September 18, 2014 – Thursday – Beaune to Paris, France
Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days tour
Our bus driver Sylvain has supplied us with soft drinks, bottled water, beer and wine in refrigerators on the bus during the entire trip on the honour system. Today, on our last day on the bus, it is time to settle up. I am on top of the list at 10 (for an individual), but at only 1.20 Euros each, I consider this to be quite a bargain, and so convenient.
We leave the hotel in Beaune this morning and make the short drive to Paris, catching our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Sylvain drops us off a block away from our hotel a bit after noon, and drives away for the last time. He was a great driver and was very good-humoured as well.
Hotel Muguet is probably the nicest hotel we have stayed at on the entire trip, and I get to stay two extra nights here, leaving for home on Monday. I have a room facing the courtyard, so it is nice and quiet, and it’s air conditioned, which is needed to cope with Paris’ muggy weather right now.
After we drop our bags off at the hotel, we quickly regroup to go on a walking tour of Paris and get an orientation from Jennifer on how to use the Paris Metro. First stop is Sainte Chapelle, a royal medieval Gothic chapel, located near the Palais de la Cité (City Hall), on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris. It is currently being restored, but is very impressive both inside and out. It was built to house Louis IX’s collection of relics of Christ, and functioned as his personal chapel. It is very ornate inside; decorated in gold and huge stained glass windows.
Next stop is Notre Dame Cathedral, an historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité. It is huge, and is an example of French Gothic Architecture, but not as impressively decorated inside as Sainte Chapelle. In fact, the interior is rather shabby in spots, showing the wear of so many people trouping through it. It was among the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses (arched exterior supports), which are particularly spectacular when the building it lit at night. There is a huge plaza in front of the cathedral. We regroup here and take the bridge across the Seine to the Latin Quarter.
We have dinner on our own in the Latin Quarter before regrouping at Pont Neuf for an evening river cruise on the Seine. We see many of the bridges on the Seine lit up at night, as well as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and a multitude of bridges as we cruise along the river. There are huge numbers of people partying along the Seine. Many are just hanging out with bottles of wine, while others are in semi-organized dances.
The cruise along the Seine at night makes for an impressive end to a very long and tiring day. After returning on the Metro, we are all glad to arrive back at our hotel.