Paris in the Springtime, 2001
by Rick Swallow
The Seventh Week
Blue, underlined text may be clicked on to see a larger version of the picture being discussed.
Wednesday April 25 [Sweater & Jacket, RainGear]
Today we took the train ride from D'Orsay RER stop to Versaille, 14 miles West of Paris, accessible with your metro ticket. However,
in order to get out of the station at the Versaille end, another ticket, a "supplement" costing 15 francs is necessary. Versaille is the end of
the C line by the way, so you have to get off. Return tickets cost 15 francs.
The picture-- above left-- is a distant shot of the front of the gigantic
Royal Palace of Versaille showing the two long "Minister's Wings" at the left
and right sides.The picture to its right ( taken prevously with Brian when the
guards were on strike) was shot through the bars at the front of the courtyard
and well illustrates the depth of the courtyard itself. The palace had its origins
in 1631 as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII and was expanded by Louis XIV to
house 3000 courtiers, most of whom , it seems, lived of the kings graces.
To the immediate left is a photo of the famous "Hall of Mirrors" in which many
a treatry has been signed, including that which ended World War I. To fully
appreciate the beauty of this 246-foot long room you really have to be there!
The photo above left shows the very top of the Versaille Garden which extends
far into and beyond the forested region in the distance, and far to the left as
well. The right-hand photo shows Stephen and Cathy in front of the infamous
Basin of Apollo. Beyond is a huge canal, part of the Palace grounds, at which
you can rent row- and paddle boats. My begging to take a boat ride fell on deaf
ears so we spent yet another hour or more exploring the grounds.
To the immediate left is a shot from the far side of the Basin of Appolo (which,
in the summer season has the water turned on makint it a beautiful fountain)
looking back towards the Palace itself.
We were caught in a sudden very heavy cloudburst just as we were exiting the
courtyard in front and I actually ducked underneath a large truck to keep dry!
After a train ride back to Paris we ate at the Canyons Club, a Tex-Mex
restaurant adjacent to Les Halles and called it a night.
Thursday April 26 [Sweater]
Pleasant day. We started at the Picasso Museum but found the guards were
on strike so we headed to the Archaeological Crypt under the front grounds of
Notre-Dame where ruins of Roman structures dating to the 1st century are
found. Much of the information is in English. Next we moved on to the Ste
Chapelle in the next block, known for its exceptional stained glass windows.
Guards ther were also on strike and so we walked on to the Orsay Museum,
which was, of course, on strike. The Arc of Triumph was open so we climbed
the 254 steps to the top and took some photos as we looked about.
The first, above left, is a lovely view of Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre region
to the NE about 3 miles away. The right-hand photo is of the Grande Arche of
To the immediate left is a shot down the entire length of the Champs Élysée,
through the Grand Wheel at the Concorde and to the Louvre beyond. Even in
the larger view the Louvre's famous Pyramid cannot be seen as it is blocked by
the wheel, trees, and haze.
We had purchased a three day museum pass and had to start it at the Crypt, so we were trying to get as much out of it as possible. We
next moved on to the Louvre where we found the guards to also be on strike. It was nevertheless open and free!
The famous Venus de Milo is illustrated front
and back in the pictures to the left. We spent
several hours in the Louvre before heading for
Pizza Pino for supper and then home for the
The Berge (riverside road) was open today as
the river level was again down below the road's
edge. Is the flood nearly over, I wonder?
Friday April 27 [Sweater]
Warm, low 60os. The Louvre is still on strike, but open and free so we spent
several hours wandering its corridors and admiring the works. I do want a
picture of Hammurabi's Code (stone) but will have to go back again on my own.
It happens that due to an insufficient number of employees (even when not on
strike), certain rooms/areas are open only on a fixed schedule, which can be
obtained at the information desk under the Pyramid.
As you walk from the Louvre toward the Concord, there are a couple of large,
circular pools around which people sit and chat on warm days. Children also
sail boats which can be rented from a man who has a little pushcart full of
boats for just such a purpose. [Photo to Left]
We took the 4:30 Cityrama Bus tour as a way to relax in the afternoon. Bad plan
as the Berge is once again flooded; traffic is so snarled at that time of day
anyway that the tour takes what seems like forever and narration is therefore
greatly spaced, presented only about one minute in 10.
