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|Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here|
Just Outside Washington
FRANK BERNHEISEL & Kathy Cavanaugh
FRANCE ~ PARIS: DAY TWO
We started the day with a nice breakfast buffet at Hotel du Parc. Then we set off on a beautiful sunny day to find the Metro station on Boulevard Raspail, and then to figure how use the Metro to get around in Paris. It was easy; the fare card machines were simple, and the maps and signs were clear.
Julie wanted to go the Louvre, so off we went. We got off at the Metro stop Palais-Royal-Musée-du Louvre, which led us right into the underground entrance, Carrousel du Louvre. This turns out to be not only an entrance but a large upscale shopping mall, right picture, with more than 40 premium stores including the first Apple Store in Paris. There we encountered a long line, which we joined while Jonathan went off to explore.
He returned with a Paris Museum Pass, which allows one to access more than 50 museums and bypass the lines. Julie and Jon then bypassed the line, and Kathy and I headed back above ground to the sunshine. We had visited the Louvre on a previous trip, not that we had seen it all, but walking through the Jardin des Tuileries appealed to us. Before separating we all agreed to meet back at the Pyramid, the main entrance to the Louvre, to go to lunch.
The spectacular Pyramid, designed by I. M. Pei, sits in the center of the Cour Napoléon. It adds to the beauty of the Louvre both in the square and below. Musée du Louvre is the world's largest art museum and a central landmark of Paris. It exhibits approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century, which are viewed by 8 million visitors annually.
The Louvre Palace, which houses the museum, was begun as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century and converted by Francis I into the main residence of the French Kings in 1546. During the French Revolution, the Louvre was converted to a museum housing an exhibition of 537 paintings confiscated from royalty and the church.
After wandering around various parts of the shopping area looking for the exit, Kathy and I emerged into the sunshine and walked to the Arch de Triomphe du Carrousel built to commemorate Napoléon’s victories in 1805.
It is just west of the Louvre and serves as an entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries. The Tuileries was created by Catherine de' Medici in 1564 as the garden of the Tuileries Palace, which was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871. The garden opened to the public in 1667, it went through many incarnations and became a public park after the French Revolution. It extends about three quarters of a mile from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde.
The Jardin des Tuileries has green areas with grass and shrubs, white stone walkways, wooded areas, Le Grand Couvert, and many statues of bronze and stone. The statues, including four by Rodin, are mostly nude women and on themes from antiquity, allegory, and ancient mythology.
They date from the 17th century to the present. Some of the modern works elicited a double take. Even on a work day, there was lots of activity, vendors selling souvenirs, people out for a walk and some just sitting in the sun. In the parks the city has placed many green metal chairs, which people move around and sit in the sun or shade; singularly or in groups, as they wish.
We arrived at the Place de la Concorde, which is the largest square in Paris, 21 acres. In the center of the Place is a giant Egyptian obelisk from the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the 19th century.
The Place was also the site of many public executions during the French Revolution. The Place de la Concorde forms the east of the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe, which can be seen in the picture, is the west end. At this point it was time to walk back to the Pyramid to meet Julie and Jon.
With them, we walked back into the Jardin des Tuileries and turned north on the Rue des Pyramides to find a restaurant for lunch. We picked Domenico because the food on the plates of the patrons in the sidewalk café looked really good.
We joined the others under the portico and had a very nice lunch watching Paris go by. Did we have a glass of wine?
Mais bien sur. We were protected by the watchful eye of Jeanne d'Arc; her golden equestrian statue was in the center of Rue des Pyramides.
We abandoned Joan’s protection to catch the Metro to fulfill one of my goals for this trip: a stroll down the Champs-élysées. The objective was to look at the shops and the people and maybe have a glass of wine in a sidewalk café. We came out of the Metro just down from the Arc de Triomphe and began to walk back toward the Place de la Concorde. It was a fantastic afternoon.
At the circle where the Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt crosses the Champs, there were some guys offering 20 minute rides in a red Ferrari California for only 89 euros, and the top was down. Just another day on the Champs-élysées; oh, we are sooo blasé.
At the Clemenceau station, we got back on the Metro to return the hotel to rest up and prepare for dinner. At the airport when the Viking representative learned we were going to Montparnasse, he recommended the restaurant at the top of the Tour Montparnasse, and that is where we were headed. We had a bit of a problem finding the entrance; first there was the construction and then the separate entrance for the observation deck. We found the right elevator and the Ciel de Paris. When we told the maitre d’ that we were four for dinner, we were immediately seated.
It seems they have people who come to the bar for a drink to avoid the fee at the observation deck. We had a very nice meal with an ever changing view of Paris as the sun set.
At a table near us a group of ten of so, was slow to all arrive. After they had assembled, gotten drinks, and began to talk, if became clear that this was a business meeting. A French group was entertaining an Asian group to sell them something; we could not figure out the subject but the objective was clear. After desert and coffee, we were ready for the walk back to Hotel du Parc and a good night’s sleep.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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