You can't escape the past in Paris, and yet what's so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn't seem to burden.
This quote perfectly describes my experience of Paris. I am, admittedly, not a huge fan of Paris but I knew a six-month stay in France wouldn't be complete without spending at least a few nights there, so off I went for four days and three nights of Parisian excitement with Chantelle and Cari.
Here's a brief outline of our itinerary:
- leave Clermont-Ferrand at 8h30, arrive in Paris at 12h30
- check in at hotel (Hipotel Marne la Vallee, a dinky little 2-star hotel that cost 180€ total for three nights and is right next to an RER stop)
- drop our stuff off and head back to the center of the city--the Eiffel Tower
- accidentally get off the metro at Notre Dame...what a happy accident :)
- walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal
- head back just in time to see the tower light up and start blinking like a huge, metal Christmas tree
- Disneyland. That's all.
- Versailles for the afternoon
- McDonald's for dinner (classy, eh?)
- back to the Eiffel Tower to get on a nighttime boat tour on the Seine
- The Louvre.
- get on our train at 19h01, arrive home in Clermont-Ferrand around 22h30
Everywhere we went truly was a blend of past and present...each monument had its' own ability to emanate a sense of timelessness, a feeling that each visitor somehow became something much bigger than themselves simply by taking part in the experience of the monument. There were also countless tidbits of humanity that will continue to be facts of life until the end of the world: beggars begging, couples kissing, babies laughing, teens flirting, teens fighting, art lovers adoring...Paris is a great place to people watch.
We met/talked to some cool people, including some men on the metro who are from Philadelphia and were on their way back home from teaching a Bible class in Lebanon. They were very nice, interesting to talk to, etc...but in a weird way I felt like they were immediately trying to plant the seed that would save my soul. Not that that's a bad goal. But I was glad to be able to tell them I believe the exact same thing they do and that it falls directly in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church :) (Mom, Aunt Rosie, Aunt Therese...I knew you'd like that.) Their faces were kind of funny. And it got them to stop reciting Bible verses at us.
By the end of the four days, I was exhausted, and more than ready to be in my own room with my own bed and no one to share the bathroom with. I think we all were. Nevertheless, we came home happy to have been there, to have taken pictures (you can see them by clicking the link from my last post), and to now be able to say "When I was there..."