Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paris - Day One - Part Two!

I left off with our visit to the Notre Dame.  We didn't get to go inside....the lines were very long (about a 2 hour wait), so we decided to just do a walking tour of the area. 

From Notre Dame, we left the Cite' Island, crossed the Seine to the Right Bank and headed for the Musee de Louvre, the most visited museum in the world. 

 Unfortunately, we wouldn't be part of that head count....turns out the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays!  Such is our luck, right?  Well, truthfully, there was no way we'd be able to see all of the 35,000+ objects that are on display, especially on our first day.

It truly is a sight to behold.  Although it does seem a little odd at first to see the very modern Louvre Pyramid sitting square in the middle of architecture with so much history, it is truly spectacular!  It was commissioned by the former French President, Francois Mitterrand.  It was created due to issues with the original entrance to the museum, which could no longer accomodate the massive number of visitors each day.....it is now the main entrance to the museum.  Isn't it beautiful!?

The architecture of the buildings and in the surrounding area are amazing, too!

Once you turn around and face the other direction, you see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel....not to be confused with the larger Arc de Triomphe. 

They look similar, but the Arc de Triomphe is much, much larger.  The architecture is unbelievable, and it's much more accessible, since you don't have to cross multiple lanes of unbelievably fast moving cars!

Amazing, isn't it?  Everywhere you look in Paris, there is amazing architecture!

From there, we moved on into the Tuilerie Gardens, which cover over 60 acres!  Even though it was winter, it was still beautiful and there were lots of visitors! 

The views are superb from the gardens....most of Paris is so built up, that it's usually only at heights that you can get a great view.

The gardens are filled with ponds, water fountains and lots of sculptures:

Dennis especially liked one of the ponds!

(Roundtrip tickets to Paris, $1600, Cost to use public toilettes, $1.50, Photo Op in Tuilerie Gardens....Priceless!)

 Originally, the gardens were the site of the Tuilerie Palace, which was burned down in 1871.  The fire lasted over 48 hours.  There are efforts now to rebuild the palace in hopes of restoring the "harmony" of the gardens, from the Louvre to the Champs Elysses.

Next up....a more contemporary art display at the edge of the gardens by Louise Bourgeois.....born in France in 1911, she married and moved to New York in the 1930s and is a very well know artist.  We were drawn to the "Welcoming Hands", each one displayed on top of granite stone columns.  I couldn't resist taking pictures of them, but what was most irresistible was putting your own hands in theirs.

Next up....La Grande Roue....the ferris wheel at the end of the gardens, just before the Champs Elysses.  It was built for the millenium celebrations and was only supposed to be there for a year.  The owner refused to remove it, so it was dismantled in 2002, but starting in 2007 it comes back for the end of the year festivities.  I'm so glad we got to see it!

With tired/cold feet, we'd found ourselves at the Champs Elysses. 

 It is 1.25 miles long and is the most expensive strip of real estate in Europe and is one of the most famous streets in the world.  It boasts high end stores such as Louis Vuitton....

...Prada, Hermes and Chanel.  And right in the very center of this beautiful avenue sits the Arc de Triomphe.

Commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to commemorate his victories, it wasn't completed until 1836 and is engraved with the names of the generals who commanded French troops during Napoleon's regime.

We decided to jump on a bus and ride around the Arc for better views.....I, for one, was not keen on the thought of trying to cross the traffic from the 12 streets that merge into the circle for a close up!

By this time, it was getting late, so we decided to head back to our apartment and check out the neighborhood for a bite to eat! 

Next up.....Paris - Evening One!


Adam and Jessica said...

Did you guys ever cross over to the Arc de Triumph? There are tunnels that run under that circular road. It's a good thing you didn't just cross...it's said to be the most dangerous intersection in the world and I was told you were ensured when driving in it because those entering have the right of way! CRAZY! You got some BEAUTIFUL pictures and the sky really blued up for you by day 1 part 2!

Cola said...

No, Jess...we didn't cross over...we were on a bus. We didn't really visit any of the landmarks, other than walk/drive bys. We took in the exterior beauty of everything....next time we'll do the interiors! I have to have a reason to go back! Oh, and the sky? Some was photo editing, but there was a bit of blue the first day....