Fontaine à Chambéry

Fontaine à Chambéry

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finding Our Way Across the Roundabout

This gem comes from the first time I visited Paris with my sister H in 2009.

Upon arriving in Paris at the Gare de Lyon, we hopped in a taxi and went to the hotel to check in and deposit our bags. It was around 7 o’clock once we were settled in, so we headed out to explore and find something to eat for dinner. Our hotel was located only a few blocks away from the Arc de Triomphe, which was naturally the first Paris landmark we stumbled upon. 

This is the street we walked down to get to the Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and was a neoclassical interpretation of the triumphal Arch of Constantine in the Roman forum. We have all learned about Napoleon’s lofty aims to take over Europe, and by creating his arch, he solidified his role as emperor, or so he thought (the fact that he hadn’t won the battle was a moot point). The arch was built at the end of the Champs-Elysees, the iconic Parisian street that today is known for its high-end stores and world-class restaurants. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (from World War I) rests underneath the center of the arch.

After taking the obligatory tourist pictures of the arch, we started wandering around the roundabout trying to figure out how to get over to the Arc. We saw tourists milling about under the monument…and yet we didn’t see anyone going to or from. People certainly were not crossing the roundabout (it would probably result in sudden death), so we had no idea how to get across. How perplexing.

After walking around for close to 30 minutes, we decided to give up and find something to eat. A young guy in his mid-twenties came up and asked “Excuse me, but do you know how to get across to the arch?” Our problems started all over again.

Now, you learn from the time you’re little that you shouldn’t talk to strangers, especially if you’re a girl in a foreign country. But, Michael was a nice, good-looking Canadian who merely wanted to get over to the Arc on his last night in Paris. We had no choice but to help him. We were also in a well-lit, crowded area, so if he turned out to be a psychopath, we could just scream. So, we joined Michael on his quest by once more walking around the roundabout, only this time, Michael pointed out a staircase we had walked by numerous times and had failed to notice. It led to the arc! Hooray!

We walked down the stairs and in the tunnel that was under the roundabout. At the end, the staircase deposited you right at the base of the Arc. We started taking photos almost immediately. The detail on the interior of the Arc was gorgeous! 

Nice details
We wandered around taking photos and then decided to sit down and people watch. We sat with Michael and started taking photos of the weird tourists and the great view of the Champs Elysees. The Eiffel Tower was visible and at 10 o'clock, it lit up in its usual nighttime fashion. At this point it was still sunny and we didn't realize how late it had gotten. Michael had to take the Metro to the airport for his early morning flight, and we needed to find dinner. Before we left though, we had another tourist snap a photo of us, so we could remember our conquest and how we made our way across the roundabout.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.