Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ooh La La - Paris!

After two weeks in England, the girls and I travelled to Paris, France for a week at the end of June. What a magical, beautiful, elegant city! I wondered if we'd find enough to do to keep us busy for a week but that wasn't a problem.

On our first night there, we stopped by Shakespeare & Company. Paris's favorite bookstore which was a two minute walk from our apartment. They were celebrating a store anniversary and had free wine and music for all their customers. It was a lovely evening, completely unplanned.

The next day, the girls and I took a walking tour and strolled along the River Seine with a guide and four other people. We spent the day exploring the city by foot while Erin told us fun facts and stories, showing us the sights.

Interesting looking gargoyle on a church. Did you know that gargoyles are used to disperse rainwater of the roof of the church?I didn't, but now I do.

Same sweet church, interior view.

The girls and I in front of the Louvre. The Louvre is huge, U-shaped and confusing to get around in but honestly, I could spend a week in there! It's full of the most incredible masterpieces.

The glass pyramid entry is an interesting juxtaposition to the rest of the older, classic architecture.

Our guide told us they had a contest to come with a creative metro (underground subway) entrance and this was a winning entry. Isn't it fun?

Leah standing on an interactive sculpture artwork piece. The entire plaza is full of these black and white circular projections, all at varying heights. Very cool effect.

Lavender garden within Tuileries Garden, a beautiful, enormous park.

Bicycle taxis waiting for passengers outside Tuileries Gardens.

The Arc de Triumph, the largest triumphal arch built in Paris was ordered by Napoleon. That's him, in the "Triumph of Napoleon" on the left, celebrating the Treaty of Vienna in 1810, when his empire was in its heyday. The Arc de Triumph wasn't actually finished until 1836. Four years later Napoleon's funeral procession passed beneath it on his way to his burial in Les Invalides, his final resting place.

The Arc de Triumph is in the middle of an enormous roundabout without any lane markers! The cars travel around it at a great speed and somehow manage to avoid hitting each other. Seeing the people standing beneath it shows just how huge it is. If you look closely, you can see flowers marking the tomb of the unknown solder.

Walking back from the Arc de Triumph on the Champs-Elysees we stopped in at the Swarovski store. The girls and I loved the sparkly stairs full of Swarovski crystals!

The obelisk on Place de la Concorde with its glittering gold cap. It was erected on this site 150 years ago but is actually over 3,000 years old; a gift from Egypt. At one time, this was a central location in the French Revolution and the site of the guillotine where Louis XVI, Marie-Antionette and more than 1,000 others were beheaded.

On a lighter note, we saw darling little fruit and produce stands on many corners in the city.

Mmmm... Very tempting!

Formal gardens outside the Carnavalet Museum, devoted to the history of Paris.

The girls relaxing on a bench in the lovely gardens.

On our way through the plaza in front of Notre Dame, we witnessed a protest. You can't see the protestors in the center but they are protected by the French police in full riot gear. I wanted to stay and see what happened but my girls thought it better to move along.

The girls were (almost) always happy to pose for me in front of yet another monument.

When we went to the Luxembourg Gardens we were blessed to happen upon this glorious outdoor concert, grand piano included! There was plenty of outdoor seating, so we rested a spell and simply enjoyed the beautiful music. (Bonus: no translation necessary!)

I watched a sweet father/son duo taking in the music. The son was too short to get a good view so his father gave him a lift.

After the concert we walked over to a pool and saw a little sailboat being enjoyed by a family with young boys.

Until it landed, that is. There was a slight squabble over who got to pull it out!

Aren't the gardens beautiful? The city of Paris must employ a lot of gardeners.

This is the first apartment we stayed in while in Paris. We have the distinction of staying in the "Narrowest Building in Paris". In fact, while we were there, a tour group walked by and snapped some photos of our building from the street. The girls happened to be at the windows and had fun leaning out and waving to the photographers below!

Such angelic faces... such sweet smiles.

Sharing a laugh at the windows with lovely geranium flower boxes.

The statue of Charlemaigne at the Notre Dame Cathedral. We were so close to the Notre Dame that we could sometimes hear the bells tolling from our apartment. What a magnificent building. So much history has taken place here!

This spot marks the point from where distances all over France to Paris are measured. It's right in front of the Notre Dame.

Beautiful stone work on the front of the Notre Dame. The craftsman who worked on these Cathedrals were amazingly gifted.

This is a banner left over from the protest we walked by the day before. I wish I could read French so I could see what the protest was about.

Sainte Chapelle, the Gothic masterpiece built by Louis IX, completed in 1248. Considered the most beautiful church in all of Paris and I would have to agree. It has gorgeous stained glass windows that soar 50 feet! Truly amazing.

Another photo of Sainte Chapelle. I'm afraid that photos do not do this beautiful chapel justice. The chapel was originally built to house the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus when he was crucified, or so the story goes. Louis IX was a devout King who also acquired pieces from the cross Jesus was crucified on, nails from the crucifixion and a few drops of Christ's blood, paying almost three times more for them than the construction of the Sainte Chapelle itself. The relics now reside at Notre Dame but we were not able to see them as they are only shown once a month which, unfortunately, was not when we were visiting.

I hope you enjoyed the first half of our Paris visit.

Stay tuned for yet more Parisian adventures!


Farmchick said...

I love seeing/reading about your trip. Beautiful!!!!!!!!

pilgrimscottage said...

You make me wish I were there with you. How fun! Loooove the bookstore and fruit stands!! Everything looks lovely!!!

Leah Marie said...

I had so much fun with you & Emily! Let’s go back soon, okay? At least to England. :)


Libbie said...

Amazing!!! I think I would fall in love with Paris and never come home!

So much history! Thanks for teaching me all that along the way!

Leslie said...

looks like you had a marvelous and magical time... such lovely memories.

p.s. glad your little theodore is okay, too :)

Auntie Cake said...

Looks like you had a great time in Paris! Beautiful pics.

I saw your comment to Lib about the fair. My kids were there, they worked the fair at a church booth Thursday and Friday, with grandma and grandpa. They said it was so hot... But they got good tips. Hope your projects went well and they had a fun time showing!

Pierre BOYER said...

A great walk through Paris...
You could see some pics here :
Greetings from France,


Fernando Santos (Chana) said...

Belas fotografias de Paris...Espectacular....