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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My week in Paris: Day 1

Bonjour! Comment ça va? Right after finishing my internship at the Johnson Space Center, I flew directly back to France to spend a week in Paris! While I had lived in France for 8 months previously, all I had seen of Paris was the airport and train station. So, over the course of a few posts, I will share my adventure!
I arrived in Paris with my friend Juliette, staying at a very conveniently placed hotel.

The view from our hotel room, with Gare de l'Est station in view.
As you can see, the hotel was within walking distance from the Gare de l'Est station which made traversing the city all the easier. After settling in, we set out for our first stop, l'Arc de Triomphe.

I had set the itinerary this week since I had not seen anything yet, and I did my best to group each day's events within walking distance of each other. I started with the Arc because I thought it best to see something which wouldn't require a great amount of time and effort, such as a museum, on our first day.

As you or may not know, l'Arc de Triomphe was constructed by the command of Napoleon, as a tribute to his Grand Armée. It is inscribed with the names of 128 battles, and stands 45 m (148 ft) high. It also features the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

While I am sure the view from the top would be quite impressive, with l'Arc standing at the centre of many Parisian streets, I chose not to go up since I had neither the time, money, or motivation to do so. Still, it felt very cool to be beginning my trip walking through the arc of triumph!

Next on our tour was Champs-Élysées, and the Eiffel Tower! The walk to the Eiffel Tower was pleasant, if commercial. The streets were lined with shops, each more pristine than the last. I am not interested in shopping, and likely a good thing since I would likely have spent more in one of those shops than I did for the week long stay in Paris. There was one shop which caught my eye and so, with abundant agreement from Juliette (who had been there before), we stopped at the Disney store!

Among the many stuffed animals featuring characters from classic Disney movies, as well as new Guardians of the Galaxy and Frozen paraphernalia, there was also an impressive display of Star Wars stuff!

Here I am, trying on a Yoda-cap, trying out his voice, making some laugh and some look at me quite strangely!

"Do or do not, there is no try, and that includes impersonating me." - Yoda

Talking backward, in French, not easy it is.
There, now I've got it.

Those with a keen eye and a brain for references will notice that I'm wearing a Chewbacca messenger bag. One of the many gifts I received from friends in Toronto, the messenger bag is styled to look like Chewbacca's from Star Wars. It was a very thoughtful gift, and proved to be quite useful on my trip in Paris.

The weather turned after the Disney store, making everything grey and wet. I kept asking if we were, in fact, in London, as England's rain is quite famous. Rounding a corner, I came across my first real-life view of the Eiffel Tour!

Walking along la Rue de l'Université

In my opinion, the tower is just as impressive in person as its reputation warrants, and there is a kind of simple beauty to its construction. As you can see in the photo below, there are names inscribed on the tower, and the immature part of me noticed, and giggled at, the last name right away.

The view opposite the tower

And that concluded our first day in Paris! A little rain, a few monuments, and a lot of French! It was a great day and I really enjoyed myself, waltzing among the culture and history of Paris, France. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for next time for what I have affectionately called, "The Day of the Dead!"

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