Archive for the ‘eiffel tower’ Tag

Paris – Along the River Seine   15 comments

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All truly great cities are built on water. I read that somewhere and whilst it’s not exclusively true (Rome doesn’t have a truly memorable river) it certainly helps. The Seine is an integral part of the Paris city-scape so what better to see it from a different perspective than by boat.

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We used the well named but interestingly spelt Batobus service. As the name suggests a bus boat that for a fixed fee you can use as often as you like during a day. As it’s a slow and leisurely way to get about we thought a single trip in daytime and a return one at night would be the best use and was significantly cheaper than two separate conventional boat tours (although without a commentary).

We started off at their downstream location and were surprised to find the Statue of Liberty there. So the story goes it was built in the US but they decided to give it to France as a gesture of thanks for their support during the war and built a much bigger one. Very strange to see it in the middle of the Seine

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The boat trip was a lovely relaxed way to pass through the city and I spent the whole journey up on deck

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It gives splendid views of the Eiffel Tower

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And a variety of other interesting buildings from below ground level as it were

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This is the Pont Alexandre III with its ornate golden statues and street lamps

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A distant view of the Grand Palais

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The Musee D’Orsay, once a major railway terminus now a museum and art gallery

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The Palais de Louvre

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The pedestrian Pont des Arts we walked over earlier in the trip

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The beautiful Pont Neuf

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And then Notre Dame which looks especially grand from the river

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We returned later in the evening to see Paris at night from the river. Clearly a popular activity as the boat was packed. It takes a slightly different route around the other side of the Ile de la Cite. Not entirely sure which bridge this is, there are several on that stretch.

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Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame

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Pont Louis Phillipe

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The Conciergerie

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The Pont Neuf

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And lastly the Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower

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It’s a grandstand spot to view the Eiffel Tower and we got our timing right this time to see it do its hourly sparkle. I’ve added in the video again

 

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The service hops from side to side of the river and it does a nice 360 turn just past the tower to maximise the views

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It was our last evening in Paris and a wonderful way to finish. 2.5 days was not even close to long enough and so much was left unseen. We were astonishingly lucky to have two days of glorious sunshine to see the city and our trip around Europe was off to a fabulous start. Time to cover some distance!

 

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Paris – Tour Montparnasse   14 comments

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I like tall buildings and I like looking down on cities from the top of them. When I looked at the cost of going up the Eiffel Tower I wanted a better alternative. The Tour Montparnasse ticked more boxes. For the same price I could visit twice so I could see the view in the daytime and at night. It was walking distance from the apartment. And of course it was well sited for excellent view of the Eiffel Tower itself

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Its renowned as the ugliest building in Paris and you can see why when compared to Notre-Dame, the Basilica de Sacre Coeur or indeed the Eiffel Tower itself. I liked it though. It sits out on its own in a not particularly attractive part of the city anyway and doesn’t really detract from the rest of the feel of Paris. As smoked brown glass buildings go I thought it was quite stylish. 209m high and built in 1973 for you fact-meisters out there

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While we’re on that subject. The buildings I do find offensive are those that sit right in the heart of glorious historical cities and their architectural gems where no effort has been made to make them blend in. I lost count of the times when walking through a particularly glorious neighbourhood I’d turn a corner and there would be an ugly concrete block or sheets of plain glass right next to a renaissance building or medievakl church or palace. This was especially true and particularly galling in Venice and Rome where architectural gems abound and the city feels like a living outdoor museum. My theory is that these buildings are almost exclusively local authority, banks or hotels. The Town Planners who allow this should be shot. There I’ve said it.

And on the subject of High Street Banks, why do they have glass and windows anyway. Who goes window shopping at Banks. What do they think people are looking at. Point of Sale Literature displays for current accounts. Bloody hell! Rant over, sorry!

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Back to the story. We booked in advance but there was absolutely no need to. There was no queue at the ticket office and there were no more than fifty people up there. Which was a surprise for it was a glorious clear sunny day and the views were magnificent. The Eiffel Tower of course takes centre stage and as I’d hoped the Tour Montparnasse was a wonderful vantage point. La Defense where we went on first day is behind it here

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I like this photo as it shows the elevated section of the Metro. A bit Train-Spotty I know but I liked that section for some reason

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You can stay indoors and look through the glass but the best views are from terrace on the roof. The glass walls protect from the wind (and from jumping off), but there are gaps so you can take photos direct as it were. Here’s the Jones family looking summery

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And some zoom shots of famous landmarks. This is the Palace of Les Invalides and its gorgeous golden dome

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The Arc de Triomphe

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The Pantheon

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Basilica de Sacre Coeur at Montmartre. Me and TJS were massively chuffed when we looked at the photo later and realised we’d captured the Stade de France in the background! 🙂

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And the church of Saint Sulpice round the corner from our apartment

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Possibly the only photo of me from the entire holiday. Enjoy it while you can

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From up here you realise just what an immense city Paris is. This was especially true when looking down on some of the other cities we visited. Rome seemed especially and surprisingly small by comparison

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This is the cemetery of Montparnasse. We were all staggered at how big it was. Jean Paul Sartre and Serge Gainsbourg are in there somewhere

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Our apartment is somewhere in this shot. Right hand side of the road about 2/3 the way up I think

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This shot shows just how quiet it was while we were there. Going in the morning was a great plan. The sun was in the SE and most of the main city sights were to the north and west so the light was just perfect

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A view over the Jardin de Luxembourg to Notre Dame and beyond

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And over the Seine towards the Louvre and beyond to Montmartre

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Stylish ladies having a sit down with a weird teenager behind

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And a final classic shot across to the Eiffel Tower. The top one is from the roof terrace and the second one through the glass on the floor below

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I could have stayed up here all day picking out sights and features but there was more Paris to see. Satisfied with our experience we headed off to do more stuff for the rest of the day. In the evening we returned for our second visit to see the city at night

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It was much busier and we timed it just wrong to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle. The night-time views were still amazing though

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I never really got the hang of night shots with the camera. Most are a little blurry as I had the shutter speed low to allow enough light in. I probably should have pushed the ISO Sensitivity much higher so I could increase the shutter speed and reduce the shake. I need to practice more.

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I don’t think I could enlarge any of these for the wall but at this size hopefully they show just how great the views were. Saint Sulpice.

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Notre Dame

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Basilica de Sacre Coeur

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Our road, the Rue de Rennes

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The fair at the Jardins de Tuileries

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And last shot of course goes to the Eiffel Tower

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Late finish but well worth it. Stupendous views over a wonderful city

Paris – Eiffel Tower   14 comments

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The Eiffel Tower. Paris most recognisable landmark

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Throughout the trip we visited a huge host of famous sites and I’m not planning to pad out the posts with long rambling background information. You can look that up yourself! I may throw in a few facts and numbers here and there and stuff that I found interesting.

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So a few facts and numbers. 324m high with 6.9m visitors per year. It was finished in 1889 for the World Fair and was supposed to be temporary. It was planned to be torn down in 1909 until someone realised it was quite handy for radio and telegraphy transmissions. It gets repainted every 7 years and takes 25 people with 60 tonnes of paint 18 months. Oh, and there are 2.5million rivets if you’re interested.

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My trusty Lonely Planet guidebook (used extensively in all cities and are excellent in my humble opinion) said the best view was from the L’ile aux Cygnes under the Pont de Bir-Hakeim so that’s where we headed

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Added bonus of travelling on and looking at an overground section of the Metro. Well I liked it anyway

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We walked along the banks of the Seine admiring the changing angles and perspectives, shading our eyes from the blistering sunlight having forgotten to take shades out with us.

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In a funny way it seems much smaller than you think when you first see it from a distance. You expect it to be massive and totally dominate the skyline. In fact you can only really see it in Western Paris or from other high spots. Up close however and you can truly appreciate its size, weight and mass. Both in terms of iron and steel and tourists (its unsurprisingly heaving with people)

It was in the parkland surrounding the tower that we began to notice Paris has a serious rat problem. They were scuttling about in quite significant numbers around the major tourist spots and especially here. One even ran over my foot near Notre-Dame. Nasty little buggers.

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After our first visit we walked back to the apartment and stumbled across the magnificent dome of the Palais Les Invalides. This image is in effect the back garden!

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We saw the tower from several other places. Here in the Place de la Concorde

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And from a boat trip along the Seine (more of both in later posts)

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When the tower truly comes alive is at night

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When lit up (20,000 6 watt bulbs and 40km of cables if your interested) is when it really dominates the skyline and is truly wonderful sight

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But there’s more! On the hour it “sparkles” for a few minutes. I took a little video of this which you can see below. Cool eh!

 

We took a stroll around it (and the rats) on our last evening to appreciate it fully in its night-time attire

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Of course you can’t visit Paris and not go up the Eiffel Tower. Well, actually you can and we didn’t. I figured that the one thing you couldn’t see from the Eiffel Tower was the Eiffel Tower. I had a much better plan for expansive views over the city to include the tower. More of that in the next post

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