Monday, August 30, 2010

Photos that Didn't Fit in the First TWO Blog Entries about Paris...!!!

Here are some photos that didn't fit in the first post about our trip to Paris...I think I "maxed out" my size allowance (much like I did to my credit card with the whole "euro to dollars" thing while there...!).

Looking at Paris from the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower!


Paris (again)!

Me coming down the 40 GAJILLION steps from the second level to the ground!

"King Jeff" at Versailles!!!

A GREAT shot of Duane at the Versailles gate

One of the ornate ceilings at Versailles

A corner of a ceiling fresco in one of the rooms at Versailles

At the cafe in the gardens at Versailles

Jeff and Duane in the gardens at Versailles

Um...not sure WHY, but it seemed like a fun shot at the time!

Jeff and Duane in front of the doors to the Petit Palais

The view from Tour Montparnasse at night!

Me on Tour Montparnasse

The Eiffel Tower during one of it's "sparkle times"!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Paris est TRES BIEN!!! (Blog Post 2 of 2)

Wednesday, we didn't wake up until about 9:30! We took our time getting ready, then headed to Notre Dame. We visited the cathedral on our last visit, but it was during that "jet laggy" first day, so weren't as enthused about it's gorgeousness as we should have been.

We started with a trip to the catacombs, which, last year, I thought were tombs, but which turned out to be a REALLY cool museum documenting the villages and groups that were on the isle de la cite before it officially became Paris...Celts, Romans, and, eventually French villages were built on the site, and, during excavations foundations, artifacts, and remnants of roads were uncovered, and preserved as a jumble of cultures built on top of each other...very cool!

Here are some photos of Notre Dame (all from Duane's camera...since my battery died the day before...!):

After Notre Dame we went on the hunt for Shakespeare and Company, and old, eclectic bookstore that I TRIED to find on the last trip to Paris, but couldn't.  This time, with Mapquest map in hand, we searched, and searched, and researched, and FINALLY found it CLOSE to where Mapquest said it was, but it WAS Mapquest, after all.  Apparently, "close" is good enough for them...

We also had a chance to search through the bookstalls along the Seine...where you can find everything from tacky magnets (of which I found a DOOZY to give to my brother-in-law in our continuing quest to give each other the TACKIEST magnets we can find on any trip on which we go)(we BOTH have QUITE a collection at this point!).

After the bookstore and the bookstalls, we headed to a LOVELY restaurant that had a variety of tarts in the window.  I had an AWESOME curry beef tart, and a rhubarb tart for dessert.  Duane had a spinach and chevre tart, and a blueberry tart for dessert.  It was TRES BON!

After lunch, we headed to the Musee de L'Orangerie, a museum that had an exhibit of eight large panels that Monet painted of his gardens at Giverny.  I'm not a huge fan of impressionist art, but they were very cool.  I DO appreciate how, up close, they just look "scrawly and frantic", but, as you get farther away from them, end up looking serene and cool.

The eight large panels feature parts of the garden at various times during the day:


A quick visit to the obelisk at Place de la Concorde, another walk around the Montparnasse neighborhood near the hotel, dinner at a pizzeria up the street from Le Meridien, and our day was complete. 

We were in bed by 9:00, as we had to get up at 5:00 to catch the shuttle back to the airport.

Again...I LOVE Paris, and can't wait for our next trip to see the stuff that we STILL haven't had time to see!

Here's hoping YOU were able to revisit a favorite place recently, or that YOU had the chance to experience the thrill of another culture!  Vive la France!!

Paris est TRES BIEN!!! (Blog Post 1 of 2)

Ah I LOVE you!  I love your monuments, I love your "vibe", I love the feel of you under my feet!

Duane and I were able to spend three days there this week, and it was LOVELY! be honest, the first day is never as lovely as it could be, because jet lag is WRETCHED.  We left the cities at 4:00 Sunday afternoon, and arrived in the "city of lights" at 7:00 Monday morning, with ATTEMPTS at sleeping on the plane...but UNSUCCESSFUL attempts.  We caught the Air France shuttle to our hotel, Le Meridien Montparnasse, and, after showering and trying to wake up, headed out to explore the neighborhood.

It was drizzly and windy, but, a rainy day in Paris is STILL better than being at work in Minnesota, so we took our umbrella, and, upon rounding a corner up the street from the hotel, saw our first landmark...the eiffel tower!

I LOVE the Eiffel Tower.  There is something about it's grace and beauty that just touches my heart, and I actually GASP when I see it.  I have that response almost every time I see it, and, in Paris, you see it a lot, but EVERY time I saw it, it caught my breath (Duane thinks I'm crazy...).

After exploring a bit of Montparnasse, and getting our bearings, we headed downtown to explore the actual Eiffel Tower area.  Duane had never been to the top, and we didn't go up the tower on our last visit, so I was insistent that we do so this time.  He grumbled for a bit of the "standing in line for tickets" part, but I attributed that to no sleep and us both being a little crabby, and moved on.

