Parisian Adventure, Take 2
We woke up early, excited.
Unlike most cities, Paris certainly sleeps. Leaving our hotel room around 7 in the morning it really felt like the city was ours. We grabbed a quick coffee ( If there is such a thing in Paris ) and took a walk along the river Seine.
We walked for a good hour, twisting through neighborhoods and watching shopkeepers preparing to open their shops. Every so often we'd come across a road that was so beautiful we'd have to walk it. Letting the city guide us, we wandered around until eventually we found ourselves back in the neighborhood of our hotel. It was a great way to start a day.
The night before, Kelly and I had booked an all-english bicycle tour throughout the city. It met under the South leg of the Eiffel Tower -- 3 miles from our hotel. Feeling adventurous, Kelly and I decided to walk to the Tower so we could really take in the city.
We packed a light bag and headed out.
Most of the distance was on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The road passes through much of what makes the neighborhood ( Saint-Germain ) so great. The neighborhood is centered around the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
We found the church!
We continued down the street for about an hour. We passed boutique's, markets, restaurants and neighborhoods. Finally, we saw her in the distance:
We grabbed some delicious sandwiches and headed over the a small park right near the Eiffel Tower. We had a wonderful brunch watching people line up to see the Tower or dine at one of the restaurants inside.
Unfortunately, I had misread the email from the bicycle tour company. I was certain they had said to meet by the West leg of the tower. We arrived very early and wandered around for a good hour. Eventually settling on a small bench near the West leg. We waited and waited but no one arrived. We kept looping the tower hoping to see bicycles or some sign of a tour but saw nothing.
Eventually we grew tired of waiting. I tried to get online to see the email again but the only open wi-fi I could find was blocking my email ( go figure ). Kelly got the idea to look up the company's headquarters so we could go complain and possibly get a refund. We found their address online and started heading in that direction. No sooner did we turn the corner of the Eiffel Tower did we see the bike tour, just heading out!
We caught up with them no problem and walked with them back to their location.
The tour was led by a charismatic New Zealander named Costigan. He led about 12 of us over to this quiet Parisian neighborhood. We were all fitted for bikes and the tour began.
We rode past the Eiffel Tower and over towards the Champ de Mars ( Field of Mars ). It is a large greenspace between the Eiffel Tower and École Militaire ( Royal Millitary Building ).
After leaving the field we went around the other side of École Militaire. We learned about the Louie's ( 14th, 15th and 16th. ). Our tour guide said people in Paris refer to them as:
- "The one who built it" - Louie the 14th
- "The one who enjoyed it" - Louie the 15th
- "The one who paid for it" - Louie the 16th
Despite it being Louie the 15th who built the military complex we were standing in front of. *wink
Then we rode for a long time up and down the streets of Paris. We stopped repeatedly, learning interesting tid-bits along the way. We learned that there is a strict, 8 story maximum on Parisian buildings. Our guide told us that a few years ago they decided to waive the rule and allow the construction of 7 skyscrapers in the cities financial district. They built the first one and the people were so disgusted with it that they broke the contract and re-instated the 8 story maximum. The lone skyscraper is now commonly referred to as "The Ugly".
We came to Musee de l'Armee, where Napoleon's tomb is kept. Our guide told us that his larger than life tomb requires you to stand bent at the waist to look down upon it. Apparently it is a common joke to say "Even in death, one has to bend over to look at Napoleon."
We biked around for another hour, finding our way to the Tuileries -- the wondrous tulip gardens outside of the Louvre. We split up into small groups and had great sandwiches for lunch inside the garden.
We walked our bikes through the garden and concluded our tour just outside of the Louvre.
Exhausted from the journey. We made our way back to our hotel, grabbing some food along the way and called it an early night.