Paris, semaine un

Friday, July 31, 2015
We were in good time today, off to downtown Paris on the Metro, changing trains once. Paris is a place you can hide away.

When you come up from the Metro into the light of day we could see La Colonnade or Claude Perrault's Colonnade which is the most eastern facade of the Palais du Louvre. It is a masterpiece of French Architectural Classicism. It was built in about 1667 to 1670.

Then in the same general area we walked to the Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts which is a bridge for pedestrians across the River Seine. This bridge is also the link between Institut de France and the Palais du Louvre. This bridge has "love locks" attached. Since 2008 couples have been attaching padlocks with their names engraved onto the bridge and throwing the keys into the river showing their undying commitment to each other. In 2014 and estimated over 700,000 locks were attached to the bridge. City authorities feel it is a aesthetic issue for the people of Paris. Many of locks have been removed and plywood, painted panels have been added which in my humble opinion is much more of an aesthetics concern than the locks would have ever been.

 There were canal, tour boats on the River Seine.

Once passed the bridge and the artist painting a scene in the area we went to where the Louvre is actually located. We did not intend on going today just checking it out, seeing the line-up and looking in the museum store. We will be back and found out how to avoid the line-up by going to a tobacco store in a mall under the Louvre. We saw the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre. We saw a huge statue of Louis XIV on his trusty horse. This was almost fairytale like seeing all these landmarks from years gone by that you have totally heard of forever.

Next we were off to view the L'arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (arch of victory). It was built in 1806 and 1808 to commemorate military victories of Napoleon from the previous year. I wondered what the statues of the men and the horses were doing on the top - it is to represent peace riding in a triumphal chariot according to Wikipedia. There are eight column of Corinthian marble on the outside. It is quite the monument and considerably smaller than the more famous Arc de Triomphe which we will be seeing soon.

Next we went underground to a mall called Carrousel du Louvre. From the stairs on into the main main part of the mall used to be the sewers of Paris. It is cleaned up and has statues such as La Prudence by Thibault Poissant (1605-1668). We saw machine gun carrying guards for the mall just like you would see in Mexico. The mall itself was very hip and trendy with a Starbucks (seen nicer) and an Apple Store (Ken had to go). On our way out to the Metro we saw a huge tiled Mexican Huicholi art piece. Shocked to see Mexican in Paris, although Ken saw many Mexican ladies lined up to enjoy the same 1,50 bathroom experience I was going for.

After taking going back to our apartment and enjoying a wonderful lunch we were back at it, touristing it up in Paris. We came out of the Metro this time at Place de la Concorde. it is the largest of the public squares in Paris and is at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees. At the centre of the Concorde is a giant Egyptian obelisk complete with hieroglyphics. This towering giant was given to France by the Egyptian government (in the 1990's the French president actually gave one of the two obelisks back to the Egyptians). The two huge fountains were built on the theme of the sea and are aligned with the obelisk. The allegorical figures in the fountains are like tritons or naiads. This Concorde area was were in the 1700th century they had a guillotine. Marie Antoinette, etc. was killed there. As you are admiring the sights, traffic is mundanely buzzing by you, including double decker tour buses. Be sure to use the cross walk as a pedestrian.

Next we kind of stepped off the tourist wheel to try and find the Canadian Embassy. We actually did not get as far as Canada's Embassy before we decided that we needed to rest. Pacing yourself is important especially after having had such a sore foot. Upon entering into this upscale shopping district flanked by embassys we saw many armed guards with machine guns. The stores had 1200 skirts 500 shoes, you know the kind of places I am talking about, like Hermes department store.

We ended the day walking around our little, very French neighborhood of the 11the District and loving it. I do love Paris.

Did I mention our room has a view!

Saturday, August 1, 2015
We did not venture forth in the morning. My foot was a bit more sore than it was the morning before. I was afraid that I had damaged it again so we decided to take it easy.

