At last, we make it to the famous palace.
Other neat stuff in Paris, in no particular order…. Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is certainly one of the highlights of any trip to Paris but, for me, it was quite an eye opener. We toured the Palace itself and quite enjoyed it. But the biggest surprise to me was when we went to tour the gardens. While “everyone” raves about how great they are, I am not the biggest fan of gardens in general. I was surprised to find them closed. Well, not closed exactly but there was an additional fee, not covered by the Museum pass, because there was a special show that evening. Bummer. We couldn’t stay for it so chatted with one of the gals in the ticket office who pointed out we could visit the Grand and Petit Trianon which are beside, but outside, of the Versailles grounds themselves.
I must admit I had never heard of these two places and was pleasantly surprised to visit them (Dianne says that she knew about them!). If you hadn’t just seen the Palace of Versailles itself you would think they were pretty great in themselves. The Grand Trianon was used by Louis XIV as a
Hall of mirrors
You have to be there to appreciate this room
place to get away from the rigours of court life (life is tough for some). The Petit Trianon was a particular favourite of Marie Antoinette. The buildings and grounds were very enjoyable. I can’t imagine the grounds of the Palace being any better than those of the Trianons. L’Arc de Triomphe
And, to the ever expanding list of things I hadn’t known, we can add the fact that there are two, not one, L’Arcs de Triomphe! They were both started around 1806 and the L’Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was completed first. It is right outside the Louvre, just before you enter the Tuileries Garden. It is somewhat smaller than its big brother further down the Champs-Élysées but, like the Grand Trianon versus Versailles, if you only saw this one you would think it was pretty impressive. And it is on a pedestrian walkway so there is no traffic milling around it. The “real” Arc is on an island surrounded by an incredible amount of traffic. We did, however, climb to the top of the "real" Arc and it was worth the effort.
As a big fan of Victor Hugo I was interested to learn that his
father, Joseph, had been a high ranking officer in the army of Napoleon but failed in Spain and didn’t get his name inscribed in the Arc de Triomphe.
The two Arcs are 3.4 kilometers apart in a direct line down the Champs-Élysées, a very pleasant stroll on a nice day. Les Invalides
I had seen several references to this on the map and thought it sounded like a place for sick people. Turned out I was close. The original purpose of the buildings, ordered by Louis XIV, was to provide a place for aged and unwell soldiers who had served their King and Country. Although it has seen many incredible events in its history (in 1789, it was attacked to get weapons used to storm the storm the Bastille and, in 1840, it became the tomb of Napoleon) it still has an active hospital for a few elderly soldiers.
It is also the home of the Historical Museum of the Armies. I liked this a lot.
The chapel is impressive. Any soldiers who were living there were required to attend daily services. The King had a separate part for his own use. Couldn’t have a
King consorting with mere soldiers.
The Golden Dome on Les Invalides is a landmark of Paris. How much did we like Les Invalides? We went twice as there was so much to see, Sacre-Coeur
One of the few sites in Paris that we couldn’t walk to. Yeah, I know, you can walk anywhere if you have enough time. But one of the attractions of Sacre-Coeur is that it is on top of a hill, the second highest point in Paris and we wanted experience the fun of the funicular. But the fun started even before that. We arrived at the appropriate metro stop to discover it was at the bottom of the hill (we knew that) but the exit was above us and to get to it you had to go up a circular staircase such as you find in L’Arc de Triomphe or some old castles. A bit intimidating. One couple in front of us has to stop to get their breath. We were glad that we weren't carrying suitcases!
But the hike was worth it. The Cathedral is spectacular and the vistas great. The walk down to the metro was fun as we had
Gardens through a window
We didn't know the gardens were closed at this point.
read about some old windmills that were still standing. We followed the map to the supposed location of one but it was nowhere to be seen. While we pouring over the map, a man in a fancy suit stopped to give us some help. We discussed that what we wanted was probably back where we had been. If not, he said, it was a nice day for a walk! When we finally found the windmill we realized we had walked within a block of it. It was, indeed, a nice day for a walk. Pantheon
Begun by Louis XV in the mid-1700s to fulfill a vow that he would build a big Church if he recovered from an illness (he did), it was finished just as the French Revolution broke out. It was converted to a mausoleum for the internment of famous Frenchmen (now, more politically correctly, of French citizens). Victor Hugo is interred there along with Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Louis Braille, Pierre Currie and Marie Currie (Marie is one of two women there; the first to be interred on her own merits). We know about the Braille system but seeing his name prompted me to research his
Walk to the trianon
Paris in particular and France in general like their tree lined streets. So do we. This one leads to the Grand Trianon.
The Pantheon in Rome is still a church and one of my favourite places in Rome but this Pantheon, while no longer a church, is high on my list of Paris sites. I wish we had been able to get back there but we ran out of time. Cluny Museum
Built in medieval times partly on the remains of the Romans bath known as the Thermes de Cluny, it contains impressive displays of a wide variety of periods. One of the most interesting was the display of the tapestries in the Lady and the Unicorn cycle. The buildings have been a museum since 1843 and a study of the uses of the building over the centuries in interesting in itself. Grand Mosque of Paris
This mosque, one of the largest in France, was created in 1925 as a token of gratitude to the Muslim soldiers from France’s colonies that fought in World War I. It is located in the Latin Quarter not far from our apartment. Very restful place which included a tea shop in an enclosed garden. Seine River Cruise
Our last night in Paris was topped off by an
Not bad for a get-away place.
hour long cruise up and down the Seine. Interesting to see so many familiar landmarks from the water. We were going to wait for the last boat so we could see Paris by night but we had an early train the next day. Time to return “home”
A great time was had by all but it was now time to return “home” to Mr. Darcy. Peter and Bev were off to Italy to continue their European holiday and our Montpellier visit was ToBeContinued
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