Paris, France

My apologies in advance for the ugly way the text wraps in this post, and doesn’t align with the pictures the way I want it too, but I can’t figure out how to stop it from doing that. Thanks to Bran for fixing my CSS.

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I woke up this morning at four. I was too sad to sleep so I got up. I don’t know why I was sad, everything has been fine lately.

I didn’t get up immediately. I prayed to a benevolent deity in my non-theistic universe for everyone to be okay. I kept thinking of more people I wanted to be okay. Then I got up, before my vibes could wake my wife.

This first picture I took by accident when Alpha and I went to Paris a couple weeks ago. It is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. All of my favorite pictures are the ones I took by accident. Not only from that trip. You would think that I didn’t try to take composed pictures anymore, but I still do.

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We saw this hotel on our first night wandering around Paris, I guess. We didn’t look inside. It didn’t even occur to us to look inside. We stayed in another hotel with a balcony and a ceiling fan on the Left Bank in the Latin Quarter.

“Just walk around” is the best advice re: what to do in Paris. Thanks, Ian. Although, you’ll sometimes want to take the subway, since Paris is really big. The subways are okay. They ran often, we never had to wait long when we took one.

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Here is our balcony. Good call on the hotel, that was more good advice. Latin Quarter = good neighborhood to stay. Some nice sidewalk cafes, restaurants etc. but not too many tourists in general.

We had a couple guide books, but we used them sparingly. We bought chocolates at a place my book recommended, once, and went to a department store that was a must, apparently, and so on. But more enjoyable was just going into restaurants that looked good and eating, and that sort of thing.

One advantage of doing that is you avoid masses of tourists and can convince yourself you’re having a more authentic experience. Not speaking French was no real problem. Everyone we encountered was helpful and friendly.

One disadvantage of choosing restaurants that way – just walking in – is that you don’t always end up eating in a good restaurant. Turns out the Phuc Yieu Vietnamese restaurant (name changed) where I had the Bouef avec ecoli was not only empty of tourists, it was pretty empty of non-tourists as well, and for a reason. The Moroccan place we ate at was so-so.

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Here is Notre Dame. It was, more or less, across the Seine from our hotel, so we walked past it a lot. We also went inside once and looked around. There was no line when we went, but there was every other time we went past.

It is covered with gargoyles and saints. It looks too delicate to stand, but it stands.

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Here is the Seine. I was standing on a bridge when I took the picture. It was evening. What were we doing? I don’t remember. Walking around being romantic, perhaps. On our way back from the Moulin Rouge, maybe, although I think it was darker when that was over.

The Moulin Rouge convinced me of several things. First, that I need an appointment for new glasses. We had dinner there, during which instead of women dancing around on stage there is a lounge act, a man and a woman singing, and a trio (drums, bass, keyboards, sax, guitar, quintette I guess) playing.

And it’s very well-done lounge music, but lounge music, right? The male singer had something on his head. What the hell does he have on his head, I asked Alpha.

His hair, she replied. Apparently he had a little Afro.

The Moulin Rouge was very good, I highly recommend it, it does a great job of being what it is. The waiters are extremely efficient and professional, the food is okay, but the audience was the usual mix of okay and rubes. Also too many brought their small children (WTF?).

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Here we are under a bridge. On our last day in Paris we had lunch on a bench near this bridge and observed a middle-aged couple kissing. They leaned up against the wall and kissed passionately. I figured they weren’t married to each other. My wife figured the woman was the man’s wife’s best friend.

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I like it when you can see the moon during the day.

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The front of Notre Dame.

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The Eiffel Tower is awesome. But the lines are really long, so we didn’t go inside.

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The Louvre is also awesome. Long lines, too. By the time we got there (it was a hot day and we were tired from walking, or at least I was) I wasn’t up to dealing with lines so we just looked at it from outside and underneath. Underneath, above where Mary is interred in the DaVinci Code, is a Starbucks.

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See? There is also a McDonalds.

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One of the best things we did while we were in Paris, besides walk around, was have dinner on a boat going around on the Seine one evening. It was romantic. We had a good table. The food was good. It was expensive, but so what. Not that expensive.

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The Eiffel Tower is awesome.

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Here are some gargoyles on the Notre Dame.

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Shakespeare and Company was smaller than I had expected, although I had expected it to be small. Still, it was nice to see it. Across the street is the Seine. There are lots of stands along the wall by the Seine, green stands selling postcards and souvenirs and books and so on. I got Gamma a snowglobe with an Eiffel Tower in it, and some postcards.

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There is a church next to the Ministry of Justice. To get there you have to pass through a metal detector and let your bag be x-rayed. Inside the church are many stained glass windows. Please note that there is an upstairs and most of the coolest windows are up there. We didn’t realize that and nearly left. This window here is something-something Apocalypse, so I took a picture of it.

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I took this picture by accident too, because I liked the light so much.

Paris update

So we’ve booked flights and a hotel (one of those recommended by Evalyn, thanks!) and are packing walking shoes and have a list of a few places we want to see, and will otherwise be wandering around. That’s about it. Somehow not having really detailed plans is more relaxing for me than a full schedule would be.

Question for the Hive Mind regarding Paris

I would like to spend a couple romantic days in Paris with my wife in July. How does one go about finding an appropriate hotel there? What should one see and do while in the city? How does one avoid freaking out re: pickpockets (my personal travel phobia on any trip anywhere)?