Originally published 22 March 2012
Arc de Triomphe, Paris
We started our day in Paris by stopping by a patisserie for a quick bite to eat, then it was off to the museum d'Orsay for Laurie and a bit of walkabout for Bill. We walked to the museum and were in the plaza where the museum was. There was a news stand selling tickets for the same price as the museum, so Laurie bought one to avoid the ticket line. We then went around the corner and found that the ticket line at the museum rivaled the one at the Eiffel tower. Laurie walked to the reserved line, bypassed all these people, and walked right in the museum! GOOD CALL LAURIE!!!!!
I planned on going to the sewer museum if I had time and I figured I could work it in. I hadn't brought the information on how to get there as I didn't think I'd be able to make it. Then I saw a couple reading from Rick Steve's guidebook in the plaza. I told them I saw them using the book and I had read it too.....and would they let me look something up. They were very helpful, and I got the address and info on the sewer museum! I asked them what they thought of the d'Orsay, and they said they didn't go in because of the ticket line. I told them about Laurie buying tickets at the news stand 50 yards away and off they went! And I was off to sewer land!
A normal street in Paris
I took the train a few stops then went to the sewer museum. It wasn't open......and I couldn't figure out why. Turns out that it is closed on Fridays. Go figure. So I was standing by the Seine reading my map and one of the gypsies tried the ring hustle on me. They drop a cheap ring on the ground, pick it up and ask if it's yours. When you say no, they show you a mark on the ring that says it's gold....and offer to sell it to you cheap. I knew about the hustle and just told her no.
I was still reading my map and another one came up and tried the same thing! I said "Damn woman! It must be raining rings in this city! They're all over the ground! Your sister just found one and tried to sell it to me!"......she replied "asshole". And walked off. There were two couples sitting on a bench and they started laughing hysterically about my dressing down the gypsies. Turns out they were from Denmark and had gotten hustled for 5 euros. I told them it was a souvenir of their trip to Paris!
At this point the original gypsy girl came up and tried the ring hustle on me AGAIN! At this point I said "Have you forgotten my ugly ass already????? You tried to hustle me three minutes ago! You suck at this!" This set the couples from Denmark off again, laughing to beat the band.....which ticked the gypsy girl off and she left. It turns out that they're not really used to someone...shall we say...........as colorful as me. They got great enjoyment in watching me tangle with the hustlers.
French bakeries are wonderful!!!
After this I walked back to the d'Orsay. I met Laurie out front and she was immediately followed by the couple I sent to the news stand for their tickets. They thanked me for the heads up on the tickets....it made the difference in going to the museum and not going for them. Laurie and I had a sandwich and a drink at a cafe by the museum and chatted with an American Ex-pat who was a debt speculator and lived in Italy. Very interesting discussing world events with him.
After the Orsay, we walked to the Alexander Bridge and checked out the Petit Palace. After that we walked up the Champs Elysees to a famous backdrop of German travel pictures in the early 40's...the Arc de Triomphe. No German soldiers this time so we climbed to the top of it. We missed climbing the Eiffel Tower so this would have to suffice. Turns out it was a great move! Laurie made a good call on this one! You get a great 360 degree view of Paris, and get to watch traffic in the crazy traffic circle that surrounds it.
View from the Arc de Triomphe
After the Arc, we went to McDonalds. But not just any McDonalds....this is the most profitable and one of the largest in the world, and a tourist attraction unto itself. It's right on the Champs Elysees, and the crowd in it was huge! At 8 euros for two, it's gotta be the cheapest meal in Paris. After we finished our burger, we got desert. McDonalds has a pastry counter...and it's not crappy McDonalds style pastry either. It's real Paris pastries! And they were good!!!!
We walked on down the Champs Elysees to the Louvre Gardens and the Louvre museum. Laurie went in and I went to rest my weary feet for a while by sitting in a cafe and watching the people go by. After resting for a while I walked around and scouted out a nearby neighborhood. We had dinner there after Laurie finished her museum tour.
Stair to the top in the Arc
It turns out the Louvre wasn't as good as she had hoped. It's layout is incredibly confusing, she couldn't find a bathroom OR stairs to the second floor, no one that works there seemed to be able to help, and most of the museum was in French with no English guide. According to Laurie, the Orsay was just the opposite and she loved it.
We had dinner at a taco joint believe it or not. It was good..and the table beside us were ex-pat Americans. One had lived in Paris 18 years. Her boyfriend worked for the state department in "dipolmat protection". Nice folks and technically, locals. We told them where we were staying and they thought that was great, as it's a real Paris neighborhood and not a tourist area. We told them that it was our experience that we were the only Americans anytime we were out and about in that area....which is kinda cool itself.
Not your normal McDonalds
We head down to the subway, and take the first train. Then we transfer at National station. We go to our platform and find that on the platform across from us, a team of French commandos in full battle gear with FAMAS bullpup assault rifles have taken some guy down and have established a perimeter! They have him pinned to the floor on the platform...and we're not really sure what they were waiting for before they got off of him and hauled him away.
Alexander Bridge, Paris
At present, all of France is on high alert...especially with the things that have happened in the last week. We've seen more MP5's in Paris than we've seen at Knob Creek. Paris is a hard target. If you're gonna cause trouble here, you better bring your A game. These guys aren't taking any crap.
Off to bed. Another big day in Paris awaits!
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.