Saturday, 1 September 2012

Paris & Thereafter

I can't tell you what a relief it is to get Paris done with.

No, no, this is not in any way a knock against Paris. In fact, we had an amazing time there and the city is unmatched on the world stage for museums and landmarks with the exception of maybe London. But 5 days in cities like London and Paris is just enough to scurry around like rats to check everything off our bucket list.
My best attempt at drawing the Eiffel Tower while staying completely still 
We did the touristy thing and it was awesome: Le Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Les Invalides, Espace Dali, Catacombs, Tour Montparnasse (climb this instead of Tour Eiffel), Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, St. Sulpice, Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries, Ave Champs D'Elysees and wine and crepes.
Le Louvre
But we were tired and nursed painful muscles and joints by the end of it and were relieved to find our next destination in Rennes, a much smaller city with a slower pace. Despite its lack of touristy activities, Rennes surprised us. There was a vibrant outdoor Saturday market, and a lovely park to visit during the day, and an amazing live band performance at night, then a cool light show which played against the backdrop of their regional government building Le Parlement de Bretagne. Overall we had a memorable and nice time there.
Live band in public square
And then, once again, there was more of the touristy thing. On a 1.5 hour bus ride out from Rennes, nestled on the north coast of France, was Mont St. Michel, a magnificent castle dominating a towering hill protected by sand and water. I won't say much more about it except that it was picturesque but overly touristy and tremendously lacked English information.
Mont St. Michel seen from behind while the tide is low 
The most tangible observation I made about France was that it's citizens have been unfairly reputed as being rude and snobby towards people not of their own native flesh and tongue. Speaking English hardly deterred me from being received with warmth and friendliness, even from citizens who knew only the most basic of English. They were willing to help us any way they could, whether it was using their English or our basic French, and sometimes it came down to a game of charades. The other tangible observation about the French is that they walk around city streets with a baguette in one hand, no butter required.

Rushing through Paris was necessary as part of the larger goal I set out since the beginning of this trip: to get to Bunol, Spain by Aug 29 to attend La Tomatina, an annual tomato fight (and we barely scratched out the train tickets for it). But it was also a significant benchmark on our trip signalling the end of intense agenda-crushing tourism. From here on out we plan on stretching time out like a lazy hammock for all our future destinations.

No more two date affairs, I promise. I just want to take it slow and get to know you better.


No comments:

Post a Comment