Our walking tour, led by actress Cecile, focused on Hidden Gems, or areas not usually on the tourist path. We started at the Lourve and went through the Le Palais Royal gardens to the area that originally held the food markets. Highlights included:
- Seeing the two different styled Metro entrances: the original art nouveau style when the metro was opened and the more recent one to celebrate 100 years of the metro
- The square in Le Palais now home to the Ministry of Culture and Communications. In the 80s they turned a number of car parks into squares. This one has a series of black and white striped columns at different heights which Loralei and Holly loved running between.
- Learning about the miniature cannon that used to go off everyday at midday. It has magnifying glass inside so would be set off by the sun. It stopped working for many years and was finally working again in 2011 then disabled after the terror attacks in 2015.
- Walking through the original shopping malls, built in the 1820s to provide covered shopping areas. Today they house very exclusive shops and galleries.
After the walking tour, we had a picnic lunch in the gardens of Le Palais. We then went back to the Lourve to take the cheesy photos of the pyramid. While there are long lines to get into the Lourve, they don’t appear to be as long as they could be and the Group bookings line was empty. Paris also doesn’t appear to be busy with tourists. In talking to an English guy on the walking tour, he said that tourism numbers are well down after the terror attacks, in particular the Japanese and Chinese. A google search confirms that numbers are down, although Paris is still the most visited city in the world. It’s not only the terror attacks but also crimes against tourists as well.
We then walked from the Lourve to Arc de Triomphe along Champes Élysées, sheltering from the rain at one point in the Disney store. Really liked the green chairs everywhere that people were sitting in to enjoy their lunch. At Arc de Triomphe, while Grant was taking a photo, a headless entertainer jumped in the photo then demanded money from Grant and swore at him when he wouldn’t give him any. An example of the types of people keeping tourists away.