29.07.2007 30 °C
Written on July 30...
Let's start with my last 2 days in Paris. I have a few more pics to post, but they're on my memory stick, which is not with me right now, so later. Here are some relevant ones from my camera.
I first visited the Chateau de Versailles, which was, unfortunately, quite a disapointment, as it was undeniably nice, but not exactly as breathtaking as I had imagined. I think we're better off just seeing it in movies, where it's fully "made up". In real life, for logistics reasons, large sections of each rooms are left empty (so tourists can walk through), and quite a few rooms are not completely restored, so it's just ok... Fortunately, despite the enormous amounts of people, it didn't seem too busy and the flow was fairly steady. Furthermore, the audio guide included with the price made it interesting, with anecdotes, and explanations of the various pieces of art in each room, as well as the purpose of the rooms. Nevertheless, it wasn't worth, in my opinion, the 21.45E it cost me....
I only took a few pics, here are the most interesting...I have some from inside, not really worth it...I think that the Appartementsde Napoleon at the Louvre was a more accurate rendition of the splendeur of the time than what they have put at Versailles (almost nothing survived past the Revolution). They are nevertheless actively working on restaurations, so it might get better over time.
I spent most of the last day on the metro, as I kept changing my mind and forgetting silly stuff. So my initial idea was to go to the train station to get the tickets that I had bought online, but realized, once there, that I had forgotten my credit card (required for ID), so that was a wasted trip. I then decided to go to the Picasso museum, but once there, I realized that my mind wouldn't be at ease until I got those tickets printed, so I set out to find an internet cafe (I can print them there), which was quite far and a whooping 1.50E/15mins!!! So anyway, I printed my ticket and then decided to go up the Eiffel tower instead of the museum, so I set on the (rather long) train journey to the tower, only to arrive there and find the longest lines in history (it was a Saturday, and on top of it, the 1st day off of summer vacation for most French people -they actually get a full month off here, which means that most shops are closed for 1 month!!!), so I decided to skip going up the tower (after all, I only had a few hours before having to go back to take my train, so time was an issue) and head off to the Archeological crypt of the Notre Dame Cathedral, as it was the next "most interesting thing to see" on my list. This place was quite nice, and is located under the Notre-Dame parvis. It showed the evolution of Paris (originally only on the island) that you see here, which stil exists (but was quite enlarged over the centuries,a nd is now somewhat buried in the "large Paris", but the Notre Dame cathedral is still there, and so is the marker as "Km 0" of all the roads to/from Paris.
The area is quite large, and was made into a museum as it is one of the only places in Paris where we can see the evolution of time, as it's function hasn't changes much over the centuries (church parvis and "main road", while the rest of the place was, sequentially completely destroyed and re-built several times.
This is a set of what the crypt looks like.
It showed the old port walls, many house structures, a section of an old street (the level of the are was raised by as much as 4meters over time), ditches, etc. A section of particular interest was about the aqueduc that the romans built, as well as a house heating system, where the floor of the houses was raised over what I would describe as piloties, and a furnace provided heat that was distributed to the floor through these piloties. How cool!
Anyway, since I still had a couples of hours left, I went back to the Picasso museum, which I realized onlyupon entry in the first gallery, that I had been thinking Van Gogh the whole time (even though I was saying and seeing Picasso).. I'm not much of a abstract fan, so it was a bit of a disappointment to have spent 6.50E on this, and the exhibition was only ok for me, although it was nice to see his progression (the exhibition is mostly in chronological order).
Here were my 2 favorites (I'm still amazed that we are allowed to take pics in museums here!)
It was funny to talk to Julien and Damien about my sights and stuff in Paris, as is typical for anyone living in a city, they were not aware of the many things and had either never been, or not in a very long time, to most of the sights...hehehe
So I left Paris for Marseille later that day, on a TGV 1st class ticket (bought on sale for cheaper than a regular ticket)! hehehe Le grand luxe!!!
I arrived in Marseille late at night (11:30) and had not done my homework properly on "how to get to the hostel", so I decided to take a taxi. It cost me an arm and a leg!!! 18E to be exact!!! I started sweating at 12E when I realized that we still weren't near! No need to say that I will NOT be taking another taxi on this trip FOR SURE!!! hehehe, I made it after all, only to find out that everyone in my room was sleeping, that my bed hadn't been cleaned and that there was no room key for me as it was broken! Joy! I settled in the room anyway and tried to sleep, but it was freaking hot (no wonder why all the french come down here for their vacation!), my nose got really stuffed (still fighting this cold) and I had a really hard time breathing, so I didn't sleep much at all... oh well, I was more than happy at the prospect of staying with the cousin of my friend of a friend (her name is Maëlle) for the 2 following nights.
I moved in with her yesterday and slept like a baby. She has a great place, faily small but perfect for 1 person and a sofa that turns into a bed, which is awsome.
Marseille is a puzzling city, as the old part is very pretty, as you can see here
The Vieux Port:
Let's sneak in the only one of me taken recently
A fountain called "Lavie":
but at the same time, there are a lot of vacancies (shops), buildings not so well kept, and the most intense regroupment of immigrants from the Magrehb (Maroc, Tunisie, Egypt etc) that I have ever seen. This is the only town so far that I have visited where the "kebab and donair" shops outnumber the "bakery/sandwich" shops. I bought some great halva and could have bought a beautiful Morrocan plate if I have the space in my luggage.
I also met some Marseillais who weren't very happy with the turn the city has taken, and were very vocal about it...I can understand to a point, as I hear more arabic spoken than French, but at the same time, once again, when asked how things could be improved, they have no solution, no suggestion....
On the topic of differences, everything between the Qc anf the French is different, but close! It's so funny! For example, a napkin is a tissu, a laveuse is a lave-linge, a soie dentaire is a fil dentaire, the girls are nanas... and there are countless examples, none of which come tomind right now (of course). So whenever I ask for something new, I try different words and sequences until we pinpoint the "French" way. hehehe
Other random thoughts:
The milk sold here is almost exclusively the sterilized type (which can be kept on the self for months)....I am yet to see fresh milk.
Something that surprised me: the French drink almost exclusively rosé (wine) during the summer months... I wonder in which proportion they drink white and red during the winter months...
If you, or your kids plan to visit France, make sure they do it BEFORE they're 25 yrs old as they get SIGNIFICANT discounts and free entry on all museum, train passes, etc. It would easily have cut my "visiting" costs by half!!! crazy!
Well, that's that for that,