Day 5: Paris, France
Rose window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
It was cold, gray, and rainy when I first arrived in Paris. It has remained cold, but the weather has defied the forecast, and it's actually been pretty nice today and yesterday. I've seen most of the highlights that you're supposed to see your first time to Paris, and the hordes of tourists have been rather small for what I expected of Paris. The downside of being here in the low season is that some sights are closed and the fountains are not running. I went to the Eiffel Tower yesterday, and I only went to the middle level because the top was closed. But I don't think I really missed anything. It would have been the same view, just further away.
The Eiffel Tower is illuminated at dusk, as seen from the Palais de Chaillot (Trocadéro), Paris, France
Night view of I. M. Pei's glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
I'm staying with my first host through CouchSurfing, which is an awesome community that allows you to meet and stay with local people around the world. It's a fantastic way to get more involved in the culture, rather than being isolated in a hotel. My host, Antoine, has been fantastic – he's shown me all around Paris, from the main sites to neighborhoods off the tourist trail where I could see the cultural diversity of the city and catch a glimpse of what everyday life in Paris is like.
Today, Antoine accompanied me on a trip to Versailles. The gardens were dead and bland at this time of year, but I was excited to see the inside of the palace where so much history happened. When we returned to Paris, I went off on my own and explored the Latin Quarter and Le Marais, two of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. But, just as I am starting to get comfortable with finding my way around Paris on the wonderful Metro system, I am leaving for Greece tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be chilly and rainy (not how I imagine Greece), but maybe Athens will surprise me like Paris has. There's always something to see no matter the weather!
Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France