Friday, March 7, 2014

Paris, One Day Window Tourism

I think I'm creating a new phrase here so first and foremost, let me define it  -

Window tourism: noun, going to all the regular tourist attractions but not going inside any of them, only seeing them from outside and moving on. Analogous to shopping and window shopping.
Usage: "The queues in Paris are so long, that I only had time for some window tourism."

Now that that's out of the way -

I had a day in Paris.

I really wanted to go through the Louvre and had pretty much decided that I'm going to spend the entire day inside but then I chose otherwise at the last minute. Firstly, the Louvre is huge and one day is not enough to go through the entire thing. Secondly, even though I enjoy a museum, I cannot differentiate between a Michaelangelo and a Raphael so a hectic day inside a museum might not be as rewarding as it might seem like. Moreover, I like to get a feel of a city and inside the Louvre would be the culture snobs and schoolchildren, but the rest of the city would be outside.

Raphael, bottom. Michaelangelo, left.

I don't know much about architecture either so I couldn't have spent a day admiring just the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Arc de Triomphe.

Climbing the Eiffel Tower is not a day long effort either especially since I don't lug around a DSLR clicking rich, panoramic, National Geographic nominations.

Out of these ashes of self-respect arose the realisation that a day is not long enough to do justice to a glorious city, and I'm not culturally enlightened enough to spend a day at just one or two spots. The final plan was to have a quickie ala window tourism.

Paris is a relatively small city, and most of the sights are situated within a couple kilometres of each other making it a really long, but pleasant walk to stop by all of them. If you aren't up to walking that much, you can go around on cycles from one of the cycle stands around the city. They are free for 30 minutes or so, and there's a small charge if you exceed that time. Health and weather permitting, I would recommend walking; on a cycle you're looking at the road and the traffic and that distracts you from just generally looking around, and if you're distracted even during a quickie then it isn't going to be much fun now, is it.

Paris is also very well connected by trains so you can get to the centre of the city fairly easily and for cheap so you don't have to worry about shelling out a fortune for a cab. You don't have to spend a lot of time sitting and refueling, there are plenty of food and beverage options to quickly grab something on the go. That would be another reason to prefer walking unless you're a trained circus artist of some sort. There are a lot of pickpockets apparently and I saw two occasions of some criminal activity with people huddled around the police, so be on your alert but don't be paranoid. If you don't want to stand out as a tourist then avoid flaunting your camera when you don't need to, and look like a Parisienne - dark green or dark blue or dark grey (black?), overcoats and not sweaters, no shorts, shoes not sandals, women quite attractive, men like any other.

I set out of from my hotel at around 1100 hrs and came back at around 2000, so it was a nine hour excursion. The train travel time would have been around 15 minutes in and another 15 back. Most of the remaining hours were spent standing or walking so carrying some water is a good idea. The last point on this round was the Eiffel Tower which I reached early enough to break out from window tourism mode and go to the top.

This is a pictorial, and the captions speak all that there is to say for a window tourist.

* * *

This was more or less the route I took with the train station at Champs Elysees - Clemenceau. I covered the last stretch from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower along the Seine and it's probably a much nicer walk than going through the streets as Google suggests here. Good intentions though, no doubt.

The Streets of Paris

Sights are like these are generally
strewn around the city. If you're not
a local, you probably start off clicking
pictures of all of them, but then gradually
ease up. Like how outsiders must feel
when they see cows on Indian roads.
One man taking on the no-dogs policies of the world.
Stade de France, as seen from a moving cab.
A decommissioned Concorde, as seen from a moving cab
The airport is quite a bit away from the city. That distance
would take you two hours in India, but only about a half-hour
there. Add to that another half-hour for security.
I think I landed during the
BDSM Like a Unicorn week.

Champs Elysees

One of the most famous roads in the world.
Still needs a sign.
Why did the chicken cross the Champs Elysees multiple times?
To take pictures of the Arc de Triomphe at one end,
and the Obelisk of Luxor at the other end.
Almost never to just get to the other side.
Rubbing it in:
Famous movies about Wall Street - 3
Famous movies about Champs Elysees - 0

Miley Cyrus meets dubstep meets Paris.
"Drop the b...b...b...ball. Say quoooi!"

As seen from the Arc de Triomphe.

Arc de Triomphe

I was waiting for the poster on the back of the truck to
become as small as it could. I eventually lost patience
and went ahead and took the picture anyway.
A less NSFW view.
Naked ladies blowing trumpets.
The sculptor must have got a good laugh out of this.
In fact, there is no place at the Arc
de Triomphe where something
naked isn't pointing at you.
And this is how it looks on the inside.
The less famous other side, Avenue Whatsizname.

Place de la Concorde

The Roue de Paris in the background,
the Obelisk of Luxor in the foreground.
no high rises anywhere.
Hieroglyphics, a source of
inspiration for French spelling.
And suddenly, a bit of David Beckham.
This one was too snobby and did not give any advice

"If they can't have rings, let them pleat ribbons."
 - Marry Antoinette

The Louvre 
The Louvre folk installed a statue of a naked man
that looks down upon you as you walk by just
so you don't think you're too hoity toity.
The Da Vinci Code shooting scene I
The Da Vinci Code shooting scene II
The Da Vinci Code shooting scene III
Silly person, confusing that knight dude for Hitler.
The Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame is like Kylie Minogue.
This is the front, I think.
I was more impressed by the back though.
That's not to say that the front wasn't impressive.

It certainly was.
But really, the back was much more so.

The Seine

As the day starts to die,
the banks of the Seine come alive.
There are some great amateur art exhibitions and sales.

Some pretty good street musicians too.

An entire street is set up as some sort of a pet sale.

There was also an amateur discotheque where a french
lady walked past me ooOOoo-ing to Moves Like Jagger.
Gullibility to pop music knows no borders and rivalries.

Somehow this guarantees that the love will never die.
If you're feeling particularly misanthropic and want to
destroy the happiness of others, and if you are a decent
swimmer, and you also have lots of time and patience -
all the keys are on the bed of the river.
If you're still feeling misanthropic after that, you could randomly
add some more barriers to the maze making it inescapable.


The Eiffel Tower
You need to see it from a slight distance.
It isn't as glamorous from very close up
The names of scientists are engraved under the first level. It
was apparently some sort of a tribute to science by Gustave Eiffel
during the protests against the construction of the tower.

The time of the day was when the colours make it look
like a scene out of one of the Matrix movies.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
280 is as high as one can go now.
If you're finding it hard to compare them in your head.
The best view of the Jardins du Trocadero is from the Eiffel Tower.
The best view of the Eiffel Tower is from the Jardins du Trocadero.

One overtly controlling ex, one scorned man, one lisp.
Things got heated when they asked for a Table Tennis table.

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