Paris in the Springtime, 2001
by Rick Swallow
The Third Week
Blue, underlined text may be clicked on to see a larger version of the picture being discussed.
Wednesday 28 March [Sweater/Jacket day]
The above "Garden" sidewalk scene is ever present just a block before crossing the bridge leading to Île de la Cité and Notre-Dame.
It's not obvious form the shots, but across the street in both cases is the Seine.
The left shot is pointing East and I turned and took another shot Westward as I moved down the Quai toward the bridge. They sell all
kinds of exotic household type plants, roots, etc. that people plant in their window ledges and rooftops. A fast walk kept me quite toasty
as I headed back toward the Royal Palais just to the North of the Louvre.
Under continual, if not intermittent construction, from 1624 to 1645, the Palais Royal was the original residence of Cardinal Richelieu
who, upon his death in 1642, left it to Louis XIII. (Today it's the seat of the Council of State.) As one enters from the South side, a large
square is encountered with black and white pillars of various height rising out of it --art I suppose-- shown in two diagonally opposite
views just below. The tallest pillars are about 6 feet in height and the shortest, well, flush with the pavement!
I have absolutely no idea what this set of shiny silver balls represents.
There are two identical such "art pieces" at the North side of the plaza
through a double colonnade seen to the rear of the photo.
As one passes through the colonnade, a 250 yard long garden is entered which was planned by Louis in 1781. The trees are all but
devoid of leaves, and a good thing, too! Elsewise, the three wings surrounding it and the portico thus formed could hardly be
photographed at all. As it is you can barely make them out thought the trees' trunks as seen below.
A large series of narrow shops which fill the wings from end to end makes for an interesting window shopping spree.
Following my visit to the Palais Royal I walked Westward a few blocks to
the rue Royal and the Place de la Madeleine. This distinctive old church
dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene has the form and structure of a classical
Greek temple. It was order built in 1806 to honor the Grand Army. It has 52
Corinthian columns 65 feet high with a beautiful frieze depicting the Last
Thursday 29 March [Jacket day]
The sun shone intermittently in the morning and not knowing how long it would last, I snatched up my trusty camera and headed for the
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel). When I arrived I first stood directly underneath the center of it (note its shadow on the ground) and took a picture
of the Trocadero on the rise across the Seine. It contains several museums, but more on that when the time comes.... I then pointed my
camera Southeastward and snapped The École Militaire (Military School) in the distant background beyond the Parc du Champs de Mars.
The Tour Montparnasse rises high in the even more distant background. I'll get to that later as it has a wonderful open-air observation
platform on the roof (686 feet high, 59 floors)
It's not obvious from the Parc shot above, but
wayon down there, about halfway to the
school, is a gigantic TV screen facing the
school which is showing a slideshow-type
video of things to do and see in Paris. It is
beyond me to even guess as to why it is where
it is. But it is. So when I walked wayon down
there where I had to go so as to be able to get
the Tour Eiffel in one frame, I took two pictures,
one including the Giant Tv and one without.
Hey, the Tower is 1,007 feet tall and ya gotta
stand back a bit!
Click here to see the Tour Eiffel full screen.
It's a really pretty picture.
Well, by the time I walked back up to the Tour the dark clouds began rolling in
from the West and so I headed back on the Rive Gauche side of the Seine
hoping I could beat the rain. I didn't. I found myself ducking into doorways
during the heaviest spurts. I snapped this picture about halfway back of the
American Church. Inside is an information area for English speaking
persons (including a never too handy toilette). You can find listed on the
bulletin boards positions for hire, language classes, apartments for rent, etc.,
etc. A great place to go for resources if you are stuck.
The American Church is known worldwide for the beauty of its windows,
made by Tiffany.
Friday 30 March [Vest day]
Sunny with scattered clouds and into the high 50's all day. Best weather day thus far.
I decided to buy myself a French hat today (made in Italy) called a "casquette" to provide a little eye shade provide, and some added
warmth; also bought a backpack for a possible side trip to London. Want to travel light.... Was able to meet my requirements in just
an hour or so. Goods are about as cheap here as in the States.
The French are fascinated, it would seem, with people watching. Most restaurants have outside areas for seating and the seats all face
outward so as to give a good view of the crowds, which do crop up when the sun comes out as it did today!
After checking my "river gauge" I found the the level continues to fall and the park at the Northern end of the Île de la Cité is slowly emerging
from the depths. I continued my walk Westward along the Left Bank Quai for some photo ops.
