Our top priority upon arriving in Paris was to keep moving. No naps allowed. It was, we were told, the best way to combat jet lag. So immediately after checking into our hotel, we set off to our first destination, Notre Dame. Our guide, Peter, gave us a quick lesson on how to use the Metro, and then we hopped on for the ride over to Ile de la Cite, where Notre Dame is located. This is the historic center of Paris, and before going into the massive cathedral, we visited the underground Archaeological Crypt, where you can view the remains of ancient Paris upon which Notre Dame was built. Here we could see the remains of ancient Roman and medieval structures, and we could play with these impressive, interactive 3D models that showed how this area of Paris once looked. There was also a cool 3D model that showed Notre Dame during the different stages of its construction–a construction project that lasted nearly 200 years.
Back above ground, Peter shared more facts about the cathedral, and as we were standing in line to enter the cathedral itself, a troupe of performance artists covered completely in what appeared to be rust-colored clay, approached the cathedral entrance. It was a pretty dramatic sight, and no one really knew what they were doing. We thought at first they were protestors, but eventually learned it was some kind of artistic tribute to the Earth. It was cool, though.
After wandering through the cathedral and admiring the vastness of its interior, we strolled down to Pont Neuf, a bridge over the Seine, from where we were able to get a good view of Paris to the West and East. After that, we walked over to the Latin Quarter to have our first real meal in Paris at Chez Clement. It would have been great to spend more time wandering aimlessly through the Latin Quarter, but by the time dinner was over, most of us were ready for bed. So instead, we took a rambling 45-minute walk back to the hotel, where I, for one, immediately collapsed into a deep sleep. Of course, it’s now 4 in the morning and I’m wide awake, but hopefully the worst of the jet lag is behind me and I’ll be able to tackle today’s adventures with a bit more energy. I can’t wait to get started.