Two weeks after I began working, Les Vacances de Toussaint (All Saint’s) started. This left about two weeks for me to do whatever the heck I want. So, for the first bit, I naturally curled up into my bed and watched television. Many other assistants decided to go to Germany, Amsterdam, or other various places in Europe. But me? I practically just got here, and I wasn’t about to figure out other airports and means of transportation just quite yet.
Thus began my exploration of Paris. In these two weeks, I visited the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, Les Cryptes, Les Halles, bars, L’Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower again, Le Pont Alexandre III, L’Eglise des Invalides, and Shakespeare and Company. And, I still have a few days left! I’m hoping to hit a few more places before the holidays are over, and even afterwards, I’ll probably visit Paris once or twice on my weekends.
I’ll give you the official Amy review of each one below:
So, this was pretty cool. The two times I’ve seen it, I’ve been on the garden side, which at the moment is being renovated. It was, however, perfect for a fall-themed photoshoot. The Eiffel Tower is beautiful up close, and this was the first time I could really see all of its details.
The second time I saw it, my friend and I decided to actually go up it. You can choose to climb it (you can climb it 2 stories, but to get to the 3rd, you have to buy an elevator ticket), or choose to take the elevator. Either way, you have to cough up a few euros. The price is actually really good!
Prior to going up here, I’ve heard about a catch-22. You’re on the Eiffel Tower, and you can see most, if not all, of Paris…except for the Eiffel Tower. For me, this was no big deal. It was certainly an experience climbing all the way up there, and it is pretty romantic, I’ll give it that. This was a pretty fun tourist-y activity!
I actually only just saw the outside of the Notre Dame, but I’ll likely go inside of it. The churches here are beautiful beyond belief. It’s also particularly beautiful at night as well, when it’s all lit up!
Once I was done walking around the Notre Dame, I found a way into Les Cryptes, which is a museum of old Roman ruins. It was very informative, and had a timeline from Roman times to current times. It featured remains of busts, such as the ones shown above, as well as old coins and decorations. All in all, it was pretty neat!
Shakespeare and Company
I was wandering, finding my way back to the metro after the Notre Dame with the help of googlemaps on my phone when suddenly, I saw it: Shakespeare and Company, just a block away. For those of you who don’t know, one of my minors was Shakespeare, and my college town, Ashland OR, has one of the largest Shakespeare festivals on the west coast.
Coming here was like going back to my second home. Facing Shakespeare and Company, the right side is the bookstore, and the left is the cutest, most Ashland-like cafe I’ve seen since coming here. Shakespeare and Company sells English titles (as you can see, I bought one), and for the record, there’s a no-photos policy. This bookstore, while it’s HUGE, has difficult walking space, thanks to the amounts of people there. When looking online for bookstores that sells French titles, I saw that the locals dubbed Shakes and Co. the ‘tourist bookstore.’ Do I care? Not one bit.
The cafe was just as incredible, if not more, in my opinion. Vegans, you can eat here. Yes, I said EAT. At first, I figured that I’d just get a coffee, but then I saw their menu!! It had been a long time since I’d had an avocado bagel (and look at that craftsmanship!), so I opted for that. But, they also have chia pudding, soups of the day, and different bagel choices! Besides that, they also have regular vegetarian options, which you may be able to modify. Keep an eye out for a post about eating vegan in France, later! Also, they sell used books at a much cheaper rate than the new books next door, for obvious reasons. This is a must-see, in my book.
So, they took down the locks on the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Archeveque, but the locks live on at Pont Neuf! Contrary to popular belief, the deal with the locks started only in 2008, after locks started appearing in bridges in other countries. But, my friend and I found the new lock bridge at Pont Neuf! I’ll be honest, it was quite romantic here! It’s scenic, and right along La Seine.
I actually only spent around 20 minutes here, as a way to pass the time before I left to hang out with some friends. I got a little closer than this, but it might actually be possible to go inside? Maybe? I don’t actually know. The detail on this monument is spectacular, and I’m sure it would be even moreso if I had braved crossing the traffic circle. But I didn’t, so alas.
Actually, I was lucky enough to snag a benchseat (and help people find a metro with my French!), and just sit down to read while the sun was setting. Let me tell you–it was actually #goals.
This beautiful bridge was another meeting place for me and my friends. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who concluded the Franco-Russian alliance in 1892. This bridge has beautiful golden statues, and a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s also considered to be a national monument. But beware, future TAPIF-ers, and tourists! Scammers live here. I would know. But let’s not talk about my shortcomings, and instead discuss how it’s okay to not be nice sometimes. Okay, the end.
L’Eglise des Invalides
Here, we saw L’Eglise des Invalides, which is actually right next to the Army Museum and Napoleon’s tomb, neither of which we saw.
L’Eglise des Invalides was in all honesty, magnificent. I’m not a religious person, or even a very spiritual one. But I can tell you that I felt calmer and more at peace with myself once we left. If you need a place to just sit and contemplate things, like life, this would be the place to do it.
Le Palais Garnier
Here, I splurged. Unlike last time where I paid to take a self-guided tour, I actually paid a pretty penny to see a ballet. Part of this was motivated by my wanting to see an actual show here, and it was also motivated by the fact that you don’t get to see the stage when you take a tour. Let me tell you–it was incredible. I was astonished both by the detail of this opera house as well as the fact that there were people sitting in Box Number 5. In the 3rd picture, we can see what I believe is the 3rd ceiling decoration of this opera house, as well as the post-crashed-chandelier chandelier. If you buy the tickets a night before, they’ll still be pricey, but significantly cheaper!
I’m pretty sure I’m going to try to see a ballet/opera once a month (though, for others interested, it looks like most operas are at the Opera Bastille, and most ballets are here at the Garnier). The nights that I’ll see a ballet and opera are also nights I’m planning on treating myself because I deserve it. $14 glass of rose champagne, here I come!
There are a few more days left on this vacation, and I plan to be doing something every minute of it, whether it’s time spent in Paris, or time spent at home reading or working on my story. There’s a lot more to come, folks!
Till next time!