Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paris: partie 1

We so excited for PARIS!

Our weekend began with the French-est of travel options: le TGV. Les TGVs are the super speed trains that travel up to 300 km/h (186 mph) and are known for being extremely punctual. After about a 3-hour journey, we got first glimpses of Paris! It didn’t seem possible that we were actually in Paris, France. Even more crazy than that: being greeted at the train station by my best friend of 12 years in PARIS. Still blows my mind that we were able to make this trip together, plus it was so nice to have a little taste of home all the way over here.

After taking the metro for the first time and dropping our stuff off at our hotel we set off for le Tour Eiffel. We stopped to eat dinner first at a little café near our hotel. Our hotel was located just outside Paris city limits, right outside the 17th arrondisement (Paris (which is a circle) is divided into arrondisements, or, districts; the smaller the number, the closer to the city center (and the more expensive) that arrondisement is; there are 20 arrondisements in total). After asking many questions to our patient waiter about food (even Hannah and I didn’t know a lot of the vocab), we managed to order our meals and pay, and then off to le Tour Eiffel we went!

The Paris metro system is really fantastic. I’m sure its extremely similar to the NYC subway or the London tube, but I’ve never seen either of those, so it was cool to get to use the Paris system. Everything is color coded and numbered, making it really easy to navigate even if you don’t speak any French – which apparently plenty of people who take the metro don’t. We heard SO MUCH American English on the metro all weekend. It made me really happy that I chose to study in a smaller town like Grenoble, where I rarely, if ever, hear English.

We got off the metro and were smack dab in the middle of Paris. First thing I decided upon ascending from the metro: Paris is beautiful. Second thing: You could not pay me enough money to drive in that city. There don’t really seem to be any strict rules at all, and the huge roundabouts just kind of don’t have lanes. Its terrifying, and we only watched from the (questionable) safety of the sidewalks.
Musée des Invalides

Cameron is a happy lad.

First glimpse!

We approached le Tour from the far end of Champs de Mars, the giant lawn on the south-east end of le Tour. Across the street from that end of Champs de Mars is le Musée des Invalides, a military museum where Napoleon is buried, which is a gorgeous white building. Regal doesn’t even cover it – that’s how a majority of buildings in Paris are, though. And then, we turned a corner, and voilà, le Tour Eiffel! Right there! In front of me! The weird thing about the Eiffel Tower is that you’ve seen it in so many pictures your whole life that it almost just looks fake, like someone’s just tricking you. But no, it actually does exist. And I was there. On the lawn of Champs de Mars. With my best friend. What is life.

We took tons of pictures and then just lounged on the lawn watching the sun set (which doesn’t happen until around 10pm during summer in Paris), and waiting for the Tower to be lit. Once it begins to go dark outside the Tower is lit with lights along the edges. It isn’t until 11pm, though, that the full majesty of the Tower can be seen. From 11pm on (I’m not sure how late though), the tower is mega-lit for five minutes every hour, on the hour – it looks like thousands of people’s camera flashes going off all over the Tower, for five solid minutes.
Underbelly of le Tour Eiffel

Gig 'em from Paris!

It is one of the most stunning (man-made) things I’ve ever seen. We wanted to go up in the Tower that night, but the top was closed because too many people were up there for the time being, so we decided to just wait so we could go all the way to the top the following night. We considered for maybe a hot second going out for drinks after leaving the Tower that first night, but we realized we were exhausted and had to get up at a decent hour in order to fit in as much of Paris in a day as possible, so we went back to the hotel to get some much needed rest.

1 comment:

  1. The way you write, and the pictures you take, makes me feel like I am right there with you. I can't imagine how breathtaking Le Tour must be at night! I'm so happy you get to see K&C this weekend -- tell them I said "hey" and have a wonderful time. 143