4 Days In Paris - June 9th - 12th, 2008

4 Days In Paris, FRANCE

June 9th - 12th, 2008

Bob and Debe

First, let me say that this trip was added on to the Baltic Sea Cruise that we took. But, that cruise was seven countries in ten days so adding Paris onto the blog with it - well, the blog would look like Santa Claus's wish list. So I am adding these four days in Paris separately. Paris is filled with so many momuments, churches, museums and things to do. So sit back and enjoy the scenery.

We arrived in Paris after a cruise and got settled into the time sharing we would be staying in. That didn't come without problems though. Our prearranged shuttle did not show up at the airport, I wouldn't walk to a train station (ha ha), Bob lost the map, but we finally grabbed a taxi for the ride there. The hotel was Citidanes and even though it wasn't fancy the place was great for dropping your head after a day of sightseeing. It had free internet in the lobby (a plus for us) and a small kitchen so we picked up some groceries and got settled in.

Day 2 in Paris, today we are up and ready to see Paris. We are so excited so sit back as you take a ride with us on the L Open Tour (Hop on Hop off Bus). The schedule today has us doing the green route so hang on. (For time sake, photo arrangement, and typing we will forget the drive up to the Arch of Triump and begin the tour there lol)

This above monument, The Arch of Triumph, was built in honor of Napoleon's greatest victory in 1805, at the Battle of Austerlitz in what is now called the Czech Republic. Since this Arch was built after his death, he only traveled through the Arch once and that was when his ashes were being transferred from the island where he was buried to the Church of the Dome also known as St. Louis Church were he now rest. Check out that sunset through the Arch. (look close at the people on the top)
On the left, the Arch of Triumph. On the right, located at the foot of the Arch you will find the tomb of the unknown soldier placed there in 1920. Thse remains emtombed here are from a soldier during WWI.
Looking west from the Arch of Triumph is the Grande Arche of La Defense, located in the ultra modern business center. Construction began in 1982 and was completed in 1989. It forms an almost perfect cube made of white marble. The photo on the right is the main street up to the Arch of Triumph called the Champs Elysees Avenue.
Above on the left you will find the photo of the American Embassy. It is the only embassy (and there are many in this area) that has barricades in front of it. (see photo on right)
Next we enter into the Place de la Concorde (Concorde Plaza) where many things took place. In the 1700's, 133 people were trampled to death during a fireworks display for Marie Antoinette's wedding. Later, a guillotine was set up here. Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and many other people lost their lives to it. In the center of the plaza is the monument, Obelisk of Luxor (left photo) and the right photo shows one of the fountains that stands among several statues.
Leaving Concorde Plaza, we head north looking directly into the La Madeleine. This church was built from 1763-1842. The first stone was laid by King Louis XV himself on Aug 3, 1763. The photo on the left shows the front of the church while the back of the church is in the right photo.
Next we head to the side of the Nationale Opera House and then we turn in front of it. This Opera House is the largest in the world but yet, only seats 2200 people. It is still in use today.
Our next stop is the Louvre Museum. The Louvre began as a fortress, built in the late 1100s and early 1200s. Called the Central Museum of the Arts, the Louvre opened to the public as a museum on August 10, 1793. Today, the Louvre Museum is home to one of the most famous paintings, "The Mona Lisa." In the photo you can see a glass pyramid. That pyramid has become another icon and an admired structure of the Paris landscape.
Directly across from The Louvre Museum you will find the Arc De Triomphe du Carrousel. This is the first and smallest of Napoleons known arches. The term "carrousel" meaning "little war" comes from the custom of staging military shows and/or exercises mainly for the delight of the royals. The top of the Arch has a chariot with a team of horses. On the right photos, if you look close you will see the glass pyramid through the middle archway which sits at the front of The Louvre Museum.
Ok, so this might not be the picture that made the Norte Dame de Paris famous but this is the church. Just from the back side. I loved seeing the statues climbing the steeple and the entire design of the back. So thought I would make sure you got a "bigger" look at it since the front view of the building is what made it so famous.
Here is the front - the look that is so famous. Construction of the Notre Dame de Paris began in 1163, during the reign of Louis VII. It was built in what has come to be known as the "gothic" style. This church because famous from the success of Victor Hugo's novel, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." On the right is a photo taken as you walk into the church. If you are ever in Paris, this is a must see. So much to see inside and so beautiful.
Here are more photos of the Notre Dame de Paris Church. Just check out the little details of this church and the gothic look. Amazing!!!
As we finish our first day on the Hop on Hop off, we pass the Musee d'Orsay or Orsay Museum. This museum is one of the most pleasureable museums in Paris. (even though we didn't go inside it) This museum invites people to enter and enjoy a journey through a most remarkable period of art history. (we aren't "art" people so we passed - been a long day. lol)
OK everyone, today is Day 3 in Paris and alot we have to see. Today we have the blue, orange and yellow routes to do plus a canal ride down the River Seine. So lets gets started.
First we head on the orange route. Since this route runs 1 1/2 hours without getting off, we thought we will see most of it via the bus. And first on that route is riding by the Pantheon. The construction of the Pantheon began in 1758 and wasn't completed until 1789. The Pantheon in Paris is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. The photo above is from the side which doesn't do this amazing church justice.
Next we drove by the Gardens of Marco Polo and Jardin Robert Cavelier de la Salle also known as the Garden of Observatory. If you look close through the gardens you can also see the Luxembourge Palace. This site was originally used as a Roman Camp.
Next we head by the Hotel des Invalidas. This massive building was built by Louis XIV as the first hospital and retirement home for veterans of war, it continues to be so today. It is also the location for several museums pertaining to the military history of France.
Directly behind the Hotel des Invalidas was a church built that would serve two purposes. This chapel was completed in 1679. It was called the Church of St. Louis and daily attendance of the veterans was required. King Louis XIV wished to have a chapel where he and the soldiers could attend the same Mass. But, of course, the soldiers could not use the same entrance as the King. This problem was solved by constructing a dual complex building, the Church of St. Louis, or the Soldier's Church and the Eglise du Dôme, the Church of the Dome, the Royal Church. Napoleon Bonaparta found his final resting place, right here entombed in this Church.

