October 23, 2006

City of Light

I spent more time in Paris than anywhere else on my trip; some 6 six days in total. I'd been there once before on my first ever trip out of the country but I only had 24 hours and ended up running around like a madman. It was great to have the option to see a bunch of stuff one day and spend the next mostly reading a book in café.

Paris is also the first city I've visited in some time where I could see myself staying. Not that I'm looking to move to France, but they have a very pleasant pace of life over there. And Paris is both stunningly beautiful and easily accessible at the same time.

Some highlights:

  • Most of the time I was staying on the Left Bank near Place St. Michel. I can definitely recommend the Hotel Royal St. Michel which was ideally located and quite a comfortable stay. Staying near St. Michel means you're walking distance from the big destinations like Notre Dame and the Louvre but stuff like Panthéon and Jardin du Luxembourg is also quite close.

  • Being able to make multiple visits to the Louvre is a real benefit of a longer stay. I particularly enjoyed a more leisurely stroll through the indoor sculpture gardens, Cour Puget and Cour Marly.

  • Ste. Chappelle is worth seeing during the day so you can check out the amazing stained glass and worth a second trip at night when they perform classical music concerts. Hearing Bach in a room that once held a piece of the True Cross and the Crown of Thorns is pretty great.

  • I was really underwhelmed by the Centre Pompidou, but the free entertainment that goes on outside is highly recommended. Seeing Tuvan throat singing live is like watching an amazing magic trick.

  • Get some altitude. Both the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur are among the most touristy destinations in Paris. But whatever, the views from the top are worth the hassle.

  • See the catacombs. But be warned, endless subterranean rooms filled with artistically-arranged skulls and femurs turns out be really frickin' creepy.
Finally, I'd like to give a big merci beaucoup to all my high school French teachers. I've lost my intuition for noun genders and don't really remember the subjunctive at all, but I was mostly functional en français. I was even able to give correct directions when stopped by French nationals on more than one occasion. Also, Madame Berk's unit on the geography of Paris may be the most useful thing I was ever taught; good job.


Dgcopter said...

Dude, that throat singing deal? Friggin' mindblowing. I don't know how those guys do that without killing themselves. Or at least causing their throats to explode.

goldman said...

Yup - one of those dudes stood up and did an unaccompanied solo. The whole time I was looking around for where the casio keyboard was hidden. Being up close when they do the freaky high pitched whistle-y style is quite a thing.