Day 9, Paris 3 (Paris thoughts)

We had to get up early on the morning, I ripped through a shower and then we ran downstairs and had brekkie. We caught the train to Versailles, and a tour guide took us around the gardens. 

In one section, a modern grove, he described the below as ‘supposed to be Louis 14’s dance movements (his hands and feet), but looks more like something from the red light district in Amsterdam’

Good tour, better than just walking around the palace aimlessly. However I would say going in summer is better. There were covered over the stairs to protect the marble from the cold, the trees were bare, there were bugger-all flowers, and the fountains won’t go at all. 

We looked at photos inside, and while it’s nice, it would just be for the photos. The tour was much more worthwhile. You can get a combo ticket of another set of gardens and the palace for two euros more than the price entry price itself (€18) so if you had all day, that woukd be perfect. 

It was actually beautiful

We left and went to get food because my back and hip were hurting (classic Matt) and stopped in a cafe, I believe called Creperie la place Versailles, where we wondered to ourselves, because of the rude server. 

I have been wondering if it’s: 

  • because it is the French culture, 
  • because it’s the fact that we are foreigners, 
  • because it’s the Paris way, 
  • or because of the language barrier,

But I don’t think, other than one single cafe experience near the pantheon, have I felt welcome in Paris. If course unlike Swang I don’t think I’ll be experiencing France outside Paris, so my view is a bit skewed, but everywhere (even when I try to speak French, greet them, and order in French) I’ve gone has been harsh and cold in response to just sitting down for a bite to eat.

In Japan, even though I obviously was a foreigner, and at times we had a language barrier, I almost always felt like people on the other side of the counter etc. we’re friendly and hospitals, but here it seems like they are constantly against us, even if I don’t open my mouth in an attempt to fit in. 

The other thing is that I’m probably biased, I was told by more than one friends to make sure I’m nice and polite because they can be rude to foreigners, which may already have me looking at them in a negative light, but also because of things like the server in the cafe who just seemed angry at everyone and everything. 

Here’s a map of Versailles palace and grounds, to give you an idea of the size, and to break up my rant

Finally, at the train station this afternoon I got into a crowded train and checked that my pockets were all zipped up etc., and carried my bag at my feet instead of on my back. The train was very crowded, and one large man to my left was close. A pamphlet in his hands fell onto my coat and I hadn’t taken notice until I felt a light tugging on my jacket. He was unzipping my pocket, which contained my wallet – a pocket I had always seen as super safe given how it is on me at all times AND it’s a water-proofed zipper, which is a lot stiffer and harder to open. I reached my hand up and realised what he was doing in the commotion as the train was coming to a stop. I immediately pushed him away and he calmly walked into the crowd getting off the train as I told him loudly to get the fuck out. A few people looked over but just turned their heads away, indifferent. I immediately chose an empty seat and made it so no pockets couldn’t be monitored, but after that I started to think I was about ready to leave Paris for Germany, perhaps Heidelberg, which I’ve heard a lot of, from people I know. 

I talked with Nikki and Swang the day before when we were downstairs having dinner in the bar after the boat ride, I was pleased to find out that Nikki didn’t really agree with the stereotypical opinion of Paris. And while I know people will pick holes in my reasoning for not liking my time in France, the fact remains that is how I used my time here and what I felt. I’m glad I did it, but I didn’t like it. I guess I should just be summing up Paris rather than France in general – so, it was rude and unfriendly for the most part, really I found it just a dirty, littered city, it’s lucky it has some incredible history and monuments. Yes I’m pleased I came, no I can’t say it was in any way a city of love as it has been painted as, and no I don’t think I would like to come back. 

So I got back to the hostel and I tried to nap. I had a crisis, and called my girlfriend, ego sorted me out. Half an hour later I was sitting in the bar waiting on my Mediterranean salad, alone, sipping cola with a ticket from Paris, France to Heidelberg, Germany safely locked away in my bag. 

Swang, as the Eiffel tower

Day 8, Paris 2

Got a good sleep in, and breakfast where I thought a little more on what I want and where I want to go. I think I’m really keen to get to Germany and re-experience the culture and things I learned during my time at uni, see places I talked about but never visited. I think it’s getting in the way of my enjoyment of other places. I’ve enjoyed Paris, but wasn’t overjoyed. Though I’ve never been overly interested in France or the language until getting here, and it’s partially by necessity. 

On the way to the Notre Dame, stumbled into the NOTre Dame (heh, get it? Cause it wasn’t the Notre Dame), St Severin – took photos there of the faded paintings on the walls, because I found you can see the colours and images better on my camera than in real life. Very nice cathedral, if I’m honest that struck more of a chord with me than the Notre Dame, where we went next. Swang and I circled it and swang recalled going there in a video game about assassins, then waited in line to go inside. It was lovely, but I wasn’t overcome with joy. I didn’t cry. I didn’t have a religious experience (unless you count bumping into someone, almost dropping my camera, and shout-whispering ‘oh my God!’).

I actually found some of the smaller churches around to be more rewarding, but now I can say I went inside the Notre Dame

From there we walked to the Pantheon. It was fucking freezing, both in there and also downstairs in the crypt. It was also dwarfing. Paintings and high ceilings, it was also bright in there so you got a good look at everything, including the big drive slabs in the crypt downstairs (another place Swang had visited in that game). After, we had to sit on the steps of the Pantheon in the sun to defrost. 

I forgot to take a picture with my phone in the Pantheon, so here’s one of a train with rubber wheels!!

Back where we came, I got a crepe and hot chocolate in a little cafe and the lady at the counter gave us a quick French lesson, which was really pleasant. She was lovely but I can’t recall the name of the place unfortunately. 

We took the train to the Arch de Triompe and took some photos. Unfortunately we had a while to wait until it was dark so we could go on the boat tour, so we popped down the road to a cathedral.. but really we were just looking for a comfortable place to sit… so we got McDonald’s (I’m sorry, I will undoubtedly not have mentioned this to you Amy) and stayed for an hour or so (I wrote in my blog, Swang had a nap) and then we set of for the Eiffel tower again, where the boat tour began. 

I also forgot to snap one of the arch with my phone, so here’s a snapchat we sent Chloe, who is terrified of birds

We ran around like headless chickens for a few minutes, going to the wrong pier, then having to wait in line for ages before finally boarding. But it was worth it. Was just heading to twilight when we started, and we passed by the Notre Dame all lit up, other buildings I couldn’t bene along the way, and by the time we got back the Eiffel tower was lit up. For her final trick, the Eiffel tower then began to flash like a Christmas tree. But it wasn’t tacky, I really liked it and snapped far too many photos. 

We disembarked as the tower stopped flashing, and went back up to the plaza area where we originally took photos, and snapped some really good ones. Paris at night is well worth it if you’re a magpie. 

Once that was over we were freezing, back into the subway and a couple of tired, confused trips later, we arrived back at the hostel and went straight to the bar for a feed. 

A little story from that day: we noticed a busker putting cup too far out and a couple of people knocked his measly amount of cents over again and again, I wondered if this was on purpose. Make them feel extra sorry when your money goes everywhere. Apologise with more.