by Thing One
This is just a sampling of the many, many photos Thing One was able to take before his camera broke. Visit the Gimlet Gallery for your own virtual tour through the City of Lights and the Loire Valley.
To get to Paris we had to fly on two planes. The first flight was from Seattle to Atlanta, and from Atlanta we flew to Paris. We left Seattle at noon on the 25th, and when we arrived in Paris it was about 9:30 am on the morning of the 26th. We stayed in the Hotel Princesse Caroline which is in the 17th arrondissement and very close to the Arc de Triomphe.
There were lots of street performers there and we saw lots of tourists falling for a trick: a guy would come up to a tourist with a piece of string and ask him if he wanted to see a trick, then tie the string on the tourist’s wrist. When the tourist couldn’t get the string off his wrist, the guy would make the tourist pay for his string.
On the way, we went past Moulin Rouge (which is very different from the Red Mill at home), and also past Les Deux Moulins, where Amélie was filmed. We rode the Metro back to our hotel and ate dinner at the restaurant Chez Clément.
Saturday was divided between a bus tour around Paris and exploring the city on our own.
The guide took our group to a place that is a view of the Eiffel Tower. Many people were selling mini Eiffel Towers. The smallest ones are three for €1, but if you say ‘no’ to them enough, they will drop it down to five for €1. We drove past the Peace Arc and the Invalids, where Napoleon’s Tomb is, and where Louis XIV kept crippled soldiers. Then we went to Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter and the Louvre. We ate dinner at Le Decaze, and then we went to the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower was built for a World’s Fair, and nobody liked it because they thought it would fall down on the entire city. Monet liked to eat in the Eiffel Tower restaurant because it was the only place in Paris where the tower could not be seen. The government then promised it would only last for 20 years, but after 20 years, the Parisians at that time liked it so it stayed. The Eiffel Tower is a lot like the Space Needle because on the ground floor there are stores, a quarter of the way up there is another floor, and the best view and pay telescopes are on the top. It’s cold and windy at the top, and there are lights on the Tower shining down on the city below. It was a long wait to get into a crowded elevator for the trip back down.
Sunday the 28th was the Europe Daylight Savings Time, so we had to adjust our time another hour. We left Paris on a tour bus to visit the Loire Valley for the day.
We went to the Château de Chambord near Orleans. and saw the elaborate staircases (which Leonardo da Vinci may have designed), paintings, statues, and rooms. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Anne De Bretagne, which has good crepes. Then we went to the Château de Chenonceau, and then the restaurant Saint Leverin, and then we returned to the hotel.
Next we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg.
While shopping for souvenirs our group went to Fauchon, which had chocolate sculptures. Then we went to separate places for dinner. Suddenly it poured very hard and there was also lightning and thunder. My umbrella broke and I had to buy a new one. We finally found a restaurant that accepted the gift card that we had been given by the tour guide, and their food was good, but the waiters teased us, calling us “Enfants Americains” (American children) and made fun of our French.
Tuesday the 30th was another excursion day. First we went to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres from the 13th Century, and I found that my camera’s screen had broke. I then took videos of the cathedral with my iPod. Then everybody had lunch and went to the shops in the town around the church. Then we went to Versailles. It was beautiful but very crowded, including lots of elementary school groups on field trips.
After Versailles, our bus took us back to Paris, we had dinner, and then went back to the hotel.
Wednesday was a free day in Paris, so some of us went to the Catacombs. It was interesting how all the bones were in patterns and there were many French poems about death. When we came out of the Catacombs we ended up near one of the Universities of Paris. Either the taxis weren’t in service or they wouldn’t take us to the Arc de Triomphe (near our hotel) but we eventually got back to the hotel by metro. We were going to go up the Arc de Triomphe, but we had to be with somebody 18+ so we couldn’t do it. For dinner, some people went to a chain restaurant on the Champs Élysées called Hippopotamus, which has good steak.
April Fools’ Day is called Poisson D’Avril, or Fish of April in France. At our midnight curfew check the teachers played a prank: they said there was a strike and we all had to go home, now. But instead, in the morning we went to Monet’s house, Giverny, and we got to see the garden and house. We spent the rest of the afternoon in Paris, where we went to an ice cream place in the Latin Quarter. After dinner, we did last minute shopping and packing. On Friday we got up early, flew from Paris to Salt Lake City, and then from there to Seattle.
My favorite parts of the trip were the views of the Eiffel Tower, the castles, and most of the restaurants. I wish I could have gone on a boat on the Seine River. The weather could also have been better, and I did not expect my camera to break. One member of our group had her backpack stolen at the Basilique; she had put it down on the ground in front of her. She had to go to the embassy to get a new passport. Other than those small things everything was good and it was a safe trip. I liked riding the Metro all over Paris, and every night after dinner we would go out for pastries or ice cream at nearby cafes.
Of course everybody should go to the Eiffel Tower, and also go to shops on the Latin Quarter, and Notre Dame and the castles. Soda in Europe can range from €1 to €5, but all soda in Europe except for Fanta tastes better than the soda in America. Also, the fashion shops and restaurants are great to visit. Mostly I ate crepes and meat, which were both very good, and better than the food in America. The English translations of the menus call crepes pancakes, so “pancakes” are better in France.
Overall it was a great trip, and we went to the best places to visit on the trip.
Tags: france, paris