We’ve just had a week in Paris.
Firstly, I couldn’t get the notebook to work with the hotel wireless network, so this is the longest I can remember when I haven’t had internet access. In a way this was a good thing, as Michele reminded me, for once I couldn’t check my emails before going to bed. This stressed me the first two days, but then I got used to it. Call me really sad, but it takes time to break the ‘habit’. Anyway, I write this on the way back to Zurich on the TGV. I have 5-6 hours before me in which to work. I don’t have any emails to reply to (that will come tonight!) so I have no excuse for not working… unless ofcourse I use the time to write a few blog entries. Blogger has a nice email posting facility, so I’m simply writing these posts as emails and will send them when I get back to Zurich.
So, Paris. It was OK. We saw some great places – Musee d’Orsay, The Louvre, The Pantheon, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame, etc. They were good. But this city is depressing. Man, the people have such a bad vibe. There is bad karma here. Everyone seems grumpy and abusive. Now, I know it is a bit of stereotype that the French are rude to foreigners. But I don’t buy it. We were in Colmar last weekend, and they were lovely. So polite and helpful. Here, they are fuckin’ rude. So I think it is a Paris thing. Not a French thing. It seems every five minutes there is a police car with sirens on zooming past. Do they have a lot of crime? Or are they arresting people for their rudeness? I hope so.
Having said that, if you visit Paris and are over in the Latin Quarter then check out two restaurants – Brasserie Balzar and Boullion Racine – the staff at both places were fantastic. The food was great. And, when we got on the train we were in seats facing backwards. Two very kind French men offerred to swap with us (I feel ill going backwards). So they are not all bad…
Now, for me the pick of it was seeing Foucault’s Pendulum in the Pantheon. Many years ago I read the book of the same name by Umberto Eco and was completely captivated. To visit the site of his writing was a bit of a thrill. I think I’ll read the book again. Speaking of books I saw the Tin Tin series in a book store and it brought back great childhood memories. I’ve decided to buy the series when I get home to Sydney. I’m hoping I’ll be able to track them down cheaply on EBay.
Here’s my tips for seeing Paris:
Day 1 – Get here after lunch. Stay in the Opera or Louvre quarter. We were in the Latin quarter which is also nice. Walk around that afternoon, do some shopping
Day 2, visit the Musee d’Orsay. Spend most of the day there.
Day 3, visit the Louvre, get there early and rush to see the Mona Lisa. It is a boring painting and totally underwhelming, but you have to see it and get it out of the way. You should rush to see it because it will get very crowded soon. Try to see as many of the Ialian paintings in that section (Denon level 1) as you can before it starts to get crowded. As an aside, I was surprised by the number of Japanese groups going around (and yes they ALL had cameras, videos and were using flashes). If we are but the sum of our experiences then they have the most proof of who they are by a long shot.
Then go up to level 2 and start with the French 15th and 16th Centruy paintings. Spend most of your day there and then work back down to level 1 late in the day. If you go on a Wed or Thur the museum is open until 9pm. Note, it is closed on Tuesdays.
Day 4, visit the Pantheon in the morning and Notre Dame in the afternoon. Head home that afternoon.
Although we visited the Eiffel Tower and Champ Elyssees I wouldn’t say it is a must do. You can do that on Day 5 if you stay that long. But I think 4 days is enough.
I can’t wait to get back to Zurich. I love that city. The weather is probably a bit colder, but the place has a great vibe. Everyone is so nice. And it is clean. I know people say that Paris is dirty. And they’re right.