un: The Louvre, the Louvre! Home of straggly-haired Tom Hanks waxing foolish about cryptology! And, you know, some exciting art. We got there via the padlock-adorned Pont des Arts – rather lovely, I think – and queued behind a hysterically enthusiastic Japanese crowd who stopped at every turning to take a photo of the back of someone’s head. We photobombed as many as possible. It only seemed right.
deux: The Louvre is huuuuuuge. Really, really, really big. You can’t hope to do all of it without serious museum fatigue. We started in the Denon wing and whooshed down corridors to check off the Mona Lisa before the crowds got too bad. You kind of have to look at the Mona Lisa so that you’ve looked at the Mona Lisa. It’s so small, and behind so much glass (and people’s heads), that we moved on quite quickly to appreciate the marvellous Italian medieval and renaissance art around it. Oh gosh, oh gosh, there was a set of Botticelli frescos that were out of this world. The Greek and Roman art rooms were also wonderful, not least because they resulted in the best photo of all time.
Oh, and then there’s the French sculpture galleries, which are my favourite in the whole place. After this we were so overwhelmed we went home for a nap. Because we are cool.
trois: Trying to find a restaurant on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees is like trying to find one on Oxford Street: you can look as hard as you like, but eventually you’re going to end up at an overpriced Angus Steakhouse. The French version of Angus Steakhouse was an expensive Italian that didn’t sell pizza. We tried not to think about how many Domino’s pizzas we could’ve ordered for the same price. Though the food was good.
quatre: Oh hey, do you know how you get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe? I’ll tell you. You walk. No coward, I, but 284 steps and one angry pelvis later I thought I was dead. Ah, the view, though. After 6.30pm, the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is alight, the Arc is illuminated with ghostly yellow and the whole city spreads out underneath. Including the Eiffel Tower, and if there’s one downside about going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it’s that you can see everything but the Tower itself. We froze and took a million photos, and enjoyed it all immensely.
cinq: There is probably nothing in the world better than strolling through quiet, darkened streets towards the Eiffel Tower, and the metro home. When I’m old and want to remember being young and carefree and romantic, that gentle half-hour, hand-in-hand, is the one I’ll bring to mind. I will also remember the victory glow of realising we walked nearly ten miles by the end of the day, and uncracking fossilised muscles in a hot bath before bed.