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Day 2: Paris on a Sunny Winter Day

We bought the 2-day unlimited rides pass for the subway this morning. This is a good purchase for anyone who doesn't plan very well and ends up criss-crossing back and forth to see different attractions like we did. It was pretty freaking cold this morning but the sun was out which made it a great day to see all the big stuff like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Statue of Liberty and the Catacombs. Actually, the Catacombs are underground (132 stairs down, which means 132 steps back up!) but we put them on the list to see anyway.

Speaking of stairs, here's the breakdown:

  • Arc de Triomphe - 284

  • Eiffel Tower - 674 to the 2nd floor. It's 1665 steps to the top but fortunately for us it's currently closed past the 2nd floor.

  • Catacombs - 132 (to get out)

  • Notre Dame - closed, so no stairs here

  • Statue of Liberty - No steps. This is just a knock-off version and much smaller than the real thing.

You'll need tickets to climb all these stairs. If you purchase tickets online you can skip the line and it doesn't cost any extra. Also, at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, you can view the world's best traffic circle. Drivers in the US could learn a lot from the French. If you ever go to France, this is something worth studying.

Interesting and Unique Holidays in France

January 15 marks the end of the Christmas season in France. On that day, prior to sundown, everyone drags their holiday tree into the outdoors. Some are partially wrapped by those hoping to extend the joy a few more days. Others are left bare as a symbol of hope for the new year. Often, several families will join together to create a festive bunch near a park or busy street. And sometimes, you'll see a single, small unadorned tree left in the street. This symbolizes the solitary trek of the wise man on his journey home from after seeing the newborn King. We had a great time touring the many disposal sites around the city.

Famous Museums

After our tour of monuments and disposed Christmas trees, we headed to the Louvre. This is a big museum in Paris.

The museum is most famous for its painting of a woman named Mona Lisa. She was good friends with a man named Leonardo DaVinci, a painter who also moonlighted as a Ninja Turtle in the late 1900s long after most people thought he had died. In the second Ninja Turtle movie (1991) he partnered with Vanilla Ice to produce the popular hit, Ninja Rap

The photo below shows how popular Mona Lisa is. All of these people are crowded into the room to see her portrait (it's the small rectangle located in the center of the photo). They will stand in line for a couple of hours so that they they can get closer to the painting which sits behind bulletproof glass. At the front of the line they will still be about 10 yards away and this is where they can take a photo of the painting they are looking at. Often, they will hold up their phones as they get close to the front of the line and take video of their approach.

On the opposite wall in the same room is another very famous painting called "The Wedding at Cana." But as you can see, nobody really cares about looking at that one.

We got a little overwhelmed with the crowd and didn't have the patience to wait in line so we decided to just go see more of the museum. And then what do you know? We came across another picture of the Mona Lisa and NO ONE was near it. That's how we got this amazing pic!

More pics and trivia to come . . .

. . . we'll have a few more helpful travel tips to share tomorrow but we're off to get dinner now because we're starving after climbing all those stairs.

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