Friday, 21 June 2013
Our first stop on our Easter vacation was Paris, which we had both visited four years ago. So this trip was a good chance to visit new neighbourhoods and see sights we had missed the first time. We stayed in a rental apartment right on the corner of L'Esplanade des Invalides (last time we stayed in the Marais). Luckily for us, the first full day of our trip was the first nice day of spring (France apparently had a cold and rainy early spring, just like the UK). It was lovely to walk around in the glorious sun and to watch the leaves coming out. As we were right at Invalides, we visited Napoleon's Tomb (above), which is crazily grandiose, and also the military history museum attached, which is very good.
We took the metro to Montmarte to finally visit Sacre Coeur. You can see the multitudes of people sitting on the hill, enjoying the sun. The bit of Monmartre we saw was unfortunately rather touristy, not very bohemian anymore, alas.
Then, onto the metro again to Pere Lachaise cemetary. For some reason, I had been picturing a massive lawn covered with orderly tombstones, with a few monuments thrown in. Oh, no. Pere Lachaise is filled with family vaults of varying degrees of ornateness and delapidation. There are proper paths (like the one pictured), plus innumerable little alleys between vaults. Some vaults have lost their doors, or have had blocks fall out, or glass broken. Where there are holes, part of me seized up with horror-film fear of what I would see if I looked over the edge - garbage, unfortunately. The cemetary is huge, and well-treed, both peaceful and slightly eerie. We meandered through a good portion of it, and ended with a visit to Oscar Wilde's grave.
Another day, we walked past the Palais Royale, to Place Vendome (pictured above), with its column made from melted down cannon from the Battle of Austerlitz (!). We saw the Opera Garnier, but couldn't go in as it was closed (alas). Then we revisited the Louvre.
One of my favourite parts was a courtyard that had been glassed over. It was lovely to see the statues in natural light. As I recall, we did a big loop home from the Louvre that day, crossing the two islands, visiting Notre Dame, winding through the Latin Quarter, taking a little break in Luxembourg Gardens, and then finally wending our way back to our apartment. My feet were sore by the end!