Ah Paris...

Paris Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 5 › view all entries
Crazy pigeon lady
I must admit, I wasn't really looking forward to coming to Paris. After all the working and nightlife in Berlin, I was ready to come home. However, once I got on the ground in Paris, I realized again how much I like this city. I wouldn't want to live here, but it's a great place to visit, even in the winter.

My flight in from Berlin was rather exciting, mostly due to how bad Heathrow is as a connection. We circled around for about 25 minutes before landing, which left Amit and I about 30 minutes to make it from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4.  I don't know how many of you have gone through Heathrow recently, but British Airways recommends 70 min at best for that connection on their website.
Inside Notre Dame during the Sunday service.

We landed and started running to catch the inter-terminal bus, but first had to clear security. We approached a British Airways agent and showed him our tickets and he said "wow that's not good", and cut us to the front of the security line.  This actually turned out to be a mistake, as the normal line wasn't that long, and I ended up waiting while 3 people in wheelchairs cut in front of me (SLOWLY), all the while watching my laptop sit on the other side of the metal detector and Amit making impatient faces. :)   I wasn't very amused, but after finally getting through, a 10 minute bus ride, and running flat out to the other end of Terminal 4, I made it just as they were closing the door to the gate.

Needless to say my bags didn't run as fast as I did, but British Airways did a great job of handling my missing luggage.
Side closeup pano of Notre Dame
The first thing I heard when I arrived at the Paris baggage claim was my name being called out over the public announcement system.  BA had called ahead to Paris and told them that my bags were still in London. So the process at the lost luggage counter was incredibly painless.

After clearing customs I caught a cab to my hotel, got some quick dinner, and went to bed at 9:30 PM for what I thought would be a great night of much needed rest. At 11:30 PM I was woken up by the telephone and learned that my bag had just been delivered to my hotel, and would I like them to send it up? I'm happy it showed up so fast, but it took me a long time to get back to sleep after that.

It was a great feeling to wake up this morning without hearing the phone ring, the last 6 mornings it was either Amit or the front-desk of the hotel calling to get me out of bed.
Rear pano of Notre Dame
The weather was beautiful with lots of sun, no wind, and a temperature of ~44 degrees, and after Berlin it felt almost balmy. I didn't have any definite sightseeing plans, so I just grabbed my camera and a map and headed to the nearby metro station. I did not make it to Notre Dame the last time I was here, so that seemed like a good place to start.

I saw it years ago when I was here on a high-school trip, but I must have been cathedraled out by that point, as it is very impressive. The first thing I saw when I walked up to the front was a Japanese lady with pigeons all over her arms and a bunch of her tour mates taking photos. I quickly got out my camera and ran over there. I smiled, gestured at my camera, and then at her, and she smiled back and nodded that it was ok to photograph her.
Notre Dame from a bridge over the Seine
I always try to ask before taking photos, as my camera setup is pretty obtrusive and a lot of people don't like strangers pointing big lenses at them. The whole thing was pretty funny, and I hope she washed her hands because the birds were pooping like crazy!

After that I wandered around the front, and then inside the cathedral itself which is free to enter. The Sunday services were being performed, and the acoustics inside were incredible. I took a few pictures of the service, but there were a lot of people in there and I didn't want to be rude, so nothing turned out very well.

I walked around the outside to the rear of the church which, due to the flying buttresses and spire, I think is even more impressive than the front. I took about 5 separate panoramic shots of between 3 and 7 pictures each, starting very close and then moving onward about a mile away.
Looking down the Seine away from Notre Dame
I've attached a few of them here, and for being hand-held I think they turned out pretty good.

At this point I had seen enough church architecture for awhile and turned to the map for something different. I had heard about a very large cemetery in Paris from a colleague who went there, and I decided to check it out. It's called the "Père Lachaise" and is ~118 acres in size. Oscar Wilde is buried there as is Jim Morrison, the list of residents is pretty impressive, and it has an interesting history. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A8re_Lachaise for more information.

Three metro lines later and a lot of walking underground, I came up from the station that was supposed to be near the back entrance, and which would allow me to walk downhill while catching all the main sights.
Faces in stone, outside of Père Lachaise
Well, I got a little confused after grabbing a quick bite to eat and ended up walking a few miles uphill, in the rain, in the wrong direction. Seems to be a habit of mine, and without Amit around to blame it on, I guess it was my entire fault this time. :-)

I finally found my way around to the front entrance, and spent the next 3 1/2 hours walking around inside the walls. The place is HUGE and pretty crazy in some spots with just a jumble of graves and tombs everywhere. I hit all the main points on the tour map, and then spent some time wandering around the less popular areas admiring the architecture of the tombs, the earliest of which date back to around 1805.

After all that walking I took the metro back to my hotel and started going over the pictures and putting some panoramic shots together.
Oscar Wilde's tomb at Père Lachaise
My hotel is filled with Axway employees this week, and I had a nice walk and dinner tonight with a guy I work with and his wife who came over with him this morning. They were a little jet lagged, and after a week over here I had a lot more energy than they did.

I'm going to be working from the hotel tomorrow morning and am going to try to make it down to the catacombs in the southern part of the city tomorrow afternoon.

We'll see how it goes...

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Crazy pigeon lady
Crazy pigeon lady
Inside Notre Dame during the Sunda…
Inside Notre Dame during the Sund…
Side closeup pano of Notre Dame
Side closeup pano of Notre Dame
Rear pano of Notre Dame
Rear pano of Notre Dame
Notre Dame from a bridge over the …
Notre Dame from a bridge over the…
Looking down the Seine away from N…
Looking down the Seine away from …
Faces in stone, outside of Père L…
Faces in stone, outside of Père …
Oscar Wildes tomb at Père Lachai…
Oscar Wilde's tomb at Père Lacha…
Oscar Wildes tomb
Oscar Wilde's tomb
Oscar Wildes tomb, lots of people…
Oscar Wilde's tomb, lots of peopl…
Tomb at Père Lachaise
Tomb at Père Lachaise
looking south at Père Lachaise
looking south at Père Lachaise
Tomb at Père Lachaise
Tomb at Père Lachaise
Tomb at Père Lachaise
Tomb at Père Lachaise
Looking east at Père Lachaise
Looking east at Père Lachaise
Defaced tomb at Père Lachaise poi…
Defaced tomb at Père Lachaise po…
Jim Morrisons grave
Jim Morrison's grave
Jim Morrisons grave marker
Jim Morrison's grave marker
Victor Noir. Ill let you figure o…
Victor Noir. I'll let you figure …
Pano, looking south at Père Lacha…
Pano, looking south at Père Lach…
photo by: Sweetski