Paris – Tuileries Garden and the The Louvre.

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 Like the entree to a main meal the Tuileries Gardens with it’s fountains, statues and perfectly manicured hedges is a wonderful prelude to tempt your taste buds before visiting the Louvre Museum.U

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The gardens are situated in between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Originally the gardens for the royal palace.

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Walking through the gate known as the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, you can’t help but be reminded of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin… ok well just the horses on top . Actually if my memory serves me correctly these ornate triumphal gates seem to be found in front of a lot of European palaces.

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But the most striking thing in front of the Louvre is of course the glass pyramid made even more famous by the popular Dan Brown book the Da Vinci Code.

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Just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa you would be the odd one out if you were not taking photos with those comic poses in front of the Pyramid. They even have strategically placed blocks for you to stand on to help you along.

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Here the trusty Paris Museum pass came into play again, not only covering our admission fee, but skipping the booking office lines and walking straight in.

The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world and holds works of art from every continent. We grabbed our map and decided what our priorities were and headed straight to those sections.

A visit to Paris is not a visit, unless you visit the Louvre and it is most famous piece of Art work, the Mona Lisa . Set behind glass it is the one item in the museum that attracts the most amount of tourists at any one time. Once you fight way to the front of the pack you are surprised just how small it is compared to so many other famous works of art. But if I was to only see one thing it would have to be that.

It’s quite surreal to be walking around looking at paintings and sculptures from artists that you studied at school. Throughout the galleries you would also find up and coming artists painting their own reproduction of  certains work of art, sometimes you couldn’t tell the difference.

Remembering that this was once a Royal palace, the ceilings and mouldings that decorate the interior are just as much as part of the exhibition as the artwork that are hanging on the walls.20140613_105532

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Venus De Milo

Apart from the Mona Lisa our other main focus was to visit Napoleon’s rooms, the Greek exhibition, Venus De Milo and anything Vermeer or from that era.

 

 

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Paris – Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

The next morning we met up with Ron and Vicki and our first stop was to see the magnificent Notre Dame. The heavens were looking a little grey but we were being positive.

It was early and the square in front of the cathedral was empty so we thought we would take this opportunity to visit inside while is wasn’t crowded.  Just like in a museum we walked around and marvelled at the beautiful stain glass and sculptures that decorated the windows and crypts within the church.U

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once back outside we stopped at a café just opposite so we could still take in her grandness… No matter from which angle you look at Notre Dame, she is beautiful. As we sat and chatted, we looked over to see the crowds gathering…. not in a line … just amassing…. “hmm don’t remember tape being put up yesterday for crowd control…. didn’t think that the police where wearing helmets and bullet proof jackets “. Then BANG!!!! …. “What was that?,  Oh and Garry where did you leave our backpack”….

We soon realised that the Bomb Disposal Unit had just set off a controlled explosion. The church then reopened with the all clear…. “but Garry where is that back pack?, yum I can smell toasted sandwiches” …. no only joking it was not our bag…  but we assumed someone’s lunch had just been barbequed.

 

 

 

 

The many views of Notre Dame

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One of the best things we did was purchase a Paris Museum Pass.  We picked up our 6 day pass from the tourist booth at Gare de Nord as soon as we got off the train. It becomes valid the first time you use it and in our case it meant that for the next six days we could visit over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris. But what really made it worthwhile was that you could jump the queue at many places including the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe.

 

Later on during our stay we returned to Notre Dame. The museum pass gave free entry up the tower. No queue jumping here, we had to line up with everyone else.  You enter the Church tower from the side entrance and once you climb the 422 steps you are rewarded with wonderful panoramic views of Paris.  Out on the balconies you come face to face with the many gargoyles that protect the church. Here you  can admire the copper statues of the apostles that have turned green in time and adorn the base of the spire.

To the left Montparnasse, to the right Sacre Coeur and straight in front the iconic Eiffel Tower, from here if feels like all of Paris is at your finger tips.

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Paris – Settling In

Once the rain stopped we decided to pay a visit to the local supermarket to fill up our fridge. Nothing like keeping it fresh with delicious crusty bread, cheese, meat, tomatoes and wine of course.  Our little balcony was the perfect spot to enjoy our dinner. Good food, good wine, good view.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

With our tummies full we decided to go for a walk and soak up some of that French atmosphere.  We walked down to the Seine and crossed one of the many bridges throughout Paris to the Isle of Citi.  Here in it’s glory sits Notre Dame Cathedral.  Day or night the square just in front is always busy with sight seers, hawkers and those just gathering for a chat.  As night fell we watched as the Cathedral lit up against the black backdrop of the darkening sky.

Locks love on the bridge

Locks of love on the bridge

What else do you do in Paris, the city of love, but walk hand in hand along the river Seine. Not quite the ambiance that we hoped for.  Young men and woman lined the banks swigging straight from their wine bottles. Happily chatting with their boom boxes blaring their favourite music.  But far worst was every time you walked under a bridge the stench of urine was enough to make your eyes water. Obviously they didn’t want to stray too far when they wanted to relieve themselves.

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The river Seine at Night

The romanticism returned once back on street level.  The city lights reflections shimmering in the water, beautifully lit boats gliding up and down the river.  This is the time when the buskers all come out and start playing … good or bad it didn’t matter, there was always music where ever you went.

Heading back over to the mainland we stolled around some of the little streets. They were a buzz with many restaurants and other types of night life. All cuisines were represented, Greek, Italian, Thai, all the different aromas tempting you as you walked past each establishment.

It was all good and we slept well that night.

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