PART ONE of TWO:  March 14, 2005

 

Arrival day in Paris, little sleep on plane, what is a person to do to make sure one stays awake all day? Many things.

 

American Airlines’ magazine recommended getting a good night sleep before travel and eating long lasting energy sources, not sweets. Instead I deprived myself of sleep, hoping to force myself to sleep on the plane, and ate junk food until the airplane food (ovo-lacto-veggie meal, pretty decent) arrived on the international part of the flight.


Out of eight hours I probably slept three, off and on, in spurts. Actually that is not too bad, my eyes didn’t burn as they do when I have had almost no sleep.

 

I taxied to my hotel and dropped my stuff there, at 99 Rue Ranelagh, where I have been staying for my annual and more frequent Paris visits since 1983, 22 years this year. I arrived early, room not quite ready, but instead of sitting down on the couch (at which point I would have slept) as offered, I took a long walk on that street, all downhill, until it dead-ended at the Seine river. There I took an Eiffel photo:


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The Metro going across the river reminded me that there were ways to get around Paris other than walking, so I made it to the Radio Kennedy stop on the RER and from that train’s platform looked toward the Eiffel again, and what did I see almost hidden behind the branches of a tree. Look just to the left of the main branch of the birch tree, and above a nearby white object there seems to be a more distant white object, a dome, floating in air? That’s it! That’s the dome of my favorite cathedral, the Sacre-Coeur at the Montmartre (already featured on this website [click here to go there, or here for more of a Montmartre view]):

 

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Several Metro lines later I was approaching this edifice on its own grounds (love that carousel!):

 

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Getting closer offered this view:


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And this one (and several more variations on this theme):

 

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Getting even closer gave me objective for the day: the tour of the dome (self-paced and guided, which is a good thing since it requires climbing MANY steps). So look for me next in the row of openings (they are not windows) just above the gargoyle:

 

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Just because this cathedral was a relatively modern creation, from the 1870's, didn’t mean they had forgotten how to make torturously twisting, steep, and very narrow steps (one way, don’t worry, there are no groups of people trying to come down the up-stairs):

 

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So what is the destination? A great view of the city and the roofs of the various parts of the cathedral.

First, on the way up we look toward the Eiffel, near which the inspiration for spending this jet-lag laden day originated:

 

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Then, from the main dome, we look down at the Montmartre, where people and artists are selling their wares in its famous Salvatore Dali Square:

 

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Just to the right of the above photo, the next one allows a look at the road from the cathedral into the Montmartre district, including the place where I am to have lunch shortly (the red-roofed building with the green awnings at street level at the end of the street):

 

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There are people carrying paper pads in that street, portrait artists. They are expensive, but many are very good at what they do, delivering quick portraits of high quality, not just caricatures.

 

Typically they never reveal their price until your portrait is done, then it comes as a BIG surprise. You may pay the asking price, negotiate a lower price, or just politely say ‘no thank you.’ Remember that you are here to enjoy yourself, not to be a victim. So get exactly what you want for what you honestly feel it would be worth to you if you were the one doing the drawing (or painting, there are also portrait painters in the square that do full-color oils, they will have a set price before they start, it takes a while).

 

So, am I teasing you by purposely withholding some of the views of Paris that were available from the dome? A little bit, but I always find the views thrilling but the pictures a bit weak, to say it pleasantly.

 

Here is a view toward the west, where the towers of the La Defense district rise up to create a skyline, followed by a shot in the opposite direction, the east, toward the Bastille and other business districts:

 

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I tried my best to get a look at the central part of Paris to the south, where the Latin Quarter, University of Paris, and Notre Dame are. The haze in that lower direction was a hindrance, but the St. Eustache cathedral stands out in the center, with the two square towers of the front of the Notre Dame to the left of it, and with the tower of St. Jacques just to their left. Straight behind the St. Eustache is the dome of the Pantheon:

 

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Had I turned the camera just to the right of this picture (more southwesterly) I would have seen this, dominated by the tower at Montparnasse (from whose elevator-reachable observation deck [no sweat, no gasping for air] you can look back this way).

 

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If I had turned the camera yet a little more westerly, I would have seen the Eiffel, like this, to the right of which lies “my neighborhood,” the 16th Arrondissement {or ‘quarter’ [but with more than four, it gives one pause to call it a quarter, doesn’t it? OK, so it is ‘quarter’ like in ‘headquarter,’ I get it.]}: 

 

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So, here I am, still walking around in the dome, looking over the city, and have hours and hours yet to go to survive this first day in Paris.

 

But I need to start a second page to get you into the evening and to my bed time.

 

Go to second "Jet-Lag Day in Paris" Page.

Go to first 'Last Day in Paris' Page (one of four).

Go to "Life in 2005" page.

Go Home.