Archive for the ‘palais de louvre’ 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 – A walk Across the City   12 comments

It was a glorious sunny Sunday after our visit to the Tour Montparnasse so we decided on a walk through the city to tick off some sites. The famous Champs Elysees is closed to traffic on a Sunday so what better place to start. We pitched into the Metro and popped out at the famous landmark at the head of Paris most famous avenue.

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Unlike the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe was much bigger than I thought. It was built by Napoleon so he could march through it – triumphantly – when he won the war. Just one tiny flaw in that plan. He lost. Still he got the dubious compensation of having his ashes paraded through it. Not the same somehow

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It sits in the middle of a vast and seemingly free for all traffic roundabout. It was scary just watching the traffic race around and especially the bikes nonchalantly wandering through. There was even one guy who sauntered straight across the lines of traffic without a care in the world. He could have been run over numerous times but he just gave a gallic shrug and wandered off.

The view towards La Defense

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The tomb of the unknown soldier and eternal flame

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We had thought about climbing to the top but we’d already had a great high view, there was a long queue and most importantly it cost money

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We headed off down the Champs Elysees

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Despite its fame I was underwhelmed. It is a rather grand broad boulevard but it’s just lined with expensive shops and hotels. I didn’t think it was anything special and there were certainly far better places we saw in Paris. We ate lunch from a cheerless chain sandwich shop sitting on the pavement. It was Sunday and all the bakeries were shut

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Things improved from there. We wandered down a side street and found the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais and they were rather grand. Both were built for the Worlds Fair at the same time as the Eiffel Tower

The Petit Palais

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The Grand Palais

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The Grand Palais appeared to want more of my hard-earned cash but the Petit Palais was free. Easy decision

It was very impressive both inside and out. It had a fine collection of art and paintings but it’s not really our thing

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We had a little wander about (the gardens were rather nice), used the loos and moved on.

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Next stop was the Place de la Concorde with its granite obelisk gifted to France by Egypt in 1831 and is actually 3300 years old

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It’s an impressive expanse and quite a feat to cross the flow of traffic to reach the centre. Fine views back along the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe

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This is the Fontaine de Mers. It was rather odd but I really liked it

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There seemed to be various mermaid types all with a keen hold on a fish. We called it the Fountain of Throttled Fish

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From our travels I can safely say is that they do fountains really well in Europe. Almost every square has one and they are almost always well maintained and either interesting, intriguing or simply magnificent. I’m sure the UK has great city centre fountains but I’m struggling to recall one

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Onwards into the Jardin des Tuileries. They were busy but magnificent on a sunny Sunday afternoon

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They are packed with wide avenues, perfectly manicured lawns and flower beds and more fountains and ponds

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Seating space was at a premium though so we admired while we moved through

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At the far end of the gardens is the Palais de Louvre and its famous museum. I’d had it my mind that the museum would be an imposing yet bland building but is absolutely huge and quite stunning

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At the centre is its famous pyramid. Again I had a preconceived idea that it would garish, modern and out-of-place but I loved it. To me it seemed an appropriate merging of new old and it’s certainly unique. You stand by it and know its The Louvre

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The fountains outside were also rather lovely and we sat outside and people watched for a few minutes and to rest our weary feet.

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We had decided well ahead of time not to go in. as I said fine art is wasted on us and the queues and high cost were not worth the expense. From what I’ve read even if you only have a passing interest in art, the collection is magnificent, varied and absolutely vast. I read that if you merely glanced at every piece within you’d be in there for 9 months

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We headed for home over the rather lovely footbridge, the Pont des Arts

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Fine views across to my favourite bridge the twin spans of the Pont Neuf spanning the Ile de la Cite

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And back downstream towards the Eiffel Tower

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As we headed back to the flat for some rest and recuperation before a meal out we passed by the church of Saint Sulpice again

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An absolutely splendid day in a beautiful city

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