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Finally- the main sights of Paris

I arrived in Paris (again) and headed to my sister's hotel. She was staying at the Holiday Inn St. Germaine, which was super-convenient to the metro and a very nice hotel. I had to wake her a bit and steamroll her to get her out of bed, but eventually we got moving. We decided to walk over to the Eiffel tower and start our day there, but on the way, we passed the grassy area in front of Hotel de Invalides and got distracted by some goats. Per the sign, they were there to ecologically mow the lawn. Next, we got distracted by breakfast. We were by Rue Cler, THE foodie market street of Paris, so I was super-excited to stop there for breakfast. I picked some random pastries from one shop, and then we went to a cafe to get some coffee. I know that it's sooooo cliche, but it was also very satisfying to sit in a cafe in paris. After food, we undistracted ourselves and headed over to the Eiffel tower, where the lines to use the elevators were hours long, as expected. We had planned on using the stairs, but we had read that there would be no lines. It wasn't horrible to have to wait 20 minutes, but it would have been nicer if we were waiting in the shade and not the sun. I highly recommend using the stairs, and not just because the line is shorter and it's cheaper. It was pretty cool to see the engineering, nuts, and bolts up close and personally. Plus, at each level, we got a sense of accomplishment, since we had just climbed 360 stairs a piece. The viewing platforms let you get a good look at the city, but to wait hours to take an elevator to a view is probably not worth it. Climbing and conquering it was, though. Even the people who take the stairs up get to take the elevator down, so we did that and then headed across the river to Trocadero. It's a nice plaza, but what was cool was that one of the buildings contained a maritime museum. It wasn't on our original list of things to do, but we were there, it was free with our museum pass, and it was interesting. Right when you walk in, you see one of Napoleon's boats. The whole thing, not a model. There were also tons of model boats and other boat displays, but what I thought was really neat was a series of paintings. Some king had hired a painter to go around to all the French ports and document them on canvas. There were scenes from 1700s ports all over the world and I found it interesting to see how the world looked back then. When we finished the museum, we were hungry again and very ready for lunch. The plan was to get some bread at a boulangerie, cheese at a fromagerie and wine and then make a picnic. Based on my previous experience, I figured that there are so many in Paris that they'd just jump out at us. We did find a boulangerie and got some bread, but the lady at the wine shop said that there wasn't a fromagerie nearby, so we noshed on the bread to hold us over and headed over to Arc de Triomphe and climbed that, as if we hadn't just done the Eiffel Tower. As with the maritme museum, the Arc was free with the museum pass. I thought that it had a better view then the Eiffel Tower, as the city spokes out from there and we could see more, including the Eiffel Tower and Champs de Elysees. At this point, we decided that we'd pick up cheese by Rue Cler, since we knew there were plenty of fromageries there and were not having luck with getting fromageries to find us. I used the standard method for picking cheese- ask the guy there, "what do you like?" We ended up with some tangy brie, truffled camambert, roquefort and another excellent choice. Right next door, there was a wine shop with an incredibly helpful sommolier. We had all of our picnic items, and even a great olive fig spread as a bonus. We sat ourselves in a small park on the side of Hotel de Invalides, and thoroughly enjoyed our super-French picnic. Since we were there and it was cool looking, we went into the Hotel de Invalides to see Napoleon's tomb. I was jealous of one of the tour groups because they all had paper Napoleon hats. I want one! Finally, we went over to Notre Dame. First, we visited the crypt museum (again free with the museum pass). I was definitely expecting something else based on the word "crypt." What is actually down there is the remains of the original Paris- Lutetia. As described at length in Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, the original Paris was on the island in the middle of the Seine that now holds Notre Dame. The south bank was later developed and the Latin quarter grew there. Eventually, Paris absorbed various suburbs and expanded. The "crypt" museum had displays that showed Paris in each stage of growth, and went into some of the details of how and why the city grew as it did. As in the Hunchback, they showed the various stages of Notre Dame's development as well. We decided to go into the church next and climb the tower last, which was a mistake because the tower line was closed when we were done inside. But, there's always tomorrow to climb the tower. The church itself isn't that different from anything else from that period, although the church was built, added to, and rebuilt over many eras, each contributing a different style. Since I had to check into my hostel by 8 and we wanted to see the Louvre in the evening, we decided to take a break to check in and get cleaned up for dinner. This is where the drama started. I have stayed at dozens of hostels in dozens of countries (see other blogs) and never really had a huge problem. I found my way to the address listed for Lucky Youth Panoramic Hostel. There is no sign and it's just an apartment in a huge complex, which is probably why they want you to call them from the train station and let them walk you there. For those of us with dead phones though, finding the place took some help. When I got to the apartment, there was nobody to check me in. There were a few guests that were waiting for sheets and had been told to continue waiting by the check-in guy who had left a half hour before to go get sheets. I was in a rush to get to the Louvre, but decided that it would be ok to get my phone a little charge while waiting. After a half hour, I had battery to get on their wifi and call them, but I got a recording that wouldn't let you leave a message. It just said check in was 1-8pm. After an hour waiting, it was 7:30 and I wanted to make sure I had a checkin before 8 so I knew I had a bed for the night, so I called the customer service from the website. They were very nice and said they'd call and find out, but that I should be ok, since I booked it. At their prompting, the hostel people called and were very rude to both me and the booking company. To make a long story short, the booking company refunded my money, apologized and had to report the hostel owner for not honoring a reservation. Truly, other than the rudeness of the host, this facility belongs on air bnb more than a hostel site as it is just somebody's apartment with 1 bathroom and some bunk beds, not a real hostel. In fact, if Paris has any occupancy laws, I'm sure that they have too many people packed into a tiny one-bedroom apartment (including bunks in the living room) to be legal. At this point, I was free to use their wifi to book something else, but I felt bad for the girl who had now wasted 2 hours of her vacation waiting for sheets. I got a great last-minute hotwire deal on Villa Luxembourg, which was right near where I was and where my sister was staying, so I scrambled to get there, although doubted that we'd make it to the Louvre tonight. The guy at the front desk was incredibly helpful and friendly, was able to quickly handle my last minute reservation, and even recommended a nice area for us to go have dinner at.

Goat lawn mowers

Goat lawn mowers


Rue Cler

Rue Cler


Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower


Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower


Napoleon's Boat

Napoleon's Boat


Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe


Ceiling of Arc de Triomphe

Ceiling of Arc de Triomphe


View of Eiffel Tower from Arc de Triomphe

View of Eiffel Tower from Arc de Triomphe


Inside Hotel de Invalides

Inside Hotel de Invalides


Inside Notre Dame

Inside Notre Dame


Notre Dame windows

Notre Dame windows


Outside Notre Dame

Outside Notre Dame

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in France

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