Early Wednesday morning, we got up in Brussels, drove confusedly through the downtown area until we found whatever passes as a highway in Belgium. Then we drove a long way to Paris. We had lunch at a gas station. Once we got to Paris, we encountered the insanity of French drivers. Brussels ranks #1 in my experience for “Most difficult to navigate.” Paris ranks #1 in my experience for “Most terrifying to drive in.”
We spent two days in Paris.
We got into our hotel around 10:00 AM. The hotel sucked (except for the room). We spent the remainder of the day walking from sight to sight in Paris. Paris is a big, sprawling city. We walked 18 miles (28.8km). I was impressed by how large and numerous the public parks are.
We walked into the Jardin du Luxembourg and discovered the scale of the map we were using. Then we rerouted toward Notre Dame. It was another magnificent church! We happened to get there shortly before Mass, so we meandered a bit and then attended. I learned that Mass in French makes as much sense to me as Mass in English. It sounded nice, though. This may be the first time I’ve gone to church on vacation. Did you know that construction started in the 1100s?
We then walked around that island and saw other ancient, magnificent buildings. We left the island and visited the Louvre. The Louvre is a monstrosity.
We decided to go in because the lines were short, and we were quickly overwhelmed. We spent most of our time navigating. We hit a few major items (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, etc), and then bolted. KrisDi wanted to walk through the park in front of the Louvre, but it’s even bigger. We walked through part of it.
We walked on and had a light lunch of wine, bread, and cheese. We walked by other magnificent and ancient architecture, such as the Acadamie Nationale de Musique and the Royal Palace. We walked and walked and saw and saw. We headed to Au Petit Panisse for dinner, based on Northwood’s recommendation (he’d been there a few weeks earlier — they remembered him, and they seated us exactly where they sat). Then our camera battery died, but we still had 5km to walk back to the hotel. We planned a route past more magnificent, ancient architecture.
The next day, we resolved to use the Metro and walk less. Consequently, we only hoofed 12 miles. We hit the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero before breakfast. Then on to the Arc de Triomphe (elevator out of service, about 1,000 steps to the top), down Champs Elysees to the Grand and Petite Palaises. Then on to the Hotel Des Invalides. Then lunch, a Metro ride to Sacre Coeur (with about 1,000 steps to get to ground level from the train), and short and powerful rainstorm that caused tourists to stampede into whatever building was nearby (mostly Sacre Coeur). The Metro back toward the hotel, followed by a snack of wine and croissants plus a short trip to a wine store before (what we consider) a late dinner at La Mamma.
We headed back to the hotel to drink our remaining beer and our bottle of wine and try to stay awake until we left for Charles de Galle Airport around 3AM. We discovered the rental place was closed until 4, so we had to do a night drop; we also discovered Lufthansa’s counter didn’t open until 4:30, so we had to stand around nervously as our 6:20 flight time approached. That’s a weird airport, man.
KrisDi was so tired she fell asleep while chewing on a croissant on the plane to Frankfurt. We both slept on the flight from Frankfurt to Seattle.