Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Paris Chronicles: Day Four

It was our last day in Paris and to make the most of it we had to put our long list of museums on the backburner. So next time we'll visit the Musee D'Orsay, Musee Picasso, Musee Rodin, La Defense...

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Bangs. A work in progress.

The morning was a little damp, but it did not interrupt our sightseeing.
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The Farmer's Market by our hotel.

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Our hotel.

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Around our hotel.

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I thought this was funny.

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Close up on the Opera.

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The Americans are the ones in the white sneakers.

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Waiting for our bus.

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So, it was a little damp and we were the only passengers on the upper deck.

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Another look at Galeries Lafayette. It's supposed to be a lot like Caesar's at night.

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The Moulin Rouge!

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Truth. Beauty. Freedom. Love.

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Built in 1885, it was turned into a dance hall as early as 1900. The cancan originated in Montparnasse, in the polka gardens of the Re de la Grande Chaumiere, but it will always be associated with the Moulin Rouge where the wild and colorful dance shows were immortalized in the posters and drawings of Hernri de Toulouse Lautrec. The high-kicking routines of famous Dorriss dancers continue to day in a glittering, Las Vegas style revue that includes computerized lights and displays of magic.

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This is not a gaming establishment, but a theatre.

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Montmartre and art are inseparable. By the end of the 19th century, the area was a mecca for artists, writers, poets and their disciples who gathered to sample the bordellos, cabarets, revues and other exotica that contributed to Montmartre's reputation as a place of depravity in the eyes of the city's more upstanding citizens. Many of the artists and writers have long since left the area, and the lively night life no longer has the same charm.

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McDonalds, KFC, and Quick.

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We hopped off the bus to find a cafe the recorded tour guide mentioned. It was a favorite of Alexandre Dumas, Brian's fave author.

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However, this place no longer exists so we had lunch across the street. Brian had a sandwich and I had an omelette.

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I had to.
Next, we searched for Sacre Couer.

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If you ever arrive at the Abysses metro stop, don't take the stairs up. They never end.

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Another modern metro stop - Place des Abbesses. The metro station features green wrought-iron arches and amber lights, designed by the architect Hector Guimard.

This is one of Paris's most picturesque squares. It is sandwiched between the rather dubious attractions of the Place Pigalle with its strip of clubs and the Place du Tertre which is always mobbed with hundreds of tourists.

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A shop in Monmartre.

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Riding the funicular.

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The funiculaire, or cable railway, at the end of the Rue Foyatier takes you to the foot of the basilica of the Sacre Coeur. We love that metro tickets are valid on it!

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Sweet.

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A permanent exhibition of 330 works of the painter and sculptor Salvador Dali is on display in the heart of Montmartre. Inside, the vast, dark setting reflects the dramatic character of this 20th century genius as momving lights grace first one, then another, of his Surrealist works. This in turn is counterpointed with the rhythm of Dali's voice. There is an art gallery as well as a library housed in the original museum.

Unfortunately, just like in Spain, I missed the Dali exhibit. Maybe next time.

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Is he protecting the city or blowing it up?

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In front of the Sacre Coeur.

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Sacre Coeur, or Sacred Heart

At the outbreak of the Franco Prussian war in 1870, two Catholic businessmen made a private religious vow. It was to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ should France be spared from the impending Prussian onslaught. The two men, Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury, lived to see Paris saved from the invasion despite the war and a lengthy siege - and the start of what is the Sacre Coeur basilica. The project was taken up by Archbishop Guibert of Paris. Work began in 1875 to Paul Abadie's designs. The were inspired by the Romano-Byzantine church of St. Front in Perigueux. The basilica was completed in 1914, but the German invasion forestalled its consecration until 1919, when France was victorious.

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What are they all pointing at?

Prussia invaded France in 1870. During the four month siege of Paris, Parisians became so hungry that they ate all the animals in the city.

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Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside.

The Ovid Dome is the second highest point in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower. The bell tower contains one of the heaviest bells in the world. The bell itself weighs 18.5 tons, and the clapper is 1900 pounds.

A chapel in the basilica's crypt contains Legentil's heart in a stone urn.

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To the side of Sacre Coeur is Le Petit Train of Monmartre. It is very old world in that corner. One of my favorite moments was stumbling upon it.

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The artists colony.

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The cafe overlooking the artists. I will return to lunch here.

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Can you see Brian's little head right behind mine?

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We walked down the stairs instead of taking the funicular back down.

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A cool church.

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Braving the metro again.

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Pacman guy spotted!

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Can you find this one?

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A little girl outside of Starbucks. We probably saw 3 Starbucks around the city. It's still under control.

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Outside the train station.

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The race to the Eiffel Tower before the sun went down.

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We didn't quite make it, and we never saw it in the daylight, but the Eiffel was still beautiful. The view from the Trocadero.

The Place du Trocadero was created for the Universal Exhibition of 1878. Initially it was known as the Place du Roi de Rome, in honor of Napolean's son.

