My own 24. What better way to experience the Eurostar, Paris, and the Tour de France than to do it all in a 24 hour period. Preferably without any DUI’s.
This was the plan: Take the Eurostar train from London Saturday night and arrive in Paris at midnight. Sleep in the train station for a few hours, then go off into the city for a bit of exploration until that afternoon when the final stage of the tour was taking place. Watch the race and get some sweet shots. Then jump back on the train and arrive back home by midnight Sunday. 24 hours. In and out. Tres Bien.
And how much of that bad idea went according to plan, you ask? Well, I did get to Paris at midnight.
Turns out the Paris Nord train station is a bit shady at night. I decided it might not be the most restful area. Besides, sleep is overrated. Right, straight into the heart of the city then. I don’t think anyone in Paris sleeps. 4 AM and the streets are full of Parisians. Having dinner, having dates, getting drunk. It was full on. The Champs-Elysees was just mad.
I headed to Triomphe
which was bigger than I expected. I watched a couple hippies nearly get killed trying to cross the roundabout and decided that wasn’t for me.
Off to the Eiffel Tower through some dark paths with passing groups of drunk people.
It reminded me a bit of the UK at night. Except for all the French people. Just like the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel tower is a lot bigger than I expected. I thought it would be all lit up and easy to find, but because I arrived so late, the lights were shut off, save for a couple blinking red lights at the top. when I first saw it I just thought it was a radio tower and kept going. It’s a pretty dark part of town. Once my eyes adjusted and I realized what it was, I made my way over to give it a looksee.
This is what it looks like when your lying on a park bench in the middle of the night.
Exhaustion finally got the better of me and I shivered the last few hours of darkness away on a bench in the park below the tower with the drunks and the rats. Hmmmm, this sort of thing seemed more adventurous when I was 20, now it’s just kind of cold and uncomfortable…
At last the sun was starting to come up.
I brushed off the night and went on my way.
Strangely, I found another American who had done pretty much the same thing as me. I heard him asking for directions to the finish line of the tour. American accents kind of stick out in Europe. There is no hiding…
I think we saw a weeks worth of sights that morning. Here are just a few:
Mona Lisa is a rock star. I think there were over 300 people, all jammed into that little room, pointing their video cameras and cellphone cameras at Mona. I think I saw two other people remove the camera from their eye so they could actually look at her… Saw a couple of Michelangelo sculptures and also the winged Nike sculpture, which I thought was very stunning from afar. Good presentation space all to herself. Otherwise, there was so much art hanging in each of the other halls, it was a bit overwhelming.
Also happened to be around just as mass was starting at Notre Dame de Paris cathedral. I’m not all that religious having grown up in a hippy commune and whatnot, but it was still pretty cool to hear mass on the sight of Paris’ first Christian church. I stayed for about 10 minutes…
then it was off to get some food and que up for the tour. Watching a stage of the tour de France in person was pretty much what I expected: hot, crowded, hard to see, and not that much fun. but it was something I’ve wanted to do for a while and now I’ve done it. the only way I could see anything was by climbing a tree along the Camps Elysees (I guess that’s kind of cool in itself) and watching from about 20 feet up. Sorry, didn’t take any pics fom up there, but if you google images for “tour de france” you can probably get an idea what i saw.
Generally a succesful trip, but I think next time I’ll keep the Tour and Paris separate.