We started our fourth and final day in Paris off early to get ahead in the queue to visit the Catacombs, which I won't go into the history about, but it's basically an underground cemetery where you can view skulls and bones. My best friend, April, loves this sort of thing and while you may not think it would be appeal to me, I do find creepy things somewhat fascinating (as long as it isn't too scary!) and I do love my French history. The queue for the Catacombs gets very long very quickly and very early, so April and I were basically up at the crack of dawn to get there, so we wouldn't waste any time on our last day! Not really, but I think we waited in line an hour or so before they had even opened for the day.
After visiting the Catacombs, we made our way to The Louvre as even though we'd been whilst on our Contiki tour, I didn't get to see all the paintings I wanted. Since studying the Neo Classical and Romantic art movements in high school, it had always been my dream to see the paintings I learnt about in real life and it's how my love affair with Paris actually began. The more I learnt about France, the more I fell in love with it. To see the real thing was a feeling I cannot describe. It was something that I had been waiting for for nine years, but it was totally worth the wait. To see Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix, The Raft of Medusa by Gericault and Oath of the Horatii by David, these paintings that were quite literally fifty times the size of me was an incredible feeling of happiness. I really do hold a profound love for all forms of art and creativity as I think it's what makes me the happiest in life.
By this time, it was the early afternoon, so we bought some lunch and had a little picnic in the shade on the grass just outside The Louvre. Naturally, we indulged in some Ladurée macarons and desserts as they're just heavenly. It was so funny to see the locals suntanning on the grass. I suppose when you live in Australia, you take it for granted living a mere twenty minutes from the beach.
When we'd finished eating, we made our way to the summer fair (I'm not sure of the real name) where the ferris wheel is located as April wanted to go on that insane ride that spins you around a million metres in the air! Every time we'd walk by it or catch glimpses of it in motion from a distance, I couldn't believe how crazy those people riding it were. If there's anything you should know about my best friend though, it's that she's completely crazy. I guess I can be a little bit of wuss when it comes to these sorts of things, but I definitely know my stomach wouldn't be able to handle a ride like that either! I simply looked up above watching April and taking photos. I got a pretty good shot, if I do say so myself!
Montmartre was next on the agenda to see the Sacré Cœur and oh my gosh, it was absolutely breathtaking. Climbing those steps all the way to the top was an absolute bitch in the hot heat, but it totally paid off for the view of the city from above. We went inside and sat down for a little while admiring the beautiful stained glassed windows, which to me, blew Notre Dame right out of the water. So rich in culture and history, Paris is so much more than the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame. While the surroundings of the Sacré Cœur were full of gypsies, poor people, a swarm of tourists and smelt like urine, none of it took away from the beauty of the Basilica. I don't think I'll ever be able to get over the immaculate architecture of Europe and if you've ever been to Perth where I'm from, you'll understand why!
We strolled around Montmartre for a bit, stopping to take photos of the Moulin Rouge. The place definitely comes to life during the night, but I think it's still just as beautiful to see during the day. April and I also took photos of a nearby pharmacy because all throughout our time in France, we couldn't get over the cute 'pharmacie' spelling. French spelling is just so much prettier.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in at the supermarkets to grab some dinner and eat back at the hotel before we headed out to meet up with some friends and see the view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, being sick and out in the summer heat got the better of us and after eating, we collapsed in bed and fell asleep. It was the one thing I didn't get to do while I was in Paris, but one thing's for sure, I will be back someday.
The next morning, we packed our suitcases and checked out, while the receptionist called us a taxi to the airport. I looked out of the taxi to see the Eiffel Tower and took in all the city's beauty and charm before my departure. I don't know when I'll be back in my favourite place on Earth, but one day. My overall Europe trip, not just Paris, was the most life changing experience and one that allowed me to grow in more ways than I ever could've imagined. I fell in love with the world, made wonderful friends on Contiki, got the travel bug and it was by far the best time of my life. I'm so glad I got to share this wonderful experience with my beautiful best friend too. I can't say that I'd relive the entire thing as in some ways, it lead to the worst time of my life, but because of it, I am also in a much better place right now and I'm definitely not the same person who I was this time last year. I've learnt, I've grown and I've changed. To me, travel is one of the most important things you can do with your life as it enriches you and gives so much more meaning to your life. I am eagerly awaiting to plan my next overseas adventure, but for now, I'm quite happy getting to know my own country spending three months in Sydney and finding my passion in life.
"Sitting there, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me. It was like remembering something I'd never known before or had always been waiting for, but I didn't know what. Maybe it was something I'd forgotten or something I've been missing all my life. All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness. But not too much sadness, because I felt alive. Yes, alive. That was the moment I fell in love with Paris. And I felt Paris fall in love with me." - Paris, je t'aime