Yes, figuring out what to do next can be very challenging!
But, Paris is, and I almost hate to say it, easier than New York to get to know and enjoy. Expecially if, like me, you have booked at a hotel in the center of where you want to be. I was booked at the Hotel Central Saint Germain, at 3 rue Champollion right in the center of the 5th arrondissement - the Latin Quarter, and right around the corner from the main building of the Sorbonnes.
The view from my window might not seem like much, but the window itself was quite accommodating, opening in quite wide to let fresh (albeit chilly!) air in. So, well, normal! I enjoyed just walking out to begin the day. And so on my third full day I ventured to the Metro!
What I saw on my first day, which was a clean, quiet subway, was surpassed on my third. Who would have imagined the extent to which good design had gone?
Oh, sure! We have art in our subways too - but really? Hardly! How can these stay clean and visible - unobscured by graffiti? I don't know! There is graffiti in Paris, but, well, not here!
This was the Sorbonne/Cluny Station, near the St. Michel/Notre Dame station, and each is connected to the other underground. Although I used the No. 4 line most, and did that morning on my way over the Seine (I do mean under!) to Montmartre, the No. 1 was the first to be opened, on July 19, 1900 - exactly nine years before my father was born (in Altoona, Pennsylvania, but that's a completely different story).
Yes, I was on my way to Sacre Coeur on Montmartre - the mount of the Martyr St. Denis, the patron saint of Paris.
I had begun my morning looking out my window, as usual, checking the weather - and looking for that glimmer of sun that might promise a good day. Ah hah! I see it! Perhaps today is the day for Montmartre! The temperatures in Paris were pretty much the same as they were in New York, and the weather too. So, I went our for my "formule."
When I exit the Metro, I sense where the hill is, and proceed. I see a sign pointing to Sacre Coeur, and walk there - and here are clustered some of the many scooters and motor bikes that are all over Paris. Wonder of wonders, the traffic in Paris.
What seems to brilliant about Paris is the sense of business, or purpose, but without the frenetic scurrying that so permeates New York. I continue up the hill.
Yes! I see the sun!
And, I see the stairs.
No problem, there's a railing, and it's one step at a time. I knew there was a hill (a guide book had warned me), and I enjoy this climb. For, at the top:
The Basilica of Sacre Coeur was begun in 1875 and completed in 1914, but only officially dedicated after the end of World War 1, in 1919. Officially dedicated to the 58,000 lost in that conflict, it is more customarily held in honor of those many who died in the gypsum mines and tunnels in that butte during the uprising of the communard in 1871 in that very neighborhood.
I realize how little I know of French history! There is so much, so many conflicts, so many different governments and organizations - so much life. I went into the basilica - noting that photography is not permitted.
I have obtained through Wikipedia, however, a photograph of that interior so that you can appreciate the beauty:
Turning around, and walking out, I saw - Paris!
You might just make it out in the far distance, toward the left. It's the Montparnasse Tower; at 689 feet high (210 meters) and built from 1969 to 1972, it is so out of place in the cityscape that respects only the Eiffel Tower is the reigning tall structure. The Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building in Paris proper (and second only to Tour First in the Paris suburbs at 271 meters or 758 feet high). But neither is taller that the Eiffel Tower: it is 279.22 meters, or 915.7 feet, high - which is not in this view.
But the best view of Paris is from the top of the Montparnasse Tower - because it's not in that view!
So, yes, I loved Paris - and will go back. There really is no comparison I can make that can do anything except make New York seem to be of an entirely different species. Paris is the biggest village I've ever seen.