Paris

Paris, France – Sunday, July 10, 1973

“Today was a long but really good day. My whole impression of Paris has changed completely. Everything you hear ans see about Paris is really true. Only to see Paris in that way you need more time and more money. Paris is truly a beautiful city. A “city of lights.” Yesterday, I could not imagine Paris as being a city where you should be if you’re “young and in love.” Now I can! Paris…so many different facets. Each gives a different image. But each must be present to complete a fantastically beautiful picture.”   From my travel journal.

Paris, France – August 2012

After spending a delightful week in Provence, Allan and I met Patricia and Drayton in Paris. Patricia and I first visited Paris during the summer of 1973. Almost 40 years later we returned. We visited many of the same places. We arranged a private car and Gigi, our little Italian driver, picked us up every morning for our daily adventure. He was a walking encyclopedia, and we really liked him. He and Allan talked continuously.

I absolutely loved everything. Monet’s flower gardens were beautiful and the champagne houses were fascinating, but it was Pointe du hoc that had the most emotional impact on me. Standing on the ground and visualizing our troops scaling the cliffs and being killed (some never even made it to shore), stayed with me long after I cam home. The entire day – the museum, the cemetery, Omaha Beach on D-Day, standing in Nazi bunkers – sometimes with guns still in them – was a real eye opener for me. We had such an awesome time – it’s a trip I will never forget.

We spent six nights in Paris at the Hotel West End, a small boutique hotel with about 30 rooms. Our room had a view of the Eiffel Tower.

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We spent the first two days exploring Paris. Early one morning we climbed the Eiffel Tower. Our goal was to climb to the second level. At the first level, 347 steps, we stopped to take photos. Then we climbed to the second level. 669 steps. We took the elevator down. They told us to put our backpacks in front of our bodies. Then we visited The Ecole Militaire, founded in 1750 by Louis XV, with the aim of creating an academic college for cadet officers from poor families. It was reorganized in 1777 under the name Ecole des Cadets-gentilshommes, (School of Young Gentlemen). It is now the Ecole de guerre (War School), a French Institution for higher military education. A young Napoleon Bonaparte was accepted in 1784. He graduated from this school in only one year instead of two.

We visited Napoleon Bonaparte’s Tomb. On May 5th, 1821, Napoleon died on the island of St Helena, where he had been in exile since 1815. He was buried in the Geranium valley. His remains rested there until October 15th, 1840. In 1840 his remains were exhumed and brought to Paris, under the instructions of Louis-Philippe, who demanded that the English return the emperor to French soil. A state funeral was held, and the remains laid to rest in St Jerome’s Chapel. The remains were moved in 1861 when the tomb was completed.

In the afternoon we crossed the The Point Alexandre III Bridge which links Les Invalides, the site of Napoleon’s tomb, on the Left Bank with the Champs-Élysées on the Right Bank. The Point Alexandre III Bridge is the grandest of all the bridges in Paris and lives up to the reputation of the City. The bridge is constructed lower than other bridges as not to obstruct the view of Champs-Elysées and Les Invalides. The first stone was laid by the Tsar Nicholas II and was opened during the 1900 Universal Exhibition. The main feature of Pont Alexandre III is the four shining gilded statues. Each one of these statues has a specific name and each one stands for a specific period of France’s history. The “Fame of Agriculture”, the “Fame of Arts”, the “Fame of Battle”, and the “Fame of War”. Magnificently gilded allegorical statues crown the pillars. The Sciences, Arts, Commerce, and Industry each bringing the winged horse Pegasus to heel.

Then we visited the Louvre and the Montemarte.  The glass pyramid in the main courtyard of the Louvre was completed in 1989 and stands over the new entrance. The Louvre Pyramid is a large glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, surrounded by three smaller pyramids. Patricia had an”episode” and had to sit out the Lourve. Allan’s and my two favorite pieces of art in the Louve are the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa.

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The Climb

After we finished our climb we spent some time just admiring the Eiffel Tower from the ground.

Ecole des Cadets-gentilshommes

Napoleon Bonoparte’s Tomb

The Point Alexandre III Bridge

The Lovure Museum

Around Town

 

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