|Path: Eric's Site / Eric / Travel / Germany / Visits / Paris with Simone||Related: Germany, Journal, Visits (Site Map)|
I found a map and headed for my hotel, about a kilometer from the train station. This gave me an opportunity to observe a little of Paris on the streets—pedestrians, traffic, retail stores, and some residential buildings. My first impression was that Paris is noisy, gritty like New York, and has more motorcycles and fewer bicycles than Munich. It has the big-city feel and pace, but I did not sense the "everything is here" feeling that New York has that justifies the intensity. Also, Paris is filled with tourists, and they have sucked the culture out of the city. (Yes, I know I was a tourist too, but I was there on important business [chocolate], and I am a bona-fide European resident, with a permit and certification and everything. [I later learned I am actually a citizen of the European Union.])
I arrived at the hotel around 8:30, and they had a room available even though check-in time was not until 14:00. The travel agent booked a double, and I had questioned him repeatedly about the room having two beds. Well, a "double" room means a room with a double bed, and the hotel said the agent should have booked a "twin." Fortunately, since I was early, they were able to switch rooms. Even so, the room with two small beds was smaller than the single-bed room I had at the Ibis when I arrived in Ulm.
Somebody had put the four pairs of clothes hangers in the closet in spectral order: red, orange, green, blue.
I waited for Simone in the hotel lobby. They had a British newspaper on hand, so I looked through it. It was all gossip, cover-to-cover, except for a few pages of things like sports. There was gossip about members of the royal family, gossip about servants of the royal family, and gossip disguised as news. For example, a story about the new fees for driving in congested London was really gossip about the mayor and the prime minister. (They apparently do not like each other, and the prime minister was fined for having a vehicle operating in London without having paid the fee.)
|Basilique du Sacré Coeur.|
We got lost on the way back to the hotel and were late for the meeting with Emery, which is okay because he was later. Simone says that is Paris time. We took the Métropolitain to Piccolo Teatro, one of the vegetarian restaurants on the list Simone had prepared. I had an Indonesian dish. [2021-11-21: It later was the subject of a British Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares episodes and failed afterward.] After lunch, we walked to a nearby American grocery store. They have a lot of bland food there that it is hard to imagine anybody even wanting, let alone missing enough to pay import prices for, but they did have Domino brown sugar, so I will see if that works better for me than the German version.
Paris is dusty. We frequently saw workers spraying the streets and the sidewalks with water. Even so, my black shoes turned gray every day. That does not happen in Ulm.
|The Seine seen from a Parisian bridge.|
|Back of Notre Dame.|
After Notre Dame, we set a course for Tour Eiffel. This involved finding a Métropolitain or RER stop, which was not where we expected it to be, so we had to look around a little. This was the first of many nuisances with the Paris public transit system. I will describe those at length, with pictures, later. Navigating the system is not easy. There are stops all over, but they are not well connected by lines between them. Transfer points were often inconveniently located, there are two main train systems to switch between, and we often chose our destination based on where we could get easily and not where we wanted to go most.
There was a long line for the elevators. The stairs had a short line and a
smaller fee and offered to burn off the calories we would be consuming
in Paris, so Simone and I walked up to the second viewing platform.
That is 674 steps and 116 meters, not as high as the viewing platform of
the Münster in Ulm (768 steps and 143 meters). The third platform
is higher, but the stairway was not open, and there was a crowd waiting
for the elevator. You cannot waste time waiting when there are chocolate
stores to visit, so we did not go up.
|Tour Eiffel seen from east end of Parc du Champ de Mars.||Looking up at Tour Eiffel from base.||Tour Eiffel seen from underneath.|
Naturally, I took pictures from Tour
Eiffel. They are below, showing views proceeding clockwise from the south.
|Dense buildings.||The Seine to the southwest.||Palais de Chaillot and Jardins du Trocadero.|
|The Seine to the east.||Parc du Champ de Mars.||Looking down from Tour Eiffel, the people are small, but not as small as they are from the Münster in Ulm.|
Leaving Tour Eiffel, we went looking for a subway stop to get to Musée d'Orsay. We needed a specific stop, and we walked more than twice the length of Parc du Champ de Mars because the map was marked incorrectly. The right stop was near our starting point, the Tour Eiffel. The map error is not the fault of the transit system, and neither is the medical problem that held up the trains that evening, but we missed an earlier train that was not held up because the directional signs were confusing. That was not just us, because I saw several people change their minds and dash out of the train.
The transit system was a nuisance the entire time we were in Paris. I should get some of this out now:
|Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother by James McNeill Whistler, 1871.|
After Musée d'Orsay, we went back to the hotel. The exit at our stop, La Chapelle, is awful. You come up from underground, and there is no apparent sign to the exit (sortie). What is apparent is a wall directly in front of you and two passageways on either side of it. One goes to an escalator up to another platform, and another leads, I think, to some gates you do not want to go through. The exit is actually behind you, but only to the right, not to the left.
