Sunday, June 22, 2008
ABOVE: View of the Place de Trocadero from the top of the Eiffel Tower
All pictures can be viewed on my Flickr site here; (right click on the link and select "Open in New Window". Then you can view the pictures while you read the story). You can also start up the slide show option and then click on the "i" in the centre of the first picture to view the captions so you know what you are looking at.
We had the great opportunity to go to Paris this year, and to make the trip even better we took along the girls! Our girls are now 22 and 24, and speak fluent French. So not only did we get to share a wonderful part of the world with them, we even had our own translators!
To be truthful, every one in Paris speaks English or speaks enough English to converse with you, so travellers should not worry about the language issue.
On the first day we got to the hotel late in the afternoon, and we were all tired from the plane trip. Even so, we dropped off the bags, freshened up, and went out on the street for a short walk and grab dinner.
To see the street our hotel was on, click here and select the Vaugiard camera from the list. This web cam was right outside our balcony doors. We could actually reach out and touch it. We should have put a sign in front of it saying "Hello from Paris"! LOL
ABOVE: View of the Seine River from the top of the Eiffel Tower
Second day, which was Saturday, we visited the Eiffel Tower, took the tour on the Red Bus, (one of the double decker tour buses that have a hop on-hop off policy), visited Notre Dame Cathedral, walked down the Avenue de Champs Elysees, and visted the Arc de Triomphe.
ABOVE: the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etolie
Did you know there are two Arc de Triomphe? The better known, and larger one, is actually called the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile. The matching, but smaller arc, is located at the climax of a vista seen the length of the Champs Elysees ending at the Tuileries Gardens, where the second arc is located. This arc is called the Arc de Triomphe Carousel. They were built at the same time in 1836; the arcs are dedicated to the glory of Napoleon's armies.
ABOVE: View of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe
(No it's not leaning, my angle was slightly off)
Sunday was a day spent at the Louvre Museum, and you need way more than just one day to see it all. The Louvre was created as a rampart in 1190 to protect the city of Paris from Anglo-Saxon attacks. It later became home to various Kings; in 1882 the palace ceased to become the seat of power, and it was devoted almost entirely to culture.
The Louvre is fantastic!! No other way to put it; each and every painting, statue or bust in the museum is a classic work of art unto itself. We spent 5 hours at the museum, covered about two-thirds of the floor space, and probably only really seen 25 per cent of the art in the museum.
ABOVE: Inside the Louvre Museum
Highlights for us were the Venus de Milo statue, the Mona Lisa, the Egyptian area, (as they had some rare artifacts that other museums don't have), and the great halls of modern statues that were awesome alone to view.
After the Louvre, we were all pooped out, so a sit down was in order. Part of our tour package entitled us to a one hour tour on the Seine River in an open top boat. We took advantage of the good weather and sat outside along the side railings and enjoyed the summer breeze as we cruised along the historic river past places from the past.
ABOVE: The Isle de Citie, the island which was the birth place of Paris
One of the areas we went past was the Isle de Citie, the island that the Parisii tribe lived on until they were conquered by the Romans in 52 AD. On this island is located the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Monday was a day spent entirely at Euro Disneyland located 30 miles east of Paris. Every one has been to a Disney land some where, so not much new to tell you there....
ABOVE: Jim Morrison's grave
Tuesday was more sightseeing in Paris; first up was the Cemetery du Pere-Lachaise. This is the largest cemetery in Paris; it covers 48 hectares, (118 acres) and contains over 300,000 graves. We were here to visit contemporary celebrities, namely Jim Morrison of the Doors, who died of an overdose in a Paris hotel; Oscar Wilde, the famous play write, author and poet; and Frederic Chopin, the famous Polish composer. Chopin's heart is is entombed in a pillar in the Holy Cross church in Warsaw Poland.
Many other famous French folks are buried here as well; names like Marcel Marceau, the mime, and Sarah Bernhardt, stage and film actress, top the list. It's also the last resting places of various royalty like the last king of Cicilian Armenia and the Countess of Castiglione, a famous Italian courtesan.
