15 October 2015

Paris Trip 2

Today we are off to the Army Museum, or Musee de l'Armee. We got off the metro and looked around: "which way do we go?" The streets are confusing to us. We sat down on a bench and John dug out the Rick Steves Paris and I opened maps on my iPhone. As we are trying to figure it out, a Frenchman came over and asked if we needed help. Calmly, he pointed us in the right direction. So much for the French being rude to Americans!

The Army Museum is in a large compound called the Hotel des Invalides. In the photo below you can barely make out the spire above the arch. It tops the large gold leafed grand dome over Napoleon’s Tomb.

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Inside, we purchase tickets for today, as well as a 2-day "museum pass" that we plan to use in a couple days. Then we wander the first parts of the museum: rooms and rooms of huge paintings of battle scenes and busts of famous leaders and many statues. We admire the architecture – the big round staircases and fancy details. We spend a long time in this area.

Then – then! – we get to see Napoleon's tomb. Inside this coffin lie the bones of Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Look how grand it is inside this dome:

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Besides Napoleon, several other leaders are entombed here, including Ferdinand Foch (WWI), Vauban, and members of Napoleon's family.

Across the courtyard is the entrance to the World Wars areas of the Army Museum.

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Helmets, armor, weapons, clothing, dressed mannequins showing uniforms, men atop horses, tool and first aid kits – a huge assortment of war-associated miscellany. Of special human interest, gathered were dolls and other items found on the war fields. Also, there were big horizontal flatscreen shows of the strategies of battles.

I took very few photos inside, simply enjoying taking it all in. But, this little motorcycle got me to take out my camera:

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It's a British Welbike, a small, folding motorcycle, in its parachute drop-container. In WWII, these were dropped at the same time as paratroopers. On landing, the paratroopers would take the Welbike from the container, unfold it, and be on the road within 11 seconds. (Wikipedia)

We spent about 3 hours in the Army Museum! Then we were hungry and set off for a late afternoon meal at a Brasserie. The food was good, the wine was not (the only bad wine we had on the trip!).

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We were served by a silly waiter, who kept making jokes. He insisted on this:

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Eiffel Tower is the next "must see" spot on our agenda. I realize, now, looking at my photos, I should have taken a photo of the Eiffel Tower from way back to get it all in one shot. But no, I was too interested in the complex interlacing of the steel that holds it up.

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In the area near the Eiffel Tower, street vendors try to get us to buy Eiffel Tower replicas, selfie sticks, lights they toss in the air or pattern on the concrete, and even wine. We watch them con shell games too. It took us an hour and twenty minutes to get through the lines and to the top of the tower (and another forty-five minutes to get back down). But it was worth it. Our first big view, from the mid-way landing:

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You can see the gold-domed Napoleon's Tomb and the Army Museum complex in this photo:

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The Seine.

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These final photos are from the very top. During our stint in line, John was talking to a young man who was part of a group of study abroad students. One member of the group proposed to his girlfriend right there, at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The city of romance!

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A metro ride took us to our hotel and we hit the open markets across the street from our hotel. Laden with strawberries, wine, bread and cheese, we enjoyed a quiet evening in our hotel room. Time to rest up for another day in Paris!

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