We found out you could transfer on the bus and you get 90 minutes of ride time, then your ticket runs out and it will not work anymore. We got off once to transfer and while we were at it we went into an interesting looking fruit stand. Our bus number 42 bus ride started at the Voltaire stop. We got the idea for this bus ride from Here is what the bus route involves according to that blog - too complicated for me, not knowing Paris. The bus, cuts diagonally across Paris going through Place de la Opra, past the grand Garnier Opra, around Place de la Madeleine and glise Madeleine, through Place de la Concorde, up the lower Champs-lyses, across the Seine on the Pont de lAlma bridge, along the Left Bank quais of the Seine, through the Champs de Mars and around the Eiffel Tower.

Connecting with the Champs-Elysees quarter is the Pont Alexandre III, regarded as the most extravagant and ornate bridge in Paris. This was our final tourist stop of the day. it was built between 1896 and 1900. It was named after Tsar Alexander III. The four corners hold gilt-bronze statues of Fames which are restaining Pegasus. On the center arches of the bridge are hammered copper Nymphs, again memorials to the Franco-Russian Alliance. These pieces are huge or at least life size and sit on the side of the bridge facing into the Siene. We saw two newly wedded couples getting photos taken on the bridge.

We found where the Budda Bar was located and went in, it was closed to get food or a drink, but you could take a little self guided tour. At least we helped ourselves to plenty of pictures of this iconic place. Love the music. Yes, there is a giant budda statue in the place. The chic furniture, the funky inlaid cement floor, the faux painted red wall and the lovely flowers all made their empression on my mind. Loved the decor!

 We walked a bit, took the bus some more and ended up at Champs-Elysees neighborhood. We chose to go into the Petit Palais, City of Paris Fine Art Museum as there was not line-up, The museum across the street had hours worth of line-up to endure and we just did not want to do that. The Petit Palais was not so Petit, it was actually quite large. It was built around 1900. The vaulted ceilings, with paintings and amazing, fancy plasterwork and the floors with mini-mosaic tile in planned out designs was spectacular let alone the exhibits. Did I mention this place was free? Plus it had Corinthian marble on the walls along with cupulas, grand stairways, painted murals, exquisite wrought iron, all this built around a garden, complete with ponds and ducks. Just beside the garden is a covered deck type of area that houses a cafe. We chose to rest here in order to continue our pursuit of art.

What did we see? We did a quick tour because of time constrains but we saw some amazing work. We saw porcelain vases and statues, many of which were Art Nouveau.There were many exquisite paintings by French artists I had not seen before (but they did amazing work) but we did see paintings by some French Impressionist painters like Paul Cezanne and Claude Monet. There were also items like very old drinking vessels in the shape of animal heads. Over all an experience not to be missed. Outside was a statue of Winston Churchill, after all we were on the avenue of his name sake.

That is the line up for the Petit Palace.

Nice to be out of the crowds of Paris.

There we were at the Eiffel Tower.

It is huge, although not as tall as I thought it would be. Wow, is it a tourist trap! So many people lined up so they can go up in the tower and look out. We chose not to line up for hours. We saw a wagon being pulled by horses and a little wagon being pulled by little horses and a white donkey. Being the animal lover I am I enjoyed see the the horses and donkey. We took the 69 bus to the Grand Palais but did not go in there.

Sunday, August 2, 2015
Beautiful weather here right now - hot and sunny! It went up to 29ㅌ C. and because it is not too humid it does not feel stifling hot, just perfect weather.

Once we eventually got out and about in the afternoon. The subways are a bit different here. Besides being bigger than any place we have been, they have a glass wall with gates or doors where people exit or enter the subway train. Good safety measure that must have been ultra expensive to install. We exited at the Hotel de Ville stop.

The Hotel de Ville is where the city of Paris has its administration so similar to a city hall and has been on this spot for many years, since 1357. The building has gone through many construction and reconstruction stages. The architectural style is Renaissance Revival. We were only able to walk around the outside which instead of having a basement windows has like a moat around the building (without water) and makes the basement a full extra floor. We ended up being distracted by the smaller looking streets or alleyways across the street and went wondering there.We could tell by the shops, street musicians, artists drawing street portraits and the street art that we had stumbled on an arty district. Centre Georges Pompidou was in the area which is a huge contemporary, modern art gallery.

