I am now in Paris at 11am local time and have 24 hours until my flight to India. I used this opportunity to take the train into the city and explore. I reserved a room at the IBIS at Charles De Gaul airport and first dropped off my bags in the room.
I had thought that I would simply leave the airplane and get to my hotel room. Not that simple. I had no checked baggage and did walk off the plane quickly, but it took me more than an hour to get to the airport hotel! I had to move from one terminal to another, travel several flights of stairs, take several walkways and two shuttles just to go from my arrival gate to the hotel at the airport.
I rarely travel, so I actually had problems turning my hotel room lights on. I tried every switch and no lights would turn on. I finally figured out that the lights only work when the key card is in the slot next to the door. Duh!
Finally free of my bags, I found the train and went to Paris. I got off the train at Notre Dame - a beautiful Catholic church from the 18th century:
There are two bridges over the Seine where people add locks to the bridge as a symbol of unwavering love. This shows how many locks there are. There are locks on locks:
We frequently travel to Montreal where the provincial language is French and have no problems finding someone who could speak English. That was not the case in Paris. The tourist bus drivers know English, but many shops and restaurant staff did not. It took me 3 tries to find someone who could understand my request to find a bathroom while walking the city streets. I really need to learn some French!
I bought a really nice postcard from a bookstore and asked the lady if she knew where Maoz was. She didn't understand my English and I left the bookstore wandering around looking for falafel. Maoz was actually a few blocks away, and was the best falafel that I ever had. I really think a franchise of Maoz would work well in Burlington.
I then wanted to get a view of the Eiffel Tower since I still had not seen it. I walked along the Seine in the direction of the Tower. I was walking and walking and couldn't see it. I finally turned around and realized that I was walking the wrong way! At that point, I decided to ride the L'Open Tour - an open tour bus that drives around the city. 32 Euro well spent! The tour drove through most of the popular landmarks - Champs-Elysees, Arc Du Triomphe and of course the Eiffel Tower. I was not expecting to be wowed by the tower, but I first saw it I was in awe. I must have taken 30 pictures of it!
Arc Du Triomphe
I then got off the bus and began walking back to the Notre Dame area for some dinner. Again I was walking and walking along the Seine. I never saw Notre Dame. This is not a small building that you can easily miss. I was seeing less tourists, more graffitti and more police. I thought that was a bad sign and decided to ask the police where Notre Dame was. His first response was "No English". I then simply said "Notre Dame" instead of asking for directions. He then pointed me in the correct direction. Afterwards, I looked at a map and realized that there are two branches of the Seine and that is why I missed the cathedral.
Speaking of police, I was in Paris about two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the police presence was incredible. I saw police everywhere, both local police and heavily armored national police with body armor. Here are two police with loaded fully automatic rifles walking down the sidewalk:
Finally, a proper French crepe: