Paris, Day 3: A Demonstration, Notre Dame and Hotel des Invalides
Paris Travel Blog› entry 4 of 7 › view all entries
Our morning started in the "Cave" again -- with our usual cafe au lait and croissants. My luggage finally arrived, so I was able to wear my own clothing today!
We took off on foot for the Notre Dame Cathedral and stopped at the Hotel de Ville (Mayor's House) at a large public demonstration. The large gathering was there to insist upon the freeing of two French journalists being held by Iraqi insurgents. They released thousands of balloons -- all purple -- with the wish that they would go all the way to Baghdad encouraging the release of the captives. It was really quite beautiful to watch all of those balloons swirl in the wind. We were able to catch a couple as we walked away from the demonstration. There were also huge banners here to support Paris' efforts to get the summer Olympics in 2012.
It was a very cold day -- and quite blustery. At least there was no rain today. We experienced a very long line to enter Notre Dame so it was a little chilly standing out there in the wind! It is hard to believe that construction of the Cathedral began in 1163. Construction took a lot longer then, as we learned the towers were not completed until 1245. We toured the interior of the Cathedral, then went up to the top -- 69 meters above the ground. It had lots of stairs but was well worth the climb. It was my first time to the top of Notre Dame, as it was closed on my first two visits to Paris, and I missed it last November. I loved being up close and personal with the gargoyles!
After our tour of Notre Dame, we stopped for lunch just across the street.
Next was a quick hop on the Metro to the Hotel des Invalides. This was a hospital for war veterans but is famous for housing Napoleon's Tomb, along with Josephine and some of his important generals. It is really quite impressive. The sarcophogus of Napoleon is huge -- amazingly large for such a small man! Fitting though, when you put it in perspective of his accomplishments and his ego!
Next up was the Arc de Triomphe.
We walked back up the Champs de Elysee to the Place de la Concorde where the guillotine was situated at the time of the revolution. Gives you such a weird feeling to know it was here and what happened on this spot in history!
We caught a taxi back to the hotel, rested a bit and then got ready for dinner. We ate at a very nice French restaurant called "Si." It was near the hotel, so an easy walk. I had a spinach salad with goat cheese and steak with mushrooms. Ioannis had duck confit. We shared a bottle of bourdeaux. What a great meal!
We headed out to a couple of clubs after dinner -- must have had a great time, as we did not get back to the hotel until 3am! Vive the night life!