Our decision to visit France was based on two economic factors. First, we had plenty of frequent flier miles accrued so the airfare was free. Second Avalon Waterways was offering very reduced rates for a float down the Seine River. And then, a third factor popped up, the Dollar was stronger against the Euro than it had been for years. So oohlala we packed our berets, brushed up on our French (neither really) and took off.
When we got to the airport in Sharjah, things were normal, But in the time it took us to check-in and hang out in the lounge, a sandstorm of almost biblical proportions swept in. By the time were supposed to be boarding, our plane could not land and we were left to wonder if we would could get there at all.
But our airline, Qatar, came through as they always do. They put us in a taxi to Dubai where planes were still landing and more importantly taking off. It took a while, and we got to Paris almost a day late.
My wife, the ultimate travel planner booked us in a hotel one block off the Champs Elysee, and equal distance between the Eiffel tower and the Arch de Triumph.
I always wanted to walk through the Arch de Triumph. I felt like I was in a movie! Actually I felt triumphant to finally be in Paris after the long delays.
When you go to Paris (or any massively popular tourist monument in the world) be sure to go with a guide service which allows you to “skip-the-line”. The day we went up into the tower, the line was probably two hours long, and it was windy and rainy.
How can you go to Paris for the first time and not visit the Louvre? Maybe the world’s premiere art gallery, it is a must visit location for the novice visitor to Paris. This is another place you absolutely need a “skip-the-line” tour service. People who just showed up without a guide service waited in line for hours to get a ticket to get in. The entrance to the Louvre is now a shopping mall. With thousands of people waiting in a long line, the Starbucks in this mall does land office business. The second longest line is the line to the restrooms. Hundreds of people nervously shifting from foot to foot trying to make their bladders hold in the coffee they thought would help them survive the ticket line is not a pretty sight. But once inside the collection of art is absolutely amazing.
Of course everyone wants to see La Joconde. The what? Well in France that is what they call the Mona Lisa. This is probably the most viewed painting on the planet.
This blog gives no justice to the scope, the size, or the splendor of the Louvre. I heard that if you spent thirty seconds in front of every treasure kept here it would take you at least six months to get through it. Maybe after waiting in line to buy a ticket you would be tempted to do just that. But even an organized rush-through tour makes a person feel enriched with the glory of human achievement.
Something in Paris for Old Hippies.
Jim is buried in a very old and very big cemetery called Cimitierie de Pere Lachaise. It is two short metro rides from the middle of town. So short I only had one person try to pick-pocket me.
Walking through this cemetery, where many artists and authors are buried is awe-inspiring. Some of the graves are nothing if not audacious. It opened in 1880 and is 40 hectares in size. Jim is located in area 6. But all you really need to do to find it, is follow the other old hippies. His grave as you can see is a simple last resting place. It has been fenced off because people are always marking it with graffiti. If you believe Lonely Planet, people come there to do drugs and have sex on his grave. I saw neither of these, however I had my IPAD and I played Break on Through to the Other Side while I stood there.
Last Comments on Paris
Paris is a movable feast. Every block has at least one, and most more than one, Brassiere. Even the simplest looking one has excellent food, great bread, and superb coffee. I think that must be a law. I cannot figure out why I did not see any fat people there. I think I put on twenty pounds.
Parisian clothing, even in a simple setting is stylish. Everyone wears scarves.
Everyone smokes, alright!!
One last photo of Paris before I take you on a river trip up the Seine to the Normandy beaches.
OK, this post has gotten too long. Thank you for staying with me until the end. Stay tuned for some wonderful sights along the Seine river.
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Tags: arch de triumph, Avalon Waterways, Cimitierie de Pere Lachaise, Eiffel Tower, Jim Morrison, Jim Morrison's grave, La Jaconde, Louvre, Mona Lisa, Nike, Paris, Seine River, Venus De Milo, Winged Victory