France, 1997, Part 1: Paris

After arriving in Paris, Sarah and I headed straight to the Eiffel Tower for our very own iconic photo of us at the monument.

Paris is like a museum in itself, so we walked to the Place de la Concorde roundabout and along the Champs Elysees taking in the many beautiful buildings and monuments along the way.

We found the Liberty Flame atop the motorway where Diana Princes of Wales died near the Pont Alma. Many flowers were still being laid after the recent tragedy.

A boat tour of the River Seine took us to see the sights of the gold- encrusted Pont Alexandre 3 and the impressive looking Musee d Orsay.

I was awed by the famous Pont Neuf and the pretty Place de la Bastille. It looked like the little houses on the Ile St Louis would be a nice place to live and the replica Statue of Liberty on the Ile aux Cygnes (Island of Swans) seemed bizarre and in the wrong place.

We alighting the boat at the Palais de Chaliot in the statue-filled Trocadero gardens.

On our second day, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower. It was such a strange feeling standing under the tower and seeing the structure up close. It was surreal to actually be in such a famous place.

We climbed the first two flights of the Eiffel Tower to save some money and then caught a lift to the top for unmatched views of Paris. We could see everything from the Arc de Triomphe to Sacre Cour. The whole city- built up and spread out on a grid system with the river cutting it in half.

Next was a visit to the gargoyles at the top of Notre Dame Cathedral- made famous to me by the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was plain to see where the movie had gained its inspiration.

After finally finding out how to get to the Arc de Triomphe without getting run over (there is a foot tunnel that goes under the road), we had another climb. From the top it was easy to see how all 12 roads of the Etoile fan out in a star shape- one all the way from Arc la Defense to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel .

That made over 1,000 steps up for the day, as well as many walks in between, so it was time out for us!

A day museum pass was purchased and we headed inside one of the pyramids to the Lourve. I was struck by the sculpture of jaguar and rabbit by Antoine-Louis Barye, and liked the tiger paintings by Delacroix; but my favourite was the Winged Victory of Samothe statue. We by passed the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa covered in a thick pane of glass and only saw it from afar.

Next we went to the Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette was kept prisoner as she awaited the guillotine. The building outside was beautiful, but I didn’t understand much of what we looked at inside as all the signs were in French.

A local Parisian friend took us to the Jewish quarter for a falafel and the first square in Paris- Place des Voges. Absolutely beautiful.

We went to the modern looking Georges Pompidou Centre at the much newer and much odder Place Igor- Stravinsky and found the cute little La Defenseur du Temps clock with dragon.

Even after this first visit, I could tell that Paris was to become one of my favourite cities in the world.

Related posts: Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing

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