Back on the subway to the Quay of Gesvres. As we were about to cross over the bridge to the island we saw that by the shore of the River Seine was a malecon for people to walk on. The most noticeable thing, however, was the sand area. Bathing suited Sunday crowds had taken over with umbrellas. It was a little piece of the beach in downtown Paris.

There were great views of remarkable buildings on both sides of the River Siene as we crossed over to the Ile de la Cite (Island of the City). On on the island is a huge Gothic fortress, Conciergerie, with turrets, that was a former prison and part of the royal palace. It housed hundreds of prisons during the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette was held at the Conciergerie. Side note, many of those prisoners were killed by guillotine in other locations throughout Paris. There was a tiled and gilded clock on the corner of the building. We also saw wrought iron gates there were gold gilded further down the street, still part of the Conciergerie.

Next it was off to Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) built in the French Gothic style. Ground breaking for the building was in 1163 and it was completed in 1345. The front is mildly impressive but the sides and back have major wow factor. It was one of the first buildings ever to use flying buttress support. There are gargoyles to assist with water run-off. At one point the building was done in beautiful colours but the paint wore off long ago. You likely heard of this Catholic Cathedral from the book, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" by Victor Hugo.

We needed a rest by this time and found a shaded park bench in Square Jean XXII. It is a quaint little park for respite with interesting, different trees such as cherry, lime and elm. You can get a good look at the flying buttress from the Park. From here we strolled along through twisting back streets or alleyways seeing little gardens and fountains.

Once out into where the tourists were once again we saw the Hotel Dieu across the River Siene from our walk on the Island. It is a hospital, in fact it is regarded as the oldest hospital in Paris. It was ravaged by fire but the current building is from 1877 and it is stunning.

Next back to the Champs-elysees area. We wanted to see the huge Arc de Triomphe. According to the Arc de Triomphe is a celebratory arch which is 50 metres high and 35 metres wide. A biplane, three weeks after World War I ended, flew through the opening. It was built at the end of the Champs-Elysees. It has the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and a lit flame. Many people there and in my attempt to take pictures not facing the sun I fell. I only skinned my knees, but I did not improve the sore foot situation, it is now more sore than it was. The fall gave a bit of a negative end to our touristy events for the day.

We again walked our neighbourhood after supper, going a different way. Much later on Ken books us into another hotel closer to Versailles, booked us plane tickets to Portugal and booked our first stay in Portugal. Stay tuned for more fun.

Monday, August 3, 2015A
Absolutely gorgeous weather today, if anything, too hot! We decided today would be a shopping day. We tried three Emmerus shops. Not sure if they are charity shops but they are like thrift stores in North America, but much smaller with less goods in them. The ones we went to were the "boutique" variety.

We saw some interesting Parisian sights along the way to those shops. On our walk to the first shop we saw an elderly man and woman walking their two dogs. Nothing interesting about that except one dog was in a baby carriage. That pooch must have been rather elderly, too. We walked through a little alleyway that was totally arted up. Then on to a little park with a bridge over some water. In that water were Monet's water lilies, seriously, even the purple coloured waterlily flowers. We saw a place were Parisians get their gas. To me, coming from the land of the big truck stops and service stations, it was very small, just two pumps at the edge of the sidewalk - no service bay doors here. We went through Passage Vendome which is a passage between Republic Square to the north and Beranger Street to the south (formerly Rue de Vendome). It is a public passage and has been there since about 1827 and has been declared a public monument. At some point we needed, yes needed, to have ice cream. The brightly shiny sun has made it very hot, llikely the hottest day we have experienced this summer, so ice cream was the order of the hour. I saw the "old school" method of selling ice cream, peddling on a big with an ice chest attached to the front. We found a little Italian ice cream shop that gave us the best of service. Along the way we saw other hot people with their feet soaking in one of the many spectacular fountains along the way. This was near the Pompidou Art Centre.

