My first impression of Paris, BTW, is that it's not a city overly concerned with the image it presents. In London, every morning sees street cleaners out with brooms and cleaning carts working to ensure London is as bright and shiny as can be for the day's tourists and travelers. Paris, meanwhile, has a virtual carpet of cigarette butts coating its sidewalks and seems to be totally okay with dogs pooping where they please and the results being left for nature to deal with. London marks their streets for pedestrians with the ever handy dandy "LOOK LEFT" or "LOOK RIGHT" or "LOOK BOTH WAYS" directions. When the crosswalks turn green, the admit loud beeps to warn drivers and, heck, when they say pedestrians get the right of way, they actually MEAN they get the right of way. In Paris, crossing the street is taking your life in your hands. Say a prayer and good luck.
Needless to say, it added a certain spice to the adventure.
Today began with a trip to Notre Dame Cathedral. There was a cafe right outside the metro's exit where we stopped for breakfast. Poor Christa is one of those people who absolutely must eat at regular intervals or her body begins shutdown procedures. Ironically, when she does eat, she fills up quickly so doesn't eat very much per sitting. So, thus, while I'm usually one to skip breakfast snack at lunch and go big for supper, the potential fainting of my friend meant a change of plans. I had a cheese omelet.
Notre Dame was literally across the street from the cafe. I kept flashing to various scenes from Disney's Hunchback...which lead me to worry about molten hot metal pouring out of the gargoyles' mouths and had me humming "God Helps the Outcasts" while walking through the interior. I had wanted to just...slip into the line and go in but Christa (AKA She of the Goody-Goody Shoes) insisted we start at the back of the line. I sigh. It was a pretty beautiful place and more than deserving of the hype. I had promised my mom I'd get her rosary beads from Notre Dame but, of course, the gift shop was closed so we opted to kill time and return later to try again.
Do you know what's around the corner from Notre Dame? The Pantheon. It's basically a really, really big mausoleum where some of the most prominent and famous citizens of Paris are buried. This would include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Pierre Curie and Marie Curie - the last of whom is the one of only two woman interred at the site and the only one there in her own rights. It was pretty awesome. And mildly creepy.
Went back to Notre Dame. Gift shop still closed so opted to try again the next morning.
We then walked along the Seine, following it deeper into the city. Saw some sites, some bridges, this and that, and then finally happened upon...The Louvre! Which, for obvious reasons, merits its own post so stay tuned!