I uploaded some pictures at the Cyber Café, we ate at the Chinese restaurant across street, walked back to a bar just west of the end of
the Louvre on Rivoli which has a sidewalk ice cream cart. After that little treat we called it a day.
Saturday April 28 [Vest]
Warm enough today to wear short sleeves and my vest. We started out with a visit to the Picasso Museum. Not unlike Dali, Picasso had , to
say the least, a very strange manner of depicting the human form.
The afternoon was spent in the Musée
d'Orsay , located just across the Seine
from the Louvre. It was opened as a
railroad station in time for the universal
exhibition 1900 with 16 platforms, as
well as restaurants and an elegant
hotel with 400 rooms; abandoned in
1939. It was scheduled for demolition
until (President) George Pompidou in
1976 declared it a national monument.
The d'Orsay was renovated and opened
as a museum in 1986, touted as the
most beautiful in all of Europe. I cannot
contest their evaluation. I really like the
d'Orsay as it is easy to navigate, has a
very nice collection of work from a wide
selection of artists, and can be seen
from stem to stern in about 3 hours.
I believe that even the most artistically naïve American adult will recognise Van Gogh's famous self portrait, and that of Whister's Mother.
The original of Rodin's "Gates of Hell" is seen to the left below, found on the lower floor, eastern end.
You can stand behind the two great clocks of the d'Orsay and look out, and I took this interesting photo of Sacre Coeur from that vantage
point. (Right, below) It show up much better in the larger picture .
To the left is the d'Orsay from an upper level inside, looking West.
I t was actually a very nice day, all in all. Which isn't to say that it didn't sprinkle
on us every now and then, 'cause it did. Wouldn't be Paris if it didn't rain some
every day---I'm beginning to believe. The Berge is still under water today so
surface traffic was still a bit heavy.
Steve found 500 francs! It was just sticking out of an ATM machine. Some
poor joker likely went off in a huff because the delivery system from ATM's is
often a bit slow, and since the card is ejected immediately after entering the
pin number, (unlike in the States where it is kept until after the entire
transaction is completed) the hapless individual left before getting his/her
money. C'est la vie.
After leaving the d'Orsay we took the metro to the Hard Rock Café as Cathy
wanted a Paris T shirt from there. We took the time to eat while there. Not the
best food, in my opinion, and quite noisy.
Sunday April 29 [Sweater]
Another nice day , though I hardly got out in it at all. Florence came over about 11 with her computer and she and I shared information. I
showed her a little about how to mount a web page, etc. Steve and Cathy did Laundry and shopped most of the afternoon. We met at 6 in
the Louvre and headed out to look for a new place to do supper. We found Chatal Vigouroux in the area of Châtelet where I had a salmon
lasagna, their special for the day. Very tasty, but absolutely decadent. By the time I left I could feel cholesterol oozing from my pours.
Monday April 30 [Sweater, Raingear]
Warm today but drizzled virtually all day. After a late start we returned to the
Hard Rock Café to complete the shopping there. It was very crowded when we
were there Saturday. Then on to Planet Hollywood on the Champs for more
T shirts. We just kinda Cruised and shopped all day.
To the left is a picture of the "fountain" at the Trocadero. It comes on several
times a day on a schedule I am unaware of. The Trocadero, you will recall, is
on the opposite bank of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.
Tuesday May 1 [Sweater, Raingear]
Turned out to be an OK weather day, with no more than the normal amount of
annoying precipitation. Today being May 1, a French National Holiday, many
stores and other services were not open or available.
We made our way to the Eiffel Tower where we planned to take the Bateaux
Parisiens on a day tour. The picture to the left was taken at flood stage. Note
the black arrow I have inserted over the boat which serves as a restaurant and
ticketing area. The tour boats moor to the left of that boat. The tours were
unaccessible at the time I took this shot. All the water you see here is actually
covering a walking area.
The Bateaux Parisiens has individual listening devices with narration in
several languages. Much better than Bateaux Mouche.
The tour goes around the tip of the Allée des Cygnes, a narrow island/walkway
several blocks long just to the west of the Eiffel tower. The island used to be
the edge of a large pond where the royal swans swam. At the western tip of
the island is a miniature (about 30 feet high) of the Statue of Liberty.
To the left you see both a day and a night shot
of the statue.
A last meal at Chez Katy's of Couscous
Legumes finished off the day' activities.
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