Diary entry 14, …… Paris Paris Paris. I LOVE Paris!
Back on the bus after Notre Dame Cathedral. We were driving by Arche de Triomphe, Champs Eleysee, Place Concorde, the Louvre, the Tuilleries, the Sorbonne and other universities and many many other buildings, sculptures and fountains. Bridges – some famous, Pont Neuf, Pont d’Alma, Queen Alexandra III, and many others.
We arrived at a spot to view the Eiffel Tower. We took many pictures of the group, the tower, and the sights. More tourist shopping was available. A group of young men had music blasting and were dancing to Michael Jackson songs. While on this trip the startling news of the death of Michael Jackson had stirred the world. This was a most touching sight and significant talent was displayed. I wondered to myself if their parents had ever seen them dance like this??? I had to be pulled back to the bus, I could have stayed and watched all evening. I was very moved by the display of artistry, the show of emotion and the great talent of these young people, honoring someone who had great influence in their lives. Magic.
Back on the bus, and a drive to the other side, close to the entrance of the Eiffel Tower, a view from another angle. It is dizzying to look up at the Eiffel tower. It is staggering to think of the vision, the work, the building of such a monument. Although not built for this purpose, the Eiffel tower has been the symbol of Paris for all the world. Here it is, here I am. Pictures do not do it justice. It is massive, it is awe-inspiring to be in the center underneath and look up, straight up into it’s center. Up to the top from the inside. Startling and amazing.
We got in line, had our tickets and up we went in the elevator to the first floor. Not at all disappointed, we were unable (not allowed) to go higher. Our dinner reservations only permitted our ride to the first floor. This was to be an expensive dinner (200 Euros per person, I heard). We arrived there with about ½ hour to spare …. to walk around and marvel at the view of Paris, the buildings, the sights. We did just that. Then we sat in a wee area and had a glass of white wine, smiled at one another and again marveled that we had arrived. Marveled at the view, at the momentous journey and the great friendships we had formed in just one week. Filled with emotion and gratitude, we had a toast to us.
We had dinner (mine was best as they substituted salmon and veggies for my meal due to gluten intolerance, ice cream for dessert …. yummm). The others had some kind of duck shepherds pie, no choice. We had wine with dinner. It was lovely and well worth whatever they paid just to say we did it.
After dinner, it was dark and the lights of the tower had been turned on. Paris by night. This is a sight almost indescribable. Soft lights lighting up the city every where you look. We went back down the elevator and out to the bus and were toured / driven back to our hotel, via the scenic route. Breathtaking.
None of us were ready to end the evening so a few went out for tea, wine, company, and to sit outdoors in a corner cafe on the streets of Paris before turning in.
Some went to party on, I wanted to get in that very comfy bed and think again about the day, the events and the journey I was on.
Many of the travelers on our Scenic Tours river cruise left the following morning back to their home countries, Canada, USA, Australia, wherever. I slept in. When I got up, I showered and dressed, took luggage to the concierge and walked to the Galleries Lafayette. HUGE mall, several blocks large and several stories high. One whole block of ladies wear, shoes, bags, jewelery, designer and regular. Sales, Sales, Sales. (in French it is spelled SOLDES). My mouth was again wide open, my eyes huge. It was an event. So overwhelmed by all the choices, I found nothing to buy!! I took pictures of the stain glass ceiling several stories above the ground floor where we stood. Way up there, floors and floors of cosmetics, perfumes, women’s items between us and the ceiling. Amazing architecture, balconies on each floor for fantastic viewing of the building. Across the street and connected is the men’s wear (men were actually shopping!!) and gourmet food section. You could eat in the limited seating area, or get food to take out. You could buy all your groceries as this was like the most extreme market. Making a decision was almost impossible but we were hungry. We got some salad and food items, planning on sitting on a bench in a park outside. HA!! There are no benches in Paris!! No park area we could see. We gave up finally and realized although it may be “rude” to eat on the streets, we sat on a window ledge and ate the treasures out of a bag. Several other tourists sat down next to us …. I guess we started a trend!! <grin>
It was time to go back to the Scribe Hotel, (about 2:30 pm local time) gather our belongings and change hotels to the Latin Quarter and much more affordable 3 star accommodations!! There was 3 of us going to the same hotel so we took a cab, a van …. we filled it with our luggage!!
Off to the small quaint hotel, Des Nations, on Rue Monge, in Ste Germain area of the Latin Quarter. To my delight we had to cross a bridge and drive across town. The traffic was still crazy, but I let the taxi driver do the worrying …. I was staring out the window and enjoying all I could see.
We got our room, deposited our bags, and I put my suitcases in the bathroom (which had more floor space than the bedroom area), we were off for more adventure.
We walked until 9:00 pm. I was in heaven, walking by the river, passing the bridges, taking pictures. We had purchased a ten Euro river cruise on the Seine and although it looked like a shorter distance on the map we had, to get to the boat embarkation spot, we kept walking and walking and walking, by the Louvre, by Place Concorde, by so many sights. Passed many bridges. We could see the other boats cruise by us on the river and at times wondered if we would ever get there!! I think I could have walked forever. Totally oblivious to any aches or pains (that I was sure to feel later), and enjoying the beautiful sky, fabulous architecture and sights of Paris.
The river cruise was worth way more than the price, and made up for the walking. We got on the boat that sailed at 9:20 pm. We sat up front to get a good view, on the open top deck. Breathtaking. We went under the famous bridges, people lined the river on both sides. Couples kissing, picnicking, dancing, waving. As if waiting for the Christmas parade. Solid areas of people. People on bridges. People taking pictures. People riding bikes. People standing, sitting, laying, dancing …. laughing. Magical. I am still in awe of the beauty and special way that people enjoy the river and the life in Paris. Thousands and thousands of people, everywhere we looked.
The sun began to set, the sky was brilliant with orange, then peach, pink, red, and then dark blue. We watched the city lights come alive. We watched the bridge lights come on. We watched as the Eiffel tower was lit up, someone must have flicked the switch!! Magic. I have seen Paris – day and night. I have seen the buildings, the streets, the magic, the churches, the monuments, the sculptures. I have seen the trees, flowers, clouds, ……….. the lights of Paris. I have watched people on their honeymoons, their day to day lives. I have seen embraces, kisses – full of love, life and passion – there on that magical evening on the river Seine. I watched several groups of people dancing to music only they could hear. I watched young people, waved at young children, students and couples who had been together for years. I experienced Paris that night. I felt as full as turkey dinner on Christmas day. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and my heart sang with delight. I shan’t forget that night, those sights and the day I “fell in love” with Paris.