After an overnight train ride from Italy during which we slept on bunk beds, we arrived in Paris. The train ride was, apart from the stinky french feet below our makeshift beds, not that bad. Ok but seriously, it was terrible.
Paris, however, was much better than we expected. The Italian heat was getting to us and when we arrived in Paris, we were elated that the weather was much cooler and we were even excited that there was a slight drizzle a little later in the day.
Paris surprised us more than any other city except for maybe Venice. The Parisian bread is some kind of miracle. It is head and shoulders better than any bread we have had at any other place at any other time in our lives.
We stayed just down the street from the famous Montmartre and so had daily views of Paris' famous Sacre-Couer church on the hill. At the foot of the Montmartre Butte is the famous Moulin Rouge, which is dead and hideous during the day but quite vibrant at night. The other thing that is hideous during the daytime is, surprise surprise, the Eiffel Tower. The tower is a gigantic monstrosity epic both in size and ugliness. It is brown and green, not grey or black, looking worn out and rusted and just fills the sky when one is near it. However, we must admit that it is a beautiful addition to the Parisian skyline at sunset. It is striking from a distance and more so in the evening, when it is lighted from top to bottom (also it looks black and more classy than the decroded brown color that it is during the daytime).
Of course we did a few museums; the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay were both excellent. Mona Lisa as well as 2 of Michelangelo's famous "Slaves" are in the Louvre, as are several million other pieces of art. We spent a lot of time in the antiquities wing, as we felt that we had seen nearly enough renaissance artwork in Italy. The Musee d'Orsay had a lot of Impressionist and modern work, not all of which was good, but there were rooms full of Van Goghs and Monets which was really amazing. Also there were several pieces by Renoir, who the French adore.
The famous film Amelie (or the Fabulous Destiny of Amelie of Montmartre) was filmed in several locations near our hotel. We had hot chocolate in the Cafe 2 Moulins, where Amelie worked and we had frog legs, which we were surprised to learn are not frequently eaten by Parisians, at another restaurant, called Roger the Frog (whatever frog is in french). The restaurant was no bigger than the back of a UPS truck and a grown man could not lay down sideways in the restaurant it was so skinny.
Notre Dame was quite impressive, and it is possible to take the stairs up to the roof, where there are several gargoyles and excellent views of Paris. Despite the inability of tourists to understand that flash photography is not allowed inside, the cathedral interior is beautiful. The flying buttresses of Notre Dame allow the walls to be full of beautiful stained glass windows depicting hundreds of different scenes in beautifully done stained glass. The cathedral is gigantic inside and creates, just by it's size, a sort of reverence when one walks in. The famous rose window is beautiful, but certainly not the only beautiful window in the cathedral.
Paris really exceeded our expectations, but we are glad now to have left it behind
for more and better environs. There are more photos from all our destinations on Laura's facebook, which we encourage you, dear reader, to view them.