Europe Photoblogging, Part 15: Paris
By Dwip September 22, 2014, 1:21 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

On 6/16/04, as part of the Erik and Stephanie Conquer Europe Tour, we took a train trip down to Paris to spend the day, as discussed in this blog post.

I would like to impress upon you at the outset what a monumentally Sisyphean task this was, the idea that we were going to see much of Paris despite death marching our way through it. Nevertheless we gave it our best go, and managed a fair chunk of things in exchange for our leg muscles and supplication before the merciless gods of the unwavering ticket gate.

That, for the record, is why you get a picture of me in front of the Louvre but none of anything inside – we just didn’t have the time. Alas.

This is Sacre-Coeur, a basilica on one of the highest spots in Paris, as you’ll see later. The neat thing about it from my perspective is that it’s in a much more Byzantine/oriental style than most churches, which makes Sacre-Coeur fairly unique.

Speaking of Byzantine influences, this is a giant mosaic in the apse. Note the Byzantine-style halos and the Chi Rho at the top.

It also has a pretty Christ militant feel to it, which one figures has to do with the nationalist origins of Sacre-Coeur as a whole – it was built as a kind of national penance for losing to Prussia in 1871, and was finished in 1914. This is the sort of nationalism you don’t really see these days, but seems so very typical of pre-war Europe.

Either way, I really liked the mosaic, so Stephanie gave me this postcard.

As with most other large churches in the world, you can go up to the top of Sacre-Coeur, and like some other churches, the view is spectacular, helped by its rather commanding hilltop location. That is, of course, the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

This, of course, is the Arc de Triomphe, built to celebrate the soldiers and victories of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Considering how everyone else felt about France after the two events, this may be a rather unique sort of monument.

I’m not entirely clear what this building is, or if it even has a name, but I did manage to track it down as being at 133 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which for those of you unfamiliar with Paris geography is right next to the Arc de Triomphe. We took a fairly lengthy stroll down the thing. Very scenic as urban boulevards go.

This, of course, is an office of Iran Air, the official airline of Iran. There are certain things you just don’t see in the United States, and this is definitely one of them. This too is on the Champs-Elysees. They got some good real estate.

This is the Luxor Obelisk, brought to Paris in 1833 from the temple at Luxor in Egypt, because remember what I said about half the cities in Europe needing an Egyptian obelisk? Yeah. As with half of all things Egyptian, it’s all about our old buddy Ramesses II. It sits in the middle of the Place de la Concorde at one end of the Champs-Elysees, essentially in a straight line from the Arc de Triomphe.

This is the column erected by Napoleon in the Place Vendome to commemorate his victory in the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805. This is basically Napoleon trying to be as awesome as Trajan – this is a bronze not-quite-copy of Trajan’s Column in Rome, which we will see in due time.

Those few of you who understand why we make Napoleon jokes will understand the number of Napoleon jokes made during this excursion was truly epic.

I have no idea. Really, I have no idea. But too good not to take a picture of.

After our little excursion to the Place Vendome, we headed on back to the Jardin des Tuileries, which is right next to the Place de la Concorde and has been a park since the 16th century. This is taken at the far end looking towards the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, a sort of smaller triumphal arch erected by Napoleon because that’s the sort of thing you do when you’re Napoleon. You can kind of see the Louvre in the background, and if you pass through the Arc, you’ll get to the spot where I got my picture taken at the top of this post.

This little bit is kind of off to the side to give you an idea of what the gardens actually looked like off the beaten path. As you can see, it was an absolutely glorious day out, the sort that gardens like this are designed for, and we had a joyous time joining the citizenry of Paris in cavorting around by the various fountains, though alas without deer.

This, of course, is the cathedral of Notre Dame, built between the 12th and 14th centuries and perhaps the most famous cathedral in the world. I confess that I found it much nicer outside than inside. For whatever reason I thought the interior extremely dark and not nearly as breathy as the English cathedrals I’d been in.

This is a closeup of the two central doors to the cathedral. The stonework here is, as always, exquisite. Even if I was unimpressed with the interior, the exterior of the place was quite nice.

This, obviously, is the Eiffel Tower, about which what more can I possibly say. Built in 1889, giant iron tower, monument to the greatness of late 19th century France, and so on and so forth.

If I recall that shirtless guy in the foreground there, we were about to walk through a soccer game.

We’re almost under the Eiffel Tower at this point, and you can see the kind of scale this thing operates on – you can probably fit a tour bus or two inside one of the concrete feet of the tower. Lots and lots and lots of iron went into this.

There are three observation decks on the Eiffel Tower. This was taken from the middle one, slightly less than halfway up. You can see Sacre-Coeur in the background, with its commanding height over the rest of Paris.

This one is of the Jardins du Trocadero from the second level platform of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t actually go there, and can’t really tell you much about it except that it’s one of several such scattered throughout Paris.

We’re on the third observation deck now, about 900 feet up, looking down the Seine east of the Eiffel Tower. The large open area on the middle right is Les Invalides, originally a veteran’s home and now the tomb of Napoleon among other things. We tried to get in but alas it was closed.

Just around the bend in the river you can see the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, and the Louvre in a line. The green swath of trees going west from it is the Champs-Elysees.

This is a closeup of the previous shot. You can see the Les Invalides area in the foreground, and the Tuileries and Louvre in the middle.

Paris has some really, really big gardens and parks, probably the best of any of the cities I’ve been to, though London is close.

This is Stephanie and I on the third deck of the Eiffel Tower, getting our pictures taken by random other tourists in the grand tradition of touristry.

What you can’t really see is that it was extremely packed up there, and we had to sort of carve out a space in which to take this picture.

This rather sparse collection is the loot from Paris. It includes:

* An admission ticket to Sacre-Coeur.

* An admission ticket to the Eiffel Tower.

* Tickets for the Paris Metro. These include the Fail Ticket, which almost trapped us in the Ticket Gate of Death, which were exciting parts of the blog post.

* Tickets to and from Paris/Brussels.

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