Day 25 - 21/07/2002 - Paris France [Day 16 of Contiki Tour]

One of the highlights today was meeting Will Smith ... in the toilet - story below.

Started the day with a good breakfast - good selection and good quality (except warm milk which seems to be an annoying theme in Europe).  Breakfast included chocolate croissants, which is always a good inclusion.

First stop was Notre Dame Church (recognised as one of the greatest gothic churches in the world).  It has interesting architecture - one point in particular is that it has a few large pillars coming out of the roof/side of the building ... these help to hold the weight of the heavy roof, especially since the walls below contain large stained glass windows which would be crushed.

MOVIE: Notre Dame Church [MPG 110KB], Notre Dame Church 2 [MPG 230KB]

Moved onto Napoleon's Grave. His coffin is enormous, especially for such a small man, and it contains 7 different coffin layers (supposedly to "protect" him).

MOVIE: Napolean's Tomb [MPG 260KB]

Around the corner was the park that contains the famous sculpture "The Thinker".  It was more rough (corroded?) than I expected.

Climbed up the Arc De Triomphe and got great views of the city.

MOVIE: Arc De Triomphe - Underneath [MPG 170KB]

Walked down the famous Avenue Des Champs-Elysees and got lunch and Nutella crepes for dessert.

Arrived at the Louvre Museum (Art Gallery) - a massive building filled with famous artworks (including Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa").

MOVIE: The Louvre [MPG 480KB]

The Will Smith Story ...

When I was at the Louvre, I went to the toilet.  All the cubicles were locked and there were two stand-up toilets, one of which was overflowing with water (and urine) - it was quite disgusting (Especially for a nice place like the Louvre) ... anyhow, I was planning to get Greg to show him the filthy toilet and ask him if he thought this was actually meant to be one of the artworks in the Louvre.  I was the only person in the toilet, so I decide to quickly go to the toilet while no one was looking, but unfortunately, in walked some people, who looked at me consuming the only usable toilet.  I turned around and thought to myself "that guy looks a lot like Will Smith" there were four big black guys with him, so I thought to myself, "either this is Will Smith with his body guards, or these guys are going to bash me up", so I decided to go out of the toilet and get someone else to come with me to see if it was Will Smith ... I got outside the toilet and saw the rest of the barrage of body guards and the crows of people waiting - now, I knew it really was Will Smith, so I tried to go back into the toilet to spend some "quality time" with him, but the guards would not let me.  So, I missed my opportunity to chat to Will Smith and get a "unique" shot of him ... I spent the next few hours thinking about what I would have done differently in the unlikely event that the situation occurs again - the best I could come up with was "I know this is an awkward time, but do you mind if I get a photo", alternatively, I could have tried to be humorous and ask Will Smith if he thought the filthy toilet was meant to be one of the artworks in the Louvre?  But seriously, what else could I have done?  Watched him go to the toilet?  I think this guy deserves some privacy too.  I respect him, from the little that I know about him, and in the short time that I was face to face with him, he politely smiled ... however, I do feel sorry for him, because as soon as he left the toilet there were hoards of people following him everywhere.  He may have a lot of fame and fortune, but with that comes the lack of privacy and personal life ... I wonder which life he would choose if he had the choice again?

We then proceed to a few of Paris' countless other museums and art galleries until our legs could carry us no further.

Got a train to visit the Sacre Coeur church - it looked more exciting from a distance, but there were nuns singing inside which sounded very harmonious, especially with the sounds vibrating off the walls.  I could not believe that Greg and a few others paid over AU$2 for a small shuttle to take them about 100m up one road - they could see where they had to walk to, but they decided they didn't want to walk "that far" and paid for the shuttle!  Amazingly, there were lots of people lining up to do the same thing ... I walked the 100m easily and had to wait 10 minutes for their shuttle to leave and arrive at the destination - very silly, since they could see me at the destination, but could not be bothered walking.

Had dinner and saw the show at the Moulin Rogue.  In summary, this is a show where there are half naked people singing and dancing around.  In all seriousness, it was a good quality show, but it is a bit of a shock when basically all the female performers are topless.  During the breaks, there were some fantastic acts ... some guys doing acrobatics and a very funny ventriloquist.  Unfortunately, photos were not permissible.

Finished off the night playing UNO at the hotel bar - it has become a bit of a tradition for some people on the tour ... I am glad I brought these cards with me, but I haven't made the time to play it very often (usually doing more exciting things).

It was great to see some of the artworks that I had seen in art books and studied at school ... it sent a shiver down my spine, however, when I saw these artworks next to other high quality artworks, I wonder why have these artworks become so famous in comparison to the other excellent artworks around them?

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