Monday, 22 April 2013

A Few Days in Paris: Part 1.

I've been to Paris a few times over the years. However, I have never really been able to spend more than a couple of hours in the city. With a spare weekend around the corner I decided that now was the time to really see what it had to offer.

My journey to Paris was incredibly long and took in the delights of Wimbledon, Slough, Kingston and Maidstone. Coaches are certainly not for the impatient but they are cheap. After my five hour tour of the suburbs of London I arrived at Dover and headed across the ocean to my waiting hotel were the morning would bring about extensive touring, wandering and marvelling.

Sun risen and temperature suitably warm, I headed into a remarkably calm and empty Paris to gaze upon the Arc de Triomphe. The structure has some amazing carvings and it's an incredibly piece of architecture.

The tour continued and next up was the iconic Eiffel Tower. The best view of the tower and grounds leading up to it are from the roof of the theatre nearby. There isn’t much you can say about one of the most well known landmarks in the world. It looked nice in the sun with the fountains and set against a blue sky but I was looking forward to returning at night to see the tower lit up.

My brief stop finished it was time to take in the glory of Napoleon’s Mausoleum. Amazingly the roof is made completely out of solid gold. I stopped for second to work out just how big a helicopter would be needed to steel it. There are wonders hidden all around Paris in unexpected places. For instance, next to the opera house is an apartment store. Look inside it and you will find ornate balconies leading up to an amazing glass ceiling.

Speaking of glass I decided it was time to start the long walk down to the legendary Notre Dame. The place is incredibly imposing and it’s easily one of the most impressive and dramatic cathedrals in Europe. Inside are the fabled glass windows. Their beauty and depth of colour can’t be accurately captured by any camera. Make sure you leave some time to see it for yourself as Notre Dame can be tricky to reach.

The sun falling, it was time to enter the Monmartre district of the city, famous for its artists and street performers. It’s a lively place in the evening and you can get portraits done, eat at one of the lively restaurants or check out the impressive Church of the Sacred Heart that overlooks Paris from a high viewpoint. The acoustics of the church are truly amazing.

It had been a long day and tomorrow would see me heading to the palace at Versailles before returning to the main part of the city to see Paris by night. It promised to be very special.

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