France - Paris
1 Oct 2008 to 7 Oct 2008

In our Paris Apartment, and at last some independence. Its nice to be able to do some washing, prepare some lunches, and have some home cooked meals again, not to mention some decent space with some wonderful views to boot! Now, on to explore Paris...

Thur 2nd Oct - woke to a beautiful dawn breaking over the Sacre Coeur - as viewed from our apartment. It was tough getting up after a wonderful night previous drinking Bordeaux Red Wine and viewing the landscape at night, especially the hourly twinkling of the lights on the Eiffel Tower
First place to visit - the iconic Eiffel Tower. A short Metro (subway train) trip and a five minute walk and we were at the base of the worlds most famous tower
Fortunately the queues were not too bad and we were soon on the elevator to the second level
The view over Paris was astounding, even from this height
The second elevator took us to the very top where the views were even better. Here is on the lower level which has a montage view of the horizon with all the key locations noted. Also has various world locations and directions - Danielle has found Auckland
Looking over Le Palais De Chaillot with La Defence district in the distance (all the tall towers). This is where our apartment is located. River Seine in the foreground.
Arch de Triomphe at the end of the Champs Elysees. Build by Napoleon between 1806 and 1836
Hotel Des Invalides - Built by Louis XIV between 1671 and 1676 to care for up to 7000 wounded soldiers, now the Army Museum. Also site of Napoleon's tomb
Place de la Concorde at the end of the Jardin des Tuileries
Distant view of the Louvre (middle-right) with the top of the Pyramid just visible
Back on Terra Firma, and finally got a full length shot of the tower by a passing tourist who didn't chop the top of the tower off in the frame! This was taken later in the day from across the Seine by Le Palais de Chaillot
After a quick lunch of home made/filled baguettes, we dodged a hail shower (weather had turned bitterly cold) and decided to take a "Hop On Hop Off" river cruise down the Seine. Danielle pictured here waiting for the arrival of our boat later in the day
We passed many amazing monuments - this is Pont Neuf looking back to the Eiffel Tower
Notre Dame (couldn't see Quasimodo - must have gone for a late lunch)
We jumped off the boat to visit the Centre G. Pompidou, passing the Hotel De Ville
Known as the "Inside-Out" building because of all the multi-coloured service pipes etc being visible on the outside, the Centre G. Pompidou just houses Modern Art (yawn) and expensive refreshments - two coffees and two milkshakes = EUR21.00 (NZ$44.00).
At least the views from the top were good - here is the Eglise Du Sacre Coeur.
They say that the beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder. Sorry, but as with those funny balloon sculptures in Versailles, we just did not get it!
So the end of day one, we made our weary way back to La Defence - here is The Grande Arche which houses offices in each of the legs and conference centres in the top. The whole of the La Defence area is mostly office blocks with some great architecture.
Fri 3rd Oct, Day two of Paris and again a short Metro ride to the Musee du Louvre
An absolutely stunning place to visit,not just the architecture, but also the amazing exhibitions inside
The Gallaries were astounding
Containing of course the famous Mona Lisa (its not as big as you think)
Especially when alongside some of these monster paintings
But its not all full of paintings - there are tons of sculptures
Including the famous Venus de Milo
As well as Egyptian Antiquities
As with Versaille, the enormity of the place is astounding. The 3 1/2 hours we spent there was no where near enough - you'd need 3 1/2 years, but unfortunately time and budget does not allow it this time!
After lunch in the Jardin des Tuileries (home made baguettes again) we walked to the Place de la Concorde
Then on to the Madeline
...and Le Opera...
...before finishing up at Gallaries Lafayette, Paris's version of Smith & Caughey. An expensive department store for people who have more money than sense. Danielle fancied a nice stylish jacket, but at EUR364.00 (NZ$780.00) we decided to leave it. Saw the most expensive Lego set we have ever seen - a model of the Millenium Falcon at EUR550.00 - that's three times what Ian paid for his first car!
Sat 4th Oct, Day three of Paris and being a weekend, best we keep away from the main attractions! We started off with a quick Metro trip to Notre Dame
An amazing 12th Century Cathedral, which surprisingly came close to being demolished had it not been immortalised in Victor Hugo's novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
Next we boarded a Hop On Hop Off bus tour around the city - first stop the Champs Elysees with the Arc de Triomphe in the distance
Built by Napoleon 1st from 1806 to mark his accomplishments, there are twelve avenues,one of which being the Champs Elysees, feeding a huge round-a-bout around this monument. There are no traffic signals, and no apparent road rules either, other than whoever is bravest usually gets right of way! Fortunately there is an underground subway for pedestrians so you can get to the centre alive!
After lunch of baguettes on the Champs Elysees,we hopped on the bus again and toured south of the Seine. Here is the Hotel des Invalides. A hospital built by Louis XIV in 1671 to accommodate up to 7000 soldiers, now used as an Army Museum
Next a short stop at Jardin du Luxemborg
Time to catch up with some much needed sunbathing!
Then on to the Pantheon. The crypt underneath houses the remains of some famous French people -Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Carnot, Marie & Pierre Curie
Back home to La Defence and some more artwork in this district. This is the Red Elephant
Sun 5th Oct - this time out to Montmartre, however we took a slight detour on the Metro to take a look at the Moulin Rouge. Opened in 1889, its known for its adult entertainment.... say no more.
We took the short, but rather "interesting" walk through this district on to the foot of the Eglise du Sacre Coeur
At least the steps to the top were not as long as those at the Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong!
The views at the top over Paris were amazing. The funny building in the middle is the Centre G. Pompidou - the Inside-Out building we visited earlier in the week. The rest of the day we spent on the bus making our way back to the apartment.
Mon 6th Oct - Vicki's 40th Birthday! Spent the day shopping at the flea markets at Porte de Clignancourt, then the bargain shop called Tati at Monmartre, then some better shopping at La Defence where Vicki FINALLY chose a pair of pants and top she wanted! Quick stop to get changed then back to the city centre for a dinner cruise on the Seine
It was a great opportunity to see some of the sights at night as the sun set, plus take in a great meal with Bordeaux Red wine! Here is the mock up of the Statue of Liberty
After the cruise, we walked the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, passing again the Hotel des Invalides
Under the tower, the lights were amazing. This is before the lights started twinkling
But when the lights started to twinkle, the effect close up was fantastic
Danielle & Connor got to ride the Carousel
While Vicki got her portrait sketched under the Tower. (Sorry the photo is a bit blurred)
And here is the end result!
So that was Paris, seems like our stay was over in a flash!

It was great to be independant in our apartment, saved heaps in not having to eat out every night, and the sights, especially from our apartment at night will not be forgotten.

Wished we had more time here, especially the Louvre.

Now on to the South of France

INDEX Now, On to the South of France..