The following are shots of the trip to the top (which Duane admitted afterwards was amazing thankyouverymuch):

Sacre Coeur from the second floor of the eiffel tower (and at "maximum zoom" on my camera)

I REALLY love the Eiffel Tower!

Look up there!! (These were images on a wall hiding some restoration work they were doing!)

The Trocadero below the tower

The Arche de Triomphe from the second floor

Champagne on the top of the tower

Les Invalides

After spending a couple of hours there, we went back to Montparnasse, explored a little further, and discovered that one of the Galleries Lafayette shopping centers (there are apparently two) was nearby, so we went in and looked around, then went back to the hotel, and were in bed by 8:00!!!

On Tuesday, we headed to Versailles.  Here's a little background:

"The Versailles Palace is located southwest of Paris in the suburb of Versailles. Originally this was the site of a hunting lodge for King Louis the Thirteenth (1601-1643, rule began in 1610). It was his son, Louis the Fourteenth, the Sun King (1638-1715, rule began in 1643) who expanded the imperial palace and decided to use much of the wealth of France to create Versailles on a tremendous scale of construction. From the early to mid-1660s onward, King Louis XIV had the landscape and garden architect André Le Nôtre, the architects Louis Le Vau and Jules Hardouin-Mansart, and the decorator and artist Charles LeBrun participate in the design and construction of the Versailles Palace. The construction of the palace and the engineering and construction of the grounds and gardens around it was concentrated between 1668 and 1684, although some construction began earlier and continued to 1710. The Sun King Louis XIV transfered royal power from Paris to Versailles Palace in 1682 to weaken the aristocrats’ strength and increase his own authority, which helped him to concentrate his power. Versailles Palace was the home for the royal family of France from 1682 to 1789." - taken from

I visited Versailles about 25 years ago.  My friend Dianne and I took a tour to Paris when she and Mark were living in Germany, and I was living in Japan, and Versailles was part of the tour package.  I didn't remember much about it, except that there were LOTS of paintings and frescoes, and overly ornate furniture.  Since it WAS a guided tour, it was quick, and "skimmed the surface", and we didn't tour the gardens at all.

This time, we went at our own pace, and, except for there being about a MILLION people wherever we went, it was beautiful.  Here are some shots of the palace:

The chapel

Close up of the celing of the chapel

The Hall of Mirrors

The king's bed

The queen's bed

The Coronation of Napoleon

The Hall of Battles

We actually went fairly quickly through the palace, because we were more interested in exploring the gardens behind the palace.  They are EXTENSIVE, and BEAUTIFUL!  The only BAD part of the tour (besides standing in line for an hour to get tickets), was that they have huge, ornate, gorgeous fountains throughout the gardens, but they don't turn them on during the week...only on the weekends... 

I noticed that we still paid full price to get in, so felt TOTALLY rooked...but...a garden in France, even WITHOUT fountains, is still better than being at work in Minnesota!  Here's a "map" of the gardens behind the palace (to show you how extensive they are):


There were outdoor cafes sprinkled throughout the gardens, and we found a LOVELY one near the main path.  Here's a shot of Duane waiting for his croque monsieur:

There were many different gardens to explore, and we spent HOURS walking through them (my feet may never be the same again!).  The following are photos of some of them:

After Versailles, we took the train back to the city, got out at the "Invalides" stop on the metro, and explored the area around the Grand Palace, the Petit Palace, and strolled for a bit down the Champs d'Elysee:

The Grand Palais

The door of the Petit Palais

We got back on the metro, went back to our hotel, and headed back out for dinner.  There was a LOVELY little cafe up the street from our hotel.  We'd walked by it a couple of times, so decided to try it.  Meals in Paris are "relaxed".  For American tastes, this translates to REALLY SLOW, but the food was wonderful, the ambience delightful, and, it doesn't HURT to slow down, relax, and enjoy the we did.  The cafe even had a "resident cat" to pet while we were waiting for our food to arrive.

After dinner, we walked around the "roundabout" near the cafe, and saw the following view of the Eiffel Tower (and yes, I gasped again!).  I'd like to say that the shot is "fuzzy" because I was going for a romanticized feeling...the truth is, my camera SUCKS at night shots (and this is when the battery decided to DIE...):

Seeing the Eiffel Tower at dusk, helped us decide that the Montparnasse Tower, which is located right outside the Galleries Lafayette, was a MUST.  I had seen advertisements for an outdoor observation deck on the 56th floor, and thought it would be fun to go up.  I'm SO GLAD we did.  This was DEFINITELY one of the highlights of the trip!  Seeing Paris lit up at 10:30 at night leaves NO doubt why it's called the "city of lights".  It was GORGEOUS!  To add to the beauty, it was a full moon, and, except for a few whispy clouds, the sky was clear.  WOW!!!

Here are a few photos that I found on the "tourmontparnasse" website:




We finally got back to the hotel around midnight, and collapsed into bed around 12:30...what a DELIGHTFUL day!!!