Isn't the Holy Grail buried around here somewhere?
This is it. We're now wrapping up our extra-extended vacation in Europe. What better place to finish it all off than the most famous of European cities, Paris
! After our last day of hiking in Mont Blanc
on Friday, we caught an overnight train to Paris. We slept in a "couchette", which means we shared a small sleeping cabin with four other people. We arrived on Satuday July 29th very early in the morning and we found our way to the apartment of Emma's friend Amy, where we would be staying for the weekend. I hadn't slept very well on the train, so I was soon on the ground snoring away. We slept until noon, then our day began in earnest.
We were soon joined by Amy's sister Laure and the two of them took us out on the town.
Pour the wine and cut the cheese
Our whirlwind tour took us to the Palais Royale, the Louvre (outside only), Notre Dame de Paris, Sainte-Chapelle, and the Jardin Luxembourg. To be honest, after so long travelling in Europe, I don't care to see another church for a very long time. That being said, Sainte-Chapelle was quite nice, with huge stained-glass windows filling all the walls. I also enjoyed relaxing in the Jardin Luxembourg with the locals. That night, we headed to a small city park where we watched a film on a big outdoor screen. Named Le Roi et L'Oiseau,
it was a bizarre but entertaining movie that is apparently a classic of French animation.
On Sunday, we set off on our own to explore the city some more. In between the periods of heavy rain where everyone hid in the shops, we managed to visit the Arc de Triomphe, the fabulous Place de la Concord with its guillotine-filled history and its impressive ancient egyptian obelisk, and the Louvre (inside this time).
Relaxing in the Jardin Luxembourg
As with churches, I'm also getting a bit tired of art galleries. We saw a few of the famous pieces, such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, but I think we would have enjoyed the colourful impressionist pieces at the Musee d'Orsay more. That evening we were joined by Amy and Laure's other sister, Sarah, and we enjoyed a delicious meal in a Tibetan restaurant.
Today, Monday, is our last day in Paris, our last day in Europe. We took a trip to Montmartre
, the funky neighbourhood on a hill on Paris's north side. We enjoyed walking around this neighbourhood, especially visiting the unbelievable Montmartre Cemetary. Mere feet above hundreds of family crypts and tombs dating back centuries, the city built a bridge! It was quite an interesting sight.
The cemetary of Montmartre
We continued up the hill, visiting famous landmarks along the way (Van Gogh's house, Paris's only remaining windmills), before arriving at the top. Up here, featuring the church Sacre Coeur, we had wonderful views of Paris. Montmartre isn't even a really big hill, but Paris is very flat and you can see for many kilometres from the roof of Sacre Coeur. We finished the day off by visiting Paris's most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower. First we had drinks amongst the picnicking locals in the Champs de Mars, with a nice view of the sun setting behind the tower, then we climbed up the tower itself. Our timing was great, as the night lights of Paris were just starting to come out as we ascended. The Eiffel tower itself shimmered like the surface of a lake. I was surprised by how many other people were also trying to get up the Eiffel tower, and we had to wait in line for an hour to go up to the top level. The nighttime view was worth it though. We lingered for just a bit at the top, taking in the night air, knowing our wonderful trip in Europe had now come to an end.