I always find packing to go home easier than packing to go abroad. That’s mainly because I tend to adopt the ‘scrunch and throw’ technique, knowing full well that the suitcase will probably sit unopened in my bedroom for the next week… That’s how my last day in Paris started, anyway; as well as cursing myself over the numerous, unnecessary extra items of clothing and toiletries which had remained untouched in my luggage over the course of the trip – I never learn.
A 20-minute walk from the flat brought us to Père Lachaise, reputedly the most visited cemetery in the world on account of the considerable number of well-known figures laid to rest there. These include Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Sarah Bernhardt and Frederic Chopin. The cemetery itself is beautiful, with established flower beds and ancient trees surrounding the thousands of gravesites which range from small headstones to towering monuments and ornate mini chapels. It’s a lovely place to take a peaceful stroll on a sunny morning and take pictures of the more unusual and intricate memorials. I really loved it.
Next on our itinerary was Les Catacombes, an underground ossuary which has been a popular attraction since 1874. We had done our research and knew this place was insanely popular, but nothing had prepared us for the never-ending line of tourists which snaked ahead of us as we exited the metro station. After an hour-and-a-half of standing in the mid-day sun surrounded by equally disgruntled and burnt individuals, we finally reached the entrance and took the 180 steps down under the Parisian streets. It truly is a spectacular place, and on the whole I’d have to say it was worth the wait. The carefully arranged bones are mostly linear and regimented, however there is a set of skulls arranged into a heart which, if like myself you appreciate the strange and morbid, had something rather romantic about it.
A short Metro trip away was the Arc de Triomphe. As stunning and imposing a monument as this is, I’d recommend visiting it at night when there’s less people about. The Champs Elysee is a major hot spot for tourists and natives alike, and with the monument being positioned in the middle of a roundabout, getting under it without being either run over or hit in the face with the camera of an over-zealous tourist is near-on impossible during the day. We got a nice picture for Facebook, anyway.
Finally, our last stop was the Sacré Cœur, a stunning basilica in Montmatre. In my opinion this church is more beautiful than Notre Dame, however the fact that you can’t take any pictures and the constant ‘shush-ing’ from stewards if there happens to be a service in progress means the experience can be a little dampened. We had planned on spending more time in surrounding Montmatre, but our schedule simply didn’t allow it. This district is known for its artistic, alternative, bohemian culture and has plenty to offer. However, we had to make do with a quick stop at the infamous Moulin Rouge before making our way back to the apartment to pick up our luggage and head to the airport.
As tired as we were after completing our relentless sightseeing plan, it’s hard not to love Paris; especially with Matt there. But maybe we’ll take it a little easier next time we go…