This is my last night in Paris. Tomorrow I will fly to Geneva at noon and spend a night there before I continue on back to Pristina. Easy Jet only flies to and from Kosovo a couple of times a week and flying back on Monday wasn’t an option. I think my time in Paris was well spent if not relaxing. Here is a thumb nail sketch of what I did (I am doing my best but please forgive me if I misspell some of these French words.
18FEB: I got in late the night before and got a late start today but I did my walking tour of Paris. I left my hotel about 10:00 and walked about five blocks to the Ecole de Militaire, then down the Champs De Mars to the Eiffel Tower. I crossed the Seine to the Cite’ de L’Architechure; down Avenue Kleber to the Arc De Triomphe Etoile. Then I climbed to the top of the Arch and back, then all the way down the Avenue Des Champs Elysees, past the Obelisk to the Louvre. I walked across the Seine to Ponte Neuf; past the French “Supreme Court” building to Notre Dame; toured Notre Dame, and then finished crossing the Seine to the left bank through some cool old neighborhoods (a couple of cool churches and fountains and the oldest tree in Paris) and then took the Metro back to the Ecole de Militaire, then back to my hotel. That was one big loop and a ton of walking but I managed to see most of the main outdoor sights in Paris. The weather was cool and cloudy but it didn’t rain.
19FEB: I woke and it was raining, I decided to do the Louvre since it was all indoors and walked to the Subway near Napoleon’s Tomb, it was about six blocks and I was wishing I had bought an umbrella or a hat the previous day, especially since I knew it was supposed to rain. I took the Metro to the Louvre. By the way entering the Louvre through the Metro station (no line) is far superior then waiting in line for an hour in the rain at the glass pyramid to get in.
I used the handy-dandy Rick Steve’s audio tour of the Louvre that I down loaded free from his website and pretty thoroughly covered the Denon wing, seeing the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory (Nike), the Mona Lisa and an overwhelming number of other famous masterpieces. Rick only covered the Denon wing so I explored the other two wings on my own. I found the Code of Hammurabi by accident (I have now seen both that and the Magna Carta in the past six months). The Louvre is overwhelming; I really enjoyed it and probably saw less than ½ of the exhibits.
After suffering Louvre overload I left and went to another small Cathedral that is within the Supreme Court compound, I was told it had great Stained glass windows. I managed to be the last person they let in that day and checked it out and took the subway back to the hotel. After some rest I walked to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner and then since the rain had stopped walked to the Eiffel Tower to see it at night. It was pretty cool.
20FEB: I got up this morning and walked about seven blocks to the Train Station at Invalides. I caught a train to Versailles and toured the Palace and the grounds. The Hall of Mirrors was something; it is really awe-inspiring to think about the history of that place and the people who had stood in that hall. Versailles was cool but so was the weather so I cut the tour of the grounds short (this is probably best done in some season other than winter to fully appreciate the grounds) and headed back to Paris.
I noticed that one stop past Invalides was the Musee D’Orsay, so I headed there next. I have to say I am glad I went, this was a great Museum. I like Impressionism and they have it there. I think this is THE museum for impressionism and post-impressionism, Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Whistler, and a bunch of others I can say but not spell. I saw tons of the originals that I had only seen in books. As an added bonus they had a great collection of Art nouveau pieces which I really liked. It looks like the sort of thing elves would make.
After touring that Museum I took the train back to Invalides and walked a couple of blocks to the Musee’ De L’Armee and Napoleon’s Tomb, I toured both of them pretty thoroughly and saw the great collection of all the surrender documents the French have signed (just kidding).
They did have the most awesome collection of medieval armor and arms I have ever seen, that place was like an armory, literally hundreds of suits of armor, swords, pikes, battle axes, etc. Cool stuff. The World War I exhibit was very good and interesting the World War II exhibit was… …well short and under whelming.
Napoleon’s Tomb was worth seeing too. I really didn’t plan to go to this museum but since I bought a two day Paris Museum Pass it was well worth going to. If you like Knights and swords and such this is really a museum you can’t miss. I walked the six blocks back to my apartment and collapsed with exhaustion, not really, but I did rest up an hour or two and headed out to dinner. All the meals are good in Paris.
Now I just need to pack and sleep and catch the bus to the Airport in the morning. I think I have done everything I felt I had to do in Paris. The next time I am here I can relax and take it slower. The hotel was basic but clean and comfortable and in a great neighborhood and a really good location. The price was right; this was another Rick Steves recommendation. He has got to be getting a cut from this hotel, I think everyone here is an American and I am sure they are all here based on the guidebook recommendation. Well this is was longer than I wanted it to be, but I was too busy or tired to write the past few days