September 6, 2008

Stones and bones

Filed under: France — sensel @ 6:18 am

Paris… wow. I mean, wow. I had no idea. (Maybe those who have been to Rome or other major European cities do?) This old dame makes New York City — maybe even London — look like a dingy, ugly, small, and upstart backwater. The uniformity of the grand limestone architecture makes it lovely; the incredible wealth and craftsmanship evident in structures that are 400 years old — or twice that — makes it impressive; and the history lying pretty much on the surface (or down a few feet as necessary) make it interesting. I managed to fit in Notre Dame, St. Chapelle (another wow, smaller and newer than Notre Dame but in many ways more lovely, since it’s like 98% stained glass), a whack at the Louvre (mostly in the Egypt collection but yes, I saw Mona), the Conciergerie (old prison), the Left Bank (where the bookstore called Shakespeare & Co is all it is cracked up to be and more), the Arc de Triomphe (and it’s very easy to imagine how truly horrifying it must have been for the French to see the Nazi flag flying from it), the Metro (and some of the coolest Metro signs imaginable), and of course the Tower, which is actually rather cooler than I expected. And a bunch of your basic wandering, including through the Catacombs, which are pretty amazing and were one of my favorite parts, actually, though that probably sounds weird. It’s intriguing, though, and sort of humbling, to imagine people stacking up those bones in patterns like that, and even weirder to think of the people those bones belonged to — they were moved 250 years ago, and many were hundreds of years old then.

And I can’t imagine what makes people say the Parisiens are rude. Everyone was quite nice to me, and happily bounced into English when my French ran out after a sentence and a half.

And thank goodness, a country that knows what a salad is! Although that may be balanced by the fact that I can’t get tea 24 hours a day for free, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Still, I’m glad to get out to the countryside again. A plus tard, and maybe some pics, if my wi-fi luck holds out.

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