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Last updated : Nov 2009
Gates of Eden
Rating : (4.1) (31 votes)

Pros : Paris is most assuredly the unexpected Eden of the trip so far.
Cons : None

Paris, France
September 11, 2004

They always said that the French hated Americans, especially, the Parisians. How could they be so wrong??? Paris was the one place on the itinerary that I thought I'd blaze through and enjoy but not think twice about...How wrong was I? The second I stepped into the streets I was surrounded and succumbed to something that one never finds in America; CULTURE. It seeps out of the pores of every student walking in the street, a couple drinking coffee at a cafe, a woman munching a baguette as she walks. America has no culture. We are the mixing pot of MANY cultures which is something cool and unique in and of itself, but to be so uniformally surrounded by one culture is truly a treat.

We walked through the streets talking in the sights and sounds; the sweet, buttery scent of fresh croissants, dark chocolates blended by hand, very stinky and creamy cheese, etc. We stayed at Hotel Eber Mars right by the Tour Eiffel and could see the top of it from our 5th fl. balcony. We walked around the champ de Mars for a while and then turned in early.

No one would ask, Since you love Paris so much, why leave the city to go climbing after 12 hours? That answer is simple: Fountainebleau.

The boulders of Fountainebleau are nestled in a forest area spreading over several miles about 40km south of France.

Gerald and Sara {from ATL} and I took a train and then a cab to get the are known as Le Cuvier. We met 2 more climbers along the way {one of which had a crash pad...SWEET!} The boulders averaged about 3-5 meters in height and were Sandstone of the HP40 variety. Lots of the problems were VERY VERY hard, but we all had a good time and just enjoyed being able to climb in such a gorgeous setting. I felt that I climbed fairly well considering that's it's been almost 2 weeks since I touched rock, but my head was strong, and that's what made me the happiest. I even topped out a few boulders that would've terrified me in the past. After about 3 hours we needed to head back and meet Michal so we began {what we thought would be} our 5km walk back to train station. Within 1 min. of trying to hitch a ride a young lady picked us up and drove us all the way back to the train...{my feet thank you too}

The evening included a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tour. On the menu: baguette, sausage with big pieces of fat in it, Camenbert and a bottle of red wine. Dinner was great until some drunk guy came over and "joined" us. He was pretty out of it, slurring and stumbling and wouldn't take our hints. {Although I didn't try Piss Off!} Eventually I got annoyed with the whole thing and packed up our food, and then quickly relocated. Later that night, Michal and I went half way up the tower and enjoyed the night-time view of Paris.

The next day was a big one. I forgot to mention that Michal happen to drop the camera on the lens and break it. Fixing it was impossible, and a new one {at the only store we could find} was close to $500 USD. I worried that the photo-making part of the trip was over!!! Gerald lent me his camera the next day {thanks again} and I was able to get some shots of Notre Dame and the city. We checked out another camera shop and were told to go to Fnac an electronic department store. I found a Canon A75 for about 200€ after the VAT tax refund. So basically I bought a new camera for about $20 more than it would cost in the US...no big deal. So the pictures will continue!

Around 2.30pm we said our good byes to Gerald and Sara and walked around the Louvre. I realized {yet again} that I'm not really a museum "type" and get rather ancy after an hour. So we saw the Mona Lisa {much smaller than I thought it'd be} 17th century dutch painting and lots of Mesopotamian sculpture. The coolest part was definitely Napoleon III's apartments still furnished and intact. {Think SWANK} If you are the museum type, the Louvre is highly recommended by Ari and Michal, and even I'd go back again.{with lots of "breaks"} Paris is most assuredly the unexpected Eden of the trip so far.