Mcdonald’s (Paris), Je T’aime

Jake Reinig travel photographer

Location: Paris, Giverny

Subjects: Cool buildings, flowers, Eiffel Tower, dead people, more!

After some time in London and Kiev I headed over to Paris for about a week.  Lufthansa demonstrated its hatred for me again by massively delaying a flight on this leg as well, causing me to run like a madman across Munich airport with my pants halfway down my butt (my belt was still off from security) and one of my shoes in hand. I was super sick and so super annoyed, but at least I looked like a homeless person, so that was nice.

I laid low that first night and planned on spending it safely and warmly in my hotel bed getting well, but because their WiFi wasn’t working and because they apparently didn’t care about fixing it, I spent most nights in a nearby McDonald’s that had free WiFi. They saved my rear, as I was able to work and keep in contact with home. They also had automated kiosks in English, which made ordering copious amounts of caramel sundaes very easy. So, thanks McDonald’s! I’ll name my first born after you some day.

Before I get to the photos, some quick complaints: Europe hates ice, so don’t expect to get any. Paris apparently doesn’t like to convenience its customers, as no one seems to offer free WiFi. Also, I really don’t understand why public toilets are a) nearly non-existent and b) always cost money in Europe. Based on my years as a Craigslist urologist I feel confident in saying that the majority of humans possess a bladder and occasionally need to empty it when they’re visiting tourist venues. Apparently this medical breakthrough hasn’t made it to Europe yet. Finally: while we’re wasting time on a War on Terror ™ Europe has waged a very successful war on drinking fountains. Thank god that scourge has been eliminated.

Oh, and two things you should know about me: First, I have the uncanny ability to get nice weather when I travel. Photographers like interesting clouds, but I never seem to get them. So, travel with me if you want pleasant weather. Second, I know that complications arise when you’re traveling overseas. You can go to a modern country like Italy where they have modern trains, but for some reason you can only buy a ticket for them from one guy who works at an unmarked desk in a closet and only accepts cash on odd days of the week and only if the one pen he owns has enough ink in it to write out the ticket on a carbon copy form. France is a little better, but if a kiosk isn’t working there’s a good chance someone is on strike. In other words, I know I should allow extra time to get to critical transportation points. For some dumb reason though, I ignore this and pretend they work like we do and never leave enough time. So, if you like good weather and like the thought of hearing me curse under my breath while sprinting through a train station, I’m the guy to travel with.

Ok. Let’s be done with all that, shall we? On to the photos.

After my Friday travel day I headed off to the Pantheon first thing Saturday morning. Wow, what a place that is. This photo taken from a nearby street doesn’t do justice to how massive it is.

Pantheon, as seen from a nearby street

View of the expansive main dome.

Interior dome of the Pantheon

There are a series of large, beautiful paintings portraying the life of Joan of Arc. This is the 4th panel in which she is to be burned at the stake. Joan of Arc painting

The "altar" of the Pantheon

The Foucault pendulum in action. A time-keeping pendulum at the Pantheon

Notre Dame de Paris was a zoo on Saturday, so I just shot it from the outside. I love when places merge the modern with the ancient, in this case a children’s soccer match. I’m not sure what happened to the color balance in this photo, but I’m apparently too lazy to correct it right now so you get this version.

Note the kid in red getting ready to kick the ball when it comes down. He did–and hard–and positively wrecked another kid who got in the way.

Kids playing soccer outside of Notre Dame Cathedral

A properly color balanced, exterior shot of of the main stained glass window at Notre Dame. Even though the cathedral itself is around 1,000 years old, most of the stained glass is about 200 years old. The originals portraying religious icons were destroyed in the French Revolution.

Exterior detail of the main window at Notre Dame Cathedral

In a few places in the heart of Paris are bridges containing locks with names on them. One very near to Notre Dame had more than I saw at others. I would guess there are hundreds of thousands of them possibly.

Locks of Love on a bridge near Notre Dame

Some of the locks, like this one, are super interesting.

Interesting lock on bridge near Notre Dame

Winged Victory (of Samothrace) on display at the Louvre.

Winged Victory at the Louvre, long-exposure

Ceiling of my favorite room at the Louvre.

Interior of a room at the Louvre

Surprise refrigerator!

Surprise refrigerator on the streets of Paris

Justin Bieber joins the greats near the Eiffel Tower.

Justin Bieber graffiti near the Eiffel Tower

This is the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. Not only is it beautiful on the outside, it’s breathtaking on the inside. Like the jerks at Westminster Abbey, they don’t allow you to take photos inside, however. Don’t they know I have a blog I need to update?

Not only is it beautiful inside and out, it’s also 1,000 miles up the top of a hill. My friend advised me to take the back way to avoid the crowds, which is nice, but man is it a steep climb. If you visit, go on the weekend when a cool art market happens.


An altar in the crypt.

Crypt at Sacre-Coeur

This man was playing “Let it Be” by the Beatles. It was amaaaaazing. Doubly so because he hauled that heavy harp to the top of the hill, which probably took him about 6 months.

Harp player at Sacre-Coeur

This guy was probably the coolest street performer I’ve ever witnessed. Most of the time he would balance on that tiny rail where the white sign is and kick a soccer ball around, which was cool by itself. But then he’d climb and do tricks on the light pole whilst spinning the ball on a stick in his mouth. I wanted to give him a high five after the performance but he was too busy impregnating 100 beautiful women by merely glancing at them.

Soccer performer at Sacre-Coeur

Remember how Sacre-Coeur is at the top of Mount Everest? I’d suggest taking a rest before you do the climb to the top of the church. It’s a breathtaking view of Paris, but unless you have wings it’s difficult to do both walks back to back like I did.

