The intention was to be up and out as early as possible, in order to see as much as Paris as possible in two days. However this plan didn’t get the best of starts. The news of Muhammad Ali having passed away overnight meant that I spent the first hour or so of the morning reading some of the fine written eulogies. A first impression of Paris is that people seem to be less rude than expected. I’ve had some doors held open and the person on the Metro whose foot I plonked by bag on even apologised to me! I’ve also already seen plenty of people walking around with baguettes, bottles of wine and even a few berets being worn in a non-ironic way! The weather this morning is gloomy but thankfully for the people at risk of having their homes wrecked, there isn’t any rain about.
A useful way of becoming accustomed to a new city, especially if you have limited time, is to do a free walking tour. They also give you the opportunity to find about the good stuff to see and do in town. The tour guide was Esteban from Columbia who took us around most of the big hitters in central Paris; Notre Dame (where Quasimodo isn’t buried, as he apparently gets frequently asked), Place Saint-Michel, the grounds the Louvre (with people doing that incredibly annoying pointing photograph thing), a distant view of the Eiffel Tower, and my favourite, the Musee D’Orsay (from the Orson Welles film, The Trial). I was thinking about maybe giving the Louvre a miss and visiting the Musee D’Orsay, as I prefer more modern art and the latter also contains less exhibits blatantly stolen from other countries civilisations. People taking selfies in front of the Mona Lisa would also irritate me, along with every other person remarking about how small the painting is. However both museums were in fact closed, due to their close proximity to the river, with the artifacts being hurriedly moved to higher floors. Quite a few of the Metro stations close to the river were also closed today. According to Easteban, the last time the River Seine burst its bank in central Paris was 1910. It doesn’t look too good today with all sorts and debris floating around and boat trips cancelled on account that they wouldn’t be able to fit underneath the bridges.
The second walking tour of the day was around Monmatre with Marie from Paris. Marie was a right laugh. Who says you never meet a French person with a sense of humour! This was a lovely way to spend the evening, walking the quaint cobbled street up in the hills around Paris, finishing with a great view from next to the Sacre-Couer Basilica, despite a bit of a mist/air pollution.
The fist balls up (or faux pas as they say around these parts) of the trip occurred tonight. I was planning on attending the We Love Green Festival, somewhere on the outskirts of Paris. The only act that I really wanted to see was the headliners, LCD Soundsystem, so I left it quite late to turn up. So late in fact that when I arrived at the wrong park (where there obviously wasn’t a music festival taking place tonight) it was too late to get to the right venue, which Google Maps informed me was approximately 4 miles away. I’m not sure who’s to to blame – maybe me for misreading the location or possibly Google. It’s not the end of the world though as I have a ticket to see LCD in San Francisco in August.