Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 138. Tourismus muss weh tun!

Today is our last day in Paris, and we are in a bit of a panic. There are so many things to see and do! We decided that the best way to pack in the views was to buy a day pass for the Paris Open Tour buses, which have four touristic routes around the city. But before we could get to the starting point Chrissy’s unerring shopping instinct led us to Galleries Lafayette, one of the most exclusive department stores in Paris.

I thought “that is it”, I will never get the Medels out of here, particularly because the Summer Sales have started, and all clothes are 30 to 50% off. But no, they were very good, and in half an hour we were out, with only a pretty ring as souvenir. (However, Anna made it quite clear that we could drag her through Paris all day, but she wanted at least one hour of shopping toward the end).

So, we took the bus, sat in the upper deck, and proceeded to enjoy the city: We saw the Opera, the Music Academy, the Quey des Orfebres (where one of my literary heroes, Comissaire Maigret, has solved many mysteries as the star of the Police Judiciare), and Notre Dame. From there we walked to the Quartier Latin to admire the Universite de la Sorbonne and soak in the atmosphere.

By this time we were getting hungry, so we found a creperie where the friendly attendant prepared for us a crepe de fromage et champignons, a crepe de fromage et saucisson, and a crepe Nutella. I could get used to this type of “le fast food”.

Back in the bus we went through La Place de la Concorde (which I think should be called la Place de la Discorde, since it was here that the citoyens de la Republique beheaded Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), and then went up the Champs Elysees to La Place de l’Etoile (at whose center is L’Arc de Triomphe), where we were treated to a fine example of Parisian driving. Twelve large avenues disgorge their traffic into this giant traffic circle, where the only valid rule is the survival of the fittest; however, our bus driver fearlessly drove into the melee and gave us not one but two tours around so we could admire L’Arc de Triomphe from all possible angles.

Our next stop was La Tour Eiffel, where we dutifully made a long line to climb to the second stage. The view was magnificent, and we had a good time taking photos and recognizing the places where we had been.

In this photo, note the small statue at the end of the thin island that appears between Chrissy and Anna. It is the original Statue of Liberty. The French government then made a much enlarged copy and gave it as a present to the United States.

Here are photos of the Palais the Chaillot, where the Naval Museum is located, and of the Champ de Mars and the Ecole Militaire

And the area of Montmartre with its impressive basilica of Sacre-Cour

To finish we took the stairs down from the Tour Eiffel, because we are into pain and “tourismus muss weh tun”.

The visit to the Tour Eiffel took a bit longer than we had expected, so after passing through Les Invalides and the Musee Rodin, it became time to make good our promise to Anna. I thought Montmartre would be a nice place for her to do her shopping, and boy was I wrong. Starting in the Moulin Rouge there is about a mile of sex boutiques and live shows; fun to walk through, but the merchandise is not quite what she had in mind. I walked a bit ahead of Chrissy and Anna, to see if there was an end to this modern Gomorrah, and that was quite a mistake. In no time I was approached by “merchants” who invited me to look at their wares, and I was having a hard time politely extricating myself from them. Fortunately Anna saw my plight and came to my rescue, loudly calling “Papa” as she and Chrissy took me by the arms. The nice ladies smiled and waved at Chrissy as if saying “we didn’t know”, and we made a beeline for the metro to find a different shopping area. We did eventually found a small shopping center with many boutiques, and Anna promptly disappeared. She had from 7 to 8 pm to spend her savings, and by George she did. She is a good shopper, and her 75 euros produced four very cute (and very short) dresses, a couple of blouses, a belt, and a few other things I cannot remember.

We were at a crossroads. Should we go home and have a good night sleep? Nah! We had Montmartre in our list of places to visit, and with our last bit of energy we went back there. Of course we climbed the hill to admire Sacre-Cour and to enjoy the sunset over Paris, and closely clustered together went back to the area of the Moulin Rouge. And then sweet little Anna figured out that we had not visited any museums that day, and she took us to the Erotism Museum right off the main street (however, since this is a G-rated blog, you don't get to see any photos from this rather unusual museum). On the verge of exhaustion we bought an ice cream and sat in the park, enjoying the lights of Montmartre (but I don’t think this is what people have in mind when they talk about seeing the lights of Paris by night).

1 comment:

MJC Rocks said...

Paris was a great city. Sue and I were there last year, and paralleled some of your adventures, including the Gallery Lafayette (I more or less realized I was in a cathedral dedicated to a different deity). I was also propositioned in the Montmarte while Susie sat in the taxi next to me! The Sacre-Cour was beautiful as was Notre Dame. I have enjoyed reading your adventures!