Paris Pell-Mell

Chelsea, our youngest, has come and gone, but I was too tired after our boating misadventures to drag my camera around, so no photos of her stay until she sends me some, but we did have a great time. Then Brittany, middle daughter, arrived a day after Chelsea headed home and is now here in La Rochelle with us for a few more days. David and I are recuperating from too much Paris at too frenetic a pace. Even Brittany, young and strong, says she vastly prefers the tranquility of La Rochelle.

Word to the wise: choose two, maybe three things max, to see and/or do in Paris each trip, unless you’re there for a long time. David and I know this, but time felt short and neither Chelsea nor Brittany was certain of coming back. So we walked and walked (and walked and walked) and stood in line after line and tried to do way too much.

We visited le cimetière du Père Lachaise, where we saw the tomb of Heloise and Abelard . . .

Tomb of Heloise and Abelard, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Paris
Tomb of Heloise and Abelard, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Paris

. . . and, of course, Jim Morrison’s grave (not nearly as photogenic, but mobbed, nevertheless). Oscar Wilde’s tomb was too far up the hill for our tight schedule, so we had to pass on that one. We were off to climb la Tour Eiffel . . . .

Brittany climbing the Eiffel Tower
Brittany climbing the Eiffel Tower

David opted out this time, instead walking in the park while Brittany and I headed up. The best part was actually the climb to the first two levels–no line for tickets, less expensive, and very few people on the stairs. Once we had to join the hordes in line for the elevator to the top, things got ugly. A fight nearly broke out over a misunderstanding about placement in line, and there was WAY too much full body contact with the odd man behind us. Brittany and I took turns trying to elbow him back.

Next day: Louvre. More hordes, but also some fabulous art when you could manage to catch a glimpse of it between all the tourists who wanted their picture taken IN FRONT OF whatever we were all trying to see. What?!? And–bonus–there’s a new tourist torture device in heavy use these days–an extension pole for your camera, to better take your annoying selfie, while taking up as much space as possible and simultaneously clocking other tourists on the head. Gha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a! Beyond maddening. We could see ceilings:

Louvre
Louvre

And since they’re HUGE, we also managed to see the apartments of Napoleon III (nephew of the Napoleon more famous to Americans, in case you’re not up on your French history).

Apartments of Napoleon III in the Louvre
Apartments of Napoleon III in the Louvre

Maybe I’m missing something, but those Napoleons do seem to have ignored one of the main points of the French Revolution (a bit less conspicuous consumption while people are starving, s’il vous plait).

We eventually took a break from the Louvre and went to the Catacombs, where it turns out there are whole sections that are NOT filled with bones, like this little corner:

Catacombs, Paris
Catacombs, Paris

But there are also the remains of roughly 6 million Parisiens, all very close together . . .

Catacombs, Paris
Catacombs, Paris

. . . as apparently Parisiens are used to being.

Brittany and I went back to the Louvre later in the evening when the crowds had died down a bit and enjoyed it MUCH more. Here’s one piece I loved:

Louvre, Paris
Louvre, Paris

Then on to l’Arc de Triomphe to admire a bit of Paris by night:

L'Arc de Triomphe CroppedAnd just in case we weren’t sufficiently exhausted and sick of crowds, the next day we went to Versailles. Yup. The mother of all crowd attractors. Wasn’t that an excellent idea? But I’ll save that for another post.

So, what have I learned? Mmm.

  • It is impossible to be TOO familiar with the metro system of Paris or the map of Paris streets. Before, between, and during all of the above, I had to scramble to figure out Metro connections and walking routes, not to mention which direction we were even facing when we came up from the Metro. Sheesh.
  • Too much is too much, no matter how beautiful or famous or gilded. Pace yourself.

And especially:

  • Tranquility is precious. Find it whenever possible and savor it.

Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility.
∼Thaddeus of Vitovnica

 

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