I don’t know if you’re aware. But, here in France, they speak French. Before coming, I highly recommend doing one or more of the following (1) already know French, (2) learn it quickly, or (3) find a French-speaking friend to join you. I did none of these. So I barely know what?s happening around me. I respond to “Merci!” with a timid “Hello?” Disappointment inevitably follows. I become the ugly American.
On a side note, when you are selecting flights, choose one that arrives fewer than nine hours before check-in time at your hotel. I failed in this regard. Wandering pre-dawn Paris is nice. But not nicer than a warm shower.
The Hotel du Louvre — where I’m staying — is near the Louvre. Come to think of it, that’s probably how the museum got its name. Like me, you most likely heard of the Louvre when you saw The Da Vinci Code. I’m told that it’s loaded with great art. Although I love art, I don’t think I’ll make it inside. Seeing the brochure is enough for me.
Be that as it may, after discovering that I would spend a full work-day waiting for my room, I headed toward the museum. It was not yet open. So I walked around the giant glass Pyramid that marks the entrance.
After getting my fill, I kept walking. The park space around the Louvre is beautiful. It is no doubt named something, but since the signs were in French, I couldn’t read them. UPDATE: It’s called “Tuileries Garden.” In any event, it reminded me a lot of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. There’s a lot of open space and many twenty- and thirty-something runners. There was even a rollerblader!
One notable difference between Paris and the National Mall was the amount of art that was out here. Paris is an easy city to walk around in because there are so many interesting things to see.
During my morning stroll, I came across the National Assembly. You would be relieved to know that, despite “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” blazed across the building, it is as difficult to get into as our own cathedrals to democracy in D.C. Security and video surveillance were everywhere. I looked, but couldn’t figure out how to get inside…if only I spoke French.
I ended up taking a ride in the giant Ferris wheel, instead. This is a phenomenon that has apparently spread across Europe — think London Eye — and is foreign (literally) to me. It’s pretty amazing…
My walk past the Eiffel Tower was more surprising than I expected because it was so much larger than I’d anticipated.
The day was completed with a delicious French meal. My neighbor left much to be desired.