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That is an incredible picture with the gargoyle and the tower in the distance, with the river (canal?) in between. Carolyn’s really got an eye. At least, I assumed it was Carolyn . . . no offense . . . .

  2. No offense taken–it was definitely Carolyn’s mad photography skills. If I’d had the camera, we’d probably just have a closeup of pigeon poop on the gargoyle or something like that. (Of course, that’d be pretty cool too.) But yeah, she got some great shots. She takes her photography very seriously!

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