The title today comes from a song from the movie Funny Face, a song that was playing in my head during most of my 5 hours of walking around the tourist sites of Paris. Those interested in old movie nerdular nerdance, here you go.
So yesterday, although I was incredibly sleep-deprived, I had difficulty actually sleeping. I went to bed at 2:00, fell asleep at 5:00 and didn’t wake until 1:00 p.m. I was so psyched to get up early and do all my touristy things early, but instead I was walking around Paris in the afternoon heat. Oh well.
So, on my walk I first came across this beautiful church, the Église Notre Dame des Champs. This isn’t the hunchback’s Notre Dame, so don’t get too excited, but it’s still a pretty big church and its old (1876) and it has a cool history (something about an older version of the church having a secret crypt to which people would make a pilgrimmage. I don’t know much more than that about it but here are some pics.
One of the things I noticed about Paris as I was walking is that, although the streets are not set in a strict grid, and there are many unusual intersections, the trees are in perfect rows and are often cut into square shapes. The first three pics are 3/6 of the streets in one crazy intersection where there were no traffic signs and no pedestrian lights. I probably looked like an idiot, but I booked it across those streets in case of traffic.
The next photos demonstrate the trees in lines and the square-tree effect.
I’m making fun of the trees but it’s actually highly impressive all these lines of trees. As you approach a line of trees you’re like, “Oh, there’s something touristy over here…what could it be?” As you keep walking you see just how long the line of trees is and just how square those trees are and you start to get excited. “This is going to be awesome…so many square trees!” And finally you see it!
Bam! Statue of Simon Bolivar (Venezuelan political and military leader). Want to know more: http://www.culturaltravelguide.com/simon-bolivar-liberator-statues
Bam! Arc de Triumph!
Bam! Eiffel Tower (notice the square trees)!
The grandeur of the streets and the architecture is impressive to say the least. So here’s a little information on why Paris is set up the way it is. In the first half of the 19th century, Paris was hugely overcrowded and disease was rampant. Streets were also so tiny (some as small as one meter wide) that it was difficult for traffic to move in and out of the centre of Paris. As you might imagine, the inhabitants in these areas were discontented and a number of uprisings broke out in these overcrowded areas during the revolution (just think of how easily barricades could go up in a street only one meter wide). So finally, Emporer Napoléon III commissioned a renovation of Paris to be led by Georges-Eugène Haussmann. So on June 29 (my birthday) 1853, Napoléon directed Haussmann to aérer, unifier, et embellir Paris: to give it air and open space, to connect and unify the different parts of the city into one whole, and to make it more beautiful.
It took me a good 30 minutes to get around the Arc de Triumph because the streets are huge and there are twelve, yes twelve streets that instersect at the Arc (my favourite is Avenue Victor Hugo). So I should do this more in order, I found the military museum first, with its golden dome and its surprisingly round trees…
Then I made my way up the Avenue de Maréchal Gallieni, over the Seine river, to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, which are on opposite sides of the street from each other. Both seem pretty grand!
Then I walk down the Champs Élysées which is super touristy but has air conditioned shops where you can stand and hang out. I should’ve taken a picture of the Abercrombie and Fitch which was like a palace beyond a secret garden gate with super high topiary labyrinth walls. Neat!
Then I went to the Arc. More detailed photos below.
Then I finally made it to the Eiffel tower. By then I had to have some ice cream. Pistachio!
It is now 5:30 am here and again I’m not asleep. Better get going on that.