Day 9: Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and The Pantheon.

Not having a firm schedule is a blessing…most of the time. My alarm that went off at 7AM (unchanged from yesterday because I had simply forgotten) but we didn’t make it out of our room until 2 hours later. This is something of an issue if we wanted to catch breakfast in our hotel which stops getting served after 10AM. Still we made it with time to spare and spent the next hour or so making final preparations before our trip to 3 of Paris’ big attractions. The first stop: the famed shopping street of Champs-Élysées.

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The street of the Champs-Élysées is quite impressive, harboring a massive 2 lane highway that’s surrounded by high end shops on either side. Whilst they were great to gawk at we didn’t end up buying anything from them, likely due to my long relationship with Internet shopping which has ruined me for travel purchases. Still I love a good browse and there was definitely some interesting affair on display. The highlight would have to be the people peddling 20 minutes in a Ferrari for the low price of €90. I declined of course, I far better things to spend my money on than a short joyride that would be equivalent of a month’s worth of petrol for my trusty Volkswagen back home.

The Arc de Triomphe is an impressive structure, towering over the intersect that snakes around it. We decided against ascending to the top since it didn’t seem worth it, especially compared to the view we got at the Eiffel Tower the day before. I have numerous pictures of it that are ruined in some way by…ugh… people. I’m sure a bit of work in Photoshop could see them removed but I can’t help but think how much easier my photography life would be if people weren’t a part of it. We didn’t spend too long here before trekking off to our next destination: the Notre-Dame de Paris.

The scale of the cathedral really cannot be understated, it’s an incredible structure especially given its age. The religious aspect was, of course, completely lost on me and indeed I’m sure many people would mistake the awe of something so huge for some kind of religious divination. Regardless it was still worth the visit, providing ample photographic opportunities and a place of quiet respite after the couple hours we’d spent traipsing up and down the Champs-Élysées.

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Around the time we finished up at Notre Dame we decided to find ourselves some lunch and, burned by our experience with a restaurant near a main attraction the previous day, decided to go for a short walk. We eventually settled on a nice little Chinese restaurant which had an amazing lunch special, far too much food for the amount of money we paid. After an hour and a half we pulled out the metro map we had again to see if there was any other sites we’d want to see before we called it a day. As it turns out we were only a couple streets away from the Pantheon so we headed on over to check it out.

It seems Paris has a thing for massive structures as the Pantheon was, yet again, just awe inspiring to see. I was surprised to learn that it housed an experiment that proved the Earth turns on its own axis, a pendulum suspended from the roof that precesses gently throughout the day. Even more surprising was that, in the crypt below, was the remains of Marie and Pierre Curie, the husband and wife pair credited with many advances in the fields of radioactivity. Standing next to her grave I couldn’t help but wonder how radioactive it was since I’ve long heard reports that her office is still highly contaminated even to this day. There were no signs however so I’m guessing it’s relatively safe.

With our day thoroughly completed we headed home, angling for a simple supper of pizza from a small shop down the road and wine from the hotel lobby bar. The pizza and wine were both surprisingly good, especially considering the price I paid for both. I have to admit something of an ulterior motive with this, wanting to recreate an experience that some of my friends had relayed to me when they had visited Paris some years ago. Whilst it wasn’t exactly the same the essence of it was still there and I can definitely see the attraction to simple Parisian foods and their accompanying booze.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Paris and move onto Amsterdam. Like all good trips it seems that just as we were getting comfortable with our host city we’re bound to leave it. Strangely though Paris was meant to be a sort of throwaway for us, a short stop to get us started in Europe before we moved onto the real parts of Europe we wanted to see. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time here however, finding much to enjoy in Paris’ sights and attractions. I guess the real test now will be how the other European towns we have scheduled stack up and whether or not Paris can stay on top.

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