I know this post is long overdue but it was in my draft and I had to publish it. This will be my last post from my Europe trip and I will write about my Thailand and Nepal trip soon.
We had awesome time exploring Paris with the guide and also on our own.
Notre Dame de Paris
This is one of the Parisian icons decorated with gargoyles and gothic touches. Located at the centre of Paris and that of France, Notre Dame had witnessed some of the greatest moments in the city’s history. The graceful and inspiring Catholic church has dominated Paris since the 12th century, survived the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution and two World Wars.
There was a long queue for the ticket there as well but as we were with our guide we got to go in straight away. As we walked in I was really impressed by the architecture and the stained glass made the place look very colorful.
The sculptures and the stained glass show the influences of naturalism which cannot be found on earlier romanesque structures.
The beautiful facade is divided neatly into three levels, with three overwhelmingly carved portals guiding the entrance.
The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top. The design of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide, Australia was inspired by Notre Dame de Paris.
Musee du Louvre
The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and has one of the world’s greatest art collections in the world. The palace stretches for about half mile between the Seine and Rue de Rivoli. It was originally a fortress built by Philippe-Auguste in the 13th century. 300 years later Francois I replaced it with a Renaissance style building. Many French kings continued to add to the construction and improve it.
The latest addition to the building is the glass pyramid (also the museum entrance) that sits in the courtyard and was designed by I. M. Pei. The pyramid was unveiled in 1989.
The Louvre’s collection is overwhelming in size and it includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, antiquities, furniture, coins etc. It is impossible to see everything in one day but most people run to see the two ladies, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the statue of Venus de Milo. They are always surrounded by a crowd of people.
We spent lots of time outside the Louvre as well admiring the architecture and enjoying sun. Check out some silly photos we took there 🙂
Cleopatra’s Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”)
The Cleopatra’s Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”) is in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The centre of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. Along with its twin, it once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The ruler of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali, presented the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1826. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde in 1833 near the spot where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been guillotined in 1793.
The red granite column rises 23 metres high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tonnes. Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, in 1998 the government of France added a goldleafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk. The obelisk is flanked by two fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place.
Arc de Triomphe
We were at Cleopatra’s Needle when we decided the next stop would be Arc de Triomphe. As the Champs-Elysées is a straight street, I could see the triumph. So when AS suggested to take a tube, I told him “Lets walk”. I didn’t realise that it was more than 2km away and the street was really crowded. It was a hot day so AS was unimpressed that we had to walk for more than 30 minutes to get there. Anyway finally we made it there and we were in front of the beautiful Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe sits at the western end of Champs-Elysees. It’s the biggest triumphal arch in the world, about 164 meters high. The traffic around the arch is crazy so when accessing the Arc de triomphe we can’t cross the traffic circle but need to take the underground tunnel instead.
The base of the monument seems even more massive when you’re standing right under the central arch. Along the inside there are names of 660 generals, with a line below the name if they died in battle.
On the exterior side, on one of the sides there is face of Napoleon looking very much like a Roman emperor and being crowned with a wreath of victory while holding a protective hand over the city of Paris kneeling at his feet.
The arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victory but wasn’t ready for his bride entrance into Paris, 4 years later. It wasn’t actually completed until 1836, under the reign of Louis-Philippe. Since then it has been used for state funerals and parades.
The Arc saw its happiest moments in 1944 when the parade for the liberation of Paris passed under it. You can take an elevator or climb the stairs to the top. There you’ll find a small museum depicting the history of the Arc and from the terrace you’ll get a nice view of Paris.
Below the Arc de Triomphe lies the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier killed in WWI, which was placed here in 1921. Every evening at 6:30pm the eternal flame at the tomb is rekindled with a ceremony, a tradition that wasn’t even interrupted during Nazi occupation of Paris.
The Champs-Élysées is the widest and the most well-known street of Paris. It’s a boulevard lined with countless restaurants, cafés and stores.
Lunch and chocolate and cookie store
We were so tired walking around all day that we stopped over for lunch at a small café by the side of the road. We had sandwiches and pastries and were really happy to rest our feet.
Then we went to a chocolate and cookies store a few door down. The cookies and chocolates were freshly made and were yummy. I think we went overboard with our shopping that we had to bring them back to Sydney as we couldn’t finish everything while we were there.
The Paris Opera (French: Opéra de Paris) is the primary opera company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d’Opéra.
It is an architectural masterpiece of the 19th century, where ballet and opera have been entertaining and evoking overwhelming emotions of a diverse range for years. It took one and a half decades to build the opera house designed by Charles Garnier.
The Grand Staircase of Palais Garnier, made from different color marbles, links various levels of the auditorium and the foyers. A pair of bronze female statues waving light bouquets welcomes the visitors at the foot of the stairway. The painted ceiling, divided into four sections, features music related allegories. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the library-museum, records opera’s history for three centuries. The permanent gallery exhibits drawings, paintings, scale models and photographs of sets.