I had the opportunity to travel to and explore Paris on a recent trip to the northern hemisphere. The main tourist hot spots is surely something to look forward to , but it is once you start to make the links between the monuments and the historical events of this city, that a feeling of astonishment and reality kicks in. That history is now not just something in a textbook, but something you can see and touch. Paris is the 28th largest city in the world by population density and 9th in Europe. The public transport makes it extremely easy to get around once you get to understand the metro system and you quickly learn how to navigate them. Be warned those subways get pretty packed around peak hours and Google maps is probably an easier route planner than the metro map. You do want to plan your trip before you get started as asking for directions is just not the way to go. You can get anywhere with the Metro M or RER, but the busses are good too. Getting by with daily necessities like internet and food is fairly easy once you get into it as the American fast food chains are well established, but so is all the sandwich and kebab shops. There are heaps of French restaurant’s to sit down and have a vino, but note they are a bit more pricey so your euro’s tend to dissipate quite quickly. French cuisine did not live up to its hype for me anyway. Parisians do speak English, but I think the Parisians must really hate the English as once they pickup you do don’t speak French there is a noticeable attitude change and you are promptly placed in lower class. I was thinking to put a sign on that said KIWI Tourist, but given our rugby history and the constant warning signs to guard against pick pockets I thought it best just to greet them in Maori first. Perhaps I should have learned a few phrases first, but I hear they hate that more.
They say Paris is the City of Love. Well what can I say, if filthy and smelly is your thing then it must be so. I’ve been told it is the Parisian hype grief. It is urban legend that Paris is the city of love and romance, but quite frankly it is as romantic as anywhere else and people who travel here with that expectation is often left wanting. Personally I think Venice is a better bet, but then I have yet to travel there.
It is a big city, but I am not so sure it is a great city. I think it is because the French are not really in Paris anymore, but all the foreign EU citizens are flocking to the cities and Paris is deteriorating quickly. I did feel unsafe in some spots close to the tourist hot spots mainly due to the street vendors hassling you for everything or blocking your path and grabbing you by the arm trying to sell of their wares. Once you go past the tourist hot spots you get into area’s that are street markets selling anything from crayfish to second hand clothing. There are places in the city that looks like they have not gotten round to do repairs after WWII and there is litter and cigarette butts everywhere. Probably because they smoke like chimneys everywhere.
I have seen pictures of and the view from the Eiffel tower, but it is only once you stand next to this massive structure that you can really get a feeling of the engineering effort that went into this. You cannot really capture a decent picture of it standing remotely close to it. I had the 16mm flat on the ground and even then if I manage to get a picture of it, it looks warped. In this shot it is looks flat and quite boring and you just don’t really get that magic feeling. The fact that winter everywhere seems to make images look lifeless or perhaps I have just not quite figured out the trick to it
As it got darker and the crowds subsided I had time to play a bit with the different filters I had and exposure times. It was a bit tricky to get the timing right but I managed to get the search lights on Eiffel in a continuous beam. Tricky because my wireless shutter stopped working so I had to time the shot with the 2s delay so I can use the mirror lockup function. For me mirror lockup in low light is an absolute must and especially in longer exposures
Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile
It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle and it honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
Just some Context – My comments and options are based on what I experienced on a trip and generally as I travel and explore the world. It is not some wiki driven or generalization of the world, but based on real world experience. As the world turns the seasons change as so does life and what we experience at different points in time.
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