We have been in the UK for over a year now. We landed in London 15th June 2010. However, for the whole year we’d been here, we’d only traveled to British destinations for our holidays. Affordable, but a touch hopeless, no?
The last weekend of June, we finally left the island – and went to Paris!
I just love all the lovers’ padlocks on the bridge above. 🙂
We were in Paris for only a 3day weekend, but made sure to *cram* as much as we could into it. Over the 3 days, we walked everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. I remember being very impressed by Paris when I visited with my family in 2005 (we had a lovely time, by the way). This time, I was hoping to enjoy it even more since I won’t be jetlagged. 🙂
This post is just a ‘highlights’ post of the major sights we saw in Paris while wandering. We started our wanderings at the Lourve, but since it was 3pm and the queue was massive, we decided we’d go in another morning, first thing. The buildings, which used to be a royal palace up until Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded. After that, it was opened up by revolutionaries and then Napolean turned it into a museum.
Opposite the Lourve is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel erected by Napolean in 1808. However, he decided is wasn’t a big enough trumphant arch, so built the other bigger one at the other end of the Champs Elysees.
The bigger Arc de Triumph is way up there! The Jardin des Tuileries is big park that used to be the palace gardens for the King and his family. It’s a massive park right in the middle of the city that was fenced off from the population. Part of the French revolution was opening the gardens to the public.
Our walk detoured from the Right Bank over to the Left Bank to wander past the Hotel des Invalides. Napolean is buried under the huge gold dome at the back, and there’s also meant to be a great museum inside about the occupation and revolution during WWII. But we were on a wandering mission, so didn’t go in that day.
Eventually, we made it over the to the big destination of Paris – the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower was originally built for the Universal Exhibition in 1889 and was set to be dismantled, but its graceful symmetry meant it stayed.
Again, because it was mid afternoon and the queues were massive, we decided not to go up it, but continue our wandering. The tower was pretty impressive. Bigger than we expected.
From the Eiffel Tower, we walked up and over to the bigger Arc de Triumph at the top of Champs Elysees. And it really is big – bigger than I remember from my trip in 2005 with my family. The roundabout is bigger than I remember too. Its about 5 lanes wide of traffic, where the cars on the roundabout give way to the cars coming on! It was quite bizarre watching cars fly out into the moving roundabout traffic. Apparently, you can’t get insurance for any accidents you have on the roundabout. I’m not surprised.
Napolean ordered work begin on the Arc in 1806, but it wasn’t finished until 1836 partly due to Napolean’s downfall. The sculptures on the front of the Arc are quite striking. The one on the left shows the Triumph of Napolean, celebrating the treaty of Vienna in 1810 during Napolean’s heyday. The one on the right represents volunteers going to defend France from Austria and Prussia in 1792.
The buildings all over the city center are in brilliant condition, considering country’s fairly violent revolutionary history. There are so many majestic and dramatic buildings representing the wealth that was – and probably still is – in Paris. The Opera National is a spectacular building, again built by Napolean III, but its also in a dramatic street of what were aristocratic homes. The architecture and style of the whole area is amazing. Definitely a more beautiful city than London, I think.
The final highlight of Paris we saw (again from the outside) was Notre Dame. Its a magnificent building with detailed gargolyes and buttresses – a Gothic masterpiece. When I visited with my parents last time, we went in because there wasn’t much of a queue. The stained glass rose windows are beautiful, and 1 of them still contains the original 13th century glass. Amazing. We’ll have to come back and go in next time.
This was just the highlights post. We’ve got a couple (briefer) blog posts coming of particular parts of our trip, such as the Lourve, Musee l’Orangie and all the Invader art we saw in the streets.
We had an amazing weekend and we barely scratched the surface of Paris. We’ll have to visit again sometime.