We managed to find a beautiful hotel across from the Louvre with an open parking spot for us to temporarily take advantage of.
At this point we just wanted out of the car, and out of traffic for a relaxing, scenic walk. Paris is a perfect candidate for a ‘public transit’ tour.
First we explored the spectacular grounds of the Louvre. Fortunately for my husband it was late, and the Louvre was closed – he is not a grand appreciator of museum type institutions – and even less so for art galleries.
I have been before, a few times and even managed to get kicked out (twice) for touching paintings. I was young (a teenager), and so in awe that I was standing in front of the works of great historical masters, that I simply could not control myself.
The first time I visited the Louvre was so long ago that the famous glass pyramid hadn’t yet been built.
Paris is considered the ‘city of lights’, but on this trip (assumedly because of the economic crisis being faced globally), the lights were turned off early. It was before midnight when we arrived at the darkened Notre Dame Cathedral.
The lack of illumination made the martyr St. Denis statue even creepier. St. Denis is depicted holding his own decapitated head.
The mythology states that he walked for many kilometres with head (literally) in hand, preaching the gospel along the way, before he finally died. He can be seen third from the left at one of the entrances to Notre Dame.
On every other visit, Paris was lit up beautifully at night, making for quite an enchanting, dreamy milieu.
While I understand the devastation of poor economic times, and appreciate the fiscal responsibility, it was disappointing none-the-less that my husband was not going to get to see Paris in all of it’s glory, exhibiting what she became famous for – being cosmopolitan and twinkily, romantic and scenic.
This Paris was just dark.
With the lack of illumination, my cheap camera just couldn’t handle it – and the battery light was flashing.
A lovely couple offered to take a photo of us (turned out to be the worst pic ever!).
Already feeling negative, we immediately expected them to take off with our camera – of course we still gave it to them anyway, we didn’t want to be rude (a Canadian affliction, I think)! It turned out, thankfully, they were just being nice.
That was our reminder to take each situation as it comes. Our horrible traffic experience didn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be carried through the rest of our Parisian tour. Easy enough to say, but very difficult to remember in the aggravated moment.
We got back in the car after fully exploring the Ile de la Cite, and took a cruising tour of Champs Elysees.
To continue with the theme of our night, Champs Elysees was 3/4 closed for some sort of an emergency situation that we couldn’t make out.
Police were inspecting every car that passed. A bit nerve wracking – kinda nullified the intended enjoyment factor!
At one end of the Champs Elysees stands the Arc de Triomphe. According to Wikipedia;
The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail. It set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant patriotic messages.
Now we would hurry and head back to the Eiffel tower, the last visit on our Paris tour. Hopefully the lights would still be sparkling…
Additional photos in the slideshow.
- Map of Paris Attractions
- Paris Attractions
- All things Paris (Squidoo)
- Top 10 – Things To Do In Paris For Under €10 | EssentialTravel.co.uk (essentialtravel.co.uk)
- Walking Tour – Gill & Pickpockets on the Metro – Paris, France (travelpod.com)