If I had to describe both London and Paris is short, London was expensive and Paris was a whirlwind. In one day alone in Paris, I climbed a couple thousand stairs while visiting 5 different monuments, but I will talk about this more later. The thing I probably loved most about the city besides the beautiful monuments was the amazing food: crepes, wines, sandwiches, and amazing little desserts.
After taking the underground/underwater train from London to Paris (we did not see any sharks, unfortunately), the group I toured with was too tired to really go see sights so we settled for eating amazing crepes and the desserts pictured above from some local stores. After a night of rest the whirlwind tour began! Following a nice walk around the parks at the Louvre (the museum itself is closed on Tuesdays), we picked up our two day museum passes and went to the Musee d’Orsay. This was a perfect museum for me because I love impressionism, in particular the work of Monet. After the Orsay was the Hotel des Invalides, home to a rich tradition of French military history and the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, the largest tomb I’ve likely ever seen. The collections of guns, armor, and cannons was extremely impressive. After this our group ventured to the famous Notre Dame where we toured the inside of the massive cathedral and saw the underground crypts there. We barely missed the last call for the tour of the towers so we went off to a very nice dinner in a very French area (read: not touristy).
The second full day in Paris was completely insane, in a mostly good way. Picking up where we left off, we climbed the spiraled 250 stairs to the top of Notre Dame to see great views of the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower, all locations we would hit by the end of the day. A short walk away was La Conciergerie, the location Marie Antoinette was held during the French Revolution. The Eiffel Tower was our next destination, with somewhere around 730 stairs to get to the final elevator that took us to the top. The views here were amazing and definitely worth the work out. Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe, another 284 stairs to get the views which were again worth the effort. We also saw a military procession at the Arc featuring a military band, a cool sight to see. Our last monumental stop for the day was the Louvre, by far the best museum I have ever been to; I don’t think any museum in the world can compare. We went to most of the major masterpieces held there including the Mona Lisa, the Venus, and a wonderful Greek statue of a winged Nike. After getting kicked out of the museum at 10pm, we headed to the famous Moulin Rouge to look at the massive lines formed outside and the bizarre surrounding shops. Overall, this day was packed full of amazing sights, long treks up stairs, and good laughs with friends to pass time on the stairs (somewhere around 2,525 by my math, not including the Louvre which was massive as well).
My final two days in Paris were much calmer and enjoyable; everybody from the TMB had left for home except for me and a friend. Together we toured the WWII beaches of Normandy including Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Our tour guide provided us with deep insight to the events leading up to, during, and after D-day. In my last day in France, my friend and I decided to keep it relaxed by visiting the lavish Galeries Lafayette to shop for gifts, taste wines, and gawk at the extremely nice designer products made in Paris.
Though brief, my time in Paris was thoroughly enjoyable. I’ll have to return later in life for the foods, the wines, and the beautiful sights of the city. For now, I have just arrived in the picturesque suburbs of Berlin where I have started my summer studies in composition. I have a lot to look forward to in the coming six weeks including wonderful foods and beers, more sights, and concerts to attend in downtown Berlin.