Friday, July 23, 2010

On Seeing Paris

Day 5 began with a trip from London to Paris on the Eurostar.  We left from St. Pancras Station in London and traveled straight to Paris.  The trip was only about 2.5 hours! :)

Once we arrived in Paris we met our city guide, loaded the bus and set off on a three hour city tour.  We saw sights all over the city.  Big ones like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and little ones like the old Texas Embassy (France was the only country to recognize the state of Texas as it's own country when it separated from Mexico).  The tour stopped us at a great place to get pictures of the Eiffel Tower before dropping us off at our hotel.

The beginning of Avenue des Champs-Élysées

The end of Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Most of the Auburn graduates/soon-to-be graduates

Despite all of the rumors one hears, there really are numerous American inspired
French things and things from France that have inspired American things

The torch that was originally on the Statue of Liberty that America gifted back to France.
It now sits on top of the tunnel where Princess Diana died.

L'Hôtel national des Invalides
Originally designed to care for war veterans, it now houses  Musée de l'Armée,

Something that inspired the top of the US Capitol Building :)

After checking into the hotel we had time to change before going to the restaurant for the welcome dinner.  The restaurant's name was Chartier.  The dinner was the most interesting on the trip.  It started out with an appetizer that was boiled egg, a spicy white sauce and tomato.  But the main course was baked chicken with french fries, followed by a fruit custard.  After dinner we made a quick stop into a wine store to pick up drinks before heading out on our River Sienne.  The river tour gave us glimpses of other historic places.

Dinner Locale!

My side of the table!
Melissa, Grant, Trevor, Myself

War Eagle Paris!

The National Assembly: home to the French lower house of Parliament

Jefferson sat across the river from this building and
the top of it inspire the top of his house: Monticello

Mary Anges and Myself on the River Cruise

The girls!

Myself and Carlyn

So the boat was a tad awkward for us to get the whole group in the shot
and this is my best picture. 

The next morning, we woke up and started our individual groups sight-seeing.  We started out early and headed to Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  We stopped in the expensive shop row for Carlyn to see the Louis Vuitton store before going underneath Place Charles de Gualle to see the Arc de Triumphe.  Place Charles de Gualle was originally known as Place de l'Étoile or "Place of the Star." It is still referred to by some as this name as it is the meeting point of 12 major avenues in Paris.  Because the circle is always busy, pedestrians are not allowed to cross it to get to the Arc de Triumphe.  Our guide informed us of the law in this one Place; that incoming traffic has the right of way and that traffic inside of the Place has to stop to let those coming in enter safely.  According to him, it is the only circle in the world with this rule.  So we made our way to the Arc de Triumphe.

Across the Place Charles de Gualle

Coming up from the tunnel, literally underneath the Arc

On one side is the list of Napoleon's generals and on the other side are the battles they fought

The Arc houses France's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Codi planning out the direction to go next and how to get there!

The next stop happened to be the Louvre.  The Mussée de Louvre was originally Palais du Louvre, home to the royal family until 1672 when Louis XIV chose to move the family to the Palace of Versailles.  After the royal family, the Louvre housed the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.  During the French Revolution, the National Assembly voted to turn the Louvre into a museum.

A Panoramic shot from my camera
In the shot is Mary Agnes, Codi, and Matt

The girls outside the Louvre!
(Poor Matt didn't get into any.)

A video of the outside; I was standing pretty much in the center of the U-shaped building

Me and Mona! She's much smaller in person! I was about 10ish feet away.

Everything, even the ceilings were ornate!

France's crown jewels

Venus de Milo!

The girls in the Louvre!

The next stop on our list of things to do in Paris was to see Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. It was amazing! To see it up close! Btw...the gargoyles still serve their purpose: to funnel water off the roof and into the street below.  We found that out as it was raining steadily when we got there.

Right as you walk in!

Reason 1 that they have the flying buttresses outside!

The altar

Where the choir sits


Sorry they are blurry - it's hard to take pictures with no flash

I signed the welcome book!

