The last day of our Paris trip started with an excellent breakfast at the Ambassador Hotel. This is a full service hotel that has a responsive staff who speak English. When we checked in on the Saturday before, the lounge was jam-packed for the weekend. But as the weekend evaporated and only business travelers remaining, the place became most relaxed. We enjoyed the breakfast every day and the evening snacks was almost a light dinner in itself. If you have eaten ghee rice that is made in the state of Karnataka (rice with seasonings, ghee and maybe coconut) and add a bit of yogurt to it, you get a sense of what I am talking about that was offered for the evening fare. This and some real nice pastries that weren’t heavy in sugar and excellent coffee always is something I can always have in place of a real dinner and be done with it for the evening.
After breakfast, our first stop was Napoleon’s tomb aka Les Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids). It is also a hospital for war veterans and resting place for war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte. The building was started in 1670 by King Louis XIV. The dome over his tomb is awe-inspiring if not jaw-dropping. One unique feature of the resting place of Napoleon is that it is placed somewhere in between the ground and the first floor. This is so that people have to either look up to him or bow (look down) to him. Such is his command of respect on the French people.
In the EU, anyone until the age of 24 or so gets a free pass to any museum or monument. This is a great way to encourage the citizens learn the great history. This is well taken advantage of, and in our visits we did find troupes of children from schools and the tomb was no exception.
Another awesome place – the famed Notre Dame Cathedral was to be our last stop. Words cannot describe the architecture of this world-famous church that took nearly 200 years to build. The church sits on top of ancient ruins that date back to the Roman Empire. You can still see the aqueducts and heated baths that were used dating back over 2000 years ago. The church has ten bells the largest of which is 13,271 kgs – yes, that’s right over 13 tons and 261cms – nearly 9 feet – in diameter!
We grabbed lunch at Safran – food was great, but the noise level was high. The noise was mainly the attendants chatting away and noisily cleaning the vessels. The Gulab Jamoon, supposed to top off the trip, was plain horrible. But we forgave the dessert and walked along the true streets of Paris for some souvenir shopping. It was nearly 2:30 PM and was time to start on our journey back. After collecting the luggage from the hotel, we waited for the TGV at the Paris train station. Even train stations are well-kept that induces the traveler to get some shopping done. The L’Occitaine shop was beckoning us and made way for some nice gifts to a few lucky assistants at Rama’s center. The next four hours went by in a breeze as we reached speeds of 320 km/hour on the fastest terrestrial mode of transportation on the planet. Back at Stuttgart to a pleasantly surprising parking ticket, it was time to head back home and savor the best vacation we have had in the years.