I used my rail pass for the first time today and got an over night train to Madrid. My seat on the over night train is actually a Couchette, a bunk in a cabin with 4 bunk beds. My train to Madrid didn't leave Paris until just before 8 in the evening, so I had an opportunity to do a bit more site seeing before leaving Paris. My train left the Austerlitz station, which is within walking distance of the area around Notre Dame Cathedral, so I had a chance to go back and checkout the Deportation Memorial, the northern half of the Pont Neuf, and the Ile Saint-Louis.
On the way to the Notre Dame area I walked right by the Institut De Monde Arabe, so I stopped in to check out their high tech louvre system. I was surprised that I was able to go in and checkout the place for free, although I did have to go through an airport style security check because I was carrying my small back pack. I stored the main body (big part) of my backpack in a locker at the train station (another one of today's firsts). I went to the top floor of the Arab Institute and got a good close up look at the mechanisms that make the high tech louvre system work. While I was up there I checked out their roof top deck, which provided yet another perspective of part of the city.
From the Institut De Monde Arabe I headed over to the Deportation Memorial on the east end of Ile De La Cite. This sobering site has a large plaque that describes the fate of Jews and others deported from France by the Nazis during WWII. For a few more details, check out the "Deportation Memorial" section at http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/france/paris1.htm.
From the memorial I had a quick tour of the west end of the tiny Island of Ile Saint-Louis before heading over to the north side of the Pont Neuf. After Pont Neuf it was time to make my way back to the train station, however on my way I did walk through an interesting street along Ile Saint-Louis, which is filled with all kinds of little shops.
My train to Madrid left Paris right on time. Prior the boarding and departure I was wondering who I might be sharing the cabin with. All I knew when I bought my ticket was that they have separate cabins for male and female passengers. I shared one with just two other guys. A fellow named Mike from England who lives in Normandy and a fellow named Hosa from Chili who is just wrapping up a one month trip through Europe. Mike is on his way to Madrid for the weekend and Hosa will be catching a flight home from Madrid. Both Mike and I needed to work on our Spanish, so Hosa helped us a bit while we shared a bottle of cheap red wine that Mike brought along. After that Mike and Hosa we off to the bar car for a while, so I took the time to write this up and put the maps for Spain and Portugal into my GPS device.
Here's a few last photos from Paris.
The louvre system at the Institut De Monde Arabe
The roof on the Institut De Monde Arabe.
The Deportation Memorial.
The thousands of sparkling lights represent the deportees who never returned.
One of many strange scooters in Paris.
Interesting street along Ile Saint-Louis.
A dog on the above street by himself. He probably thinking "were did my owner run off to this time?"
A squatting toilet.
The Austerlitz station.