Aside from a scheduled trip to EICAR, a film school in the suburbs of Paris, we all were left to travel around and see Paris on our own. After a lot of structured visits to media outlets in London, this was a relief to almost all of us. We were in Europe – we had to be touristy, and we had a solid three days to do so.
Again, we had split into smaller groups. My group traveled to Notre Dame on Thursday, June 2nd. We had taken the Metro, and then walked across a bridge over the Seine river. There were gardening shops along the way, which made for a pretty walk. There were tons of people around the exterior of the cathedral, and even more once we made it inside.
Mass was going on – and it so happened that on that day, June 2nd, was Ascension Day, a catholic holiday symbolizing 40 days since Easter. The interior of the cathedral was just as beautiful as the exterior – where gargoyles were jutting out from the two main pillars and sides. The architectural detail, the stained glass windows, the pillars and designs on the walls was beautiful. Just knowing that I was inside such a momentous place was an incredible feeling. Hearing the service in French, although I could not understand it very well, was also beautiful. And the organ! Even more so.
After the cathedral we ate at an Italian restaurant, sitting outside at their tables on the sidewalk. Notre Dame was still in our view of site, with the Seine river just a block away. All of the restaurants and cafes in Paris have seating on the sidewalks, so it was neat to be able to say we got to dine outside with the passersby.
We then walked to the Louvre – the museum and palace just to see the sites, not to go in (although, I did this on the following day). The palace almost made my mouth drop. It stretched almost out of my vision, and again, is a larger than life landmark. It is in the shape of a giant horseshoe, with statues of different persons lining the upper levels. Of course, the infamous and transparent triangle in the middle serves as the ceiling of the lobby of the Louvre museum, which is underground. From here we walked almost FOUR MILES to the arc de Triumphe – the monument dedicated to the French in World War I.
Here also lies the tomb of the unknown soldier from this war, lasting from 1914-1918. We somehow survived this walk – through gardens and also the Avenue de Champs Elysees, Paris’ Rodeo Drive, and made it back to our hotel where we freshened up and headed out to dinner – a ‘French’ Hard Rock Cafe. After waiting two hours to eat and getting served around 10:00 p.m., we enjoyed a good meal and then headed back to the hotel where we could re-fuel before the next full day of sight-seeing.