Sunday, June 3, 2012

One Week in Paris

I decided that I would wait to do my blog until after my week in Paris. I wanted to devote the week to sightseeing and not spend time with the blog when I could be out and about. So I am writing this blog a few days after I have left Paris, while sitting out on a nice cafe In Chamonix. The sun has set over the west side of the mountains but the east side is still bathed in sunshine and will be for a few more hours. Between mountain watching and people watching, I think this blog will be a hard one to compose. I have selected a bunch of photos to provide commentary about the trip. They are in no specific order but do summarize what we did over the 7 days.

For those of you who are not aware, I invited 3 of my grown children to join me in Paris. I rented an apartment in the 4th Arrondissement, on the right bank of the Seine, near the Ile de la Cite and the Latin Quarter, right in the centre of the city. It was a perfect location, central to all of the Paris attractions and a comfortable place to land after a day of sight seeing. Also, I was able to cook breakfast for all of us a couple of days and allowed us to keep a stocked fridge of this and that so we did not need to be at restaurants quite so much. It was a tiny place and a walk up 4 stories, but A loft over 3 floors and with a large terrace, it was perfect.

The weather was not perfect. It was cold and cloudy and there was lots of rain. That said, the sun did come out a bit and it was not all bad. We did get absolutely soaked going to the wine tasting but the wine made us forget the damp.

We didn't have much sun but I managed to catch Eric lounging on the terrace in this pic.

I loved the Paris outdoor patios and they were everywhere - bars, cafes and restaurants.

We used the metro a lot. Once you got the idea that there were lines everywhere like spaghetti and you just needed to follow the signs, it was easy to use.

Of course, everyone needs to go to see the Eiffel Tower.

Eric and I stopped to enjoy the view at a cafe that looked toward the Eiffel Tower. I had an expresso. I guess the 5.50 price was because of the view.

I liked the look of the Pyramid at the Louvre. I wonder if Toronto's ROM's architect got the idea for something completely different from the Louvre.

Everyone says that the Mona Lisa seems small. I agree, but it is pretty amazing anyway.

We saw a lot of different vehicles in Europe but I liked this one the best. It is so practical.

We went to a wine tasting and sampled 3 great French wines.

We took a day tour to the D-Day Beaches in Normandy on June 6th- D-Day!
This is Omaha Beach where the American forces had to scale the high cliffs to gain access to land. It was well defended bynthenGermans and thenAmerican Forces sustained heavy casualties.
This is a bunker where the Germans Defended the landing area.

We also toured the American cemetery near Omaha Beach.
This is Juno Beach wherethe Canadians came ashore.
I'd have to say that the highlight of Paris, for me, was Versailles and in particular, the gardens of Versailles. We toured the castle and it was pretty impressive, but the elbow to elbow people was very off putting.

The painted ceilings were spectacular. I suspect I am going to see a lot more painted ceilings as I tour Europe.

We all enjoyed visiting Marie Antoinette's Domain at Versailles. She had a farm village built for her pleasure and is picture perfect.

There are 99 fountains I the Versailles Gardens. This one, which was contained in sort of a Roman Amphitheatre, was my favourite.
This was the view down the length of the Gardens about a quarter of the way along. Look carefully at the water feature at the distance, the photo below is a zoom of that feature - The Grande Canal. On either side were a series of separate Gardens each many acres. There were about 10 separate Gardens of several acres each in the space between the fountain in the foreground and the grand canal - on either side of the green lawn in front of the canal. The the size and magnitude of the gardens just boggle the mind.

We could of spent another 2 days at Versailles and were sad not to have seen more. We did not even get to the Grand Canal, which Eric wanted very badly to explore.

The Orsay museum is inside an old railway station. We saw some spectacular impressionist paintings, including starry Paris.

According to wiki:

It is probably best known for its extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces (the largest in the world) by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguinand Van Gogh.

I most enjoyed seeing the Van Gogh's Starry Night Over The Rhone,

We went to the top of the Mountparnasse Tower and saw the lights of Paris at night. The Eiffel Tower looked spectacular.

The Paris Catacombs are both macabre and fascinating. The bones are so neatly arranged. It is very large and you walk for several kilometers, way underground beneath Paris, inspecting all the tunnels lined with bones, artistically arranged.

Eric and I visited the Pere Lachaise Cemetary and visited the graves of Jim Morrision. We also saw the grave sites of Abelard and Heloise, Edith Pilaf and many WWII memorials. Here is Jim's grave. There was a Widow there who was spreading the ashes of her husband over his grave.


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