Ahhhh Paris . . . City of tree lined boulavards… . city of dreams – surrounded by a modern moat of the peripherique. . . ..crazy drivers all on the wrong side of the road. . . pedestrians who dice with death when stepping onto a zebra crossing. . . flea ridden pigeons that thrive on offerings from misguided tourists.. . . these tourists who like sheep are guided from one site to the next . . . followed by waves of itinerant pedlars of chinese manufactured, tawdry models of the eiffel tower.. . . the sounds of the modern city almost drown the cries of history – almost . . . but silence the heaving masses and the stark history of Paris and indeed the whole of France stands naked for all to see. . .. .if only we stop and look about us. Our coach
Stopped in many places – this one is a city bus stop!
One statue we passed several times but never got to capture on camera was the Statue de Jeanne d’Arc. on the rue de Rivoli.This is a close up.
The weather forecast had been for rain for the four days we were due to be in Paris. As we dropped down into Dover on the M20 the sea was a mass of white foamed topped waves – a force 7 gale the captain aboard the "Pride of Canterbury" informed us. The ships stabilisers made for an uneventful crossing. We arrived at the hotel close to Port Clichy at 9.30pm. How close? This was the view from my bedroom window.
Monday: On a warm and sunny day we toured some of the historic landmarks of the city and stopped by the Eiffel tower at midday. Some of the party took a cruise on the Seine around the Ille de Cite but having done that on my last trip through Paris, I went a walk along the riverside, careful to dodge the lunchtime joggers and cyclists. Here is one of the many bridges of the city, at the waters edge several housboats were moored.
A short stop for a picture of the hotel des invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). :
In the afternoon we drove down into the cavenous underbelly of the Louvre Palace where all the tourist coaches park – The next level up, past the medieval castle walls, is a shopping arcade and a cafe area. I bought my ticket at the Tabac and walked along to the large concourse beneath the famous glass pyramid. It was full of peoples from around the world. I went to one of the four sections of the museum. In the Richelieu wing I wandered up a large stone staircase following the flow of the crowd – what must it be like at the height of the tourist season ?????
I passed a big bull and came to the statue of "Aphrodite" – Venus de Milo. It was at this point that I realised I was not in the correct area to see the "Mona Lisa". With difficulty ie stairways and corridors I retraced my way back to my starting point and entered the Denon area of italian paintings – following the arrowed signs to de Vinci’s famous work… . upstairs – along corridors – all thronging with fellow tourists – a veritable house of Babel ! Stopping to look at other works of art – along another corridor and . .. …another stairway and I ended up where I had started some 15 minutes previously !! Still next time . . . .?
Tuesday: Today is hot, blue skies flecked with cotton wool clouds as we race [!!] along the Périphérique towards this mornings destination of Monets Garden & House at Giverny. The road follows the seine as it flows northwards and we pass :
ok – I collect pictures of power stations as well as castles !!
But this was what we had travelled to see, the famous Lily Pond:
A view from this bridge in the painting
Leaving the gardens I had a coffee with ham and cheese sandwich at a small cafe opposite the carpark.
Across the river when leaving Giverney, in Vernon is Le château des Tourelles a 12th [?] century castle which defends the river crossing. In the town we passed a section of roman? / medieval town wall.
The journey to our afternoon destination of Versailles was uneventful,the temperature was now 29/30 c or mid 80’s F.Their appeared to be as many peddlars as tourists as we walked to the entrance of the Chateau.
Here is a view of the hall of mirrors:
Wednesday:Today is again hot, no sign of the bad weather. Breakfast is a little chaotic in the hotel dining room as two more parties have arrived one from Spain and the other from the Orient. This morning with our guide Michelle we discover "Hidden Paris" We pass through Montmartre, getting a fleeting view of the Sacre Cour, and stopping for 10 minutes outside the Jarden Place De Vogues.
KING LOUIS X111
The statue remains upright and in one piece as it balances on a tree stump !! Leaving here I saw the ‘Cafe Victor Hugo’ which is part of the museum dedicated to the famous writer. Soon we were passing the site of the Bastille – across the bridge by the small canal mooring area for pleasure craft and turned right at the Plant Museum. Passing faculty’s of the world famous La Sorbonne, founded about 1150.
We stopped just long enough to photograph the Pantheon: King Louis XV vowed in 1744 that if he recovered from an illness he would replace the ruined church of Sainte-Geneviève with an edifice worthy of the patron saint of Paris. It was completed in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution, the new Revolutionary government ordered it to be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen, with a pediment of "The Fatherland crowning the heroic and civic virtues". Twice since then it has reverted to being a church, only to become again a temple to the great intellectuals of France including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Marie Skłodowska-Curie to name but a few. From here
we travelled long the side of the Seine continuing through the Latin quarter and back to Port Clichy and our hotel for a 15 minute break before continuing on our afternoon visit to Fountainbleu.
If Versaille was a little disappointing then the Castle of the Blue Fountain made up for it.
This was in the chamber of King Francis 1, considered to be France‘s first Renaissance monarch. A philanthropist and humanist it was however in his reign began the persecution of the Huguenots . [ His name I came across when visiting his birthplace at château de Cognac. Also he beat Henry VIII at a wrestling match in Balinghem, the ‘Cloth of Gold’ site of the famous and lavish meeting of the two Monarchs. ]
The Royal Elephant
and finally here is a picture of the cafe where I had a quiet relaxed lunch, in the centre of Fountainbleu almost opposite the castle gates
Wednesday evening we had a thunderstorm and on Thursday morning it rained all the way from Paris to Calais. The journey home was long and tiring [we were in a traffic jam on the M25 [The london orbital road] for almost 3 hours…..!
Hope you enjoy the pictures and it gives you all an appetite to visit Paris