Eiffel Tower as seen from the top of Sacre-Coeur

One of the days I headed over to Père Lachaise Cemetery, possibly the most visited cemetery in the world. It’s also the largest above ground one I’ve ever been to and is indescribably big. It’s also a thing of beauty, as there is some amazing art here.

Yes, this is a tomb shaped like a cave.

Cave tomb at Pere Lachaise

The stained glass artwork in many of the tombs is worth the visit on its own. A lot of it was destroyed, but what remains is pretty cool.

Stained glass art in tombs at Pere Lachaise

Stained glass art at Pere Lachaise

Stained glass art at Pere Lachaise

I wonder what sin this family committed to have their tomb turned into a storage shed for the grounds crew.

Abandoned crypt at Pere Lachaise, now used for gardening

There were a number of interesting busts and life-size statues. I wondered if this one inspired the engineers who created the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

Interesting bust at Pere Lachaise

Jim Morrison’s grave, which was crazy busy. It’s cordoned off but still obviously gets a lot of attention. If I were dead I’d hate to be buried by this guy.

Jim Morrison's grave at Pere Lachaise

House-like tomb at Pere Lachaise

This is the tomb of Oscar Wilde. For the last 100 years women have kissed the tomb while wearing red lipstick as part of a tradition. Heavily damaged by the attention, it was repaired and encased in glass a few years ago.

Tomb of Oscar Wilde

Cool street art. I gave a big smile to the genius who saw rib cages in the street grates.

Skeleton graffiti

My hotel was very close to the Eiffel Tower, so I shot it a lot. This is a shot near dusk.

Eiffel Tower at night

I took a train out to Giverny one day, home of impressionist painter Claude Monet. Hoping for cool weather (nope, nice and warm), I rented a bike to make the short ride out. That was loads of fun and put me by a lot of neat sites like this one.

Bridge ruins near Giverny

France was just starting to come to life with flowers, and this endless field was testament to this. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any closer because of a river and fence. Also, mad looking cows.

Wildflower field on the way to Giverny by bike

Surprise ostriches! Also, surprise alpaca!

Surprise ostriches near Giverny. Also, surprise alpaca.

Giverny has beautiful flower gardens, but unfortunately, they don’t let you get all that close to most of them.

Flowers at Giverny

Here’s a painting Monet did a century ago of the Japanese bridge.

And here’s what it looks like today.

Flowers at Giverny

Tulips at Giverny

I took the train home and sprinted off to the “Ballon Air de Paris” hoping to shoot the city at sunset from above. Unfortunately I was too late and was only able to get this photo as it descended from its last voyage. For more shots of the balloon in action, go here to the blog that inspired me to see it.

Ballon Air de Paris at sunset

Eiffel Tower through the trees at night

On Tuesday I visited  the Paris catacombs. According to my guide, the network of tunnels under Paris (of which the ossuary is just one part) has more mileage than the city above. Similarly, the 6 Million skeletons that reside here are more populous than the city of Paris itself. In fact, some of the chambers holding skeletons run for something like 15 miles.

This sign, describing the “empire of the dead,” welcomes you shortly after you start the tour.

Door in the Paris catacombs before entering the ossuary

Sculpture in the Paris catacombs

Skull, Paris catacombs

This is a statue of Joan of Arc in Notre Dame. Since I first saw this statue 10 years ago I’ve often felt sort of bad for her. She’s one of France’s most endearing heroes and all she gets is a pedestal and some candles.

Statue of Joan of Arc in Notre Dame

Great place for lunch!

Exterior of Notre Dame

More street art. I don’t remember what this was referring to (ba dum ching!).

"Forget" graffiti in Paris

This is the exterior of Les Invalides, a former military hospital, current military museum and resting place for some of France’s greatest military leaders (also: miltary). Napolean Bonaparte is interred underneath that huge dome.

Exterior of the Hotel des Invalides

Here’s his sarcophagus, which is absolutely massive and much bigger than it appears here. Hundreds of feet above him is that gold dome.

Napolean's massive tomb

The tomb of Ferdinand Foch, commander of French forces near the close of World War I.

Tomb of Ferdinand Foch at Invalides

The great altar. This is pretty incredible to see in person.

Altar at Invalides

Although I shot a ton of other stuff, I didn’t want to bore you by putting up much more of it. And so, I’ll close the post with a few more shots that I took of the Eiffel Tower at different times, including one at dawn (I didn’t know they still had dawn any more; people get up then?).

Eiffel tower at dusk

Eiffel Tower at night during the light show

Eiffel Tower at dawn

Thanks for checking out the post. Email me if you need help with logistics of getting around Paris or to Giverny. Now that I’ve sprinted through multiple train and metro stations, I’m a pro!

6 Responses to Mcdonald’s (Paris), Je T’aime

  1. Racecar April 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Sigh. I forget how much I love and miss Paris. Thank you for this beautiful journey, and most importantly for recognizing the genius of caramel sundaes at McDonalds and the tragic lack of bathrooms throughout Europe.

  2. Michael Reinig April 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    What is the significance of the locks? And they really have a Pantheon in Paris too? That house (or whatever it is) that sits on the remnant of the bridge is very cool. Kind of reminds me of a Jim Carey movie.

  3. Jake Reinig April 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Most of the locks have the name of two people on them. So, it’s signifying a permanent love between them.

  4. Becky April 12, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Gorgeous photos, as always. And I’m pretty sure Europe is aware of the global affliction that is the need to pee, and they’re just capitilizing on that never-ending need. Annoying? Definitely. Genius? Yup. :)

  5. Elvira Smith April 12, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    You’re Dad is proud of you :) He shared the link with us girls at work… My favorite is the Monet’s painting of the Bridge… It makes me wish I were right there!!

    Thank You, they’re just absolutely beautiful pictures.


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