|France||Paris||2000.06.25 - 07.01|
Paris The Beautiful
Wes was in Paris last as a backpacker in 1987. His experience was far from positive. In fact, he categorized Paris as "the worst place in Europe" for quite some time. Masami's last time in Paris was in 1989. Paris didn't have a lasting impression on her. She remembers exhaust fumes on the Champs-Élysées and delicious café at the youth hostel, but little else.
We arrived to Paris from London expecting the worst. London was crowded and rushed, and Masami had had enough of large cities. Wes, recalling his last time in Paris, was dreading what horrendous experience would lie ahead this time.
Something must have changed. We didn't just LIKE Paris. We LOVED Paris. Our four day plan extended to six days, and had it not been for plans to meet friends in Switzerland, we may not have left.
Paris is the city of beauty. And now it's also the city of friendly people. Adding excellent food to this combination makes Paris one of the most enjoyable places on earth.
The number of attractions are endless, and we couldn't possibly post a fraction of our best photos on this web page because of the sheer number. Everything was enjoyable - just walking down the street and looking at the architecture was fun. We saw most of the major tourist attractions in Paris - Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Jardin du Luxembourg, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Basilique du Sacré Cœur, Le Louvre, Musée D'Orsay, and Musée Marmottan de Claude Monet. In addition, we took day trips to Giverny (Claude Monet's garden) and Château de Versailles (these are on separate journal pages).
After traveling through Switzerland, Germany, and maybe a few other countries, we intend to return to France for a month or more to journey by car.
Museums of Paris
There are enough superb museums in Paris to occupy a full month of art appreciation. The key is to be selective. We like impressionism, and therefore made our selections accordingly.
Impressionist paintings are displayed at Le Louvre, Musée D'Orsay, Musée Marmottan de Claude Monet, and Musée de l'Orangerie. Unfortunately, l'Orangerie is being restored and is therefore closed until the end of 2001. We visited the other 3.
Entry into each museum is costly (between 40-45FF per adult, free if younger than 17, and ½ price if between 18-25 or over 60) and the ticket lines can be very long. An alternative to individual tickets is the "Carte Musées et Monuments" pass that gets you into 75 museums and monuments in Paris and the surrounding region without having to line up for a ticket. The cost of this pass is 80/160/240FF for one/three/five consecutive days and is available at the ticket counter of all museums and monuments it covers and at the tourist information office. The cost savings depends on your level of energy (the pass may actually be more expensive if you plan to visit one attraction per day), but the time saved by bypassing the lengthy lines may make it worthwhile.
We discovered a little secret about entry into the Louvre. The only publicized entrance is the Pyramid Main Entrance. The line at this entrance tends to be 100s of people long and can take up to 2 hours to pass through unless you arrive 40-60 minutes before the doors open at 09:00. A second entrance for regular admission is hidden on the southwest wing of the building. It's called the Porte des Lions Entrance and there's absolutely no line (see photo below).
Le Louvre hours:
Mon, Thr, Fri, Sat, Sun: 09:00-17:30
Tue and certain public holidays: closed
|This is looking from the middle of the Louvre court yard towards a roundabout for city traffic. Can you see the line for the Main Entrance that extends from the glass pyramid to the far building (and then loops for another 100 meters around the building). Entry is immediate at Porte des lions across the roundabout.|
Monet lovers will enjoy the small Marmottan museum located near La Muette metro station. It houses about 40 Claude Monet originals including "Impressions - Rising Sun", the painting that gave Impressionism its name.
Musée Marmottan de Claude
Tue, Wed, Thr, Fri, Sat, Sun: 10:00-17:30
Mondays, May 1, December 25: closed
Musée D'Orsay collections cover the years 1848 (the second French Republic) to World War 1. It's across the Seine River from the Louvre Porte des Lions Entrance. Housed are significant works by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and many other painters and sculptors.
Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10:00-17:30
Paris Waiter/Waitress Race
Our first afternoon in Paris was greeted by the annual race of restauranteurs. Other than for the top finishers, the time to complete the race seemed less important than the participation in the event. The crowd cheered the participants forward as they muttered inspiring phrases like, "I can't take this anymore."
|Nearing the finish line, the runners find energy for a final jog after walking the streets quickly while balancing a tray of glasses for about an hour.|
Assorted Beautiful Sites of Paris
As stated above, the number of beautiful works around the city are too numerous to document on a journal page. Below are a very limited sample. Go to Paris, walk around and see for yourself.
|The Arc de Triomphe as seen from the second level of the Eiffel Tower. 14 roads radiate from the Arc de Triomphe, making the roundabout around it one of the biggest in the world.|
|The front face of the Notre Dame, possibly the most famous cathedral in the world. Front, side, rear, inside, outside, this structure is magnificent.|
|The ground floor of Saint Chapelle (pictured) has a low and colorful unique dome. The second floor is an incredible 360° wall of stained glass. Breathtaking!|
Copyright © 2000-2002 Wes and Masami Heiser. All rights reserved.