Monday, August 4, 2003

France - Paris, Versailles

This Dover harbor with its white cliffs is the last scene I saw of England as we sailed toward France...
I tried to imagine what Paris would be like, but even my imagination failed me.

Dover from the Ferry to Paris
One thinks of Eiffel towers when Paris is mentioned. No wonder!
It is such a massive structure, completely out of place yet in place at the same time.
The view of this metal structure was somehow beautiful in sunset.

Eiffel Tower at Sunset

By the time we crossed a small park and arrived near the Eiffel tower, the sun had already us a beautiful view of Eiffel Tower lit up.

View of Eiffel tower lit at Night

It is easy to see from this angle, how tall this structure actually is.
I had not been able to imagine until I saw elevators running up and down.

Eiffel Tower Angle
Twinkling Eiffel Tower?
This is not some special effect I created in Photoshop. Whether for tourist benefit or just for simple amusement, the Eiffel Tower was twinkling at certain point at night.
Perhaps this is what Parisians call Fashion...

Twinkling Eiffel Tower

If I were able to, I would have gone inside the Opera house in search know who!
The Phantom of course...
Perhaps it was better that I didn't...since I still have some shred of hope that the story might be true.

Paris Opera House
I did it..
Despite the deadly fear of height, I got on the elevator...or should I say elevatorS...and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
It really was making my feet shake, but it was worth it. I could see just about all of Paris and its numerous bridges from up there.  

View from the top of Eiffel Tower
I am sure the pictures of Eiffel Tower is getting tiresome, but the view during night, sunset, twinkling, during the day...are so different that I had to do justice.
I had a nice walk from the Eiffel Tower to the end of the Park, exactly opposite the way we went the night before.
I also succumbed to being a tourist by buying hand sketches of Notre Dame from the street vendor.

Eiffel Tower during the day
The famous street of Champs Elysée starts at this Arch de Triumph.
The night before, we had most crazy experience in this accident-prone area. We circled around and around the round about like crazy people who want to die.

Arch de Triumph
Who would have thought I'd actually be walking down this fashionable street of Champs Elysée?
I've heard this street numerous times in movies and songs, but never thought I'd get a chance. 

Champs Elysée
This fountain is somewhere in the middle between Champs Elysée and Louvre.
After leisurely walk down the street, we stopped at the ice cream shop and settled down for a leisurely hour eating ice cream and drinking coffee.
People-watching is more fun than what most people think...

The fountain at the end of Champs Elysée
Somehow, despite late...I mean LATE night of 4 am, I got up to go tour the Paris.
We had crazy night at the bank of the Seine river. There was street musicians, crazy Paris wanderers, people talking, drinking wine...I guess that's what we call night life.
Notre Dame...which I had seen night before took on a somber tone during the day.

Notre Dame
The Gothic churches are more beautiful inside than out...
One would really believe in the heaven and the mysterious God inside...

Inside Notre Dame
As the sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows, I wondered...
What was I really doing there? It was strange deja vu...
Or perhaps it was just lack of sleep... 
Inside Notre Dame
I love to take weird angle pictures of beautiful architecture.
Believe it or not, this is Notre Dame rose window.

Notre Dame angle
One side of Notre Dame, across the river, was being repaired.
Not having gotten the other side of Notre dame without all the coverings, I decided to at least take a photo of the other side.

Notre Dame from the side
This is the Chapel known for the stained glass windows. When I entered the first level of the chapel, I wondered what they were talking about
Then I climbed up the stairs into the next level...
It was truly heavenly. The sun cooperated and came through in rainbow of colors through the glass windows.

St. Chappell
We approached Louvre from the back, walking through the so called shopping street.
We encountered this beautiful Cathedral...

Back of Louvre
I had heard there was some sort of alternate back entrance to Louvre. We looked, but we could not find it, so we had to enter through the ever busy front Pyramid entrance.

Despite the aching feet and lack of sleep, we went for Mona Lisa.
It is the farthest away from the entrance as was possible. I almost believe it was put there so that people had to walk the length of the museum to see it.
Personally, I was unimpressed. I admire Da Vinci, but I am not sure it was worth the pilgrimage.

Mona Lisa
On our way to the antiquities section...upon my insistence of course, we saw some beautiful Greek statues.

We spent our last night viewing the show at Moulin Rouge. It was spectacular although I thought it was rather made for the tourists.
I actually liked the movie version of the Moulin Rouge better...  

Moulin Rouge
We headed to Versailles after the view of Eiffel Tower during the day.
Versailles is another small town somewhat away from Paris. I couldn't believe how quaint and pretty the surrounding area was and how grad the palace was!         

I guess Louis had to outdo the palace in Paris.
It seemed small, but the buildings seemed larger and larger as one got closer.

View of Versailles
People...unavoidable during tourist season.
I could not avoid them at Versailles either...but such is the life of tourist. I still wouldn't have missed it for anything. 

The tour guide rattled on of the names of each rooms at the main part of the palace, but I cannot remember which room this was nor can I remember the name of any of the rooms I've taken pictures of.
I have many pictures such as this that I shall not bore people with.

A room in Versailles
I've read so much about this famous Hall of Mirrors in history books, but I had not quite expected it to be so large or so full of mirrors.
I am not sure exactly what I expected, but it wasn't really this. If it weren't for tourists and guards, I would have loved to slide down the whole hall.   

Hall of Mirrors

Books and DVDs on Paris and Versailles:
Walks Through Lost Paris: A Journey Into the Heart of Historic Paris Writers in Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light Paris (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

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