We took the metro to La Défense, where skyscrapers concentrate. Parisians don’t like tall buildings in their city. The only exception is La Tour Montpanasse; they hate it actually and wanted to tear it down when it was finished. After years the Parisians accepted it and joked: one can have the best view of Paris in that building – because he cannot see the building itself! Anyway, they used to hate Tour Eiffel as well. Ok, back to La Défense. It is at the outskirt of the city, in zone 3 of the metro system. I bought the 10-ticket package, which was supposed to allow me to travel within zone 3, but had problems getting out of the station there. I was kind of trapped behind the door, deeply puzzled. At the very moment, a woman at the exit handed a ticket to me and I happily set myself free. But what I didn’t expect is that the woman asked me for money afterward. She put out her hand with a few €1 coins in the palm. One moment before I was grateful but all of a sudden, I felt cheated. So I just walked off as if I didn’t know what had happened. It is not common to see so many skyscrapers in a city in Europe, after all, the continent don’t have a large population. Some of the buildings are quite impressive, and I like the Grand Arc pretty much.
The next stop is Arc de Triomphe. Lots of people were queuing there to get on top of it. I didn’t really enjoy queuing, so we walked by and continued with Avenue des Champs Elysées. The world’s most famous boulevard looks more charming at night. I would be here again the next day. Anyway, the luxury stores alongside didn’t interest (I don’t have money for that) so we headed to the very center of Paris – Ile de la Cité.
My friend left for some meeting so I walked around myself. Luckily I had downloaded lots of mp3 guide materials prior to the trip, so I got pretty much to do. By the way, here are the websites http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/france_downloads.htm & http://www.zevisit.com/, free and informative audio guides. I took a “historical walk” around that area. Notre-Dame is amazing. I love the stained glass windows there. But because of the long queue, I didn’t visit Sainte Chapelle, which is nearby and claimed to have the most beautiful stained glass windows in the world.
The evening was dedicated to Musée du Louvre. It was a Friday and entrance is free after 6pm. I again made use of the free audio guide. It took me about 1.5hr to finish the Louvre Walking Tour by Rick Steves. I didn’t feel so excited when I see all the masterpieces. It was like: oh that is Mona Lisa. I had seen too many renaissance paintings and sculptures in Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. What interested me were the exhibits from ancient Egypt, the miniatures and drawings that depicts the everyday life. Apart from that, the Napoleon Apartment is eye-popping. I wandered around for about 2.5hr before going back to my friend’s studio.
He had prepared dinner for both of us, typical French food. It surprised me that he cooked so well. We drank as well, wine (white and red), vermouth (68% alcohol). After dinner we went clubbing in a disco under Pont Alexandre III (said to be the most beautiful bridge in the world) with another two friends of his. I was surprised to learn that many rules need to be followed in order to enter a disco, e.g. number of guys and girls should be balanced. Luckily we got one girl. We drank and danced till 5 in the morning. I believe we were the only ones from China, if not Asia that night.