The Latin Quarter was calling our names.

When I thought Latin Quarter, I pictured Latin America with dried peppers and salsa dancing. No, not al all! It was called the Latin Quarter because Latin was spoken here, it is a university district. We walked to the other side of Ile de la Cite (the island) and on to the so called Latin Quarter. One of the big landmarks I recall because it was so striking was the Fontaine Saint- Michel (St. Michel Fountain). It was built in 1860, and depicts the sculptured figure of St.Michel slaying a dragon. By this time I was somewhat of a zombie because of the heat and the sore foot I was dragging around. We stopped in a little park for respite. We wondered the streets looking for a place to eat. We walked passed the Sorbonne, Universite De Paris and the Roman baths. If I would see an interesting small park between streets or a narrow winding street with tall, buildings that were very French looking I would take a picture.

We ate in the Latin Quarter at a Lebanese restaurant.

Ken had a giro with chicken in a pita, but the Parisian difference was fries on top. I had basically a Greek type salad with fried eggplant on top. The Parisian difference for my meal was that it was served on a crepe. Somehow I made it home to rest and recuperate to do the tourist thing again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Unbelievably we were up and out the door by about 8:00 am. We headed back to the Latin Quarter. Ken did further reading on that area plus the fact that he had been there on a trip with his Parents many years ago inspired us to explore that area more closely. A closer look at nature was what we needed so on to Jardin Du Luxembourg. We walked through hedges of Horse Chestnut trees that had been trimmed into a square shape. The gardeners at the Luxembourg are true artists using flowers as their palate of colour and texture. The garden was started in 1612 by the widow of King Henry IV of France. The fountain is named after her Medici Fountain, Marie de Medici. It was a magnificent space with the backdrop of the Luxembourg Palace, which was her new residence but is now the senate building for the government of France. Armed soldiers were on guard.

We walked to the Paris-Odeon which as you might have guessed is a theatre. Then when we thought we had seen that as our architecturally significant building for the morning we stumbled onto the Abbay Sainte-Genevieve de Paris (patron saint of Paris). This is crazy! I looked up information on this church on Wiki and it was founded in 502 by King Clovis I and his queen. later Saint Genevieve prayed here. When she died her remains were interred at this church. To me it was the architecture that was significant. Just above the pulpit was two spiral staircases from either side, up to a balcony for the choir. It was so calm and peaceful here. The tourists, except for us and a few others, had not swarmed the church.

Then close by was Le Pantheon. We did go inside but decided that exploring this building was not how we wanted to spend the next hour or so. It is basically a building from 1758 but completed in 1790 with massive columns on the outside. It was designed as a church but is a mausoleum containing remains of French citizens of distinction. Some of those interred there are Marie Currie, Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, etc. to name a few.

Then it was off to the looking for an art supply store as I want to purchase Inktense Pencils. It was a very funky store, by the way I love to thoroughly explore art stores, looking for some treasure I do not already own. We walked by the front of the Sorbonne this time on our way to another art store which was closed. Just before walking to the street by the Seine we came across a bakery which sold huge meringue cookies in unusual flavours like violet, cafe, chocolate mint, etc. Why did buy a few I do not know but I passed by without a purchase. Along the river were little, rather permanent booths set up selling art, paintings, old postcards of Paris and souveniers. Very interesting visuals but nothing was puchased.

Our next and final destination was The Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It was started long ago and houses both used and new books. it is another tourist destination and was crowded. It is complete with a tiny staircase and over used couches. It was very funky with upstairs open windows over looking the street. The highlight for me was a chubby, white cat that did not move or open its eyes, even when I sat beside it and gave it a pet.

Since we were so close we decided to walk to the tobacco stand in the Carousal Mall and purchase our tickets for our trip to the Louvre Museum tomorrow. The Louvre is closed Tuesday and we discovered after walking about a mile and a half that the tobacco stand is closed today also.
Overall and so far I have to say I have enjoyed the Latin Quarter the most of any area in Paris. Not sure what it is about the area but it certainly has a charm about it. The buildings, the quaint shops, the artiness of it...very appealing to the senses.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
We planned to go to the Louvre Museum today.


