During Aei Ling’s stay in the Netherlands, we decided to visit Paris a few days. By train! The fast Thalys train takes only a bit more than three hours to reach the Gare du Nord. From there to our Airbnb we took the Metro. It has been many years ago that I visited Paris, they still use the old ticket system 😉
Aric had discovered and booked an Airbnb with a view! Located on the tenth floor with a balcony. Metro and supermarket around the corner.
From the balcony we had a view of the Eiffel tower, the Sacré-Cœur and several other Parisian landmarks, like the Pantheon and the Notre Dame.
After some rest and a visit to the supermarket, we decided to have a picnic dinner at the foot of the Eiffel tower! Here is a view of the tower from the Palais de Chaillot, at the other side of the Seine river.
After taking “tourist” pictures from its terrace, we descended to the river, crossed the bridge and walked past the tower to the Champ de Mars.
Many hundreds of tourists were having their food there and we joined them, with wine, cheese, saucisson and baguette. Really fun.
While the sun was setting, slowly the lights on the tower came on, some blinking, like a gigantic christmas tree.
The next day we started with the Sacré-Cœur, we went there by Metro. I love the Art-Nouveau entrances of the Metro stations, dating back to the early 20th century. The basilica of the Sacred Heart is not an old church, construction on the top of the Montmartre Hill was completed in 1914.
It is the second most visited monument of Paris, so we were not the only visitors 🙂
The Butte Montmartre is the highest of the seven hills of Paris, if the sky is clear, the views are extensive. It was quite grey and a bit hazy during our visit, in sunny weather the church is bright white and sometimes nicknamed the “Sugar Cake”. We had a look inside the church, but did not climb up the tower.
Next we walked to the nearby Place du Tertre, where dozen if not hundreds of artists try to earn some money by painting tourists. Aei Ling could not resist the temptation to have herself painted ..:-)
We walked down the steep streets from Montmartre and had a cup of coffee. The electric scooters are very popular, you can hire them everywhere, but we took the Metro again.
Our next destination was the Notre Dame, but on our way we first had a look at some other monuments. Left the Sorbonne, the famous university of Paris, and right the equally famous Pantheon, burial place of many French celebrities.
Left a close-up of the Pantheon, in the center the Facade of the Faculty of Law (with a young doctor in front of it), and right the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, next to the Pantheon. It is a very nice neighbourhood of Paris.
One week before our arrival, a devastating fire had destroyed the spire and the roof of the Notre Dame. Here are two photos. One (taken from the Internet) with the church in its full glory, the other one how it looked during our visit. Spire and roof have disappeared.
Of course many tourist wanted to see the destruction. The region around the church was cordoned of, but from across the Seine you had a good view. Protection work was going on.
It had been a long day, we were tired and decided to have a microwave dinner at home. The last day we would go out for a real French dinner 🙂
The next day we started with la Défense, the modern business district of Paris, dominated by the Grande Arche.
From the Grande Arche you can see, about 4 km away, the
Arc de Triomphe , our next destination. Click on the right picture to enlarge
We didn’t walk, but took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe.
This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, beneath the Arc.
A few more pictures. Construction of the Arc was started in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Napoleon, but only completed in 1836.
From the Arc de Triomphe we followed the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Place de La Concorde.
On our way we passed the impressive buildings of the Petit and Grand Palais, built in 1900 for the World Exhibition. The Petit Palais is now a fine arts museum. As access is F.O.C, we decided to have a look inside…:-)
The Place de La Concorde is the largest square of Paris. During the French Revolution a guillotine was placed here, where King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette and many others were executed. In 1829 one of the Luxor obelisks was given by the Egyptian government to France and placed in the center of the square.
We continued to the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre. When you enlarge the top left picture, you will see the obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe in the background. Pity that it was rather cold and grey weather.
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. We didn’t visit , just had a look at the Pyramid, designed by famous architect I.M Pei (who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 102!)
It was a long, but rewarding walk. After a short rest, we went out again to a restaurant, Au P’tit Curieux, where we had a nice dinner.
The next day we still had some time left, because our train back to Amsterdam was leaving Paris in the afternoon. After checking out we first visited the Places des Vosges. Built in 1612, it is one of the first examples of city planning.
Our last destination was the Musée d’Orsay, a former railway station, my favourite Paris museum. When we arrived at the museum, we noticed the very long queue of visitors, we should have bought tickets online! So that is what we did on the spot, with the help of Aric!
The station was built around 1900 and houses French art from 1848 until 1914.
I could have spent the whole day, but we had not much time. Here are a few pictures.
There was an interesting exhibition: Black models:from Gericault to Matisse. Famous paintings, like Manet’s Olympia and Rousseau’s Snake Charmer, but also interesting works, unknown to me.
Then it was time to go back to the Gare du Nord and catch our train back to Amsterdam. Amazing how much you can do in only a few days.