English speakers refer to Paris as the city of light, and while modern Paris is full of beautifully illuminated areas, it isn't the entire story of the nickname. The city was one of the first European cities to adopt street lighting, but more importantly, it became a cultural and educational center during the Age of Enlightenment. It was known as La Ville-Lumière or city of enlightenment, referring to its historical legacy of encouraging poetry, philosophy, science, and the performing arts. It's been a constant human settlement since around 350 B.C., originally occupied by Celtic peoples called the Parisii, then the Romans in 52 BC. The Dark Ages were rough, but Paris came into its own in the Medieval period and began blossoming into the city it is today. It was the second destination in my month-long trip across Europe, and a before everyone started getting tired of 11 countries in 28 days. I stayed in Boulonge-Billancourt, a western suburb of Paris.
We took the Eurostar from London to Gare du Oest train station in Paris, then the Metro (yes, with all those bags, I know.... what was I thinking?) over the many staircases and various obstacles and rude looks from Parisians, on the way to the hotel.
Day one we went to the Eiffel Tower (of course, right?) then up to the 18th arrondissement (district), which is basically one huge flea market. Anything and everything you can imagine, from rare antiquities to modern bongs, can be found there. It's really cool. Spent so much time there.
Then we walked onwards to the cemetary of Saint-Oeun, while not very famous, is very old.
Then off for some food and back to the hotel.
Day two, we started making our way to the Louvre. It was pouring rain, a cold soaking rain that felt pretty miserable, and found that because it was Tuesday, the Louvre was closed. So instead we dripped off to the Galeries Lafayette, an extremely upscale department store that has been around since 1912. Amazingly picturesque, it is equally expensive (Value Added Tax in Paris is pretty steep).
Along the way encountered La Madeleine, a church that saw construction started, restarted, and started again, beginning 1763 and finally completing in 1842. If that doesn't describe the French, I don't know if anything else will. La Madeleine is very French Catholic, almost more of an artists showpiece than a functioning church it would seem at times.
Day three, yep, the Louvre again. The structure was an ancient fortress converted to storehouse and then museum of national treasures and the residence of Napolean III. It's the Louvre, describing it only detracts from it, so the pictures shall speak in my stead.
Next, we set off to Notre Dame, pre-devastating fire of 2019. Originally built in 1163, it's the archetype for gothic cathedrals all over Europe. An amazing place, and unlike churches in London, they let you in for free.
Paris, second most romantic city in the world (My opinion - it's nice, but it just doesn't strike me like Venice does). It's expensive, but super easy to get to from basically anywhere in the world, refined but relaxed. The French attitude is one is meant to live, not to work. Paris does personify living.
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