The first landmark shot (left) below is of the National Assembly building at the South end of Pont (bridge) de la Concorde.
A landmark which is visible from many places in Paris and from every bridge is the 787 foot long glass domed Grand Palais, built for
the Paris Exposition in 1900. It is on the North Bank at the end of the beautiful Alexander III Bridge.
These next two shots are also of the Grand Palais as I approached, each taken from a bridge. (Note that the Petit Palais is across the
street from the Grand Palais.) In both pictures a sculpture (greenish) can be made out on the left-hand near corner (Southeast) of the
Grand Palais It is a beautiful piece, in my opinion, and since this is my website, my opinion counts loudly.
I took a close up of that sculpture (left, below). Click here to see it in larger format. The Petit Palais is shown in the right-hand picture
as taken from almost underneath that sculpture.
Backtracking a across the bridge (Pont Alexandre III--constructed 1897) I took the left picture (below) of one of the sculptures on the
bridge. (Larger here). On the right is a shot Northward across the bridge with the Grand Palais in the background.
Next a shot southward across the Pont illustrating some of its magnificant Golden gilt and in the far background the Hôtel des Invalides..
The Hôtel des Invalides is actually a complex of buildings ordered built by Louis XIV in 1671 as a hospital/refuge for old and invalid
soldiers to keep them from having to beg on the streets. The Hôtel (which means "mansion" in French) is some 643 feet long! One
enters the structure itself into a large courtyard with a large and interesting collection of cannons of various sizes, shapes, and ages.
The Hôtel houses the Musée de l'Armée which itself contains the largest collection of arms and armor, uniforms, and military artifacts,
and other military related historical relics and souvenirs in the world. It also contains the Museum of Relief Maps and Plans, many of
which were used to design plans of attack.... The rear part of the courtyard is the façade of the Church of St-Louis-des-Invalides (not
the Eglise du Dôme which is a separate building to the rear).
One must consider many of these cannons works of art in themselves, even considering their intended use. Picture Left Below.
In the right-hand picture is a cannon made largely of Wood!
You want me to put this ...where?
The beautiful Eglise du Dôme is actually a separate building snuggled in immediately behind the Hôtel. It is sometimes referred to as
the Tombeau de l'Empereur Napoléon I (the final resting place of his remains) though it actually contains the remains of at least 6 others.
Saturday 31 March [Vest day]
Wow, 2 days in a row with Spring-like weather!
Today I returned to the Hôtel des Invalides to take a picture in better light of the Eglise du Dôme, as seen in the picture to the right. I then
walked to Montparnasse and on to the Catacombs only to find that they have been closed for "restoration" since March 1. I'm every bit as
disappointed at that discovery as I was about the closure of the Automobile Museum, as I was really looking forward to a second visit. I
returned by way of the Latin Quarter and visited the Church Saint-Etienne next to the Pantheon. The site's ancient beginnings can be
traced to King Covis in 511 A.D.
Light was not good for pictures. Another visit is in order anyway as I will need to have my museum pass to get into the Pantheon and I'm
not ready for the inside life quite yet.
Sunday 1 April [Vest Day]
The Hôtel Des Invalides was free today so I decided to spend my day there. If you are interested in armor, swords and weaponry, give
it a visit.. I described it in a prevoius entry (Friday last).
Monday 2 April [Vest Day]
Glorious blue sky low 70's day. Why, one would thing it were Spring.
I took the metro to the Basilica Sacré Coeur at Montmartre, a hill in the north of the city (metro stop Château Rouge). After a brief look
around for orientation I walked back through "North" Paris to the Seine. It was simply too nice a day to spend inside. I found the walk
takes about an hour at a fair leisurely pace.
Later in the evening I walked back and headed for my "flood marker" at the downstream end of the Île de la Cité and found that the park
has arisen from the depths. I'll snap it in another week or so and then mount the two pictures here side by side for comparison.
Tuesday 3 April [Vest Day]
Not as warm as yesterday but a good walking day. I kinda wandered all over the map today. Checked out Republic Square in the NE
side of town. Also my "river level marker." The Seine's level has receded sufficiently to allow the sightseeing boats to ply their trade.
I though I'd seen it all here: Pollicemen on horseback, bicycles, motorcycles, afoot and in their cars. Now today there were 4 who
rollerbladed by me on the Quai D'Orsay.
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