Some More of Paris…

Palais GarnierPalais GarnierA lot of people say that Paris is dirty, grungy, crowded, overrated, not worth the time…  As a result, my expectations were not high for the city.  I knew it would be crowded for sure, busy, full of tourists.  It is Paris after all!  So, before I went, I decided to only try to see the things that mattered to ME.  Not this friend, or that, or the things that are “must-see’s” for any tourist in Paris.  I knew I had limited time, and frankly, why waste it in a line at this or that museum, or waiting to ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower?  If I ever go back to Paris, that’s when I’ll do those things.  My choices were simple, and probably not what yours would be, but then, maybe.  I did have the bonus, however, of being a solo traveler in Paris.  I imagine it would be a lot tougher the more people in the group, to see what each person wants most.  So maybe in those cases, each person gets one choice?

For me, I have always associated Paris with the darker side of humanity.  Sure, its also got a romantic association, which I did see and feel while there, but the dark side is undeniable.  First on my list were the catacombs, so it was a relief getting there in time to see them on the second day!  Right up there next to the catacombs was the Cimetière du Père Lachaise.  I love cemeteries, I find them hauntingly beautiful and peaceful.  I couldn’t miss that gorgeous cemetery!  I also desperately wanted to see the Palais Garnier, the large opera house in Paris, that is the basis for the opera house in the Phantom of the Opera (which I absolutely love).  And of course, the Notre-Dame Cathedral.  Aside from those, I could care less.  Anything else I managed to see would be an extra bonus.  By keeping it simple like this, I was not disappointed at all with my trip, but rather considered it an absolute success, especially since I did get to see as added bonuses, the Louvre, Montparnasse Cemetery, the Eiffel Tower, and a good portion of the area where I was staying.

Palais GarnierPalais GarnierAlso, surprisingly, I didn’t find Paris as crowded as one would think it would be.  Maybe because I was there during the second to last week in August and families were either getting for, or back in school?   I am not sure why, but I certainly didn’t mind the lack of an overwhelmingly large crowd.  The main tourist sites were extremely crowded, though, and as I mentioned about the catacombs, some places had very long lines.  At least the streets weren’t crowded then!  As for the dirty issue, I didn’t find it as dirty as everyone says.  It is a huge city, that sees a lot of tourists everyday, so, yes, there’s dirt and trash here and there, but its not that noticeable.  Every morning I set out, I would see the street sweeper vehicles going along the sidewalks and roads, and individuals would hose down the sidewalk in front of their shops or restaurants after closing at night.  I was impressed with the effort made to keep the city clean.  Although, their trashcans lacked for beauty.  They were simply a metal ring through which a large, clear plastic bag would hang, so you could see all of the trash within…  Not that attractive!

Palais GarnierAnyways, back to my adventure…  After my time at the catacombs, I made my way across town to see the Palais Garnier, another must see for me.  It was a beautiful building, but I was disappointed in the number of tourists within.  It was impossible to get a picture of the staircase without anyone.  Also disappointing was that they only had two doors, one on each side, that opened onto the seating area and stage.  All you could do at these doors was pass through into a little balcony that only five people could cram across the banister to see the theater…  And this is the only spot I found myself dealing with rude tourists.  If you took more than 5 seconds, you were instantly being jostled with people making agitated noises at you, and eventually saying things to their companions.  Seriously people?  What is so wrong with me wanting to stand there for a minute or two and take pictures of something I’d been dying to see?  Absolutely nothing!!!  Maybe I should have assured him that the stage and chandelier were not about to run off together?  Some people manage to forget that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and they can be so rude if you hinder them and their desires for half a moment…  It is reasons like that, that tend to make me avoid the major tourist spots and cities, but I had to see Paris, so I had already accepted that I would deal with that…

Palais Garnier

Later that evening, I went to find the Eiffel Tower, deciding I would rather see it at night, lit up, than at day.  I scoured the metro map I had on my tablet, and set out.  Eventually, I found myself sitting on the metro at a stop, slowly realizing that everyone else had gotten off and I was just sitting there by myself…  So much for my French lessons, since I hadn’t understood the French announcement at that stop, thinking it merely a watch your step type of thing…  Turns out the line was closed for work, and that was its last stop!  So, once I realized, I got off, and found the nearest map on a wall to try and figure out a new route.  Thankfully, there were two young girls trying to do the same thing at the map.  I spoke with them briefly, and found them to be college students, studying abroad for a semester in Paris.  Lucky gals!  They invited me to travel along with them, and together we found our way to the Eiffel Tower.  One of the two had been there several times, and was showing the other around for her first time, so I got to join in on the little “tour” which included where to sit and when to watch the Eiffel Tower “glitter” as she put it.  I wandered around and under the tower with them, and then across the river for another view of the tower, before eventually splitting ways with them.  I must say, meeting individuals like them makes me enjoy all the more, being a solo traveler.  Otherwise I never would have had the chat and tour with them, or met some of the other interesting people I have met on my journeys…  And no pictures of the Eiffel sadly, since the lights on it are apparently copyrighted?  How absolutely absurd is that??  If you do want to see the video of it “glittering,” head over to my Facebook page, I uploaded them there while traveling…

Light Pole Outside the Palais Garnier

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One comment

  1. Absolutely stunning!

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