Published: January 18th 2011January 18th 2011
So my first full day of exploring Paris and I had a lot of stuff planned. The first thing was to head to the Sorbonne university to talk to admissions. I had the breakfast buffet in the hostel and got on the métro towards la Sorbonne. I had emailed a lady in the admissions office last week and she told me I could come in to talk. When I got to the front door a guard stopped me and almost wouldn’t let me in. I had to basically prove I had an appointment and he finally let me go as long as I put my camera away (must’ve thought I was just a tourist).
It’s a pretty big university and pretty old too (opened in 1253). After I found the right stair case and the right floor I walked into a small office with about five people working at desks. I approached the closest woman and asked if she spoke English. With something as important as college info I wanted to make sure I understood. Nope, no English. I looked around the room hopefully, but no one else spoke English either. I decided to try in French and one of
the women in the back heard what I needed and ushered me to sit down with her. The meeting wasn’t too long and luckily I understood her fine. She gave me a lot of information and all I have to do is just apply to the US department of la Sorbonne and send my transcripts to them, which will be a lot easier.
After finishing the meeting with the university I decided to head to Pont Neuf, a bridge on the west side of the island in the middle of Paris. Why see Pont Neuf specifically, you ask ? My favorite movies are the Bourne series and in the first one Bourne makes Pont Neuf a meeting point and I wanted to see it for myself. Obviously, it looked the same as in the movie and it was nice to see in person. I walked across and then headed to Le Louvre, which is right next to the bridge. I walked along the east side of the building first and got a sense of how big this museum really is. I took me a good while just to walk around the shortest side. I wanted to go in through
the pyramid entrance so I walked to the north side and found it. It was really an awesome architectural sight. Though little to my knowledge, Le Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, so I'll have to go back tomorrow to go inside. In the courtyard by the pyramid was also a statue of Louis XIV and then a smaller version of the Arc de Triomphe called Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. It's about half the size of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, but it did have a cool statue on top that reminded me of the Siegestor in Munich.
The weather forecast had said we'll have a cloudy morning, but a sunny afternoon. Nope. It rained all morning and was pretty overcast most of the afternoon. I missed exploring Place du Concorde more thoroughly, because of the heavy rain.
After Le Louvre I took the metro to Place du Concorde, the most popular Parisian public square. I was planning on walking the whole Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, but the rain was getting a lot worse and I didn't want to damage my camera (luckily I get to go back later today). I got a few pictures
of Concorde and a little bit of the history behind it too. Place du Concorde was basically an execution square where 1343 aristocrats lost their heads by guillotine. These aristocrats included Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Robespierre.
I headed back to my hostel to get warm clothes, because it was just getting too cold. My hostel is in the 13th arrondissement, which is on the outskirts, but not hard to get to with the metro. After getting warmed up I headed back out to go to the Musée Rodin, which houses a ton of Rodin's sculptures, including the Thinker. The Thinker, or Le Pensuer, was the first sculpture I saw. I still went through the museum afterwards, but nothing was quite as good or exciting. He was outside in the garden and surrounded by really tall bushes. When standing on the ground in front of him you can see the Eiffel Tower behind him. It was really cool finally seeing it in person.
After going through the museum I wanted to find out what the awesome gold plated dome near the museum was. I was pretty sure it was part of Invalides, which is a hospital Napoleon made
for soldiers, but I wasn't sure. I took the metro stop to Invalides and sure enough, that was it. I wasn't expecting the four enormous statues at all though. On either side of the bridge across from the dome there were two huge statues with golden figures on top. And all along the bridge were bronze statues of children, which along with the four huge statues, added a really cool, aesthetic effect to the entire bridge. I walked across the bridge to the Grand Palais and past that onto Champs-Élysées. The weather had cleared up a bit by now and I decided to make the short treck down the avenue to the Arc de Triomphe. The avenue is nowadays lined with designer shops, souvenir shops, and gourmet restaurants. When I finally reached the Arc de Triomphe it was definitely worth it. 12 streets intersect at the traffic circle that goes around the Arc de Triomphe, but there's a tunnel underground that takes you straight up into the small pedestrian-only square around it. Napoleon had this arc built to honor his army and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is right under the arc with an eternal flame that's been burning
skyscrapers of the business quarter
I had heard that the view from the top of the arc was one of the best in Paris so I went up to take a look. The advice was 100% right. I got up right at dusk and the lights in the city were spectacular. I could walk around the top and see all 12 connecting streets and thousands of cars going all different directions. I got a view of la Défense, the business quarter of Paris right outside the city limits where huge skyscrapers tower over everthing. I of course saw the Eiffel Tower too and an unknown building that I think may be La basilique du Sacré-Cœur, but I'm not sure. The view from the top of the arc is definitely going to be one of my favorite memories of Paris.
There are more photos below