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Paris - Catacombs & L'Arc de Triomphe

Saturday, March 30, 2013
So here's Paris Part Godzillion to my blogposts on my December 2012 trip to Europe!
I just checked my blog archives; I have 6 blogposts titled Paris something -_-

Paris - L'Opera (aka Day 2)

Anyway we first headed to the Catacombs! I don't think it's that well-known a tourist attraction maybe due to its slightly morbid nature, but we thought it would be interesting. The Catacombs hold the remains of around 6 million people! And the underground network is really pretty extensive.

Sarah & Caroline! Just to recap, Sarah is my friend from Singapore who was doing her NUS student exchange in Munich so I met up with her to travel together, while Caroline is a backpacker from Australia who was sharing the same dorm room as us. The bunk below mine in fact haha.

At hostels it's really very easy to meet people! That day another Australian joined us as well.
(Seems that Australians really love to travel haha, there were always a lot of them)

Different beanie that day!


We had to walk through many long tunnels before we got to the actual catacomb area with the bones!


#asianstakingpictures


Caroline!

Road name for the underground network I guess.

I wonder whether the black line on the ceiling is to make sure you don't get lost...




Carvings into the stone wall.

Odd blue pool of water!



Andrew, another Australian backpacker! We happen to chat at the hostel & realised he was planning to go to the Catacombs too so he came with us. He left halfway to catch a flight to another country!

"Stop, it is here the empire of death"

Pretty cool huh?
I'll provide basic translations of what everything says but don't expect it to be super accurate because I'm lazy haha. E.g. some direct translations may sound weird in English & I won't bother rectifying that.



"You are invited to not touch anything and to not smoke in the ossuary"

This is Latin so... Google: "In memory of our ancestors"

Reached the actual ossuary!

It's pretty... odd.. to be in such close proximity with human remains.
On one hand they're just... there. So easily accessible, touch-able & somewhat... unimportant because there's so, so, so many & they are just piled one on top of the other without any significance to them. They are completely depersonalised & are somewhat to seem like just mundane scenery.
Yet at the same time these once belonged to people just like you & me, with families & memories & normally parts inside your body are sacred. It's just endless corridors & corridors of bones & skulls.




I think the white powder is... calcium deposits?



"They were what we are.
Dust, toys of the wind;
Fragile like men.
Weak like nothingness"


"Bones from the hospital La Trinité road St Denis and Greneta, the 6 January 1814"



"Silence, mortal beings" - "Vain grandeurs, silence"

"At the banquet of life unfortunately guest
I appeared one day and I die
I die and on my tomb where I slowly arrive
No one will come and spill tears"

Humidity in the tombs

Just endless rows & rows & rows & look how deep it extends towards the back.




"Listen dry Bones
Listen to the voice of the Lord
The almighty God of our ancestors
Who with one breath created the beings,
Will put back together your separated knots
You will retake new flesh
Skin will form on them
Dry Bones, you will live again"

And we finally made our way out! I think walking through it took maybe around 1.5 to 2hours?
It depends how slowly you go I guess.

Next we headed towards Les Champs-Elysées!
L'Arc de Triomphe is located at one end of it.

Here's the Arc, sitting in the middle of a huge roundabout!




The Arc as the sun started to set!
(Which basically happened in the like, 10 minutes we were standing there taking pictures)
Crossed over to the Arc via the underpass!

The Arc is to commemorate those who died fighting in the French Revolution.
The French Revolution is actually believed to have been the spark that spread ideals of democracy throughout Europe & then the world, making it one of the most important events in history.

We went up the Arc de Triomphe! I didn't know previously that you could go up O.O

OMG THERE WERE SO MANY STAIRS I SWEAR WE DIED IT WAS LIKE OMGWTFBBQ WHAT ERA IS THIS DID THEY NOT HAVE LIFTS BACK IN 1806

Finally reached the top. Dead.

Went up to the rooftop!
As I said earlier, the Arc de Triomphe is located on a huge roundabout called Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de L'Etoile)(Charles de Gaulle founded the French republic, hence why the airport is also named after him) & avenues radiate out from it:
(image taken from Google)
The avenues lead to many other huge monuments (other arcs) & yes the roundabout has no car lanes at all O.O "Etoile" means star by the way. I read this fiction book where the author described it as:

"The roundabout has 12 exits and is a massive quarter of a mile in diameter, which gives cars plenty of room to dash in at least 12 different directions at once. As a star, l'Etoile is part black hole, part supernova. Cars are sucked in, bounced crazily around, then expelled along one of the exits. Jean-Marie accelerated into the throng of vehicles, hardly blinking as his flash new car was almost cut in two by a kamikaze Kawasaki... He slewed on through four or five near misses, and I wondered how many seconds it would be before his apparently God-given luck ran out and I was chewing airbag... 'Insurance companies never investigate accidents at L'Etoile,' Jean-Marie explained. 'It would be like asking how a boxer broke his nose.'"

- A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke
One of my all-time favourite books! It's about a Brit moving to Paris & it's hilarious to me.

But anyway yes, the driving in Paris is pretty crazy in general.

So anyway, here are the sights at night!
Spot another more modern looking Arc in the distance


Look at the traffic below hahaha. There are no traffic lights, no lanes, no guidelines whatsoever & yet it works. I think a Singaporean driver would have a spazz attack & panic.



The Carousel in the distance!

Eiffel Tower!




Headed to some of the big departmental stores like Galeries Lafayette & Printemps.
These stores actually basically just consist of counters/boutiques of high-end luxury brands (you'll find your Chanels, Pradas, Balenciagas... etc) so it's not really like the departmental stores we have in Singapore.

Anyway both the 2 stores I named above are famous for their Christmas window displays!
Every year all the windows are done up very elaborately & these are all MOVING displays.
The kids love them!



Spotted a small Ladurée counter so Sarah & I bought a big box of macarons because they're famous for them! The Ladurée flagship store along Champs Elysées is really popular & there's always a queue for both its normal pastries & confectionery as well as its sit-in dining area.




Walked around & settled on a random restaurant for dinner!
And the restaurant had this cute resident cat that was dressed in a Santa suit! :D

(My food sucked so I didn't care that the cat went near it)
(I dunno what my dish is called; shouldn't have been adventurous T_T)
(Sarah's food was fine)



Hehehe sho cute!

Cutie!!!! :D :D :D

Disapproving Cat in a Santa suit is disapproving haha.
Look at the white "socks" it has too! Eee sho cute. I am so destined to be a cat lady T_T

Ok so those are my 72 pictures for Day 4 of Paris! The following day we left for Zurich, Switzerland.
But before I blog about Zurich I'll show you guys how the hostel dorm looks like!
Happy long weekend!