Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 5 : July 6 - Munich to Paris

Munich, Germany to Paris, France ~6 hours

Janda and I got up bright an early to catch our 6:20am train to Paris. Even at 6, the train station was already busy. We got breakfast for the road and then found our seats on the train. We were in the 2nd class section, so it was a little tight, but all in all not a bad voyage. It was a 6 hour journey through western Germany and eastern France. We only made about 6 stops, so it wasn't too bad at all. Once we got into France, it was all farms all the time. Until we got about 30 minutes away from Paris, we mostly saw huge wheat fields with a few towns here and there. Since we had been sleep deprived the entire trip thus far, we tried to catch up on a little sleep and napped on and off. We finally got to Paris at 12:30pm and hopped off our train and onto the Metro. Our hotel was about 10 minutes from the Metro stop, so it was manageable, even with all of our baggage.

After we got settled into our hotel, we headed out into Paris. On our schedule for the day was Ile de la Cite and Montmartre, so we got going pretty quickly. We walked down the Boulveard St. Michel to get to Ile de la Cite and grabbed some sandwiches on the way. We ate our sandwiches on Ile de la Cite, in the square in front of Notre Dame. It was incredibly busy and I was surprised how many tourists were there during the week, I had thought that during the week wouldn't be that bad, but I was wrong. After our French sandwiches, we got in line for Notre Dame. It moved very quickly and we soon found out why- there was a separate line for the towers. We enjoyed walking around the inside of the cathedral and seeing the stained glass and the carvings and architecture, but decided the line to the towers was too much. We took a walk to the park in the back and then continued on to see how the other lines were.

Enjoying our French baguette sandwiches at Notre Dame

Notre Dame's facade

The back of Notre Dame- flying buttresses

The line for Sainte Chappelle was extremely long- there were warning signs about the length of the wait at the ticket booth! We decided to skip it and just go onto the Conciergerie, which is the prison in which those sentenced to be guillotined were kept until their execution. You start out in a huge vaulted chamber and then tour the prison where there are re-creations of rooms and cells, including the cell where Marie Antoinette most likely spent her last days. There was also a list of the 2780 people who were guillotined and a brief history of the events of the Revolution.

You enter the Conciergerie through this vaulted chamber

Re-creation of Marie Antoinette's cell

After we toured the Conciergerie, we crossed over to the right Bank via Pont Neuf, where we got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. We walked through a relatively quiet little neighborhood, past the boarded up Samaritaine, past a bar showing the Tour de France, and hopped on the Metro to Montmartre. When we got off the Metro we were accosted by beggars and then again as we walked the steps to Sacre Coeur, but once we got up to Sacre Coeur it was more peaceful. From this church, built in the 1800's, you have a good view of Paris b/c it sits up on a hill in the north of Paris. After taking in the view, we walked around Montmartre to the Place du Tertres and through some of the nearby neighborhoods.

View from Pont Neuf

Looking up at Sacre Coeur

Looking down from Sacre Coeur

Cute little cobbled streets in Montmartre

We took the Metro back to Place St. Michel and had dinner on the little side streets that are lined with cafes, restaurants, creperies, etc... You can get every kind of food imaginable there. This was one of our few (only 4) sit down meals while we were in Europe and we opted for French cuisine. We had a meal from the prix fixte menu- we got an entree, a main course and a dessert for 9 euros. We found out later that they can charge so little for the meal b/c they charge 4 euros for 1 can of Coke! Janda and I shared a salad and a French onion soup for the appetizer. Then I had steak and he had turkey, both with some kind of sauce. For dessert we shared the apple tart and the chocolate gelato. Very yummy. After dinner we walked back to the hotel past the Sorbonne and the Pantheon and emailed for a while before bed.

Pantheon as the sun sets (10pm!)

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