Note: This entry is being entered post-trip from notes taken.
Yesterday (I think) afternoon, I arrived in Paris for my first visit to France, and in fact to any European country. Jetlagged, weighted down by exhaustion, and looking forward to a short nap, I stumbled to the taxi stand, and $45 Euros later I was at the Hotel Minerve.
Despite having the smallest shower I have ever used (I could barely turn around without hitting either the glass or the plubming fixture), the hotel was both well-located (about three blocks from Notre Dame, in the Latin Quarter) and well-maintained. The staff was cordial and spoke English (a definite plus, as I have long forgotten most of the French language instruction I received).
The evening of my arrival, after waking from a much-needed nap, I headed out to explore the area. I found Notre Dame without too much difficulty, and found myself impressed by the height and age of the structure, as well as the beauty of the sculpture that adorned it.
Sunday morning, I did return here as part of the beginning of my explorations. I climbed the many steps to the top of the tower, where I saw the bells of the tower and had some wonderful views of the city. After completion of the tour, I also went inside to view the stained glass windows and the paintings and sculpture on display. Absolutely breathtaking, which was, in a way, a common refrain on the trip. I was also amused by being asked by two American women if I was British, which I always appreciate. After all, who hates the British (except as a roundabout way of hating Americans, that is)?
A visit to the nearby Centre Pompidou was in order, in part to view the odd archiecture of the building (the “insides” were placed on the “outsides” to provide additional exhibition space). The building itself was, if not grotesque, highly unusual, but the permanent galleries only served to reinforce my extreme distaste of modern art. If a patented shade of blue is considered high art, then I’ll do without, and if it’s a joke, I don’t find it particularly funny. All told, two things surrounding mainstream art have left me happy–photography and architecture. “Modern art”, though, I only find absurd.
The streets near the Centre Pomidou contain the Forum des Halles, which had some beautiful gardens as well as an undergound shopping area I didn’t visit. After purchasing a baguette for breakfast, it was off to dinner and then back to the hotel.
One last aspect that has made this trip even better. It turns out that the sun doesn’t set until after 10 PM. This has made it even easier to stay out late and enjoy the city and the fantastic weather.