We woke up Sunday morning, grabbed a cup of coffee from this place down the street from our hotel, and then made our way to Notre Dame. We had seen it from far away the day before, but we were actually going to attempt to get into the church this morning. I say attempt because it was Easter Sunday, and the crowd that was lined up to sit in on mass in was longer than the line to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower that morning.
We ended up meeting with a few friends who were studying in Dijon, France, before mass, and after battling the locals and dedicated church goers, we finally made it inside. I’ve been to a ton of churches and cathedrals in every country I’ve been to so far, and after a while, they all start to look the same. I have to say though; Notre Dame was like nothing I’d ever seen. The detail in all of the stained glass windows and the architectural elements of the church itself is incredible, especially when you take into account that it was built in the 12th century. I can see why people call it one of the finest examples of French architecture not only in France, but in the whole of Europe (learned that while I was there).
After about half an hour of staring and picture taking, we made our way out of the cathedral with the other hundreds of tourists who more concerned with our cameras than with mass. Go figure, I’m not even religious and I spent Easter in one of the most recognizable religious institutions in the world. Oh the wonders of studying abroad.
After mass, we headed to the Saint Michel area to snag some lunch. Saint Michel has this massive fountain (kind of a miniature version of the Trevi on Rome) where there are always street performers, and streets that are packed with restaurants and kebab stands. They offered us a free glass of wine at the first place we walked past – obviously we ate there. We met the owner of the restaurant who happened to be from right outside Boston, so we chatted it up with him during the meal. Pretty crazy meeting someone from Boston in the heart of Paris. I tried some escargot while we were there. It’s not that bad – really just tastes like the butter and garlic they drown it in – but like the frog legs, I’ll probably never order it again.
We headed to the Louvre after lunch. I don’t care that much about art, but you can’t go to Paris without seeing the
Mona Lisa, and admission’s free on the first Sunday of every month, so I was game to go. We actually got in quickly because our friends that came up from Dijon knew about some underground entrance that you can get to from the metro. First and only stop in the Louvre: Mona herself. Everyone talks about how small it is, and how far way you have to stand, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the painting is larger than a post card and you can get about 10 feet away if you’re not afraid to put on the boxing gloves and fight your way to the front of the crowd. We saw a few more paintings, realized we were to tired and/ or uninterested to keep going around the museum, and headed out to the courtyard with the giant glass pyramids to hang for a while.
We went out for dinner and drinks that night and that was about the gist of Sunday.
We woke up a little late on Sunday and headed to the Palace of Versailles. It’s about a half hour train ride out of the city, and of course we got on the wrong train at first, so it took over an hour to get there. To top it off, you couldn’t get into the actual Palace because it was Easter Monday. Luckily, you were allowed to walk around the gardens, so it wasn’t a complete loss. The gardens are massive, and although nothing had really bloomed, it was still nice to walk around, and you could get some great shots of the Palace. We relaxed there for the afternoon, and then headed back into the city later on, this time on the right train.
That night, we hung out in the park next to the Eiffel tower drinking wine and champagne until 1:30 in the morning. It was just as cool on the third night as it was on the first. And of course we had to get some crepes while we were there. Honestly, what’s more French than chilling under the Eiffel Tower with a bottle of champagne in one hand and a crepe in the other. That was probably my favorite experience in Paris; talk about living the dream.
My flight on Tuesday was at 3:30, but I had to make inside the Eiffel Tower before I left. It took two hours of waiting in line while being harassed by guys trying to sell tower key chains, but I finally made it to the tower elevators. Unfortunately I could only make it to the second level because it would’ve taken another hour to get to the top, but it was good enough for me. Still got some great pictures of the city and the skyline, and I can now say I’ve been into the Eiffel Tower.
Paris was easily my favorite trip so far, and it’s one of the few places I’d like to get back to someday.