Published: November 25th 2009November 24th 2009
Things are all back to normal in the hotel at least from a hot water in our room to be able to shower and get ready for another day of sightseeing.
Tour director,Gretchen,has day two planned with more top attractions to see all to be connected by rides on the Metro.Paris is proving to be a little bigger to get around over the three days that we have and the best option for today and tomorrow is to use the Metro.It may mean we miss some places we would have passed had we been walking a bit more but we just have to accept that and pick up on those when we come back to Paris again.
We are out of the hotel door 45 minutes earlier than yesterday and across the road to the Gare du Nord for the first Metro ride to visit the road tunnel where Princess Diana died in that horrific road accident.
It hasn’t taken long to get the hang of the Paris Metro despite the large number of lines that criss cross the city.We reckon we could make a good living by offering our services to other travellers who we have seen with their Metro
maps standing in the pedestrian tunnels trying to work out where they need to go to see whatever they want to see.!!
There is no formal memorial in or near the tunnel where the car she was travelling in crashed and we had to read Wikipedia to fill in the gaps about where the car had been coming from and which end of the tunnel that the crash had actually occurred.
On a concrete wall and ledge above the tunnel people have written their personal messages about the incident and their thoughts about her.It would seem they must be cleaned off at regular intervals as most were dated within the last three months.There was also a large tribute to Wacko Jacko which seemed rather out of place amongst those to our favourite royal.
From there it was across the Seine and down an avenue to the last attraction on our list from yesterday that we didn’t make it to because of the light rain that started to fall.
It took us about 20 minutes to walk to Hotel Des Invalides a massive place built in the 1670’s to house 4000 war invalids.On the 14 July 1789 a mob broke into
Tributes to Wacko Jacko
Didn't seem quite appropriate next to tributes for Lady Di
the building and after heavy fighting took 28000 rifles to head to the Bastille and the revolution.Today it serves as a hotel and also houses an army museum.It is a very ornate building that has stood the test of time very well.It is such a huge building that it is impossible to get it all in the frame in one photograph without walking back about 750 metres.
The next attraction is going to take another Metro ride this time in the direction of the Catacombes,an old quarry now buried 20 metres below the road system where in the late 1700’s deceased Parisians were exhumed and their bones stacked up due to a shortage of room in the cemeteries of the time.
We walked around the large intersection where 5 or 6 major roads met for 30 minutes before we finally found the small building attached to another building that served as the entrance to the Catacombes.However,there was a notice on the door saying the place was closed to due to vandalism and it would be announced sometime in the future when it would reopen.
So that was a bit of a wasted trip although we did need to be in
The guns to start the Revolution were stolen from here
this direction for the next place on the list,Jardin du Luxembourg.
However before we got there and in the absence of a McD’s being handy we used one of the relatively new free public WC’s which we assume have been installed to replace the aged facilities that we thought we might be seeing.It was quite clean and smelt OK as it was one of those self cleaning facilities that does it’s thing before the next person can use it.
We had lunch to top up the reserves before we tackled the afternoon sightseeing.The filled rolls here are so yummy and more than enough for one person and we have been used to sharing one between us.However, there is no sharing when it came to the almond pastry for me or Gretchen’s fruit croissant.We sat on a seat outside the Marie Curie Institute and did some people watching while we enjoyed lunch.
Then it was over the road to the Jardin du Luxembourg,another area set aside for gardens and with good open space.The flower beds were of course finished but there were large pots of crysthamseums in flower around a fountain making a very colourful display on a rather grey overcast
It was just a short walk to the Pantheon built as an abbey church in 1750 but converted to the resting place down in the crypt for many of Paris’ famour digniteries.People like Voltaire and Victor Hugo rest here along with Marie Curie.
In the part on the ground floor which had been designed as a church was the working model of Foucault’s Pendulum.It is a sizeable brass ball that swings back and forward over a distance of several metres and travels over the time of day shown on a 270deg clock face.It was made to show that the earth revolves around the sun and it is earth that is moving not the sun.All very interesting once we got the background to it on a short video being run nearby.
The interior of the building houses some a number of statues and around the walls are paintings depicting famous French people with stories from their lives over 3 or 4 huge paintings several metres wide and high.A good example was that of Joan of Arc as a young girl,as a warrior,being burnt at the stake and then being made a saint.All very pictorial.
We were now starting to drag
our feet a bit but we have two more nearby attractions to visit.
It was only a few hundred metres across the Seine to the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris probably the most recognised sight in Paris after the Eiffel Tower.
Workmen were busy putting up the large Christmas tree in front of the cathedral which was a bit of a nuisance as it blocked part of the pictures we wanted to take from front on.
The cathedral is of Gothic design and was begun in 1163 although for centuries before there had been a place of worship on the site.
There were a large number of intricate little statues over the portals which is a bit unusual for the RC churches we have been into in France as most have been of plain design bith externally and internally.The stained glass was just beautiful and of a more modern design than what we had expected considering the age of the building although of course the glass may be a more recent addition to replace previous designs.
Our last place to visit for today was the main prison during The Reign of Terror at the time of the Revolution.The building
known as the Conciergerie is right next door to the current Palais of Justice although we are not sure that that building was there at the time of the Revolution.Around 2700 prisoners came through the Conciergerie after their trials including Marie Antoinette before she lost her head!!There are mock ups of the types of cells furnished as they would have been to give the feel of what it must have been like.Apparently, if as a prisoner,you had money you could pay for a cell which you only had to share with one or two others and have some limited privacy before you were put to death.If you had no money then you were thrown in with a large number of others.
We felt we had put in a big day and had covered a fair amount of ground and even though we used the metro to get around we felt foot weary.
With a plan to go out tonight and take in the Christmas lights we headed back to the hotel to put our feet up for a couple of hours.
So after a good rest and a wine or two we were ready to hit the metro again and
caught a train to La Fayette to see the shops lit up for Christmas.We weren’t disappointed!!The lighting display was fabulous and gave us an instant feel that Christmas is just around the corner.We went along the shop front a little further than we did yesterday and there were more windows with displays geared up for kids,both young and old!!
We then caught another train onto a station near the Seine with the idea of getting photographs of the Eiffel Tower lit up for Christmas.When we emerged from the subway the Tower wasn’t where we thought it should have been!!We thought that maybe it wasn’t lit up yet but after crossing the road and walking around the corner,there is was!!The only problem was that it looked like it was only lit up fully on the side that we w ern’t facing so we had to walk up to the fountains where we w ere yesterday to get a good vantage point.
We had walked further than we really wanted to and it was now after 8.30pm and hunger was setting in so we carried on down the avenue towards the Arc de Triomphe and found a restaurant for dinner.I felt like
chicken but it was off the menu!!So we both had scallops in pasta with a very delicate sauce,delicious!!
We ended off the night with a short walk down the Champ Elysees to take in the Christmas lights in the trees that line the avenue,very pretty!!
And it gave us an idea for our own lights at home in New Zealand!!The trees on the avenue had several fluro tubes dotted around each tree and the lights worked like a ‘teardrop’ with the light in the tube dropping from the top to the bottom of the tube.It was very effective over the hundreds of trees that lined the avenue!!
We got home to the hotel and into bed at well after 11pm with another busy day ahead tomorrow in what will be our last day of sightseeing in Europe on this adventure.
There are more photos below