We were off to get tickets at the tobacco shop in the mall underneath the Louver, The Carousel. When we arrived there was a lineup and of course there was a lineup to get into the museum. We felt stuck. Somehow we got downstairs underneath the glass pyramid and we found a very short, couple of person lineup to purchase tickets using a bank card. Ken tried out the first machine it didn't work. As he was getting tickets from the second machine a girl came up to me and offered me a free ticket, she had to leave the gallery. It was quite the series of events in order for her to get that free ticket to me, what a nice little treat.

The Louvre Museum in Paris France opened its doors in 1793. It is one of the worlds largest museums. It used to be a palace and is now a National museum. The place is enormous, it contains 650,000 ft.ㄵ of gallery space which contains over 70,000 pieces of art.

At first I was absolutely shocked (over whelmed) with the size and breadth of the Louvre Museum. I had been to huge museums housed in spectacular buildings but this was way above and beyond what I had viewed in the past. In about four or five hours we did not even come close to covering one floor of the museum and this was viewing quickly not taking time for each individual piece of art.

We didn't really know where to start so we ended up starting with the tapestries and they were big wall coverings that were extremely well preserved. I enjoyed taking pictures of the dogs that were used in the hunting activities at the time the tapestries were produced. It was obvious that dogs played a very important role in the lives of people at that time.

 The next major area that we went to were rooms that were preserved or redone into the style of what the Louver would've been like when it was a palace from the 1700s. Such opulence, painted and gold gilded ceilings about 20 feet high. Heavy glass chandeliers hung from the amazing ceilings. The walls had actual cloth on them but was in a brocade pattern. The furniture itself was opulent as the rooms, covered in brocade or gold gilding. There were ornately painted ginger jars and China in the rooms. The bedrooms had four poster beds with ornate canopies. This went on for a tour of room after room. Each room seeming to have out done the last. The occupants of these rooms were obviously wanting to impress guests as the rooms where company would've been were much more opulent then bedrooms. Oddly enough there was no restored kitchen.

We stumbled upon the Egyptian exhibit. This included, to only name a few items, tablets with hieroglyphic writing, statuary from the time including The Seated Scribe. Some items were brightly painted, other items were gold gilded, other items where made of marble and that's what you saw, it was truly an amazing view back into the past. Not only did you see the beautiful art or objects of art in each room but there was the room itself - the ceiling, the walls, the floors which could've been marble or inlaid wood, all marvellous. Even the photos will only give you a small peek into what the Louvre was really all about.

Then there was a room housing the Mona Lisa. The painting was sealed in a big glass enclosure plus you were about 10 feet away. The painting was fenced off along with having guards. It too was a room of beauty but, this room was half full of people. Somehow I needed to get to the front of the crowd in order to view this world heritage painting. I took pictures from behind the crowd and just inched my way up closer and closer to get a better view. Ken was somewhere behind me doing the same ting as me. By the time I was quite close it was like the crowd was a breathing entity and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get out. But I kept focusing in on the picture and wanting to be as close in front of it as possible. I did get front and centre, finally, and took a few photos, hope you enjoy them. Nearly all of the photographs in the room with the Mona Lisa where quite spectacular. A couple really pulled me in. There was one of a tiger and, later Ken showed me one of two dogs. That painting of two dogs was one of my favourite in the Renaissance era.

After my Mona Lisa experience I needed to definitely rest my foot and Ken decided we should go home for supper. We returned a few hours later as the Louvre was open until about 9:45 PM on Wednesday and Friday. We decided to take in a little bit of Italian Renaissance art. We saw about a half dozen paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, you may of heard of him. Ken was especially taken by his work and return to see it a few times.

