Going to Paris in one day is exhausting. Up at 3:15am, leave at 5:30am, and go go go, not to return till approximately 10:30 that night. I believe I was awake 21 hours for this trip.
Here’s what I learned: Paris is a lot dirtier and the people pushier than in London, but I love the Louvre. Two hours there is barely time to skim the surface. I got to see a bit of the Greek statues area and some Renaissance paintings, which were rich and ornate. I saw the Mona Lisa very briefly from the side (as the line to get up front and center to view her was immense), Winged Victory (yay!), and the Venus de Milo (nice but not as pretty or affecting as some other Aphrodites I saw there), amongst other things. My favorite part was just seeing all the wonderful, gorgeous, lifelike representations of the Gods. My favorite Artemis was there in both bronze and marble! Didn’t get to see much of the Roman section, unfortunately, and I was really looking forward to seeing Isis-es. The Louvre is definitely something I would go back to Paris for. Also—Versailles, the Musee d’Orsay (impressionists galore!), and the catacombs. I didn’t get to see any of those.
If I didn’t go to any of those places, and I only had two hours in the Louvre, then what else did I do in Paris? Well, we had a very long bus tour of the city, which was nice but a little long. It was great to not be on my feet, though, and to be able to see so much of the architecture and sights in one fell swoop. We rode by l’Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral, little cafes and neighborhood restaurants, as well as high end shops like Cartier and Chopard. We stopped to get lunch at a tiny place where I acquired a brie baguette and Orangina. We drove down the Champs Elysees and crossed the Seine. Later, we had a little boat ride on la Seine, by which time it had gotten warmer and become sunny. The professor and her husband generously brought yummy peach champagne for us all to enjoy, and it was a lovely time. I even got to have a mini-conversation in French with the women next to me on the boat. I was surprised at how much French I’ve retained and how easy it was to read menus and the Louvre placards, even though the last time I studied it was in 11th grade. I even remembered enough phrases to help out some of my fellow travelers. It was really fun.
I have to say, though, that returning to London felt like coming home, and I’m glad I did. Paris was definitely an experience with ups and downs for me, with strong likes and strong dislikes. It just wasn’t what I expected… all sparkly and romantic and lustrous, like you’re told it will be. (The food’s good, but why not indulge in the beautiful south of France or elsewhere in the countryside?) London (and England overall) has been a wonderful time, and I truly love it here. The mild summer—60-72 degrees all the time!—is right up my alley, and I’ve found the people to be polite, helpful, and engaging. Can’t say the same for Paris, but I’m sure the rest of the country is much nicer.
Paris= just another big city with rude people, urine-smelling subway stations, a lot of history, trash on the streets, and wondrous art. London= a big city with lovely people, clean streets and subway stations, a lot of history, wondrous art, beautiful gardens, vegetarian food galore, and just that certain je ne sais quoi. I heart London.
- London vs. Paris Smackdown!(scarlettartlet.com)