I thought I have completed my Europe Tour travelogue. Turns out I totally forgot about the last leg of that trip. Today I shall write about Paris.
Paris was the city that I enjoyed the most out of the entire Europe Tour. I don’t think it has got anything to do with how beautiful or romantic this city is compared to the other cities that I have seen before this. I think it is because we got to stay here for 2 full days. One day was spent going through a guided tour of Paris. On the other day, we were supposed to visit Disneyland Paris, but a few of us decided not to. We made arrangements with Paul to allow us to spend that day wandering around Paris by ourselves instead.
First, let me show you what you can expect to see if you visit Paris on a guided tour.
1. Notre Dame de Paris
Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is one of the first Gothic cathedral in the world, and very famous. But I did not know it when I was brought here. In fact (I believe this applies to most Malaysians), mention Notre Dame and the only thing we know is that Disney cartoon, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. To make matters worse, my only prior knowledge of Paris is from two books: The Da Vinci Code, and The Count of Monte Cristo. None of them mentioned this cathedral at all.
I am not someone who is very into architecture, so I was not very excited to see this cathedral. In fact, when I was here, I actually could not wait for us to move on to the next location. So forgive me for not being able to provide more information about this cathedral. I shall just overwhelm you with the photos that my friends took.
2. Musée du Louvre
Now this one, I was excited to see, because not long ago I have just read The Da Vinci Code. The Louvre is actually a museum, but one of the most famous aspect of this museum is not inside, but outside. In fact, thanks to Dan Brown’s book, the Louvre Pyramid was probably more famous than the Louvre Museum itself at that time, in 2007.
Once you get inside the museum, near the lobby, you will find another interesting structure that is featured promimently in The Da Vinci Code.
La Pyramide Inversée, the Inverted Pyramid. According to Robert Langdon (protagonist of the book), the small stone pyramid under this inverted pyramid is actually just the tip of a bigger pyramid. It is supposed to be the chamber that houses the Holy Grail, the remains of Mary Magdalene.
Well, that’s all supposed to be fiction, but I did notice a couple of white people kneeling down by the stone pyramid. I think they believed what the novel implied.
Pyramid aside, before Dan Brown’s book, the Louvre Museum is actually famous for something else. The museum houses arguably Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.
Now don’t be deceived by this picture, thinking that you can get to this portrait easily. This was taken with maximum zoom. The truth is, the museum is always crowded, and most of the crowd come here for this portrait. To ensure no accident could happen to this famous painting, the museum sets up a perimeter to barricade this painting, and you can only catch a glimpse of the painting from afar. You cannot get up close and personal with the Mona Lisa.
Of course, being one of the largest museum in the world, there are much much more than the Mona Lisa in this museum. In fact, if you are a serious art aficionado, some say you need at least a week to go through all the exhibits that this museum has to offer.
Since I am not an art aficionado, it was not necessary. Just as well because we only had 2 hours to spend in this museum.
3. Eiffel Tower
From the Louvre, we proceeded to our next destination. This is another popular landmark of Paris. This is the Eiffel Tower.
One thing not so cool about seeing the Eiffel Tower when you are on a guided tour is that, you will not be brought to the tower itself. Instead of marveling at the majestic tower up close, you get to see it from afar. We were brought to a plaza called the Trocadero. This place is quite close to the tower, but there is still a river and a road separating us.
And then there are black people selling Eiffel Tower trinkets in this plaza. A lot of them.
4. Arc de Triomphe
From the Eiffel Tower, we proceeded to another world famous landmark, the Arc de Triomphe. This is an arch erected to commemorate triumph. Now all over Europe, there are many arch of triumph across many cities. I think you have seen a couple of them from my previous posts. But the biggest, world famous one, is this one here in Paris.
Now, this arch is located on a giant roundabout. An actual roundabout that cars use. We took this picture from one of the streets off the roundabout. Now this arch is one place where it is actually good to take pictures with it from afar. There are underground tunnels which you can use to go through the roads and come out on the roundabout itself to get up close with the arch, but then, it won’t do much good in terms of photos.
See, this photo will in no way indicate that you are at the famous Arc de Triomphe…
5. French dinner
You know how we had Chinese dinner in other Europe cities? Thank goodness Paul was decent enough to break the duck for us on the last leg of our tour. Instead of Chinese food, he brought us to a French restaurant for some French cuisine.
I don’t remember where this is, and I also don’t know how much these costed, it was inclusive with the tour package. It is one of those many restaurants adjacent to Champs Elysees.
Heck, I don’t even remember what these dishes are called.
Were the food any good? Oh yes, after 12 days of crappy Chinese food, oh most definitely yes! The food was very very good! Tres bien!
6. River Seine Cruise
From dinner, we proceeded to our final stop of the day. We went along one of the most famous streets of Paris, the Champs Elysees. This is where those LV and Prada and Gucci are. To our disappointment, we did not spend a lot of time here. I shall not blog about it now, but I do have another post about Paris coming up tomorrow. You’ll see.
At the other end of Champs Elysees is the Place de la Concorde. Here we were able to see this sight,
The Roue de Paris is a transportable ferris wheel that from time to time is dismantled and sent to other places in the world for short stints. The Obelisk of Luxor on the other hand, has been a fixture on this plaza since 1836. This obelisk was originally one of a pair from the Luxor Temple in Egypt and is more than 3000 years old. Official history says it was gifted to France by Egypt, but I guess it is in the same nature as saying the rakyat of Malaysia gifted 1AmDeeBee with billions of ringgit.
According to Paul, these two structures are intentionally placed side by side to resemble the binary code, 0 and 1.
Anyway, we did not stop here, we just caught these sights as the tour bus was driving along. Our final destination was actually this:
We were going to go for a River Seine Cruise. Boy was it crowded! It was almost sunset, and apparently a sunset cruise on the Seine is high up the agenda for many tourists to Paris.
The cruise took us along the river and went pass some of the places that we saw earlier in the day. It also brought us pass this original Statue of Liberty. Yes, the one in New York is not the first of its kind.
It is not very big. In fact, it felt very tiny. See, it is just twice the height of a normal sized tree. That’s very small, if we compare with how majestic the movies made the New York one looked.
It definitely came up short against the Eiffel Tower, for example…
Don’t count by the tree size on this last photo. This one, the trees were close, the tower was far. The Eiffel Tower is definitely 20 or 50 trees tall.
So, I’ve shown you how a guided Paris tour would be like. Tomorrow, I be showing you other parts of Paris, the Paris that tour groups don’t bring you to…