After a change in buses from orange route to green route for a transfer to the yellow route we are back on course. This time stopping first at the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Perched on the hill of Montmartre, the Basilica of Sacre Coeur can be seen from many places in Paris. The first stone was laid in 1873, but, the Basilca wasn't completed until 1914. Because of WWI, the Basilica wasn't consecrated until 1919. When it was consecrated it was declared a basilica. The Sacre Coeur, the Sacred Heart, is not a parish church but an independent sanctuary, a place of pilgrimage. If you can survive the long climb up the steps, it is well worth seeing the world's largest mosaics called, "Christ in Majesty". It depicts Christ with outstretched arms. (no photos can be taken so Diana, don't think about it)
From the Basilica Sacred Coeur , you can see across all of Paris. You can also see the amazing shopping just across the street. . Matter fact, you probably used that exact street when getting off the hop on hop off and heading to the basilica. In the photo on the left, the corner restaurant on the left serves a great crepe, something Paris is famous for. No need to go in and sit, time is of the essense so order via the sidewalk and lets get going. Some QUICK shopping while eating the crepe is a must though. lol

From the doors of the basilica to the streets of adult movies and shops that you can't imagine. Just stay on the bus - no need to visit here. Of course in the middle of it all, Moulin Rouge. Today, its famous red windmill still proudly overlooks the Pigalle district. Dreamed up by 1930's cabaret singer Mistinguette, the extravaganzas performed here have magnificent sets, luxurious costumes and a great line-up of international dancers. Treat yourself to a wonderful meal and a great evening's entertainment in one of Paris' most famous attractions. Of course, you might want to do some research before heading there. lol

Well, we had lunch at the basilica so lets grab the boat for our tour down the River Seine.

As we waited on our boat, I grabbed a photo of Bob as I looked through one of the anchor rings used years ago (and some today) to tie off boats. Look close and you can see the walkway next to the river. In the photo on the right, you can see that people in France find each moment to grab some sun. No need for a beach, just strip down into your undies and hit the concrete. Nothing else to do during lunch. The problem we found was look how Bob is dressed in the left photo compared to their dress. I guess I just need hotter temperatures to lay out. (and a nice comfortable chair)

As we went under the most beautiful bridge, take a look at the statues. Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the River Seine, connecting the Champs Elysees Avenue to the Hotel Des Invalides and the Eiffel tower area. This bridge widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris. In the right photo you can see the Eiffell tower in the background, between the columns that are crowned by Fames restraining Pegasus.

Once you come from under the bridge, you will see the Grand Palais or Grand Palace. The Grand Palais is the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world since the Crystal Palace in suburban London was burnt down. This glorious glass-shelled turtle welcomes visitors daily. Together with the Petit Palais (the Little Palace) the Grand Palais (the Big Palace) was built for the World’s Fair, held in Paris in 1900, as was the Eiffel Tower. All three were temporary structures, but once erected there was little willingness to raze them. The Grand Palace is known for its huge globe display that was not seen for over 25 years.

As we continued down the River Seine, you come upon the golden flame monument known as the "Eternal Flame!" Some still place flowers and cards around the golden statue of the eternal flame near the tunnel-- in reality a tribute to Franco-American friendship, but adopted as the unofficial shrine to Princess Diana following her death. There have been calls for the creation of an official memorial in Paris, but nothing is in the works.