The Louvre gets approximately 8.8 million visitors per year. I have to say it was the most crowded museum I've ever been in. We kind of knew that might be the case so we decided to go on a day we were told usually has less people. We also thought that going later in the evening there might be less of a crowd. There was not, it appeared that there were just as many people in the evening as was in the afternoon. I must say that the crowds do take away from the enjoyment of the experience. By about 9 o'clock pm Ken and I had both decided we had had enough of the crowds and were tired enough to go home.

I was so glad that Ken had decided to come to the Louvre. I think he enjoyed the experience, although like I said previously the crowds did not enhance the experience. Our final little joy of the museum experience was to ride the elevator usually reserved for handicapped or those with baby carriages up to the second floor. It is a circular elevator with an open roof so you can look out over the crowds and through the transparency of the glass pyramid at the museum.

The day spent at the museum was most enjoyable but also very overwhelming and thought-provoking.

We decided it might be a good idea to find any Mexican art that might be in the Louvre. There were maybe a half a dozen pieces of very good quality. This is also where we found the art from Canada of which there was only about maybe three pieces. What we saw was all first Nations art. After that we slowly went around the rest of the first floor making sure that we did not miss anything that we really wanted to see.

So onward and upward. We came to an area with a glass dome covering a massive stone courtyard, Apollo's courtyard. This area contained many Greek and Roman statues made of marble etc. In the area surrounding the courtyard were tall ceilinged rooms with massive stone columns and grand marble staircases. There were other areas in the Louvre Museum where there were many more marbles statues from the Greeks and Romans including, Venus de Milo, the Three Graces and The Winged Victory.

Thursday, August 6, 2015
The Louvre is a great place to over-do-it, walking that is. At least you are seeing something beautiful and meaningful. It is a place to remember. Walking over fifteen kilometres, however, on a day you have a sore foot is not that smart, especially if you are using your legs and feet to help move you the next day. That next day is today and today we are moving from the Adagio Aparthotel, Reuilly in Paris, France to the Adagio Aparthotel, Vanves in Paris, France. Why the move you might wonder? Well, we waited too long and our the Reuilly Aparthotel got booked up for the week. Plus we know it is good to see more than one area of a big city. The final reason is that when Ken checked on our new place it was being offered at 40% off the regular price. We are saving money, well sort of.

Being so busy yesterday we did not pack up our stuff so this morning is when we have to pack - ugh! I say "ugh" because I have way too much stuff to fit into a small suitcase. I am surprised every-time I am able to zip it shut that it actually shuts. I am also surprised that the zipper does not pop open, knock on wood. I keep thinking I should buy a special belt to wrap around my suitcase to ensure its it stays closed.

Besides the packing we have one other bone of contention with moving to a new place. All the Metros do not have lifts or escalators so Ken has to carry the suitcases up or down many flights of stairs. There is no way I could even carry my big suitcase up or down stairs so glad Ken is able to do it. Disabled individuals would not be able to use the Metro, they would have to use the slower mode of transportation, the bus system. Seems unfair to me, but the cost involved in renovating the Metro would be astronomical.

Our new Metro stop comes out at a park and through a walking tunnel. We have about the same length of a walk as we did last week. The area is quieter and less crowded, more suburban. When we arrive at the hotel our room is not ready but the front desk girl tries to make us feel at home by telling us where we can store our luggage and directing us to the bathrooms. We go out for a picnic lunch of bread, cheese and olives and we feel very Parisian in the little park by the grocery store. Our new home for the week - the Adagio Aparthotel, Vanves in Paris, France is ready early and we move in, newly acquired groceries and all. It has a queen sized, foam mattress (most of the rooms in mainland Europe of been made of this and are extremely comfortable). There is also a small bed behind our bed which is divided from this room by a full wall, would be great for kids. Since we have none, we are using the little bed to put our packing cubes on. We have a kitchenette and our own bathroom. The kitchenette is fully stocked for cooking except, of course, for the food. The one drawback is not air conditioning. This place does, however, have an indoor pool and a place to do laundry.

By the way, almost as soon as we arrive I laid down on that queen bed and feel asleep. Ken left to check out the neighborhood. I rested until the conclusion of the day, exhausted from my extremely overwhelming museum experience the day before.

No comments: