It was the shortest night of my life.
Flying in to the future is something a seasoned traveler probably gets used to, but still when I fly, my brain gets a little confused when it sees the sun coming up when it should be only 3am. I could not sleep, it was simply impossible. Though, Air France was a wonderful carrier, and I geeked out over getting to track our progress as we made our way to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
Though seeing the sun rise over the Atlantic, and seeing small French towns come in to view, was absolutely surreal. After making it through passport control and baggage claim, I got to see Valerie for the first time – wonderful feeling. We made our way to our hotel, deciding to use the most cost-effective way, the RER-B from Charles De Gaulle airport. Little did we know that it was a bit sketchy. First, a little girl walked around and gave us a piece of paper asking for money, which wasn’t too threatening, but then 3 kids probably about my age shoved clipboards in our faces asking us to sign a petition. Apparently this is a common ploy, with fine print declaring a required donation of 20 Euros. Val thought they were reaching for her purse to, which was hard for us to see since the clip boards were obscuring our field of vision. We talked them away from us but were a bit jaded for the rest of the RER trip.
Having been worn out from out travels, we took Saturday night a bit easy, just grabbing a panini, and visiting the Jardin des Plantes in the Latin Quarter, which happened to be right across from the hotel we were staying at. The Jardin was a very beautiful garden (and apparently zoo), that even impresses in the winter time. We had a brief stroll around, using the time for me and Val to catch up on the past 3 months we missed of each other.
The next day, Sunday, we hit the ground running. We took the Sandeman Free Walking Tour of Paris. They do these free tours in many European cities, and they are all based on tips (Val did this in Dublin before.) This is a photo of our tour guide, Gabi.
They walked us throughout all of the major headliners of Paris, including Notre Dame de Paris, Champs-Élysées, and the museums. Of course, a tour of Paris has to show off the beautiful glass pyramid in front of the Lourve.
Funny note about the Louvre. Gabi made a comment about the speed of French bureaucracy. The Louvre is lined with hundreds of statues of iconic artists, philosophers, writers and mathematicians, one of which being Voltaire. Several years ago, Voltaire’s nose fell off. This was very sad for the French government, so they have been convening to decide whether to hire a new artist to craft a new nose (and if so, how should this artist be vetted, how could he be qualified?), and if not, should they just leave it alone? Well, since a reasonably decision can’t be made for several years, they have found a temporary solution by throwing a net over Voltaire’s statue.
After the tour we walked up Champs-Élysées (which had a Christmas market going on), Champs-Élysées is the very high-end area, famous as Paris’ outlet of fashion to the world. Up at the top of the street is the famous Arc de Triomphe. It’s surprisingly enormous up close:
We then took the short jaunt over to see the Eiffel Tower up close. We were very excited to climb the tower, and after committing to a line for a while, we overheard a lovely British family announcing that the third floor (the top level) was closed.
Disappointed, we gave up, snapped some pictures, visited yet another Christmas market (look at these chocolate chunks).
We tracked that we had walked over 11 miles on that day. Dinner was at a random little place in the Latin Quarter at this wonderful street: