April 29th - May 5th, 1999

We brought the warm weather to Paris. It was a beautiful week, warm with only the slightest amount of haze -- that is, until the pollution built up! Seems that the weekend we got to Paris was a holiday (May day, the workers' holiday) and with all the people in the city, the air got rather thick.



Clockwise: the Arch of Triumph, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame.

Being all jet lagged, and pretty tired from the forced march it took to get all our affairs squared away for the trip, we opted to be perfect little tourons (short for moronic tourists) and hit the main sights. We needed to get used to our packs, and the whole notion of traveling in general. Also, we will be hitting Paris later in the company of a native, so getting that nasty tourist stuff out of the way was crucial.

We set out for the Louve, but on the way we found a lovely little cathedral called Saint Eustache, with an unexpected find: a sculpture by Keith Haring. All in all, quite nice.



The Louve itself was fantastic. It would take a week to see everything in it, and one can see how the right person could spend a lifetime in there.



Clockwise: The Louve pyramid, a column from ancient Iran, an Egyptian sculpture and Venus de Milo.

Of course, we had to spend a day at Versailles. It was complete and utter tourist hell, but also one of the most opulent places we've ever seen. You can see why the French mobs took it over and dragged Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette off to be beheaded.



Clockwise: Louis XVI's bed, one of many paintings of Napoleon, and the gardens outside.

Of course, one's trip to Paris is not complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The tower itself is impressive, but more so are the views it commands of Paris. One little known fact we learned is that the tower itself was nearly torn down in 1909 - Parisians of the day considered it ugly. They kept it for a purely utilitarian reason: it made a wonderful mount for antennae for the recently popularized technology of Radio.






Our "finds" in Paris

We came across two finds out of the ordinary in Paris. The first is Passage Brady, an alley too small for cars and lined with dozens of Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri restaurants. You simply walk the alley until your nose tells you this is good and stop. Passage Brady is just north of Bonne Nouvelle (10e) between Boulevard de Strasbourg and Rue du Faubourg.



Our second find was a delightful little street market, set up every day, along Rue de President Woodrow Wilson between the Musée Guimet and the Museum of Modern Art. All sorts of fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods were on sale for a song. Well worth a lunch visit.

Surprise American Imports

We were a little taken aback to see as many beggars and homeless people on the streets as we did. It was like being in America. We even saw NYC-style car window washers at major Parisian traffic bottlenecks (of which, there are many). Out of courtesy, of course, we didn't photograph many down-and-outs, but one was so pitiful we simply couldn't pass him by.

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