"Paris is always a good idea." ~ Audrey Hepburn
14.04.2015 - 16.04.2015 15 °C
Where did we stay? Hotel Baldi
Despite claims that it is one of the most cliched travel destinations in the world, you still get swept up in that Paris magic.
Paris may be full of tourists, and on occasion a dirty and busy sight, but it remains a magical sight.
For 3 days we experienced the art and history you only ever read about in books, and saw the sights you only ever see in movies.
How did we see Paris? We bought a 2 day Paris Pass ticket. This allows you 2 days on the Hop-on Hop-Off busses, as well as free entry and fast-track entrance to many different museums, including the Louvre. Paris is not a small city, so being able to take this bus, that stops at all the important sights, is really convenient.
Flying into Paris over the French Alps
This glass pyramid is the world largest museum. There are currently 38,000 pieces in the museum ranging from Egyptian to Islamic sculptures and art as well as the well-known Renaissance pieces. The Louvre Palace once housed the French royal family, but in 1682 Louis XIV moved the family to Versailles and left the Louvre as a place to display the royal art collection.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in front of the Louvre
It was built in 1808, to commemorate Napoleon's military victories and is abut half the size of its bigger brother down the other end of the Champs Élysées.
The Louvre pyramid
A lot of controversy surrounded this pyramid when it was completed in 1989. The Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, was seen as not "French" enough to have a say in something as important as this. The glass pyramid was also deemed too modern and it was seen as sacrilegious to tamper with the classic French Renaissance of the Louvre Palace. The pyramid is also a symbol of death in Ancient Egypt and many still feel that it is completely out of place here.
The pyramid from the inside
The Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci's most famous painting. Unlike the other works of art in the Louvre, that simply hang on the wall with no protection, the Mona Lisa is held in glass case with the crowd kept back a few meters. The lady is quite small, and the crowd is difficult to push through, so make sure your camera has a good zoom function if you want a photo of her.
Liberty Leading the People - Eugène Delacroix (1830)
The figure of Liberty is known to the French public as Marianne. Here she is holding the French tricolour, which remains the national flag of France today, while climbing over a barricade of bodies after the French Revolution.
Queen Catherine de Medici built these gardens for her palace in 1564. After the French Revolution it was opened to the public. The gardens are beautifully kept with water features and lush grassy areas with an air of relaxation in the middle of a busy city.
Driving down the Champs Elysees, Joe Dassin's famous Aux Champs Elysees, plays over the loudspeaker of the bus. The song is definitely hard to get out of your head for the rest of the day, but captures the atmosphere of the area so well.
The Champs Elysees is a 1.9km avenue where the famous Arc de Triomphe is located.
The Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe from the Eiffel Tower
THE EIFFEL TOWER
The icon of Paris and the city's most famous landmark. Tour Eiffel is on every piece of souvenier and she watches you from most angles in Paris. Look up and you can see her peering over a building.
Go stand in the queues at the Eiffel Tower in the late afternoon, somewhere between lunch and dinner. This will ensure you have enough time to get up to the top to see the sunset.
The lift moves between the wraught iron inside of the tower and it is fascinating to see the inside.
The middle area has a glass panel which you can look at and walk over
The view from the Eiffel Tower
Lunch on the Eiffel Tower - Baguette and Red Wine
Even though Montparnasse may look like a regular city skyscraper, the views are worth the visit. Pay a small fee to take the elevator up to the roof. Make sure to go just before sunset and to stay until the light show starts. The tower may have been constantly criticised by Parisians for looking out of place and ruining the view from the Eiffel Tower, but the view from Montparnasse is spectacular.
Montparnasse Tower as seen from the Eiffel Tower
Beautiful views of Paris from Montparnasse
PALAIS GARNIER, THE PARIS OPERA HOUSE
It has been called the most famous opera house in the world and is as much a Paris icon as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
The opera house is the location for the novel, The Phantom of the Opera, which the famous musical is based on.
The auditorium and the famous chandelier
The stage is the largest one in Europe and can accommodate up to 450 people on it. It seats 1979. You cannot enter the auditorium, but can view it from one of the boxes above.
The famous musical number, Masquerade, from The Phantom of the Opera is performed on the staircase in the play and in the movie.
View from the Opera house balcony
Notre Dame de Paris, meaning Our Lady of Paris, is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. I first learned about the Notre Dame while watching the well known Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The almost 400 steps up the Notre Dame are narrow and swirling and only a certain number of people are allowed at a time due to safety reasons. At the top you can imagine where Quasimodo was hiding and ringing the bells.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Midnight in Paris (2011) is seen as one of Woody Allen's best films in recent years. Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, gets drunk and lost in Paris and is transported back in time. We explored some of the sights of the movie.
Saint Etienne du Mont
This church is mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's novel, A Moveable Feast. It also makes it fitting then that when Gil sits on the steps of Saint Etienne, that he is picked up by a car that transports him to Paris in the 1920s, where he meets Hemingway. Throughout the movie, these steps play an important role as the area that transports him back in time.
Shakespeare and Company
Beside being a location in the movie, this bookshop is quite famous in its own right. The original store opened in the 1920s, but closed down in 1941 during the German occupation of France. In the 1950s, the new store opened a few steps from the Seine and just around the corner from the Notre Dame. Upon it's opening in the 1950s, the store quickly become the focal point of bohemian literary culture in Paris.
Printemps Department Store
A 150 year old department store.
Crazy Paris traffic
Boulevard Garibaldi in full bloom
Galignani: The first English bookshop on the continent
The literary Galignani family were among the first to use the new printing press in 1520 to publish books. In the 17th century, their descendant Antionio Galignani moved to London from Venice. Shortly after he moved to Paris where opened the first English bookshop on the European continent in 1801.
In Montmarte, the bohemian and arty side of Paris, is the Moulin Rouge. It is best know as the birthplace of the can-can. Just like in the movie Moulin Rouge (2001), the garden had a giant elephant and the character, Zidler, really was the founder. The original building from 1889 burnt down in 1915, but the current building is also painted in the iconic red with the windmill. Today, the Moulin Rouge is no longer a playroom for the rich and their courtesans, but is a high-end cabaret theatre.