Paris! Since Chris had never been before we figured it was a must see. For the true Parisian experience/because we are on a budget we stayed in a cute little flat in an old building that required walking up six flights of stairs to get to. We almost didn’t find it due to some language difficulties between us and our host (who I’m pretty sure was just going to live with her boyfriend while we stayed in her place) but in the end all was well. We spent the first day mostly just wandering around because it was nice and sunny out, preparing for our excursion to Disneyland! I found a sweet kilo vintage store (i.e. where you buy stuff by weight) and got some Converse shoes (because walking around in my runners did not seem very fashion-appropriate in Paris) and also a fun beret (necessary, obviously).
After having such a good time at Disneyland Hong Kong, we decided a trip to Disneyland Paris was a must. This was especially exciting because it was currently late October, so the park was all decked out for Halloween. There were lots of ghosts and pumpkin decorations about, as well as special appearances by various Disney villains.
Since we were nearing the end our trip, I decided to go all out and get some Minnie ears.
Chris had made an elaborate plan for the day, starting with Phantom Manor and the slightly traumatic (due to loop-de-loops) Indiana Jones roller coaster. I made him stop to watch the autumn-themed parade with me because I LOVE PARADES before we headed to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (classic). We also went to look at the dragon under Sleeping Beauty’s Castle because Chris loves animatronics.
Disneyland Paris is actually made of two parks, Disneyland Park (where we were) and Walt Disney Studios Park, where we decided to spend the afternoon. Walt Disney Studios Park is more movie-making themed in comparison to the classic Disneyland Park.
Our first stop was the Tower of Terror, which was entirely Chris’s idea and hilariously he totally hated it, apparently not knowing that the ride is a series of sudden drops (the face he was making in our ride photo was priceless). It is very well done though. To relax afterwards we checked out the new Ratatouille ride, which was very high tech and awesome, using 3D effects and trackless cars to simulate being a mouse.
Before heading back to Disneyland we went to a show about Mickey and a magician, which featured an impressive animatronic top hat. There is also a part where a little fairy light flies around which we’re pretty sure was black magic.
Back in Disneyland we watched the classic Disney Magic parade, which features basically all the characters, including an incredibly attractive Aladdin. We followed it up with the always necessary It’s A Small World, and also hopped on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups and Peter Plan’s Flight while we were there.
Once the sun had set we went to check out the special villain’s show that was part of the Halloween festivities. This was exciting because it featured a lot of characters that you don’t see too often like the Wicked Stepmother and Ugly Stepsisters, Gaston, Jafar (who I’m pretty sure can’t see anything in his crazy costume), and Cruella De Vil.
While waiting for the fireworks we went to Space Mountain (where I almost lost my phone because it flew out of my pocket, but fortunately some friendly employees retrieved it for me) and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (where Chris was very pleased because he won again).
After a massive fireworks extravaganza, it was sadly time to head back home.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
A full day of Disneyland is exhausting, so the next day we slept in and headed to the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Inventions) in the afternoon. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way, where Chris was very pleased to discover that in France you can substitute your soft drink for a beer at no extra cost.
The museum was a lot bigger than expected and basically contains every major invention ever. We did not pace ourselves properly and spent too much time looking at various scientific instruments and clocks at the beginning and were mentally exhausted by the time we got to the part with all the complicated gear and pulley systems.
The most important thing there was the original Foucault pendulum, the first device to prove the rotation of the earth.
The next day we decided to check one of the must see’s off the list and visit the Eiffel Tower. It has been a lot of years since I was last there, and man has the amount of security increased (in light of recent events). The number of guys selling super cheap Eiffel Tower keychains is about the same though, except now they’re stranded on the other side of the giant fence surrounding the tower.
Whereas before you could freely wander around, now you have to go through a security checkpoint to get close to/under the tower. After getting almost to the front of the line at the north entrance, it was closed down because they “found something” on someone. Must not have been that serious though because were were able to just walk to the other side of the tower and enter over there. We watched from the first level of the tower as they cleared a big radius around the area where they found the suspicious item. Nothing more exciting than that happened though.
We walked up as high as we could (the second level) but decided against taking the elevator to the top because of the price and line. Also it was pretty windy and chilly up there.
After seeing Paris from above, we decided to visit the catacombs to see it from below! I was a little nervous, but it turns out that the tourist-accessible part of the catacombs is way less scary than whatever part is in that horror movie about the catacombs we watched on Netflix one time.
Anyways, the catacombs are a huge underground graveyard where millions of Parisians are buried. They were originally uncharted mines that Paris was unknowingly built upon, which (upon discovery after several cave-ins) were reinforced and converted into a giant mausoleum to house the bodies from Paris’s overflowing graveyards.
As the catacombs became something of a curiosity, visitors were slowly allowed, initially only special guests but eventually the general public. The bones were stacked into nice displays along with plaques indicating where they came from, as well as various quotes about life and death for atmosphere.
The catacombs are so big that they’re hard to monitor. Once there was a secret (and illegal) concert held for special guests in the catacombs. Recently a whole theatre and restaurant was discovered in one of the caverns, of unknown origin. They were also the home of a bit of a literal underground party scene in the 70’s and 80’s, before the government started closing off all unofficial entrances. Fortunately no murderous demons have been discovered, like in that stupid horror movie.
Next, it was time to go look at some art!