Friday, November 25, 2005

Paris Chronicles: Day Two

We woke up on Monday and got ready for our first full day on the town.

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As I was finishing getting ready, Brian worked on his knitting. This is his first project, and Ipod cozy. He's going to start his own line of knits called P-Knits.

We had our daily breakfast at the hotel, which consisted of cafe au lait, croissants, baguettes, and other pastries, yogurt, and laughing cow cheese. MMMmmm! We had apple yogurt, which was pretty good.

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We took the metro to the Louvre. This is how you get there.

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The entrance to the metro here was the work of leading Art Nouveau designer Hector Guimard.

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Across the street form the Louvre, the Palais Royal.

This former royal palace has had a turbulent history. Starting out in the early 17th century as Richelieu's Palais Cardinale, it passed to the Crown on his death and became the childhood home of Louis XIV. Under the control of the 18th century royal dukes of Orleans it was the scene of brilliant gatherings, interspersed with periods of debauchery and gabling.

A most important note: Alexandre Dumas was one of the librarians here. Dumas is Brian's favorite author and unfortunately the building is not open to the public.

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The Visitor's Center

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Enough lolligagging. Let's go in.
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Kudos to Brian for this amazing shot.

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Ridiculously gorgeous.

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The Musee du Louvre contains one of the most important art collections in the world. It has a history extending back to medieval times. First contructed as a fortress in 1190 by King Philippe-Auguste to procted Paris agaist Viking raids, it lost its imposing keep in the reign of Francois I, who replaced it with a Renaissance style building. Four centuries of French kings and emperors improved and enlarged it. One of the most recent additions is a glass pyramid in the main courtyard from which all the galleries are reached.

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This one tried to get away.

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From the inside of the main pyramid.

Plans for the moderinzation and expansion of the Louvre were first conceived in 1981. They included the transfer of the Ministry of Finance from the Richelieu wing of the Louvre to new offices elsewhere, and a new main entrance to the museum. A Chinese-American architect, I.M. Pei, was chosen to design the changes. He designed the pyramid as both the foccal point and the new entrance. Made out of glass, it enables the visitor to see the history buildings that surround it while allowing light down into the underground visitor's reception area.

666 panes of glass perhaps?

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The information desk.

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Is on strike. No English maps were available. We had to use a Spanish one.

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Ohhkaaay, where to begin?

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You are allowed to take pictures in most exibits, but not in the Italian paintings room where the Mona Lisa lives.

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Winged Victory of Samomthrace, Greece late 3rd-early 2nd Centry BC.

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As you can see, I got real good at the "self portrait."

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This one's for Lexie.

While breezing through the paintings, we stumbled upon a familiar face. I wasn't expecting to see her, and she gave me goosebumps. She's amazing. She's also Lexie's favorite. Go here for a closer look at . Ingres' Le Grande Odalisque

Around the corner also lives Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci painted the small portrait of a Florentine noblewoman known as La Gioconda in 1504. It was soon regarded as the prototype of the Renaissance portrait. The sitter's engaging smile has prompted endless commentary ever since.

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One of the courtyards.

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Egyptian Sarcophagus. (Sarcophagi?)

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How to get ahead.

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Brian is pointing to it's anus.

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There it is.

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Winged Bull with Human head from 8th century BC, found in Khorsabad, Assyria.

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Don't ride the escalator handrail.

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Without issues?

No, actually no exit.

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This is where we had our lunch/snack. I had a quiche, Brian had the cheese plate, and we met some dude from LA.

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Tomb of Philippe Pot by Antoine le Moiturier, late 15th century.

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Hammurabi's Code

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If you want to know what this says, look here.

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Time for a potty break.

Napolean's Apartment Exhibit
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This almost looks like my chandelier in the living room.

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So after spending six or so hours at the Louvre (we've heard to see everything it takes about 3 days) we started walking.

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More people seemed to have appeared since we were inside.

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Right outside is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. This is not the one you are thinking of. This triumphal arch was built to celebrate Napoleon's victories in 1805.

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On the other side of the Arc are the gardens.
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Jardin des Tuileries.

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These formal gardens were once the gardens of the old Palais des Tuileries. They are an integral part of the landscaped area running parallel to the Seine from the Louvre to the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.

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The gardens were laid out in the 17th century by Andre Le Notre, royal gardener to Louis XIV. Restoration has created a new garden as well as filling the entire gardens with striking modern and contemporary sculpture.

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Siesta time.

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Place de la Concorde.