After we left the cathedral, we made our adventurous way to the Paris Panthéon which houses a really cool clock and the remains of famous French citizens.  See below:

Codi and I on the subway to go to the Pantheon

The outside

The clock - was established in 1851 by physicist Léon Foucault
to illustrate the rotation of the earth.  It is called a
Foucault pendulum that is bolted to the Panthéon Dome.

The dome

Tribute to the Convention Nationale

Voltaire's Remains

Victor Hugo 1802 - 1885*
Alexandre Dumas 1802 -1870*

Louis Braille 1809 - 1852*

Marie Curie nee Sklodowska 1867 - 1934*
Pierre Curie 1859 - 1906*

*Not actually their tombs but I have pics of the actual tombs.  This are just the name plates outside of the rooms the remains rest in.

Carlyn in front of the replica of the building

Matt through the replica.  The things on the very bottom of the pic in the
red area are where the tombs are located; in the crypt!

Our last stop of the day was at the Musée de l'Armée to see Napoleon's tomb!  We went in the front and ended up going through the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, which is a display of all the Napoleon I, II, III war information and battle clothes.  It was a cool display but we were rushing because we only had about 15 mins to make it to Napoleon's tomb before it closed.  So after leaving the display, we found the correct entrance and walked in and there it was! Down in a hole in the floor! LOL

L'Hôtel national des Invalides - as we were walking up to it!

See the upper window covers?!

The gold dome is where we were headed

I'm taking this from the ground level floor (Floor 0 in Europe).
The tomb would be on Floor -1. Just FYI.

The view from across the circle.

The dome. The French like domes :) It is mainly because most of
the domes were built in the Neoclassical period.

Napoleon I's remains

Heading down to the lower floor

How it looks from eye level!
Is it not huge?!

Napoleon II's remains

After seeing our last sight of the day, we headed back to the hotel.  Where I promptly set my alarm and fell asleep.  I left myself an hour to get ready for the Moulin Rouge that night. So you can imagine my surprise when I wake up and it's 9:15 instead of 8:15! OH DEAR! We were to leave at 9:30 that night.  I threw my clothes on, put my make up in the bag and ran out the door, not bothering to grab my poncho and it was raining!  I got downstairs in the nick of time!  And putting my make up on in the subway was an interesting experience. I did get help on part of it thanks to Kelly and the honest opinions of Moriah! :)

Kelly helping me out!

First view of it!

Me in front of it!

Myself and Moriah

Myself and Codi

After the Moulin Rouge it was 2 in the morning and I made my first phone call to the parents since it was 6 pm CST. It was good to hear their voices after 6 days!

The next morning my group woke up and decided to follow a walking tour card that Codi's friend gave her.  This took us to the oldest church in Paris, St. Pierre de Montmartre, and to a church that has a blue tint in the stained glass that scientists are not sure how the builders obtained the blue hue, the Church of the Sacred Heart.
The church from a distance
(even though we didn't know it at this point)

We found the backside of it!
(Yet again, we didn't know it was it)

A cute garden outside the church

It was beautiful

The view from the church

The whole group! :)

The Church of the Sacred Heart

The oldest church in the area
Begun in 1147 and finished in 1680

Having a snack after all of our walking!
Real French pastries made that morning!
After viewing both churches, we found a quaint square filled with hundreds of artists of varying kinds of art.  Carlyn, Codi, and Matt bought some of the original art.  After leaving the square, we headed to see about going up into the Eiffel Tower.  Once we arrived, we realized that there would not be enough time to wait in line and go up into it.  So we took pictures on the lawn instead.

The nets are to keep people from jumping
This is where the term line jumping originated it's kinda gruesome.

Did you know that the arches hold no architectural purpose.
They were added to make it look prettier. :) The triangular shape was too much for the Parisians!

Yup. It's huge!

That's me jumping! LOL

Now leaving Paris. Next stop Rome!

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