Another building that was seen from the River Seine was the Conciergerie. It was orginally built as a palace for King Phillip IV but is known as going from palace to jail. Located on the Cite island, near the Notre Dame cathedral, the Conciergerie became infamous during the French revolution. In 1793 and 1794 over 2700 men and women were sentenced to death and detained in the Conciergerie until they were publicly beheaded in Concorde square. Marie-Antoinette was among them.

As the boat ride comes to an end, we head back over to catch our green line hop on hop off. We will continue that route until we are able to transfer to the blue route to head back to our room, clean up for a night at the Eiffel Tower. So come along for the last leg of the tour.

As we continue on the green route we head by the National Assembly building. The National Assembly consists of 577 members known as deputies. It is the lower house of bicameral Parliament of France. The other is the Senate. Their terms are five years. (OK, that was for all you that love the history of politics lol) Now on to the good stuff. lol
As we continue on this route, we cross the famous Pont Alexandre III Bridge and go ahead and look over, now you can see the River Seine that we just took a boat ride down. Also the back of the statue that is attached to the beautiful bridge.

And one quick look into the gardens of the Rodin Museum. If you look close in the photo of the left - you can see one of Rodin's famous statues of the "Three Shades." But the most famous statue is the one on the right. Unfortunately you will have to go visit the gardens or see it from the back. It is his famous "The Thinker" statue. It was originally placed in front of the Pantheon in 1906 but later moved here to the Museum in his name.

Now that we are on the blue line, it takes us back to our hotel area. Things change, more modern buildings come into sight and I grabbed a photo of the newest version of the Opera House. Named the Bastille Opera House, it was built to replace the National Opera House but did not happen. The building was inaugurated on July 13, 1989 and seats 2723 people.

Our final monument is very close to our hotel. It is called the Colonne de Juillet or the July Column. This column marks the celebration of France receiving their independence. It is located in the center of Place de la Bastille or Plaza Bastille. The top of the Colonne de Juillet is adorned by a gilded statue called the "Genie of Liberty". It has a star on its forehead and is carrying a torch in one hand and in the other a broken shackles chain. Inside the Colonne de Juillet are 238 steps which allowed access to the top of the column. This spiral stairway is, unfortunately, no longer available to the public.

After packing for an early flight in the morning, and getting cleaned up some, we head on the subway to our highlight of the trip. Before I get into the many photos of the Eiffel Tower, here are a couple of photos taken across from the tower In the photo on the left, you can see The Chaillot Palace. This palace began as a country cottage. The Palais de Chaillot or Chaillot Palace is composed of two large curved buildings, separated by a wide, marbled and elegant plaza. The two buildings trim the plaza with columns and gilded statues. Just opened in September, 2007, in this east building of the Palace, is the City of Architecture and Heritage. The building on the west contains the Museum of Mankind, and the Maritime Museum. One of the photos below (Bob and me with the golden tower behind us - small one - was taken from this Palace) In the right photo is Bob ordering, what we have become to love, a ham and cheese crepe. Later he would go back for a dessert crepe. Of course, they were a little more expensive but as we prepared for the long wait of watching the sun set off the tower and the lights to appear before the finale of the light display on the tower, well, we settled down for our favorite dinner and wait. The Palace and crepe stand, along with a horse carousel are looking across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

The above picture along with the following pictures were all taken during different times of seeing and visiting the Eiffel Tower on this trip. Before we check out the many photos, here is a little history of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower, a Paris icon, was begun in 1887 and finished for the opening of the Universal Exposition in 1889 to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The structure was the entrance arch for the Exposition. Its planning and building make for a great story in itself and its subsequent history is full of interesting tales. Although it was widely criticized at its inception, the Tower has come to be one of the most visited landmarks in the world. The Eiffel Tower is constructed of 18,000 pieces of iron and held together by 2.5 million rivets. It is equipped with eight elevators. On a windy day, the Tower sways by, at most, 7 centimeters. On a hot day, it can bend some 18 centimeters, an effect from the heat of the sun on the expanding metal. It takes fifty tons of paint to cover the Tower and is done every 7 years. Every so often, the color of the paint is changed. Currently, it is painted a shade of brown. You can climb the tower by using the 1665 stairs or go by elevator. Both require a fee. In the 1980s, an old restaurant, and its supporting iron scaffolding mid-way up the Tower, was dismantled. It was purchased and reconstructed in New Orleans, Louisiana, originally as the Tour Eiffel Restaurant, more recently known as the Red Room. But if your still looking for a scenic and romantic dining experience and are willing to pay steep prices for the setting offered by the Eiffel Tower's two restaurants they are definitely worth a try. They are the "Altitude 95" and the "Le Jules Vernes Restaurant!" Now lets take a look at the many photos.


As you can see, these four days in Paris were spectacular. And to think, there is so much we didn't see. And many museums we didn't visit. But that gives us a reason to have to go back. lol I hope you not only got a little history from this trip, but you enjoyed seeing some of the most famous sites in the world. Thanks again for taking this journey with us into the City Of Love - Paris, France.

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