leah blogs

April 2006

23apr2006 · Paris rough cuts

Unless you are Hemmingway or Kerouac, no-one cares where you have been or what you did do on your travels. Therefore, I’ll keep myself short, but reasonably complete.

General impressions

  • WLAN at the hotel (Ibis Berthier) is possible, but not seriously: 0.25€/min will make the thing cost 360€ a day; various ads all around the city sell you a flatrate for net and phone and digital tv for about 30€ a month.

  • There generally is high quality typography all around, something I don’t notice in Germany. However, their use of italics on road signs just sucks.

  • The Metro and RER guy that introduced loops into their system deserves to be slapped, it’s hard to imagine a better way to confuse foreigners.

  • French motorways are great—straight on and with just about no traffic, doesn’t hurt too much they are turnpiked.

  • There are nice Chinese girls all around. :-)

Day One

  • Arrival at about two o’clock, led by GPS (which doesn’t know about some private motorway exits…).

  • Sacré Cœur: IMO ugly, boring from a cultural point, far too many tourists. Has vending machines in the back part of the church (Notre Dame, too). Seen children that blow the candles out.

  • Montmartre is ideal for vendors of scratchpads; else there are artists that use them or try to, generally ugly tourism, but lesser visited parts are actually very beautiful and aesthetic; this can, however only be appreciated after experiencing the ugliness. (Probably my first appreciation of Paris.)

  • Dinner at some Chinese shop, where the soley owner put your chosen meal in various microwaves to warm it up. Turns out this is a popular way of running a Chinese restaurant. Not bad, but not exciting, the idea is more interesting than the taste.

Day Two

  • Arc de Triomphe, the watch(wo)men at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier do not have rifles.

  • Champs-Éllysée, nice for a shopping tour

  • Louvre, we didn’t visit it due to lack of time, but it’s very nice architectonically—not only the glass pyramid, but also the entrance hall and other things below the ground.

  • Centré Pompidou, didn’t visit either, but in afterthought I’d probably have liked to—appears to be the center of contemporary art in Paris, together with the IRCAM next to it.

  • Tour Eiffel, at night. Good (and probably best free) view from Trocadero. The tower sparkles every full hour—highly hokum.

  • Dinner at Pizza Hut. (Pretty hard to find a good meal for a reasonable price in Paris.)

Day Three

  • Left river bank of the Seine, always good for a walk.

  • Notre Dame, finally a nice cathedral.

  • Musée d’Orsay, didn’t visit as well; the queue was “short”, but still wrapping several times.

  • Lafayette, nice view from the roof over the city and the Opera. The dome and general style of the main hall needs to be mentioned too. Checked CD prices there, seems they are cheaper in Germany; even the cheap CDs cost more than 9.99€.

  • Tour Eiffel at day, haven’t been on top, however. Amazing construction, and pretty lightweight. The watchmen have automatic rifles.

  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

  • Quartier Latin, I really liked that part of Paris—despite a lot of people, it keeps a certain attractive atmosphere.

  • Dinner at Quartier Latin: Spaghetti Carbonara. Nice italian-style restaurant.

Day Four

  • Gare Austerlitz, still trying to figure why we went there.

  • Jardin des Plantes, nice botanical garden with lots of museums around.

  • Rue Mouffetard, the market there had not as much action as expected.

  • Pantheon, haven’t been inside.

  • Sorbonne, a central university of Paris.

  • Jardin Luxembourg, nice garden too; we couldn’t find the snow-white elephant, though.

  • Tour Montparnasse, great panoramic view from the 56th and 59th floor. Worth a visit. Also interesting they check the tickets once you are up there…

  • Dinner at Pizza Hut. (Did I tell you how hard it’s to find a dinner in Paris!?)

Day Five

  • Return journey, drive was okay, but of course took a bit longer than the journey there because of the traffic at daytime. As soon as we were on German ground again, congestion started—amazing.

All in all, it was a pleasant five days in Paris, I can only recommend it. However, avoid the places where a lot of tourists usually go—they mostly suck and aren’t worth the time.

NP: Pearl Jam—Gone

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