Saturday, September 25, 2010
Arriving in Paris
We left Antibes on Friday morning, travelling by train to Paris, about a 5-1/2 hour trip.
After arriving in Paris at the Gare de Lyon station, we meandered outside with a bewildered look in our eyes. We found the queue for getting a taxi and OH MY GOSH, it was long and winding - at least a two hour wait. A train porter walked by and Howard asked if the short line to the left was for taxis and he replied that it was and held out his hand; Howard gave him 5 euros and we were escorted to the front of the short line (a word here: the short line up to this point had been for elderly and handicapped, which we are neither). As you may know, France had a one-day transportation strike the day before to protest changing the retirement age from 60 to 62, so people were feeling a bit fiesty. As we were about to board a taxi, we noticed a distinct change in the tone of the longer line as people began speaking loudly and furiously (in French) about what we surmised to be us. After a bit of shuffling and discussion between porters, we finally were quietly led to a Mercedes cab and whisked away. Whew. (Here's the taxi cue - you can see how long it is.)
We rented an apartment for our week in Paris. It is located a block from the Louvre, the Tuileries Garden, and a couple of blocks from the Opera House - in short, it is an excellent location. It is a busy, bustling part of Paris, but as soon as we enter the large wooden doors that face the sidewalk, we are inside a courtyard where it is peaceful and quiet. Our apartment is on the seventh floor and there IS a lift (we had initially thought there wasn't an elevator).
First thing Saturday morning, we were up and out and heading to our first Paris flea market (separate post to follow). Here's our first view of Paris on Saturday morning, our intro to the underground Metro, and a little subway art.
The Metro stop at Place des Abbesses, one of two Metro stations that still have their original Art Nouveau entrances.
The beautiful Sacre-Coeur. This basilica is located on the highest hill in Paris and had spectacular views of the city. Because it is a tourist area, there were several street entertainers that enlivened the scene.
We strolled a bit through the Montmartre neighborhood, although we were in the touristy area rather than the quaint area we had read about (we're planning to go back for the quieter and scenic section).
We found our way to the Pigalle district (aka Red Light District) where we also got a glimpse of the Moulin Rouge.
Our final stop of the day was the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Lots of notables are buried here, so we targeted one icon: Jim Morrison.