Day 9: Paris

I woke up this morning around 7:30am with a little bit of a sore throat (probably thanks to some people in the Clemson group being sick 🙂 ) and walked around to tried and find an internet café. It turns out that no one in Paris is awake before 9 – the streets were almost empty. It seems like everyone wakes up late and stays out late. As I said earlier, the sun sets around 9:15pm but doesn’t actually get dark until around 10:00pm.

While I was walking, I found a place to do laundry later in the week. I probably spent 5 minutes staring at the directions in French (so I would know how to do it later in the week) before I realized that there were English directions on the opposite wall. Instead of paying per load, you pay per kg and the machines are a lot smaller than back home. Hopefully I’ll find time to do laundry before I go to Reims on Thursday morning.

I ended up walking down the Champs-Élysées, where they were having a garden festival. At 10:00am, I went to the Arc de Triumph, a monument made to celebrate the French victories in war. I bought my tickets assuming they would automatically give me a student discount but they charged me the 9 Euros for adults instead of 4.50 Euros for a student. Next time, I’ll give them my cash and student ID card at the same time.
I then took the metro to Le Defense, the business district of Paris. I saw the large, modern Grande Arch (which is large enough to fit Notre Dame inside) and ate lunch at the same McDonald’s I had eaten at 4 years ago when I took a tour of Paris with my family. I stopped by a pharmacy to get something for my sore throat. I couldn’t understand what anything was, so I bought something that looked like throat lozenges. Luckily, they were. After lunch, I went to the Apple store near the Louvre and used the free wi-fi to call my parents using Skype on my phone. It turns out that the iPad hits stores in Paris on the 28th so there is a lot of ads and hype for that.

After the Apple store, I went to a wine tasting at O’Cheateau. It was hard to find, but I took a picture of the map they emailed me with my camera, and zoomed in on the picture to use as a map. They didn’t have my name marked down (even though I made reservations over a month ago) so I showed them my confirmation email on my iPhone. The wine tasting was pretty informative, covering mostly the wine regions in France, with interesting facts such as there are 150,000 chateaus in France (so good luck trying to find the same French wine at two different restaurants). I walked back from the wine tasting around 4:30pm and stopped in an H&M to buy some clothes (the prices are just as cheap as in the US) and then went back to my hostel and passed out until 8:30pm. I had dinner at another Gyro restaurant and ordered ‘pain oriental’ – a beef sandwich with lettuce and tomato – and then watched the sun set on Notre Dame. There was a fire dancer so I managed to get some good long exposure pictures. I haven’t gone out to take pictures at night yet – it’s hard to take pictures of the city of light without a tripod.

My photography is coming along well – I’ve started becoming aware of where sights are located in relation to sun and planning my trips accordingly. The Arc de Triumph faces East/West so the best pictures are early in the morning or right before sunset and the pyramid in front of the Louvre gets the best lighting right before sunset.

I have a busy day planned for tomorrow. I am planning on waking up around 5:30am to catch the sunrise at 6:00am, take a tour (with an audio guide) of Notre Dame when it opens at 7:45am and then go to the top of the tower, visit Saint Chapelle, go inside the Pantheon, revisit Pascal’s (the mathematician) tomb, and then maybe go to the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. I am saving my visit to the Louvre and any other museums for Wednesday because that is when it is expected to rain.