Carson and I were up bright and early after our late evening. There were two attractions we were hoping to see that are notorious for long lines: the gargoyles atop the Notre Dame, and the catacombs. Since the Notre Dame opened earlier, we decided to do that first. We may have been a little over ambitious though, and didn’t even arrive there til it had been open for 30 minutes.
The line wrapped around the building and wasn’t moving at all. We decided to move on, but hadn’t done any research in advance about how to get to the catacombs. We hadn’t eaten breakfast yet either. We found a cafe where we had coffee and pastries. I the most amazing cappuccino and a pain au chocolat still warm from the oven.
Unfortunately, we found out after ordering that the restaurant wifi was broken. So our search continued. We just needed to find out where we were going. We searched for a restaurant with wifi and bottled water, since we were both dehydrated anyways.
We found wifi, but the bottle of water was not what I was hoping for. It was a tiny, single-use glass bottle for €5. Water better be magical if I’m paying that much for it. This wasn’t. But we figured out where we were going and that’s all we needed.
It was the most beautiful day of all days. The weather was 75 degrees and sunny. It has been ages since I’ve seen the sun, or been warm without a sweater. Don’t worry, mom. I packed 50 SPF sunscreen that Carson used as well.
We walked to the catacombs. Paris is amazingly gorgeous in the spring time. It even feels bigger. The line when we got there was as long as the line for Notre Dame, but moving along much more quickly. A nice Minnesotan couple was in line behind us. We passed most of the wait chatting with them.
The catacombs are deep below Paris. I always thought they were much closer to the surface. They make you work for them. You have to go through a super long exhibit about the geological formation of the limestone Paris is built on and then walk through endless tunnels before you get to the bones.
The suspense was actually pretty great. Around every corner you expected to see suddenly walls of human bones.
It does not disappoint when you finally do. What a surreal experience. It’s almost too much to make you really consider your own mortality. There are hundreds of thousand of corpses down there. Now, that’s creepy. But there are just so many bones, it’s quickly quite desensitizing to the fact that these were once people. It’s creepier to think about now than it was to be down there in front of them.
Still, the experience was really cool. The catacombs and the cabaret were the final two Paris experiences that I really wanted to have. They were definitely some of the best so far. I’m also so glad I’ve gotten to see Paris in spring. It’s different. It’s hard to hate anything this beautiful. And having been in England for so long, I truly appreciate the sun.
We walked back towards the city center and had some Moroccan food for lunch. Being Paris, this was an amazingly long lunch. It was late afternoon by the time we finished, so to took the Metro the rest of the way to the Lourve.
I don’t think that Carson and I quite meet all of the qualifications for free entry, but we were able to sweet talk our way in. He had a really good time and I was glad to revisit Winged Victory. Of course we made the obligatory Mona Lisa sighting and wandered through some galleries. It was nice.
It closed before we were done. It was really unfortunate to have to leave, especially since we’d whizzed by the greco-roman sculpture (some of Carson’s favorite) with the intention of returning to them later. I suppose it’s just one more reason for us all to come back here someday.
The sun was still out. We decided to walk to the champ d’elysees. Now, that long Paris boulevard from the Lourve to the arch is quite deceptive. It looks much nearer than it actually is. We walked for ages longer than we anticipated. The area became super commercial and super crowded, and the end was pretty anticlimactic. There were a bunch of French soldiers under the arch in some kind of memorial service, but we missed that. We only saw the flowers and a large number of military people walking around.
Carson had found a beautiful park yesterday, and this was our next destination. We planned to get gelato en route, and find some takeaway to eat for dinner in the park. A long walk but again, a beautiful one. We were getting pretty tired. It hadn’t been a particularly challenging day, we just hadn’t gotten much sleep.
The gelato was amazing and so refreshing. The park, as it turned out, was closed for the evening. This was a heavy blow because we were looking forward to having a sit.
After this we just wanted to get back to the hotel. Our short rest turned into an early evening. Carson went out to get dinner while I researched our trains for Normandy tomorrow. It still wasn’t an especially early night, but we have a good plan to get out of town tomorrow morning. Plus, we have nearly three hours on a train… We can squeeze in some nap time if we need to.