Day three. We were pretty wiped out by this point, but still had two things on the bucket-list to do. After Chris dragged me and Ariane out of bed (since he has an unfortunate habit of waking up at bizarrely early times), our wonderful host took us up to the first of our locations – the Sacré-Cœur.
This impressive building sits ontop of a hill overlooking the City, in the Montmartre area. If you’ve ever seen Amélie, then this is where she’s from in the film.
There was the usual host of local scammers who were trying the old ‘tie a bit of string round the finger’, ‘oh you lost a ring’ and ‘ahh my friend, I haven’t seen you in a long time, let’s get lunch’ tricks, but with Ariane dismissing them deftly by asserting “I’m from here.”, we managed to avoid having to break out more traditional Glaswegian methods for dealing with that sort of thing.
The view was pretty impressive.
Much like part of the reason I love Athens so much, and in stark contrast to many American cities, Paris sprawls out in every direction – every hidden street filled with life.
There was a whole load of cool graffiti and artwork roundabout Montmartre. I’m no French scholar, but I’m reliably informed that this particular piece says: ‘we are all kings of countries that don’t exist yet.’ (any errors are due to my failing memory rather than the translation).
I quite like it.
Oh, and who could forget Moulin Rouge.
I never was a fan of the film (Infact, I did a 10 minute talk in 3rd year English about how much I hated it), but I didn’t realise that this place actually looked like this. Pretty cool.
…and of course, the Louvre.
With free entry for everyone on the first Sunday of every month, it seemed like we had come just at the right time to take advantage of it (for Chris anyway – as a young EU person I get in free regardless), but there was a massive queue.
Which would be more worthwhile… queueing for hours with hundreds of loud-mouthed American tourists to crowd round and get a fleeting glimpse of the Mona Lisa, or hanging out in the sun with our lovely Parisian friend?
You only get one guess.
and with that… it was all over.
I’ve spoken about it before at length, so I was glad when Chris said how disconcertingly shattering it was to have to leave somebody that you’ve spent a few days with, even if that time was short, and for all intents and purposes, with a complete stranger.
When you host people you don’t always realise just how much you get attached to the people who you’ve opened up your lives to. The prospect of someone welcoming you in when you’re so far from home, as well as the intensity of the whole experience forms and cements relationships in place far quicker than in another setting, and having to say goodbye knowing it could be months, years, or lifetimes before you see each other again can be one of the most crushing things you can experience. I’ve gone through the whole thing countless times now, but when you stand on the other side of a platform waving through the glass at your new friend as their train speeds away, it’s like it’s the first time all over again.
Couchsurfing is a wonderful thing.
… and who knows. Paris isn’t that far away really, and Ariane has already said I should come back and spend a bit longer hanging out. I hope she realises that I’m the sort of person that’ll take her up on that offer.