From the hotel, we walked around the neighborhood to pick a restaurant
for dinner and ended up at an Indian place.
After the trek to the train (you really ought to check the trek), we rode to the Louvre stop. The ride on the train must have been at least as long as the walk to the train. In time, if not in distance. From the Louvre stop, we crossed the street and passed under an arch in the Louvre into the courtyard with the Pyramide.
The Louvre is a big building with
lots of art. There are some neat things in the Louvre...
|... like this floor, which I used to create the background image for this web page [later removed].||And this wall, which is part of the original Louvre.||And a lot of windows.|
The museum pass gets you into 70 museums and monuments and the Paris sewer system. The €30 pass is for three days. It also lets you bypass most lines at the museums.
|La Gioconda, a portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, circa 1504.|
Simone said the Louvre said it is the biggest building in the world, but I do not believe that. The Pentagon is pretty big, and any decent skyscraper should beat the Louvre. I think the Louvre may be just the biggest museum building in the world. Anyway, that image of La Gioconda to the left is just 2880 bytes, so they obviously do not need all that much space to keep all the art.
|Aphrodite of Melos.|
We saw other stuff in the Louvre too, and some of it was art. But here are the pictures I took.
|Courtyard seen through Louvre window.||Path between pyramids in the Louvre courtyard.|
|Saint Germain l'Auxerrois and the back of the Louvre.|
After lunch, we walked along and near Rue de Rivoli. I planned the route because there is a sequence of fine chocolate stores along it: Fauchon (overblown chocolates, good pastry), Hédiard (pretty good, flavors strong but not overpowering), Dalloyau (moderate flavors, good balance of chocolate and nut flavors), and Maison du Chocolat (okay). Maybe we encountered La Marquise de Sevigne (yes, it is fine, so what) in there too, or maybe that was later. I cannot recall; it was not in our original plans. The staff in the first store was somewhat inattentive, but the service got better each time I entered a store with one more bag from a fine chocolate store.
|Métropolitain station sign.|
|A typical sign in France.|
Photographs of the exterior of the Arc de Triomphe are below. If you will
notice in the second one, there is no crosswalk from the surrounding sidewalk
to the Arc de Triomphe. We crossed a street or two before we found a sign
directing us to the underground passage.
|Arc de Triomphe seen from a distance.||Arc de Triomphe in the traffic circle.||Arc de Triomphe and Simone.|
|A wall of Arc de Triomphe.||An arch of Arc de Triomphe.||Eternal Flame at Arc de Triomphe.|
We climbed the stairs inside one column of Arc de Triomphe. The fee for that
is included in the museum pass. At the top, we took the mandatory pictures.
|Avenue des Champs …lysées.||A tower seen from an arch.||Obligatory t-shirt. I have to wear it in two more cities.|
|Some statues do not like having their picture taken.|
|Helical staircase in Arc de Triomphe and Simone.|
We finished our descent and walked along part of Avenue des
Champs …lysées. Avenue des Champs …lysées is
a tourist shopping street and is not interesting.
|Le Chant des Voyelles business card.|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer socks.|
|Three views of the Habitrail at the Centre Pompidou.|
|Clear art.||Red art.||Orange art.||Yellow art.||Green art.||Blue art.||Violet art.|
That was all we did Friday. We left Centre Pompidou and took the
Métropolitain back to the hotel.
|Château de Versailles.|
In the château, we walked through the state apartments of the king and queen. This included the Royal Chapel, the Upper Chapel Vestibule, the Hercules Drawing-Room, the Drawing-Room of Plenty, the Venus Drawing-Room, the Diana Drawing-Room, the Mars Drawing-Room, the Mercury Drawing-Room, the Apollo Drawing-Room, the War Drawing-Room, the Hall of Mirrors, the Peace Drawing-Room, the Queen's Bedchamber, the Nobles' Salon, the Queen's Antechamber, the Queen's Guardroom, the Coronation Room, the 1792 Room, the Hall of Battles, and the Prince's Staircase.
Then we walked around the grounds some. Pictures of the apartments and
the grounds are below. Much of the furnishings in the château are
opulossified (opulent and ossified—fancy things gathering dust for no
purpose). It looks like nobody has polished the mirrors in a decade.
|A ceiling in the château.||Grounds seen from inside.||Chandeliers.|
|Hall of Mirrors.||Grounds seen from inside.||Grounds seen from inside.|
|Marie Antoinette slept here.||Simone in corridor.||Corridor.|
|A lonely flower begins spring.||Exterior of château.||Grounds.|
|Fountain.||Pond with Simone.|
|Various buildings and scenes at the Queen's Hamlet.|
|Part of the path the Grand Trianon.|
|Louis-Philippe's billiard table, from 1836.|
|Colors of the Malachite Room.|
|Rear of château, seen after most of the walk back from the Grand Trianon.|
|Paris transit tickets.|
Versailles was a lot of walking, and it was a long day. After a day like
that, I would have liked to get right back to the hotel and plop down.
