Whirlwind Through Paris

On our flight to Cairo, we somehow ended up with an eleven-hour layover in Paris. Bummer! What will we do with ourselves? Well, we hire a driver and guide for a whirlwind tour of Paris, of course!

I contacted and gave them our desired itinerary. They took care of the rest and did a bang-up job. The driver wasn’t fluent in English but super nice. Then once we were connected with our guide, we were able to communicate perfectly and she knew her stuff.

Paris has a few icons that every tourist must see. We chose to avoid the most tourist-trappy, i.e., the Eifel Tower. We did do a drive-by long enough to get a couple of pics from the car. Honestly, it was bigger than I expected. Very impressive for the period in which it was designed.

The four places on my list I really wanted to hit were:

1.  Sainte-Chapelle – because of the stained-glass windows.

2.  Notre Dame – because of the history and the fire.

3.  The Catacombs – because I love that sort of macabre setting.

4.  The Louvre – for everything NOT the Mona Lisa.

We met our guide at a café, because of course!

Food is always an important part of our adventures; we like to go on Food Safaris and try everything. Of course, the croissants in France are the best. But coffee is also important, and we like to sample the local brews. I like an espresso once in a while, but will normally order a ‘long’, so it’s more like American coffee. And I never put anything in my coffee: coffee should taste like coffee. The coffee at the little café was divine, almost chocolaty in creaminess.

St Chapelle was magnificent. I have a thing for churches simply because of the architecture and the beautiful art. I am not religious in the slightest, but I really love a good cathedral. This gothic style chapel is almost 800 years old and was consecrated on my birthday in 1248. I found it amazing that most of the windows have survived through wars, revolutions, storms, and vandalism. The space inside is not large, but the colors are breath-taking.

Notre Dame was closed, but we made a visit just to see it. I can be honest and admit that I cried when it burned. I watched the coverage of the fire for hours and cried over the lost history and beautiful art. It was a cultural tragedy for the entire world, not just France. Someday I will go back and see the completed rebuild.

We skipped the catacombs on the recommendation of our guide, because guides are not allowed to work inside the catacombs. She also warned us that once you get past the first chambers it’s just dirty smelly tunnels. I was a bit disappointed but found other ways to entertain ourselves.

The Louvre was amazing, of course. Our guide company had special passes for us, so we skipped right past the line. I was not interested in the Mona Lisa. It’s nice picture, but not that special. The Louvre is massive and many much more interesting items. One of my favorites was the ‘Winged Victory’. It is placed at the top of a wide sweeping staircase and is simply awe-inspiring.

I took a ton of pictures in the Louvre.

One of my very favorite paintings is located here. When I was a child of five or six, I remember my parents having a book with this painting in it. It is one of the first images I remember emotionally affecting me. I would seek out that page and stare at it. The tragedy and hope and pain and loss embodied in the piece hit me then and still resonate with me now. It is one of the great moments of my life to be able to stand directly in front of this magnificent painting and feel those same emotions.  

Paris deserved a longer stay, but I am glad we did the whirlwind tour. It was worth it and I highly recommend if you have the time.