Our Europe Trip: Paris Part 2

Day 4: Paris

In the morning, we were picked up from our hotel for our “bus” tour around Paris. We were expecting another tour like the one we had in London, but it ended up being a 10-passenger van with a tour guide and 8 tourists. Once we started driving around Paris, it made sense why we couldn’t be in a full-size van; Paris streets were not made or big buses.

Our first stop on the tour was Montmartre, where we were able to get out and walk around. It was so beautiful and has a great view of the city. We walked through the basilica at the top of the hill, la Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. It was kind of rainy that day, which might have bummed me out, but Paris is so gorgeous in the rain with the water reflecting off the cobblestone.

Our tour guide was brilliant. She would transition between fluent French, English, and Spanish without any hesitation. I’ve decided that Europeans are way smarter than us because everyone is fluent in at least 3 languages and they don’t think anything of it.

Oh, our tour guide (Sophia) was probably the craziest driver I’ve ever seen in my life. And I say this after hanging out in cabs in NYC. But then again, I think that’s just the way you have to drive in Paris. In the giant round about circling the Arc de Triomphe, she was cruising in the innermost lane (Why would there ever be 5 lanes in a roundabout?), saw that we were across from our exit, and proceeded to drive perpendicular to traffic in order to make the exit. Considering that nobody was really trying to stay in their lane and the rain on the cobblestones made it almost impossible to see the lines, none of the other drivers seemed to be surprised by her maneuver. Who needs lanes, anyway?

Speaking of the arc, it was WAY bigger than I thought it would be. It’s safe to say that everything is Paris is totally overwhelming. Notre Dame was totally beautiful on the outside with insane detail on the façade and those flying buttresses … crazy! However, the inside was pretty dirty. There were cardboard boxes all over the place and everything was very dark and dingy. Maybe we went on an off day.

On the tour, we also drove by the Luxembourg Palace, which, of course, was built because the queen didn’t like the Louvre. The more palaces we saw, the more understandable it become that the French had 2 revolutions. At least they made all their palaces well so I could hang out in them, though.

The tour ended at the Eiffel Tower, so we were able to snap a couple pictures of it during the day. Then our tour guide dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe. We had big plans to go to the top, but it was pretty rainy and miserable, so we just took a bunch of pictures from the ground.

Then we battled the subway to go to Musée d’Orsay. Unlike the Louvre, which is a converted palace, Musée d’Orsay is a converted train station, so there is one main gallery with smaller rooms surrounding it. Again, so cool. The art there is mostly French art from 1848 to 1915, while the Louvre only houses art from the 17th and 18th centuries. I swear, between New York musuems, the National Art Gallery in London, and Musée d’Orsay, Doug and I have seen every Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, and Picasso piece.

Our feet and legs were mostly broken after Musée d’Orsay, so we went back to the hotel to do some laundry. We were so excited to be super ghetto and do our laundry in our fancy kitchen sink. Welp, it didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped. Our hanging clothes refused to dry and when they finally did, they smelled all mildew-y. Word to the wise, just go to a laundromat.

After our laundry attempt, we walked to the Louvre (only because we couldn’t find a metro station on the way). Since we got there later than we planned, we were only able to be in the Louvre for about an hour and a half before it closed. We were able to see the most important thing – The Mona Lisa. Everyone I talked to said it was way smaller than they expected, which made it bigger than I expected; pretty good trick. Of course, the Mona Lisa was cool, but nobody told me about the TONS of other priceless art hanging in the same room as the Mona Lisa or covering every inch of the halls. It was totally overwhelming.

P.S. The Louvre has 11 miles of wall space completely covered with art. So when Doug says Paris is greedy, that’s why.