I loved Paris! It is a beautiful city, easy to walk around in, with lots to do and see. We did tons of walking here and I wore my pedometer to keep track.
We stayed in Paris five days and our accommodation was a bedroom in a small flat close to all the major sites. (Note – we booked our accommodations through airbnb which has many listings by homeowners offering rooms in their residence; some people provide meals, some do not.) It is interesting when traveling in other countries to either rent a room in someone’s home or stay with friends as you get to see how other cultures live. I am surprised at just how small the apartments are here. We are in a one bedroom flat (the owner rents out his living room, which is converted to a bedroom). The entrance to the apartment, the kitchen and the bathroom are incredibly tiny. The shower is so tiny that if you happen to drop the soap, it is a major challenge to maneuver yourself to be able to bend down and pick it up.
For our first full day of site-seeing we went to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and strolled the Champs Elysees. At the Eiffel Tower, we decided not to take the elevator and instead opted to take the steps up to the first two levels. The first level is 57 meters above the ground, and the second level is 116 meters. It was a total of 669 steps! We could have taken an elevator from the second level to the top had we desired, but decided not; the views were great from the second level and we got our fill of taking pictures. Next up was the Arc de Triomphe, which is located at the centre of a hub that has a dozen radiating streets protruding, one of which is the Ave de Champs Elysees. Once we had our pictures of the arc we were off to stroll the avenue where we stopped for lunch at a sidewalk café and enjoyed watching the people go by. We then went home for a bit and later took one more walk and checked out Sacre Coeur church located on top of a hill, thereby giving another great view of the city. When you look over the city, you see that Paris is essentially white. It had been a full day of walking. By the time I went to bed I had walked 27,200 steps!
The next day we decided to take it easier on the feet and just go to the Louvre Museum, one
of the world’s largest museums and an historic monument in Paris. There was a huge queue to get through security and get inside the museum. We ended up
waiting a little over 1.5 hours to get in. I have to say that it was worth the line up and the waiting. It was magnificent! It has spectacular architecture as well as amazing artwork. The museum started its life in 1190 as a fortress, then became a castle and finally opened as a museum in 1793. We could have spent a week here, there was just so much to see. We managed to get around to the more famous exhibits including the Mona Lisa,
Raft of Medusa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The rest of the time was a long and somewhat tiring walk covering as much of the floor space and exhibits as possible before running out of time and steam.
It was supposed to be an easy day of walking, but after wandering around the art gallery for hours, it was a chore to get home. I had walked 15, 494 steps.
Our third day in Paris, I wanted to rest. My feet were killing me and my calves were sore. We stayed home all morning working on notes and emails and then went out only for a short time in the afternoon to the Musee de l’Erotisme, which was a short distance from our place. It was an interesting exhibit with over seven floors of paintings, sculptures, pictures, and videos of erotic art throughout time and from different world cultures. I walked 4570 steps on this day, and that was more than enough.
The following day, my feet felt much better, so we set out on another site-seeing marathon. Today’s destination is to the Île de la Cité, an island in the Seine River in Paris, which is home to Sainte Chapelle and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Saint Chapelle is hailed as one of the great architectural masterpieces of the Western world, and has been likened to a “gateway to heaven” in the Middle Ages. It was built in 1248 to house sacred relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns. I actually found this church lackluster, and noticeable dusty and grimy.
By contrast, I totally loved the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, in particular the towers of Notre-Dame. We climbed the spiral stone staircase to the first level of the towers, 46 meters above the ground. Located here is a chimera gallery, which gets its name
from the statues adorning the corners of the balustrade. These creatures are fantastic birds, hybrid beasts and mythical monsters perching on the towers. The most famous of the chimeras, Stryga, seems to gaze out at the ever-changing capital city. To view these creatures you are walking outside on the ledge of the towers. The views of the chimeras, the top of the cathedral, and the views of Paris were breathtaking.
From the first level, we climbed further up to the south tower belfry. Here is the largest of
the Cathedral’s bells, the 17th century great bell, known as “Emmanuel”. It weighs more than 13 tons and the clapper is 500 kilos. The bell was impressive, sadly though, there was no Quasimodo.
We ended the evening by taking in the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The cinema close by where we are staying plays movies in both French and English, so we were able to see it in English. It was a great way to end the day and it was good to be resting my weary feet at the end as we did 22,700 steps.
On our last full day in Paris, we finally tried out the subway and took it to Bois de Boulogne, a large public park. You’ll never guess what we did there? Any idea? We walked!! It was a beautiful park with lots of trails and two small lakes but the only problem was there was no washroom that we could find. We probably would have spent a lot longer there but we headed back after about an hour and a half so the lack of washroom would not be an issue.
The rest of the day was spent working on notes, packing, and a Vietnamese dinner out. Steps for the day was 12,600.
Tomorrow we are off to Lablachère, 655 km south of Paris. It will be a full day of driving and no walking. I think I’m relieved!