Do you think the Paris transit system would help with that? Of course
not. We got out at Gare du Nord, which has a pedestrian tunnel to La Chapelle,
because many people would rather walk than go to the nuisance of
transferring to another train. One of the things I do not like about the
transit system is that sometimes you have to use your ticket to get out
of the system. That makes some sense in the RER, because it extends outside
of Paris, and some trips cost more than others. However, we had to use our
tickets three times between leaving the train and attaining our
freedom on the street. At least by then I was remembering the confusing
exit configuration at La Chapelle.
|Côte de France.|
|Paris in the morning sun.|
|Street opening for the sewer system.|
|Line for the sewer system.|
|Parisian sewer rules.|
So, down we went into the sewer system. The sewer is dark and smelly.
|Parisian sewer boat.||Parisian sewer channel.||Parisian sewer tunnel.|
|Parisian sewage.||Parisian sewage.||Parisian sewer-cleaning ball.|
|Parisian sewer engineer.||Parisian sewer museum display.||Parisian sewer-cleaning ball.|
|Parisian sewer rat.|
The exhibits are suspended from the ceiling. I think that is so they do not block the floor. The floor is a grating over the working sewer and is likely removable when access is needed. One of the sewer computers is visible. Some Ethernet addresses of the Parisian sewer computers are 00:00:11:01:e5:e5 and aa:00:04:00:03:08.
|Stuffed sewer rat.|
|Parisian sewer exit.|
After the sewer system, we tried another chocolate store, but it was also closed. That is too bad, because we could have compared the chocolate store staff treatment when I carried the fine chocolate store shopping bags to the treatment when I carried the sewer system shopping bag.
Simone took a quick look at some architecture near the chocolate store, and we headed back to the Métropolitain station. Along the way, a Japanese tourist asked for directions to Musée d'Orsay, and I told him which way it was. Now I have given directions in three countries on two continents.
From the Métropolitain, we went looking for lunch at another vegetarian restaurant, but it had been taken over by some chain. We wandered a bit and ended up at a café, where we had sandwiches on panini, sat outside, and did some people-watching. The panini was better than any I have had in the US, nice and crispy.
After lunch, we went to Musée des Arts et Métiers, the museum of arts and measures. This is the museum for engineers! They have all sorts of machines, measuring devices, science and technology displays, and so on. The displays need more explanation, but they are interesting nonetheless. The museum did not have guides in stock in either English or French, so I took German and Simone took something else, Italian perhaps.
Several exhibits are shown below. The device for measuring a ballistic path is clever. When you have no way to make a visual recording and touching a projectile will interfere with its path, how do you record the path? You can put loops along the path and adjust each one until the projectile falls through it without interference. Then the loop positions illustrate the path.
|Slide rule by Partridge, 1671.||Device for measuring ballistic paths.||Apparatus for measuring the speed of light.|
|Attempted flying machine.||The perfect place for those who worship cars.||Model of a hyperboloid.|
Other exhibits, not shown, included paper that lights up when you push a button (used for LCD backlights but odd when you see it by itself) and a helical staircase without a central support.
For dinner, we went to Restaurant le Souk, a Moroccan restaurant. We got there early, and they told us they were not open yet. It was after 6 p.m.! Simone and I had some miscommunication resulting in her thinking it was after 7 p.m. and me thinking the restaurant opened at 6:30. We wandered for a bit. Near the restaurant is a store with the items below. It was closed, or I would have been tempted to buy the Bush t-shirt.
|Ferme Ta Bush!
(Shut your mouth!)
|Protest dollar.||State of Liberty with weapons.|
We returned to the restaurant around 6:45, but it did not open until 7:30! They let us in, and Simone and I talked while the staff had their dinners. When business began, we both had good couscous dishes.
After dinner, we went to the hotel, collected our things, and walked to the train station. (You would not want to take the Métropolitain to get there, no telling how long that would take, and we had a train to catch.) We arrived in time, but the train was late. Everybody was milling around the status displays, because they do not tell you what platform the train will be on until the last minute. (In Ulm, the platforms are all labeled for the entire train schedule. You can tell what platform your train will be on even before you buy your ticket.)
The train did arrive a little late, and we got on for the trip back to Ulm. I took the pictures below. Simone likes the second. The third is the best photograph except that I caught Simone blinking. The couchettes are comfortable, and I slept a few hours.
Simone was a delightful companion. Touring Paris was much more fun with her than it could possibly have been otherwise.
|Simone comes home with me.|
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© Copyright 2003 by Eric Postpischil.