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May 9, 2004 Sunday

Europe - Day 7 / Paris, France - Day 1

I took my 10am TGV (high-speed train) ride to Paris, 1st class. I don't know why, but the ticket-counter guy offered me a first class seat for less than the price of a second class seat (SF93 vs. SF107) - can't complain about that. It was initially confusing to know which train car to take but I soon figured out how things went. The scenery was mostly farmland. I took my much-needed nap and 3.5 hours later, my host Kishore, met me at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris. His apartment is by the Cambronne metro station, just steps from the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon's tomb and Montparnasse. After a quick meal with Kishore, I wandered on my own.

Tour Montparnasse, etc.
First stop was Tour Montparnasse, that scraper the French love to hate. Apart from having 1 skyscraper and a few commercial establishments, I didn't see the big deal about the place. I moved on to a close-by cemetery where Jean Paul Sartre is buried. I later went to the Catacombs but it was closed for the day...well, there's also the matter of a E5.00 admission fee. With my limited funds, I was only willing to spend for transportation and cheap food, except where good food becomes a must. I went north and found an internet café for E3/hour...the umbilical cord to the outside world. I emailed my kids, my beloved Burners and friends to feel connected one more time.

Jardin du Luxembourg
Heading north once more, I came upon the Jardin du Luxembourg. Normally, a decadent garden might have a fountain. This one had a magnificent palace. As rich in splendor as France is, I wasn't prepared for that level of opulence. I ventured into the Fontaine de Medicis - an ornate sculpture reminding Marie de Medici her native Florence.

St. Germain des Prés
From there, I proceeded to St. Germain des Prés in the Latin Quarter, with its array of cafes, restaurants and bars. The place was happening with people all over. The street crépe was irresistible. I had the ham/cheese combo for a reasonable E3.50. At 9:30, it was time to head back. I didn't want to wake up my host upon my arrival.

My first day in Paris was enriching. It hasn't lost its charm since I'd been there 3 years ago. The so many hours I spent continuously walking did not even register fatigue. The sights and energy of the city was overpowering.

--- TheLoneRider

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