Tour Eiffel with curly clouds
This was my second trip to Paris. I was interested in seeing some things I missed on my first trip, but mainly I was keen on relaxing in the Parisian atmosphere as this was the last 3 days of a two week journey in Europe. On my first day I took a hotel near Eiffel tower (Plaza tour Eiffel, 32 Rue Greuze) because that is just a beautiful area of Paris. I arrived in early afternoon and found a little Jewish Delicatessen advertising a burger (Mickey's Deli, 33 Rue Greuze). Hadn't had one in a while, so I asked inside, what's your burger like? His english was good and he explained to me. I was intrigued. Wow, he didn't lie and that was one tasty burger. Ok, so it's not french, but I had just come from Lyon and had the best in France, so a burger with flair was good for me.
I went and had a look at the tower in late afternoon. It is really a spectacular thing no matter how many times you see it. I stayed for some time and walked a distance around and about, eventually stopping for dinner (Cafe Constant, 139 Rue Saint-Dominique). A narrow building, crowded seating, but good food. This area near Eiffel is excellent for dining I think. I was turned away at a couple places nearby because tables were reserved for the evening, despite my observation that the place was empty. This is indication that the restaurant has good food, as I learned in Lyon too. I returned to my hotel for a good nights sleep. The newlyweds were having lots of sex next door, but I drifted off anyway. Good for them I thought...
The next day I had a taxi take me to Hotel du Commerce (14 Rue de la Montagne Ste Genevieve) in the Latin district of Paris.
Inside the Pantheon
This is a bare bones hotel with few amenities, but at only 30 euro per night for a central location it is fantastic. You have to pay for a shower, but internet is wifi free! It was perfect for me to see the pantheon and pay tribute to dead luminaries – Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Louis Pasteur, Pierre and Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Emile Zola, Rousseau, Carnot, Lagrange, Marat, and more. I also visited the catacombs (expect to wait in line whenever you go) and this is one creepy place. This spectacle of burial of the underprivileged is something to behold. Thousands of skulls and bones arranged along the underground tunnels. Every now and then there is a missing skull where some tourist has stolen one. I was fascinated for 10 or 15 minutes and after seeing skulls arranged in the form of an urn, I decided it was time to go.
Skull & bones Urn
I walked fast past the skulls and bones of countless human beings to breath fresh air again. Still, the thought stays with me. It is not a traumatic thing, but more a reflective thing. It is worth the adventure for that perspective in history and mortality. On the way home I sat in Jardin du Luxemborg for a while to collect my thoughts. A short walk back to the hotel, I had a nap and was eager for dinner. I chose Restaurant du Tibet (13, rue de la Montaigne Sainte Genevieve) right across from Hotel du Commerce. The food was good and I enjoyed it. I think I was just pleased to be eating a meal and not one of those skulls below Paris waiting for tourists to walk by and photograph. On my final day I visited a market around the corner to see the fresh produce. I found a small art house theatre called Cinema Accattone
(20 rue Cujas) that was showing "La Strada".
Jardin du Luxemborg Fountain
I was in the mood and went to see. Sure it is 1954 Italian, shown with french subtitles, but I knew the story and enjoyed it. I liked that people remained afterward in discussion. I spent the rest of my time in the Louvre walking around. It's an amazing place and confusing to navigate. Hammurabi's code is there and the Mona Lisa too, but there is so much to see it is almost overwhelming. Paris is one of those places like Rome that takes multiple trips to really appreciate in total. Do what you can while there and plan to return someday.
What can I say that is not said about Paris elsewhere? Maybe just this: The sights are worth seeing, but take time to just experience Paris life in cafes, cuisine, culture and people. Ahhh, Paris...Vive la France! Take a walk from Notre Dame to Eiffel and experience the 'City of Lights' in cafe life along the way. It is a perspective that only the journey can portray - One that you will appreciate along the way and thinking back on yesterday (July 16-20, 2008).
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