La Seine

17 02 2012

Every Francophile (and everyone with basic geographical knowledge of France) knows that Paris is built around the River Seine. Stretching east-west through the city, the Seine cuts through the most historic – and it has to be said – touristy sections of Paris. And while streetscapes are lovely, a streetscape with water reaches a whole different level of loveliness. And the many bridges that cross the river are decorative and have a history all of their own.

When travelling to france we were recommended to try the hop-on-hop-off tourist boats as a different way of seeing the city and also a convenient way of travelling. Unfortunately my travelling companion did not understand the concept of hop-on-hop-off, and so we did the full tour in one go.

Here are a few of our photographs of the Seine. (More links to other Paris photos at the bottom)

view of the Louvre across the Seine

view of the Seine from near the Louvre

looking up at Pont de Arts - the bridge covered in love padlocks

Pont des Arts (again)

view from Notre Dame

view from Notre Dame

view from Notre Dame

narrow channels around an island

Notre Dame from a boat on the Seine

The dots on the end of the island here are people sunbathing.

busy tourist traffic on the river

one of my favourite photos

looking across the Seine from Eiffel Tower

from Eiffel Tower

from Eiffel Tower


Want more photos of France? Here are a few more….
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Notre Dame
French menus
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
The Louvre
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Streets of Paris
Arc de Triomphe
The troglodytes of Maison Fort de Reignac
Fontainebleau – Versailles without the queues
Chartres

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Tour Eiffel

9 01 2012

What visit to Paris would be complete without a visit (or two) to the Eiffel Tower?
A variety of views of the famous tower from around Paris – and Paris from the Tower!

The gargoyle with the best view - Eiffel Tower in the distance from the top of the Cathedral Notre Dame

Eiffel Tower in the distance from the top of Cathedral Notre Dame

Eiffel Tower in the distance, from the top of Cathedral Notre Dame

crowds underneath the Eiffel Tower

dusk underneath the Eiffel Tower

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower at night

view of the Seine at night from the Eiffel Tower

looking up the Eiffel Tower from the second floor

If you liked this post you might also like some more posts from France…..
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Notre Dame
French menus
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
The Louvre
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Streets of Paris
Arc de Triomphe
Napoleon’s Tomb
Galeries Lafayette
Versailles





The Louvre

8 01 2012

A recent travel study showed that the Louvre was one of the top places for Australians to visit in Paris. Perhaps it is because our built heritage and history only dates back a couple of hundred years (Aboriginal history dates back much further of course but it is not a built history – no buildings). The amazingly detailed and elaborate historic buildings in Europe, and the enormous collection of artworks dating back centuries – and even thousands of years to Egyptian, Greek and Roman times – this is all on a completely different scale to art museums in Australia.

The Louvre is housed in the former Palais de Louvre. In the basement of the current building the original fortress walls (circa 12th century) have been restored and are on display.

It took us three goes to get into the Louvre. The first time we turned up on a Tuesday….to find that was the one day of the week that the Louvre is closed. The second time we turned up on the 1st of May. to find that it was again closed, perhaps for the Mayday Parades. Given France’s revolutionary history, perhaps they were concerned that the workers in the Parades might rise up and sack the museum…..

Third time lucky, we got in. The queues to get in were very long – across one courtyard, through and archway and into the next courtyard – but they moved quickly and it took about 3/4 an hour before we were inside.

I haven’t included too many photos of the actual artworks, because there are much better photographs available on the net (try Wikipedia and the Musee de Louvre website). Instead I have tried to capture some of the magnificence – the huge halls, spectacular architecture and the gilded details – that make the experience of visiting the Louvre so special.

If you are heading to the Louvre, a couple of things to remember:

1. It is closed on Tuesdays. (and, as we discovered, on May Day)

2. There are four wings to the Louvre – and if you want to see everything, you will need to take at least four days. Luckily there is a lovely restaurant in the foyer (which is also the nexus of the wings) so you can refuel and recoup ready for the next onslaught.

Enjoy!

The Louvre viewed from the Eiffel Tower

The Louvre from across the Seine (first attempt to get into the Louvre!)

The famous courtyard of the Louvre, featuring the glass pyramid by I.M.Pei

plenty of opportunity to admire the architecture waiting in the queue.....

amazing architecture

view of one of the boarded-off storerooms, full of treasures

One of many depictions of Diana, goddess of the hunt

Q: what can be at the centre of this crush of people?

