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Paris Travel Blog

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Place de la Bastille

The overnight train arrived early in the morning of the 19th of June.  Getting off the train, I was excited to actually be in Paris!  I got a lot of different impressions of the city from different people.  Some loved it, others hated it.  I didn't know what to expect, but I had a feeling I would like the city.  As I exited the train station, I was right near the Place de la Bastille, which is where the prison was located where the French Revolution began.  It was no longer there, but it was neat to stand in a place where history happened.  I found my way to the subway and took it to my hotel, where I dropped off my things and headed out into the town.

Seine River

I took the subway right to the 4th arrondissement (Paris is broken into 20 of these) and set out to see the sites there.  Right on L'île de la Cité sits Cathedralé de Notre Dame de Paris.  It happened to be a Sunday, so I went in to check it out.  Not that I could really understand anything, mind you, because they speak so fast and all the echoes and stuff, but it was really cool to say that I was in Notre Dame and got to see a service.  It's a really beautiful area too, with the Seine river splitting around the island.  I wish I could have taken a boat tour.  Maybe next time!

There were several other sites I spent some time at in the area, on the island.  These include Sainte Chapelle, a 800 year old church said to house many Christian relics including the crown of thorns, and the Conciergerie, once a palace turned into a royal prison.

Notre Dame Cathedral
  I guess whoever owned the palace lost favor with the king!  The Conciergerie housed many prisoners during the revolution, including Queen Marie-Antoinette before she was beheaded.

Heading toward the center of Paris, I passed the Hôtel de Ville and it's impressive architecture.  Wandering around the city, I came across Le Centre Pompidou, a very modern, abstract building really out of place in the heart of Paris.  Neat to see from the outside, it houses a bunch of modern art on the inside.  Not really my thing, I never went inside.  I eventually made my way to the Place de la Concorde, which is near the Louvre (I didn't even realize this at the time) and marks one end of the Champs-Élysées.  I found it impressive even then, but the Egyptian obelisk that stands in the center of the area had even more significance after my trip to Egypt in 2007.

Champs-Élysées
  It was neat to see where that obelisk came from (the exact spot) and how much it meant for Egypt to give those up.

Seeing L'Arc de Triomphe a ways off, I decided to walk the Champs-Élysées, to check out the shops on the street and see what else was out there.  Not far from the Place da la Concorde, several crèpe stands began appearing on the side of the street.  I had to stop at one and get a crèpe before continuing my walk.  About half way down the Champs-Élysées, it went from a foresty area to lots of shops and restaurants.  Very chic, I must say.  Pressing on, I arrived at the Arc de Triomphe, and got a ticket to go up to the top.  After taking the stairs up, I saw what Paris was really all about.  It was beautiful from up there!  I also had some amazing views of the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, La Défense, all the way down to the Louvre.

L'Arc de Triomphe

After enjoying the view for a while, I walked over to l'Hôtel des Invalides, which was built in the 1670's to house disabled soldiers.  Since, it has been converted into a war museum and mausoleum.  Even the remains of Napoleon rest there.

Finally, after waiting all day (saving the best for last), I went to the Eiffel Tower.  It got more and more impressive the closer I got, and when I was right underneath it you could see just how immense it was.  I actually remember taking a small break before going up to the top (it has a lot of stairs, you know?) and I remember a nice police officer asking me to get off the grass.  So much for a break, all the benches were taken!  I got my ticket to go to the top of the tower, and saved like 4 euros by taking the stairs.

Eiffel Tower from l'Arc de Triomphe
  Hey, when you are backpacking, every bit counts, can I get a witness?  There are restaurants and shops on the tower, but they are rather expensive.  I found kind of a fast food place and ate some dinner there, as it was fairly reasonable.  After making it to the second level of the tower (there are 3 levels in all), I stopped to take some pictures of the surrounding area.  After waiting a while for the elevator (it's the only way to the top), I headed straight up (in a hurry, mind you) to the top of the tower.  With all those people up there, it made me wonder how sound the tower's structure is.  It turned out to be okay.  :)  I hung out at the top of the tower, taking pictures until dusk.  I wanted to see the city lit up at night.
Eiffel Tower at night
..after all, Paris is the city of lights!  My camera didn't do a good job of taking photos, but I would reccommend this to anyone.

It was very late when I finally left the Eiffel Tower.  I lucked out and caught the last metro back to my hotel (they shut down early for some reason), and didn't take too long to get to sleep.

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Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille
Seine River
Seine River
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral
Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
LArc de Triomphe
L'Arc de Triomphe
Eiffel Tower from lArc de Triomphe
Eiffel Tower from l'Arc de Triomphe
Eiffel Tower at night
Eiffel Tower at night
LÎle de la Cité
L'Île de la Cité
Picture of the Sacré Coeur from L…
Picture of the Sacré Coeur from …
La Défense from LArc de Triomphe
La Défense from L'Arc de Triomphe
On LArc de Triomphe
On L'Arc de Triomphe
Tomb of the unknown soldier at LA…
Tomb of the unknown soldier at L'…
Looking down from the Eiffel Tower
Looking down from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Towe…
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tow…
Inside Notre Dame
Inside Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Le Conciergerie
Le Conciergerie
Inside Sainte Chapelle
Inside Sainte Chapelle
Inside Sainte Chapelle
Inside Sainte Chapelle
Le Conciergerie
Le Conciergerie
Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville
Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
Eiffel Tower at night
Eiffel Tower at night
Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville
Place de la Concode (avec le Tour …
Place de la Concode (avec le Tour…
Champs-Elysees from lArc de Triom…
Champs-Elysees from l'Arc de Trio…
Eiffel Tower up close
Eiffel Tower up close
Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou
Seine River
Seine River
Egyptian Obelisk in the Place de l…
Egyptian Obelisk in the Place de …
Eating a crepe and having a bad ha…
Eating a crepe and having a bad h…
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
Les Invalides
Les Invalides
Paris
photo by: Sweetski