ABOVE: The Sacre Couer church
Also on tap today was a visit to the Sacre Couer church located on the highest hill in Paris in the Montmarte district. Further down Boulevard de Rochequart, the main street in the area, was the red light district with all the peep shows and girlie shows. No, that's not why we were here!
ABOVE: The Moulin Rouge, (the Red Windmill)
Located in this area is the famous Moulin Rouge. We just had to see it, but we didn't go inside to see the show, none of us were interested.
ABOVE: Versailles Palace viewed from the Gardens
Wednesday was another day spent entirely at a famous place that was a must on our list of sites to see, and it should be on every ones list; that is Versailles Palace. Offically it's called the Chateau de Versailles. It's incredible!
The palace is the largest palace in Europe, if not the world. The art work is something to see, as is the actual architecture and construction of the chateau. Originally started in 1664, the chateau underwent many growth periods over the next 50 years of so.
ABOVE: The Gardens of Versailles
The gardens are another must see, although the word "gardens" doesn't really justify them. The size of scale is immense, it must stretch for 2 miles from front to back and be a mile wide. It contains a 1.8 k crucifix shaped canal, as well as Marie Antoinette's palace.
Thursday was a day of recovery, and for some a long awaited day; we went shopping! We headed downtown to the Galeries Lafayette, a major upscale shopping centre. It is 7 floors tall, and has another 3 floors in an adjoining building, with another 2 floors in yet another building.
This is all one store, not many stores like a mall as we know them. This store has all the high end fashion names like Channel, Dior, Armani, and any other line common folks can't afford :)
The building itself looks like it's built around an old church, as the first five floors of the store are open in the centre and look up into a large dome reminiscent of a church. We bought a few trinkets here, how ever some of the nice looking dresses that the ladies liked had price tags like 1200 euros, kinda out of our league.
ABOVE: Replica of the flame held by the Statue of Liberty in New York
The Eiffel Tower is in the back ground
We also visted a few other stores in the area, then headed for two other land marks side by side. One was an identical replica of the flame held by the Statue of Liberty in New York. If you recall, the Statue of Liberty was given to the Americans by the French as a gift of friendship in 1886.
ABOVE: The tunnel where Princess Diana died in a car crash
It's also the site of a more tragic scene; directly below the flame is the tunnel where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed died in the car crash. The low retaining wall at the top of the tunnel holds graffiti dedicated to Princess Diana with people from all over the world pouring out their love for her.
ABOVE: Video of light show at Eiffel Tower; sorry, it's on an angle
Thursday night was our last night in Paris, so we caught the Metro to the Eiffel Tower for the light show. At night the tower is lit up with orange lights, but on the hour starting at 9.00 PM and going to midnight, for ten minutes, thousands of strobe lights burst on the tower lighting the sky with a dazzling array of flashes too fast for the eye to follow and way too many to try to pick out just one. We spent the time on the grass lined mall late at night with many other tourists and Parisians all enjoying a warm summer eve.
Friday was a short day, as we were to be picked up from the hotel at 11.30 AM for the trip back to Charles De Gaul airport.
We spent a couple of hours walking the streets around the hotel and doing some last minute shopping in the small boutique stores.
Before you knew it we were back on the plane home ward bound, with many great memories burned into our brains.
I booked our trip to Paris with some reservations, and incorrect perceptions based on past comments made to me. Some of the comments I heard were "it's a dirty city", "lots of dog poop on the sidewalk as they just don't care", "they won't speak english if you can't speak french', "they're rude".
Well, I was very pleased to find out none of these comments are true; if they were at one time they are not now. We found the people to be very polite, they were willing to speak english if you had trouble in french, the city was clean and almost no dog poop in site! No more than what I see walking around my neighbourhood. It was a very enjoyable place to visit.
We are definitely going back some time, probably spending a week in Paris and the second week on a return trip to London. That is, when we get this trip paid off! :)