The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Postcards from Paris (1) - Snapshots

A view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower


Paris - city of romance; city of light. Paris is that and so much more. It is the city that gave us La Vie En Rose and haute couture. A vibrant modern city with a colourful historical past. Paris was the home of Louis XIV- the 'Sun King' and Napoleon; Marie Curie and Pasteur. A city torn apart by a bloody revolution but which was rebuilt to become the capital of an empire. Its past has given it its present character. It is both classy and brash; mysterious and in-your-face. I could go on and on but I do not want to bore you with too much detail. Instead I will give you some snapshots of the things that struck me most on my recent trip to Paris with my husband.


Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe. The Champs Elysees. Cartier. Louis Vuitton. Place Charles de Gaulle. Place de la Concorde...

The Arc de Triomphe is, as its name implies, a triumphal arch. It was built by Napoleon and is situated at one end of the most famous boulevard in Paris: the Champs Elysees which stretch from Place Charles de Gaulle to Place de la Concorde. The latter square was famous (or infamous) for being the site where executions took place during the French Revolution of 1789. An Egyptian obelisk today stands at the centre of this square. The Champs Elysees are lined with renowned stores such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton and other more money-friendly shops such as Promod and Esprit.


The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower. Wrought ironwork. Views of Paris. Vertigo. The Eternal Flame. The Pont de l'Alma tunnel. Princess Diana...



Constructed in 1889 to mark the first centennial from the French Revolution, this tower of wrought ironwork soars 984 feet into the sky and provides unobstructed and vertiginous views of all of Paris. It is, perhaps, the most easily recognised landmark in Paris and certainly one of the most famous. Not far from the Eiffel Tower is an exact replica of the flame held by the Statue of Liberty in New York. The flame is situated right on top of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel which was the site of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.


Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame. Gothic architecture. Gargoyles. Quasimodo. Esmeralda. Bells. Spires. Stained glass. Ile de la Cite. Ile St Louis. Souvenir shops...

Situated on the Ile de la Cite, Notre Dame is a notable example of Gothic architecture. It stood at the heart of medieval Paris, most of which was later destroyed. We went there on a cold and rainy day which somehow added to the character of the place. The famous gargoyles stud the facade of this thirteenth century church and Victor Hugo's novel 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' immediately comes to mind. It is easy to imagine Quasimodo ringing the bells in the towers and looking down on Esmeralda. The interior of the church is very stark but the huge glass-stained windows provide colour and cheer on gloomy days. The cathedral is surrounded by souvenir shops and a short walk will take you to Ile St Louis, a small island in the Seine connected to the rest of Paris by a number of bridges. It is a sweet little place with narrow streets and charming stores.


The Conciergerie
La Conciergerie. Fortress. Prison. Torture chamber. Marie Antoinette. Danton. The guillotine. The revolution of 1789. The Reign of Terror...

Used first as a fortress and then as a prison and torture chamber, the Conciergerie was the last home of Marie Antoinette before she was guillotined. It is here, also, that Robespierre and Danton, two of the early revolutionaries, spent their last days. It is a magnificent medieval building which, when lit up at night, forgets its dark past as it casts its golden reflection on the still waters of the Seine.


In as few words as possible I have tried to give you a very brief look at the history of Paris and at some of the major attractions. There is much to see and even more to say but, as with all cities, I think it is best to discover it for yourselves. However, in the next few days, I will give you a few more glimpses of this captivating city. For today I will leave you with some gorgeous flowers from its parks.

8 comments:

  1. These photos are great! I have never been there, so this is a nice tour!

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  2. What beautiful pictures Loree. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Oh such lovely sights! I hope to see them myself someday. In the meantime, I love your photos quite a lot.

    Cindy

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  4. OMG!! I'm soooooo jealous! I've always wanted to go to Paris and this makes me want to go even more. LOVE the pictures :O)

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  5. What an enjoying post...Love the photos, and everything...

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  6. Why didn't you post the pictures I took of you with those angry "Jason" faces? :) Very accurate and concise....you should be a tour guide.

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  7. I loved Paris when I visited, thanks for the memories I loved your pics!

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  8. Un bel hommage à Paris...
    Best regards from France,

    Pierre

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