A Paris Match
Paris Travel Blog› entry 10 of 37 › view all entries
Although I'd visited London and seen a few of the famous landmarks of that city, Paris landmarks struck me much more deeply. I was continually over awed by the fact that I was right here looking at something I had seen so many times on tv or at the movies. I think it may have been the totality of the experience; strange language, strange country, strange culture. Whatever it was I was happy to drink it all in.
One regret we had about the Youth Hostel arrangement was that we were in the high season and no-one was allowed to stay any longer than 3 days straight in European hostels. Each day we had to confirm our booking for the night and were then locked out for cleaning (or whatever) until opening later in the afternoon when the doorstep would be crowed with American students doing their thing.
Our first Parisian targets were the Arch de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. We found these very easily and wandered from one to the other. The people of Paris were out enjoying the sun. Booksellers read novels I couldn't read, so didn't buy, children in togs splashed in fountains and raced each other around the plazas on roller skates. Well dressed professionals sat in cafes and touts tried to sell us everything from replicas of the tower and handcrafted leather bracelets. As we bustled through sketch artists doing caricatures one of them grabbed Darryn and begged him to sit so he could sketch him in his leather hat.
Atop the Arch de Triomphe I enjoyed the bedlam being played out on the roundabout below. Several lanes of cars (driving the wrong way of course) seemed to push whereever they wanted without care. Pointsmen stoold at each intersection but as a policeman myself I saw no evidence of their influence on the drivers. I offered a little silent prayer for the death of Doris and the narrow escape we had of having to find our own path through that mess.
At the Eiffel Tower we decided to climb the staircase then descend in the lift. It wasn't a difficult climb and Paris gradually laid herself out before us as we gained higher vantage points. At the top I was bummed the whole thing had been wrapped in an anti-suicide cage which tested my photographic abilities to the utmost.
Next we bought the obligatory cheese and baguette and wandered to the rear of Notre Dame Cathedral to enjoy our lunch.
The Cathedral was much smaller than I had expected but it's gothic statuettes and gargoyles had me enthralled. Sadly my photos were to mark the passage of restoration throughout Europe and here was the first experience of the shroud of scaffolding erected by the workmen.
My grandfather had owned a book many years earlier that was a collection of naughty cartoons dicovered when the reader veiwed the page through a coloured pair of glasses.
Here behind Notre Dame I visited my first Parisian urinal where I was able to relieve myself whilst enjoying the view of the people of Paris basking in the June sun. The naughty joke filled my mind as I filled the trough at my feet. I laughed heartily.
In the next couple of days we explored other parisian points of interest, including the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise where many famous (or infamous) folks had been laid. My first grave of interest was Oscar Wilde. I'm a very big fan of his writing and am always thrilled when I recognise one of his lines still in use in modern speech today.
Darryn and I also wanted to take a moment beside that of the "Lizard King", Jim Morrison from "The Doors" fame. I was a little saddened when we began our search. We didn't really need the cemetary map because as we neared Jim's grave scribblings of graffiti became more prolific. We found we weren't the only fans there at that time of the morning. There were 3-4 others and about 1/2 dozen cops exchanging pleasantries nearby as they did a change of guard.
I could see why the cops were needed. Many of the surrounding graves were not only scrawled apon, they were also damaged and trod apon, making them no longer recognizable.
We'd done everything we wished to do, we'd seen all we wished to see and although we were a little rushed by the imposition of the Youth Hostel's 3 night rule we were satisfied. Back to the station for a train to Bordeaux.