Monday, April 28


We stayed at the foot of Sacre Coeur in Monmartre, in the midst of a small square of cafes and restaurants. Sacre Coeur is the highest point in Paris, with stunning views across the city from the tower opticals outside the summit. This religious monument sits in the bohemian centre of Paris, having once served as a socialist commune in the late 19th century. Now Parisian teens sit on its steps drinking and listening to loud music blasting from passing cars, while romancing tourists wander around catching their breath after opting to take the stairs. 

The sun was out the entire time we were in Paris, which was very lucky for the time of year, so we decided it was too nice out to do much and opted for a picnic. We sat in the gardens on the left of the river and ate lots of bread, cheese and tiny cakes. 

After eating and snoozing a little we walked down to the Musee d'Orsay. I hadn’t realised before but the lady I bought my ticket from explained that if you are under 26 from an EU country you can get all sorts of freebies across Paris, and many attractions including the Musee d’Orsay offer free entry. All you need is some proof of age. While in the d’Orsay we wandered into the Van Gogh exhibition: ‘Van Gogh / Artaud. The Man Suicided by Society. The exhibition showcased some of Van Gogh’s most famous works, as well as some of his lesser known work from his time spent in hospital, set beside extracts from Antonin Artaud’s essays on the painter, which conclude that he was driven to suicide by a society that did not understand his genius. The exhibition presents the paintings in chronological order, showing Van Gogh’s progression in his work all the while his mind deteriorated in his mental capacity. It was a fascinating show featuring oil paintings, water colours, pencil drawings, sketches and notes from the artist. 

I was dead set on visiting the Musee de l’Orangerie, a greenhouse-like gallery besides La Louvre which currently houses a Monet exhibition. But with one day lost as Parisian museums and galleries close on Tuesdays and another that passed by before we had a chance to look inside, we missed out. 

We used the Metro when moving around the city, but discovered once we’d returned home that Paris have a wonderful cycle-hire scheme akin to Boris Bikes, only cheaper! The bikes aren’t quite as bulky either, meaning they should be easier to ride than the chunky B-Bikes. VĂ©lib has plenty of cycle routes to direct you through tourist hotspots, and best of all it costs as little as €8 for seven days; much less than a Metro ticket. So I'll be cycling through Paris the next time I visit. On y va!

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