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Originally built to impress visitors to the Universal Exhibition of 1889, the Eiffel Tower was meant to be a temporary addition to the Paris skyline. Designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel, it was fiercely decried by 19th century aesthetes. The author Guy de Maupassant lunched there to avoid seeing it. The world's tallest building until 1931 when New York's Empire State Building was completed, the tower is now the symbol of Paris. Since it's recent renovation and installation of new lighting it has never looked better.

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The Tower has inspired many crazy stunts. It has been climbed by mountaineers, cycled down by a journalist, and used as a launch pad by parachutists and as a setting by trapeze artists. In 1912 a Parisian tailor Reichelt attempted to fly from the parapet with only a modified cape for wings. He plunged to his death in front of a large crowd. According to the autopsy, he died of a heart attack before even touching the ground.

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The top, including the antannae, is 1063 ft high. The top can move in a curve of 7 inches under the effect of heat. It is 1665 steps to the third level. 2.5 million rivets hold the tower together. It never sways more than 2.5 inches. It is 10,100 tons in weight, and 60 tons of paint are used on it every seven years.

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The Trocadero Fountains are operated in sequence, culminating in the massive water cannons in the center firing toward sthe Eiffel Tower.

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Looking up.

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According to Eiffel, he chose the complex pattern of pigiron girders to stablisze the tower in strong winds. But Eiffel's design also quickly won admirers for its pleasing symmetry.

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But before going up, we got hungry. So, we ran back across the street for a snack. If you are ever there, it's a tasty stop!

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I had the croque monsieur, the French version of a grilled ham and cheese. But way better, since I don't even like meat.

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Brian had the crepe fromage. It was so good!!

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Our timing worked out well because by the time we got in line it was minimal. This kid really liked the lift to the top.

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Us on the top deck. The third level is 905 feet above ground and can hold 800 people at a time.

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I'm the king of the world! On a clear day it is possible to see for 45 miles.

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Home is this way.

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Going back down.

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Taking a break on the second level. The second level is 719 steps above ground if you choose to take the stairs over the lift. The Jules Verne Restaurant is also located here.

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Living up to Gay Paree.

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The hydraulic elevator mechanism.

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Where Napolean is buried - Dome Churche. The cupola was first gilded in 1719.

The Dome took 27 years to build. In the crypt lies Napoleon, whose final wish was to have his ashes "rest on the banks of the Seine."

King Louis Philippe decided to bring the Emperor Napolean's body back from St Helena as a gesture of reconciliation to the Republican and Bonapartist parties contesting his regime. The Dome Church, with its historical and military associations, was an obvious choice for Napoleon's final resting place. This body was encased in six coffins and finally placed in the crypt in 1861, in the culmination of a grand ceremony that was attended by Napoleon III.

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View of the Trocadero and Palais de Chaillot. This Neoclassical building was consstructed for the World Fair of 1937. It replaced the Palais du Trocadero, which was built in 1878.

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The disclaimer on the lift.

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Back on the ground and looking for dinner. It was chilly out.

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This is what happens when you zoom in to get a shot, and forget to put the settings back to normal on the camera. If you ever stroll through the Champ de Mars, beware of pushy vendors.

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Our friend the cat.

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Check it out, the Do Not Walk guy has his hands on his hips.

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The candy machine at the metro stop.

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This is by the Military Museum.

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We liked the wooden escalator.

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Our connection at Clingon Court.

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Brian really had a thing for taking pictures at metro stops.

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I did not get us lost.

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They must have known Brian was going to be around.

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Columbo?

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We chose Les Deux Magots in St. Germain.

After WWII, St Germain des Pres became synonymous with intellectual life centered around bars and cafes. Philosphers, writers, actors, and musicians mingled in the cellar nightspots and brasseriers, where existentialist philosophy co-existed with American jazz. The area is now smarter than in the heyday of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, the haunding singer Juliette Greco and the New Wave filmmakers. The writers are still around, enjoying the pleasures of sitting in Les Deux Magos, Cafe de Flore and other haunts. The 17th century buildings have survived, but signs of change are evident in the affluent shops dealing in antiques, books, and fashion.

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The cafe still trades on its repuation as the meeting place of the literary and intellectual elite of the city. This derives from the patronate of Surrealist artists and avante garde writers including Ernest Hemingway in the 1920s and 30s, and the existentialist philosophers and writers in the 1950s.

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I had the shrimp and I think Brian had fish..

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But we didn't stop there. I had the mousse.

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And the cheesecake was unbelievable!

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The cafe's name comes from the two wooden statues of Chinese commercial agents (magots) that adorn on of the pillars. This is a great people watching spot.

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Pondering life where so many existentialists have pondered before.

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I don't know what this is, but it was near the restaurant.

Update! This is St Germain des Pres. Descartes and the king of Poland are among the notables buried here are Paris's oldest church. It originated in 542 when King Childebert built a basilica to house holy relics.

We bid farewell to a beautiful Parisian night.

2 comments:

the IMAGINATIVE ACTION REGIME said...

oooh. how amazing. all these wonderful pictures!!!! i'm so happy for you and all your little travels....sorry I missed you on your special day!!! We'll have to have a lunch sometime and celebrate....

Brian said...

I finally got to see it!