Today was my first full day in Paris, and I wore myself out. I do tend to do that when I travel. I want to walk and see everything!
And between arriving Thursday night and sightseeing today, I’ve done a lot of walking. My flight arrived a bit late yesterday, and with an hour train ride I finally arrived in the apartment I’m staying in at 8:00 p.m. Since it is light here until 10:00 or 10:30 p.m., I decided to take a much-needed shower and go exploring. I’m staying near the Sacré Coeur, so there was plenty to see.
Montmartre, the area of Paris that the Sacré Coeur is located in, is a really great little neighborhood. It’s also at the top of a very steep hill. This hill lends some fabulous views, but also sore legs. But the walk up the hill is well worth it to see the Sacré Coeur. It was especially nice to arrive at 10:00 p.m. There was an air of celebration, though nothing particularly special was going on. But there were quite a lot of people, vendors, musicians having a good time on the summer evening.
Yesterday I returned to the Sacré Coeur and went inside. Though I’m not religious, I still appreciate experiencing the art and atmosphere of European churches. There’s such a great amount of history in them. I was most impressed by the exterior architecture and the organ pipes with the Sacré Coeur, though the stained glass and statues were beautiful as well. I think I prefer the Notre Dame, but it was still very nice. I prefer the area around Sacré Coeur to the Notre Dame though. I really like Montmarte.
After my adventures at the Sacré Coeur and surrounding area, I went back to my apartment and took a vacation nap. It’s how I roll.
I woke up refreshed and decided to head down by the Musée d’Orsay and Louvre. I took the metro, which was super easy and the line close to where I’m staying goes straight there. Once there I started buying dinner. Du pain sàle avec les olives et une tarte aux framboises at the boulangerie. My next mission was cheese, and I discovered an artisan cheese shop where I bought some Roquefort bleu. I already had a bottle of wine (2€50! And it was pretty good. It tasted a bit like mead.) and a bottle of water. Une pomme came along for the ride since I didn’t eat it for breakfast. All of these transactions took place in French, with minimal English. Huzzah! I supped on the Seine across from the Musée d’Orsay (FYI – I didn’t drink the entire bottle of wine during this one meal.).
After dinner I walked around in the Jardin de Tuileries. The French really know how to make a park. This one has beautiful flowers and trees, fantastic statues, small pools where ducks swim and toy boats float, a carnival, a trampoline area for the kids, a carousel, and many nice places to sit. Plenty of good people watching.
My next plan for last night was tango on the Seine. I started heading to the location after my adventures in Jardin de Tuileries. From the map, I didn’t think it would be that far so I walked. A combination of me misjudging and my other adventures catching up with my legs caused me to turn around. I ran into World Cup shenanigans on the way back, policed by the police in what looked like riot gear. I felt uncomfortable being there, but there were no problems.
Now I’m in my apartment listening to World Cup shenanigans going on in the street below me (Rue des 3 Frères – I’m on 5th floor) with my left knee elevated. At 10:50, it’s still not completely dark, but it’s certainly night.
I’m feeling very grateful to be on this trip. I’ve had a few really intense moments of gratitude that have brought me to tears or near tears. One of these moments happened when I was leaving the airport. There were a bunch of Paris pictures (e.g. L’Arc de Triomphe, La Tour Eiffel, etc…), and I wound up crying on the moving ramp. The same thing happened when I saw the Eiffel Tower from the hill of the Sacre Coeur (see photo above). And when I was supping on the Seine. Though my knee hurts, I am so happy to be here.
I still don’t know exactly where my love of France came from, but I do love it here…
Vive la France!