A; a very small painting on wooden boards.....and possibly the most famous painting in the world.

there are other paintings in the same room as the Mona Lisa!

this courtyard is closed - a view from the second floor windows

statue in the closed-off courtyard

view of the I.M.Pei pyramid from the second floor windows

grand staircase

some of the surplus treasures stored in a boarded-off area

"rogues gallery"?

the entire building features elaborate painted and guilded ceilings - the artwork as impressive as anything else on display

Venus de Milo

part of the medieval walls of the original Palais de Louvre, now on display in the basement of the Musee de Louvre

a replica of the original fortress de Louvre

A sphinx guards the entrace to the Egyptian collection

If you liked this post you might also like some more posts from France…..
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Notre Dame
French menus
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)





Arrival in Paris

31 10 2011

Hotel des Invalides - tomb of Napoleon and Military Museum

We arrived in Paris at about 7am on a Sunday. Our first view of Paris was the rather depressing arrivals lounge and baggage collection area at Charles de Gaulle airport. The decorating motif is “concrete”. And distressed 1970s era concrete at that.

We had organised for someone to meet us at the airport and drive us into Paris – a quiet drive with few companions on the road. The drive from the airport to the Periphique (ring road around Paris which divides the old Paris of the arondissements from the sprawling suburbs) was on a highway surrounded by industrial areas and lined with graffiti. Still not the most auspicious start to the holiday. However, the driver / guide was lovely and pointed out various features as we drove in, engaged our jet-lagged minds in conversation and was generally very helpful.

Once in the older part of Paris the landmarks come think and fast. Hotel des Invalides, its gleaming dome shining in the early morning sun. The Seine. Tour d’Eiffel. Arc de Triomph. Famous famous visages renowned the world over.

view from our hotel in Paris, away from McDonalds and the Montparnasse Tower

The roads of Paris this early Sunday morning were still quiet, but given that we had no idea where we were or where our hotel was, we were very thankful for the driver. We arrived at the hotel – conveniently near the Tour de Montparnasse – at around 8am, to find that our room would be ready at 3pm. We deposited our luggage at the hotel and set off to drag our weary bodies around Paris.

Our first meal in Paris – lunch – was at a Pizza restaurant. I kid you not. We were tired and the restaurant was just there, the kids were keen to eat something familiar. And it was very nice. (Note for new players: Pschitt is a brand of lemonade.)

Lemonade...I was really jetlagged when I took this photo!

We visited the Eiffel Tower, wandered around the streets, worked out where the Louvre was, and then headed back to the hotel.

The convenience about being in a hotel near the Montparnasse Tower was that no matter where you were in the city, you could look up and find the tower and navigate your way back there. We also had help from a kind man who saw us reading the map in the street and asked (in English) if he could help. So much for Parisians not being helpful.

The second great thing about Montparnasse Tower is that Galleries Lafayette, Paris’ fabulous department store, has its second store there. Not as impressive as the main store which is set in an old Opera House with an amazing domed glass ceiling and ornate gilded fittings throughout – but I ended up finding more of the things I wanted in the second store.

However, back to the first day. At 3pm we got into our hotel room and being as jetlagged as we were, went immediately to bed. The children, despite expressing disgust for going to bed at 3 in the afternoon, went rapidly to sleep, as did we all. Jetlag and the walk to and from the Eiffel Tower had exhausted us all.

Eiffel Tower on our first morning in Paris

We woke at 9pm and realised that we had no idea how to find food in the city, particularly in the middle of the night. The hotel did not have a restaurant or room service. While there were a number of cafes and restaurants open now, if we went back to sleep (as we wanted to) and woke hungry at 3am (as we were bound to), we would be unable to find any food and had none with us.

However we did remember that there was a “restaurant” just near the hotel – one that did take-away.

Yes, our second meal in Paris was from McDonalds. Important things to know about ordering from McDonalds in France.

1. The burgers are referred to as Sandwiches.

2. A porter means “to go” or takeaway.

3. Pretty much anything else can be achieved through pointing at the menu board.

4. The McDonalds assistants are very helpful. At this stage I was so tired I was having difficulty communicating in English, my native language, let alone French. While the guy behind the counter did not speak much English, we managed to communicate through his high-school English and my high-school French, and a lot of pointing.

5. They don’t have Fanta – try Orangina, less sweet, more orange-y. And Coke is Coca, Diet Coke is Coca-light.

I stress that the quality of our food consumption improved significantly after this. We became adept at reading menus and ordering in French. The children also became quite fluent in restaurant French. We ate saumon, steak hache, pate de frois gras, grenouilles, escargot, magret de canard (my favourite – breast of duck) and much more.

Once we were over our jetlag!

If you liked this post you might also like some more posts from France…..
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Notre Dame
French menus
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
The Louvre
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Streets of Paris
Arc de Triomphe
Napoleon’s Tomb
Galeries Lafayette
Versailles