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This is one of Europe's most magnificent and historic squares, covering more than 20 acres in the middle of Paris. Starting out as Place Louis XV, for displaying a statue of the king, it was built in the mid 18th century by architect Jacques Ange Gabriel, who chose to make it an open octagon with only the north side containing mansions.

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In the square's next incarnation, as the Place de la Revolution, the statue was replaced by the guillotine. The death toll in the square in two and a half years was 1,119, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the revolutionary leaders Danton and Robespierre.

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Renamed Concorde in a spirit of reconciliation, the grandeur of the square was enhanced in the 19th century by the 3,200 year old Luxor obelisk, two fountains and eight statues personifying French cities. It has become the culminating point of triumphal parades down the Champs-Elysees each July 14, Bastille Day.

And so begins the Champs-Elysees.
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A drinking fountain.

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After all that walking we needed a snack.

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Hello chocolate crepe!

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The cocolate was killer, and I don't even like chocolate.

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The quieter side of the Champs-Elysees.

The Formal Gardens that line the Champs-Elysees from the Place de la Concorde to the Ronde-Point have changed little since they were laid out by the architect Jacques Hittorff in 1838. They were used as the setting for the World Fair of 1855.

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The shopping begins!

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This one's for Gillian. Disney on the Champs-Elysees!

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For Marie.

Paris's most famous and popular thoroughfare had it's beginnings in about 1667, when the landscape garden designer, Andre Le Notre, extended the royal view from the Tuileries by creating a tree lined avenue that eventually became known as the Champs Elysees or Elysian Fields.

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Someday I WILL be this fabulous.

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This was the setting for the victory parades following the two world wars and for the bicentennial parade in 1989.

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Me and Jodie do Paris.

With the addition of cafes and restaurants in the second half of the 19th century, the Champs-Elysees became the place in which to be seen.

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And finally, we reach the Arc de Triomphe!

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After his greatest victory, the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, Napoleon promised his men, "You shall go home beneath triumphal arches." The first sstone of what was to become the world's most famous triumphal arch was laid the following year. But disruptions to architect Jean Charlgrin's plans and the demise of Napoleonic power delayed the completion of this monumental building until 1836. Standing 164 feet high, the arch is now the customary starting point for victory celebrations and parades.

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So we ended up circling the arc because we couldn't figure out how to get there. The secret was an underground passage. Twelve avenues radiate from the Arc at the center.

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Are you sick of seeing how cute we are? Well folks, we still have a long way to go!

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A photograph of us with a large photograph.

So, we went to purchase tickets so we could go to the top. The guy behind us in line said, "Bonjour, dos tickets."

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Under the Arc is The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An unknown French soldier from World War I is buried here.

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We began our ascent to the top, taking this spiral staircase up 164 feet. This is not a good thing for those of us with vertigo.

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For a while there, I was not sure I was going to make it. But I'm glad I did.

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An amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. You can also see 2 of those twelve streets that radiate from the Arc.

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Check that out.

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After all that walking and hiking, we were pooped, so we took the metro back to our hotel.

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The metro was one of my favorite parts of our vacation. We got a five day pass and it was the bomb. LA really needs a better system.

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An Office Depot in our hood. There were several in the city and they were wearing the uniforms Brian used to wear.

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Dinner along St. Germain

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Our meal was delish. I had a pasta dish, Brian had some kind of calzone, complemented with a beautiful bottle of wine.

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But let's not forget about dessert. The chocolate-banana evilness was fantastic.

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Classic Brian in a polo.

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Enjoying a nice digestive.

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Time to stroll to the bar. This is Place St. Michel with a fountain by Davioud. The bronze statue by Duret shows St. Michael killing the dragon. St. Michael is one of the patron saints of soldiers.

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The northern end of the Blvd St Michel is a lively melange of cafes, book and clothes stores, with nightclubs and experimental film houses nearby.

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Our return to Little Athens.

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Me and my pal fry guy. The fries here rock.

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Our bar of the evening.

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Car bombs rule

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For Joshua. Under the gin section, Brian ordered a JP Number One.

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We were trying to get a picture of the couple behind me making out.

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And then we stumbled home... and stumbled upon something cool. But we don't know what this is.

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How funny is this?

Time to say good night! Stick around to see tomorrow's adventures of Jag and Pepper.

1 comment:

Xian! said...

kudos to you both for your selection of sunglasses. and how great are your teeth, Christine! looking very nice. your blog has made me jealous - i would like to travel. maybe i should get a job first. damn.