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28 November 2015

Paris Trip 9

This is my last blog entry for our Paris trip. We left the next day, October 1, for our home in Colorado. This is our last full day in Paris!

We began with a visit to the Museum of Air and Space. It's a ways out, towards Charles De Gaulle Airport. We took the RER B and then a bus to get there. The Air and Space Museum has relics of early flight all the way up to jets and space travel.

This hot air balloon went up and down - if you look closely, you can see a gap between the bottom of the balloon and the platform. We watched as it went up about 15 feet.


Here is a dummy in an early attempt at flying.


Feather-type wings.


More examples.



In WWI, balloons carried men in baskets high enough to see where the enemy was. The contraption was towed behind a military vehicle.


A WWI plane.


Next we moved to a room of rockets and early spacecraft.



We walked outside to see jets in the open air and other aircraft in hangars.


WWII aircraft: "Buzz Buggy" and a Japanese Zero.


Look how the wings fold up on this plane:


On the tarmac, rockets behind retired planes.


I was amazed at the many different types of helicopters in this room at the museum.




Star of the museum: the Concorde. Gazing at this sleek plane, I would love to have flown in it.


But alas, tomorrow we look forward to a slow flight back to Denver. We still have a few hours in Paris though. We visit a wine museum - it was disappointing, but watching a Fuji guy con the sommelier was amusing. We end our tour with a quiet one hour cruise on the Seine.

Bye Paris. We had a great time!

First Paris entry

22 November 2015

Paris Trip 8

This is our last full day in Paris. Before we leave for today's adventures, I take my camera downstairs to shoot some photos of the Hotel Du Lion and our neighborhood.

I'll get to those photos in a second. First, a note on another track. France's military showed its presence throughout our stay in Paris. Often we saw camouflage-uniformed men in groups of twos and threes carrying guns, on the streets and in the metro. Clearly the security in Paris was stepped-up compared to what I see in the US. As I write this blog entry in November 2015, it is just a week since the terrorist attacks on Paris on November 13. We watched the coverage on TV and felt sorrow for the people of Paris. So senseless.

Our room at the Hotel du Lion was on the second floor, the lobby on the first. These are the steep stairs down to the street from the lobby:


Looking back up:


The door to Hotel du Lion does not have a huge front and lobby. Just a door, then the stairs to climb:


Looking one way down our avenue. Yes, that's a McDonalds right next door. Down a ways are a couple ATMs. It was easy to find cash in Paris.


A metro station is right by the hotel door (no photo). I crossed the street to the Rue Daguerre with its many roadside stalls "cheese, meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, wine" and market and restaurants. It's morning and vendors are setting up.


Halfway down the Rue Daguerre I turned and took a photo back towards the hotel.


A bus goes by.


Then the people cross. I follow them, then climb up to our room to get ready for our last day in Paris.


Next Paris entry

21 November 2015

Paris Trip 7

Our second day of our 2-day museum pass. We choose our museums and head to the main tourist area of Paris.

Musee des Arts et Metiers is our first stop. I don't know why I didn't take any photos here, since it was very interesting for both of us! We saw historic scientific instruments and measurement devices: astrolabes, gyroscopes, balances, thermometers, satellites, and chemistry glassware. There were models showing construction methods. The history of communication area had old telegraphs, telephones, typewriters, and computers. And then there was a collection of vehicles, land and air, all the way up to rockets and spacecraft. It was fascinating and we spent close to two hours there.

Next, the Picasso Museum. What a treat to stand right in front of Picasso's amazing paintings. We strolled through rooms of sculptures and drawings as well. Picasso's scrawled notes were displayed in covered cases. This painting is framed by wavy-glass window views of the outside.


Femme au fauteuil rouge:


Grande baigneuse au livre, or Great Bather Reading, is the title of the next painting. I liked this one a lot, because it looks to me like a woman looking down, head on her propped up arms, and very sad.


The Conciergerie is our next museum. And what is the Conciergerie? During the French revolution, it was the prison where people to be guillotined were held. It was the last stop for 2,780 victims. One of these victims was Marie-Antoinette. Gruesomely interesting.

We enter the Conciergerie into this room in the Gothic style with thick winding staircases:


Commoners were held in cells like this:


On a wall was a list of those who were guillotined at the Conciergerie. It lists each persons name and occupation.


Below are photos of Marie-Antoinette's cell. The guard stood behind a screen to allow her some privacy. In this room she spent she spent her last days. On October 16, 1793 she was led at 4 am to the guillotine .



We walked around for over an hour and I'm sure we went into a cafe for refreshment. I shot this photo of a narrow Paris avenue from my iPhone:


Our final museum on the pass will be the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe is at the top of the Champs-Elysees, near where we started our walk on our first full day in Paris (see the first day Paris blog for photos). Now we are back to use our Museum Pass to enter the building and walk to the top.

Construction of the Arc de Triomphe began in 1809, it honors Napoleon's soldiers victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. Statues and busts adorn the ornate inside of the building. We start up a long, long winding spiral staircase: 165 feet high, 284 steps.

From the top, we had a grand view of all of Paris. The population of Paris is about 11 million, and has the highest density of any city in Europe. The architecture is fairly consistent with only a few anomolies. I think it is beautiful.

View down the Champs-Elysees.


Eiffel Tower in this view.


The Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse Tower (built in the 1970s before city planners strengthened building height restrictions).


In this photo is the huge, white, rectangular Grande Arche de la Defense standing amid skyscrapers.


Looking straight down, the mix of traffic is crazy.


Six straight avenues cross at the round-a-bout where the Arc de Triomphe stands. Thus twelve spokes of traffic radiate out from where we are standing. Three spokes can be seen in this photo:


Montmartre in the distance, topped by the dome of Sacre-Coeur.


We returned to our hotel. I wrote in my notebook: "Big dinner across the street - too much food!"

Next Paris entry

11 November 2015

Paris Trip 6

Number one on my list of must-see-museums in Paris is the Louvre. And that is where we are headed today!

We know it will be crowded, as we have seen the crowds around the entrance before, so we leave our hotel by 8 am to make it to the 9 am opening. We follow Rick Steves' advice and enter from the underground metro stop.

We head straight for the Mona Lisa (well, sort of straight, we got a little lost in the maze that is the Louvre).

On the way to the Mona Lisa, we pass the marble Greek sculpture of the goddess of love and beauty, Venus de Milo (c. 100 bce).


The Mona Lisa room was not terribly crowded, and we were able to get right up front to the roped-off area quickly.


I turned and snapped a photo of people behind us:


I have always liked sphinxes. This the the Grand Sphinx, c. 2600 bce.


Statue du dieu Horus, Egyptian, 1069 - 664 bce





Base and feet of a colossus, Amenophis III, 1391-1353.



Here is John trying to read the writing on the sarcophagus of Ramesses III (12th century bce).


(If you want more information on these Egyptian antiquities, go here.)

Lobby of the Louvre.



After close to a little under two hours, we left the amazing Louvre. Back to the metro. And to here, the photo below. I love this shot. (The French have a fondness for Franklin Roosevelt.)


Our next stop is the Maritime Museum. We sat in the courtyard next to this museum and shared a messy caramel crepe. Suddenly there is a commotion off to the left, coming up the stairs to the square. With music, a group of dancers appears.


They come closer.



They walked off to the right.


How fun! Now into the museum. Our museum pass included audio guides that were a real help. We roamed the rooms and looked at models of boats, photos of boats, and other maritime paraphernalia.




This sculpture came from a boat.


A glimpse of the Eiffel Tower through a window at the Maritime Museum.


A diving suit, used in the Seine, 1803.


We broke for lunch of pizza and wine and dessert and coffee, then visited the Egouts de Paris. That means: the sewer system. Stinky! Covered my nose the whole time. Not a great idea after lunch. Granted, it was interesting, and a grand undertaking over the years to assure the health of the city of Paris, but . . . !

It was dark in the sewers. I took few photos. But did try to get a photo of a rat - a live rat! - that scurried down this tunnel:


(Better photos of the interesting sewer museum are here.)

Back up out of the sewers. Whew, fresh air. The exit from the sewers is down a barely-visible stairwell off the to left. Most people never see it.


Our tired feet (and the metro) take us back to our hotel and wine, bread, and cheese. Ah, love Paris.

Next Paris entry

03 November 2015

Paris Trip 5

Today, a Sunday, we decide to travel to Chartres to visit a Gothic cathedral that is ranked as possibly the best in the world. It's about 50 miles from Paris and we need to catch a train. Not the RER, a real train. Chartres is about 50 miles from Paris.

We had a bit of trouble finding the train station by foot, even though we were right on top of it in Montparnasse. We sort of entered the back way, and finally found a ticket-seller. We bought our round-trip tickets, then waited for the train. As we boarded, we are sort of surprised to find that no one ever looks at or collects our tickets! We find out later that we were supposed to time stamp them ourselves at a machine near the train stop. Honor system. We goofed, but didn't get in trouble.

When we arrived at Chartres, we wanted lunch, and decided to walk away from the cathedral that looms over the city, thinking that it would be less crowded. It was! It was deserted! Everything was closed this Sunday. Finally we walked back towards the cathedral and came upon an open US-style hamburger restaurant. We were so hungry that we sat down outside and ordered burgers and fries and beers!


At least we had true French fries! Later when we walked to the cathedral we saw tons of open and not-crowded cafes. Oh well.

Here we came upon the cathedral. The first thing you do is look up . . . and up.


I did not get a good photo of the entire cathedral - I would have had to stand (or hover) way back. Here is a good photo online.

The cathedral was under renovation.


Always looking up from too close!


Here is the entrance. Note how uncrowded it is.


It's tall inside too. And the side walls are wrapped with plastic for the renovation.


Stained glass windows.


Small carvings above the area that John thinks is the confessionals. Amazing detail.


More statues.



Back outside.





This gives a feel for the bulk of this cathedral.


Statue on top.


John outside the cathedral.


The sheer bulk, again.


We sat outside at a crowded cafe under the looming cathedral and had chocolate crepes and wine. (I love France!) Here is our view:


As we gaze up at the cathedral, we see a glider plane approach from the right. I shoot a series of frames as it flies between the two big spires.


And then it turns . . .


What fun the Chartres people are having today. We also see some hang gliders.

After crepes we wandered through a park and saw a band playing and then we get on the ferris wheel.


The view up:


And out:


A lovely Sunday in France. We take the train back to Paris and our hotel and enjoy a restful evening.

Next Paris entry