Well, we've been in Paris since Saturday afternoon but today has been the first absolutely gorgeous day of the, well, whole trip really.
Yesterday we visited the Louvre (gah! So overwhelming!) and walked the entirety of the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. I climbed to the top and it was quite lovely. I can now officially say I've used the loo near the top of the Arc de Triomphe--that's pretty exciting!
I'm contemplating putting a photo essay together called "Tourists," or something of the like; I really enjoy taking photos of tourists interacting at all of these incredibly historic sites. It's interesting 1) Because I am also one of them 2) Because they're all from different places yet have very similar ways of interacting with the environment 3) Because it's far more interesting than just taking photos of buildings over and over again [though don't get me wrong, I love architecture].
This past Saturday we decided to just walk around Paris, enjoying the sites. The park in front of Notre Dame was by far one of the highlights of the trip so far. A woman and an old man had a bag of bird seed and were feeding the pigeons and handing the seed out for free to the various visitors as well. Pigeons roosting on your arms/shoulders/head is a very odd feeling. They're a lot heavier than one would think. The old man came up to us and asked where we were from, when we told him "America," he pointed to a pin on his collar and said that he loves America and that he fought in WWII. He still carries around his war identification card (for the life of me I can't remember which division he fought under) and showed it to us. He spoke very limited English and even had a strange accent while speaking French, I'm pretty sure he was from Germany. Later, he told us, "Without the help of America, I never would have been able to return home to Germany." The translation is not exact and I can't remember the exact phrasing, but it was close to that. It was amazing how powerful just one sentence can be.
I've loved Paris more and more each day that we've spent here. Today we visited the Eiffel Tower but didn't go up (too crowded, too pricey), l'Hôtel des Invalides, and Sacre Coeur/Montmartre. I think Montmartre is my favorite place we've visited so far. A service started in Sacre Coeur while we were admiring its interior, and it was absolutely breathtaking. The nuns were singing and playing music and it was just a really relaxing place to be despite the tourists. The contrast between the inside and outside of the basilica was absurd. Even the contrast in environment between the front (where all the steps are) and the back (where there's a small park) is absurd. I was shocked by how few people seemed to realize that Sacre Coeur looks beautiful from all sides...
You can see the rest of the photos here.