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                               PARIS - FRANCE

We arrived at the busy Nord du Gard Train Station and with our map in hand found our way to the "Perfect Hostel." Our room was situated up 3 flights of stairs and seriously tiny. The room was so small that when you opened the door to the bathroom, it hit the bed halfway open so you had to slither through the narrow opening to get inside!  But  it was clean and basic and suited our needs perfectly.

We ventured back into the street and headed for the district of Montmartre to explore. It seemed that we had just missed the storm as the sun peeked through the clouds with the promise of a beautiful day.

Montmartre

Montmartre is a neighborhood located at the summit of Paris and one of the city's most poetry-drenched spots. The narrow, steep, cobblestone-paved streets, stairways, hidden gardens, cemeteries, and vineyards show that Montmartre is a village tucked away from the city. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and countless other artists and writers worked their magic here in days gone by. Today artists and their easels still frequent the center's courtyard.

Sacre Coeur

Rising above Montmartre with its unmistakeable white dome, the Sacre Coeur sits at the highest point of Paris. This basilica, which was consecrated in 1909, is best-known for its gold mosaic interiors and for its dramatic terrace, from which we got a sweeping view of Paris.


After taking a break to appreciate a glass of inexpensive French wine, we strolled down the boulevard of de Clinchy street, lined with shops and restaurants with interesting Parisian architecture.

 It was very obvious when we reached the Red Light District as sex was for sale everywhere.

The facade of Paris' world-famous cabaret, Moulin Rouge, immortalized in paintings and posters by  artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

After taking a gander at the exorbitant restaurant prices, we found a grocery store and bought small bottles of wine, a baguette and some cheese and headed for our room to savour a typical French nibble which was our supper.


The Louvre

The following morn, our included breakfast consisted of another baguette and coffee. We hopped on a bus which deposited us at The Louvre, the site of the world's largest and most diverse collection of pre-20th century painting, sculpture, and decorative objects. 

The massive building was the former seat of French royalty emerging in the 12th century as a medieval fortress. The most recent addition is the Glass pyramids in main courtyard, the entrance to the galleries.

35,000 pieces of artwork dating from1515 to early modern included artists like Vermeer, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, & Rubens

The interior of The Louvre was awesome, the architecture and the decorative ceilings took our breath away. 4 centuries of French Kings and emperors improved and enlarged the palace.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was built to celebrate Napolean' victories in 1805.

Musee D'Orsee

Across the river is the Musee D'Orsee located in the old railway station. The gallery displays art from 1848 to 1914 but we concentrated on the Impressionist and Post Impressionist sections to conserve time. The collection spanned from neoclassicism and romanticism to impressionism, expressionism, and art nouveau design by artists such as Ingres, Delacroix, Monet, Degas, Manet, Gaugin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh.


Having had our fill of art galleries, we walked along the river toward Notre Dame. One of the most alluring images of Paris is of the Seine River, which slices a path through the heart of the City of Light.


Notre Dame Cathedral

Soon we were able to marvel the gothic masterpiece of Notre Dame Cathedral's dramatic towers, spire, stained glass and statuary. It took over 170 years of hard labor to complete the cathedral.

South Rose Window 34 ft high

The Portal of the Virgin


West front door with central rose

 

Notre Dame's grandeur interior with its high vaulted ceiling and medieval rose windows.

A service was in session with a large choir congregated in their long white robes.

The 13th century Rose stained glass window depicts the Virgin encircled by figures from the Old Testament.

Eiffel Tower

With time still left in our sightseeing day, we found a bus that took us to the Eiffel Tower The iron tower, which was built for the 1889 World Exposition by Gustave Eiffel, was wildly unpopular with Parisians when it was unveiled, and was nearly torn down. It has since attracted over 220 million visitors



We took a bus back to our hotel and after the usual stop at the grocery for wine, cheese, baguette and fruit to take to our room, we called it a night. We had walked miles and miles and we were feeling it in every bone and muscle of our bodies!

 

After another breakfast of half baguette and coffee we hopped on the bus to the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and walked down the commercially laden boulevard that terminates at the Arc d'Triumph.

Arc d'Triomph

The 164-foot Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Emperor Napoleon I, evokes sheer military power and triumph.

We walked along Champs-Elysees, stopping to see a display of futuristic electric cars.

 

We took the Metro to Notre Dame and walked to the Centre Georges Pompidou. The building is unique with its signature skeletal design,looking like a building turned inside out with escalators, lifts, air and water ducts and struts all on the outside.

The building houses the Museum of Modern Art with displays of Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism. I must admit that the exhibits were no my cup of tea. Somehow a blank canvas does not display any artistic talent! But the rooftops views of the city were outstanding.

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