Another trip courtesy of my company has brought me to Paris, who knew IT would work out so well for travelling !
I’ve been to our office in Paris before but if memory serves me right I was only here for one night, I took the customary picture of the Eiffel Tower and went home the following day, this time around I’m here for 3 nights..
Our office is in a kind of apartment block, semi business and semi residential which might seem a bit odd but is quite the norm round these parts. Some of the staff in the office say they dread bringing clients here for meetings as it’s all a bit unprofessional, personally I quite like it, especially as the first thing you come across is this awesome lift, my father in law is a lift engineer and I’m sure he’d agree !
The office is located a stones throw from the Arc Du Triomphe and a decent metro station, I thought I had booked into the Sofitel which is a short walk from the office but somehow i’d managed to book myself into a completely different hotel nowhere near the office a metro ride away, I was more annoyed that I would have to deal with rush hour to get to the office in the morning so I cracked on and set about changing my reservation. The hotel I had booked into was the intercontinental right by the opera house, it’s a stunning building but a bit stuffy for my liking, I felt like i’d been booked into the Grand Budapest Hotel, very opulent, heaving and opera themed, not for me..
Due to the late cancellation policy I spent one night there so as not to incur any charges and the next day I checked into the Sofitel. After work I chipped back to the hotel, grabbed my camera and made my way by metro to the catacombs, they’re not close to where I am staying, 14 stops away, I arrived there at 19.02, it shut at 19.00 and they wouldn’t let me in, gutted…
I sat on the metro slightly narked about not getting in but thought i’d head out for a wander in my local hood and see what there was to photograph, I came out of the station and it started to rain.
I’m not too fussed about rain and from a photography perspective you can get some lovely reflections from ambient lighting, I decided to take a walk down the Champs Elysees starting at the Arc du Triomphe end, this is the view.
That’s about halfway down to be honest and I nearly got killed taking that shot, standing in the middle of the road with a camera and tripod while French drivers who are mental at the best of times fly past you within a cats whisker is not something I recommend. As you can see there is a great big ferris wheel which I’d seen on my last visit and meant to photograph, this was my destination for the evening.
If I hadn’t been risking my life trying to get a photo in the middle of the road then the walk from one end to the other would have taken about 20 mins, after about 40 minutes I reached my destination and set about getting a picture, I decided on a slow shutter release that gives the impression the wheel is going round at a thousand miles an hour when in reality it’s not moving very fast at all..
Happy with the shot I took I wandered back toward my hotel, somewhere along the line I thought I would take a shortcut and immediately got lost.
Sometimes getting lost works out quite well, it did on this occasion as I came across this awesome veedub parked up outside the Pakistan consulate.
The paint job was amazing, I particularly like the Pakistan and French flags in the shield at the front, handily I wasn’t that lost at all, my hotel was just round the corner, result..
The next day I was determined to go and see the catacombs, I was also determined to have a Croque Monsieur so I popped out to a café local to the office and had this bad boy for a late breakfast.
I did everything I needed to do in the office and left for the catacombs in good time.
The entrance to the catacombs is pretty unassuming, there are no neon lights or flashing signs advertising the place, just a guy standing outside a door way and some ropes for queue control, it gets quite busy during the day apparently. The catacombs are the remains of a limestone quarry and this is just a very small part of it, whats interesting about this particular part of it are the bones. In the 16th century the cemeteries in Paris were overflowing and the tunnels in the quarry were collapsing, bone remains were transported from the cemeteries to the quarry to free up space in the cemeteries and fille the cavities in the quarry. The bones were quite literally thrown down a well leading to the quarry with no way of telling whose remains were who and thats how they remained until a chap called Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury decided to arrange them in a more ornate way.
There are over 6 million Parisians remains down here, you can’t begin to imagine how many bones that is..
From floor to ceiling the walls are lined with skulls and bones.
I visited at around 18.00 on Wednesday night which I think is an ideal time to visit, it’s a sombre place and deserves a bit of quiet and respect which you might not get around midday on a Saturday when 200 people are making there way through. I’m really glad I got to see the catacombs and i’m going to look up some of the “unofficial” tours I’ve read about urban explorers undertaking, maybe next time I’m here i’ll go on one of those!
I have one day of work left and then I’m heading home, Paris has been fun but i’m really looking forward to seeing Lolly!