16 December 2006

Paris in Autumn

Click on the images to enlarge them.


We’ll always have Paris.

A famous line uttered by Rick to Ilse in Casablanca, and now true for M and J!

Shortly before coming down on this latest 2 week stint to Dubai, we went to the French capital for a couple of days as J had a business meeting to attend there.

It was M’s first time in France, so it was really exciting for both of us. The French have style – it’s everywhere.

Foggy on the first day and bitterly cold for the whole time we were there, it didn’t stop us from walking our feet off. The more we walked, the more we fell in love with Paris. We could even understand a lot of what was spoken to us – our schoolgirl French came in handy after all!

We’ll let the images tell most of the story, interspersed with a few words to describe personal memories and experiences.

Our hotel, the Mercedes was not far from L’Arc de Triomphe in the district of Wagram. We liked that we could open the window to look out onto the street.

5:30am

7:30am

The pâtisserie was very popular!

L’Arc de Triomphe


We walked to the top – 300 bloody steps of mostly spiral staircase.


It was well worth the effort to see Paris laid out with the roads leading spoke-like from Place Charles de Gaulle.

Les Champs-Elysées

M's first sighting of the Eiffel Tower - encased in fog!

Le Métropolitain


An awesome way to get around when our feet screamed at us to stop walking.


Le Métro was easy to find and also easy to navigate once we got our bearings on the city layout.


La Seine
This is a river that is meant to be walked along - so much to see and do. The Left Bank (La Rive Gauche) is full of art and antique shops. The bridges crossing the Seine are also artworks.

Here's a favourite:

Le Pont des Invalides

The Four Seasons Hotel is between the Seine and the Champs-Elysées

Les Champs-Elysées
We walked the entire length of the avenue from L’Arc de Triomphe to La Place de la Concorde, in biting wind and freezing cold – stopping at a mobile crêperie for hot citrus crêpes to give us warmth.


The avenue is best viewed at night when the lights come on. While J was at her dinnertime meeting, M walked for hours up and down the street to take photos and to observe the tourists and the locals.

Window displays are very classy – the French know how to dress windows. Understated and elegant.


You can find everything – even tazers and personal security equipment!


The Peugeot showroom displayed some cool and crazy concept cars.


Restaurants spill out onto the pavements.

Bistro Romaine - 3 floors of classical French dining


Avenue de Wagram
Walking back to the hotel from L’Arc de Triomphe at night.



La Tour Eiffel
We queued for a bone-chilling 90mins to get to the elevators that would take us to the top of the tower.


Again, it was worth it to get an even higher view of Paris. Very high!

Towards the middle of the city and on to Montmartre

Towards the new La Défense district

Cathédral Notre Dame
Our favourite stop during the 2 days that we were in Paris.


There’s something very special about this church.


We were privileged to visit while a service was taking place.


A visiting group of Russian Orthodox priests was being received by the Bishop, and their male choir was singing a cappella. Their voices filled the air in the massive cathedral and brought an extra sense of spirituality to our time there.

We lit a candle!


Le Louvre


Shaykhspeara Sha’ira gave us some great advice – go early and go straight to the Mona Lisa. We did both, and managed to beat the HORDES of Japanese tourists, to view La Gioconda with only a handful of like-minded people like us who had done the same thing.

Turn right at the top for the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is in the Denon Gallery on the 1st floor. It’s hard to resist stopping to gawp at all the other artworks on the way, but it’s worth it to get a front-row view of what is perhaps the most legendary painting in the world.


Impressions of Le Louvre:
-
it’s big – damn HUGE. If you want to see everything properly, plan for at least 5 days there. We mean it. Each gallery has 3 floors, multiple mezzanine floors and rooms leading off rooms which lead to yet more rooms. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs if you ever want to find your way out.
- take the time to look out the windows. Inwards, you'll see different aspects of the inner courtyard and the pyramid, like the shot below taken from the Gallerie Richelieu. Outwards, you'll see little cameos of Paris life.


-
get a map of the galleries and cross out the rooms as you go through them. That’s the only way of ensuring that you see everything.
-
each gallery has a cloakroom and a baggage room. Use them. Carry as little as possible with you as you walk the museum.
- wear good comfortable walking shoes with soft soles!


- the Ladies’ toilet facilities in the entry foyer (under the large pyramid) are woefully inadequate and long queues are normal. Take advantage of the toilets which are plentiful in all the galleries.

What?

-
go for food in the underground shopping mall which adjoins Le Louvre. You get to it from under the Pyramid by walking west away from the 3 gallery entrances. In the mall center is where you’ll find the inverted pyramid made famous in the last scene of The Da Vinci Code. It’s also where you’ll see and smell the most amazing food hall up the escalators, with better prices and a bigger selection of food than in the Le Louvre eateries.
-
there are NO PHOTOGRAPHY signs everywhere. The Japanese tour groups ignore them and shoot away at everything. You should too, and always without flash – although the guards around the Mona Lisa are more diligent and will tell you off!

No Photography allowed!

-
Venus de Milo is smaller than we imagined
-
Mona Lisa is also small, and yet big at the same time!
- we loved the Islamic art section
-
the most impressive paintings and sculptures are in the Richelieu Gallery – especially the 24 huge Reubens’ paintings commissioned for the Palais du Luxembourg. At least, that’s what we thought. You can also walk through Napoléon’s apartment in the Richelieu.


All too soon, we were back on the plane to Berlin. We’ll be back to Paris, as we’ve yet to see places like Montmartre and Château de Versailles.

Nous aimons Paris!

19 comments:

Harsha said...

wow.. this is.. amazing.. no words.

I've hardly.. actually barely ever travelled! and I always want to.. :o( Thats why I simply lurve your blog for all the amazing pictures!

very handy tips.

Once I DO start travelling.. I think I'll just forever bookmark your blog and go through the archives..:op

Harsha said...

Also.. the decorations on that tree outside the cathedral..magnificent!

Jassim said...

wow. i want to go now :-(

inmotion said...

pretty!

but i've already said that!

TEEHEE!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Super photos. Surely you need six months to see Paris!
I never got there - booked to go there when I was 23 but went to Fiji instead. Nowadays I could not stand the long plane trip, I would be scratching the walls and windows after a few hours.
Thanks for the great pics.
W.

clayfuture said...

No doubt.. your pics are so good I feel like I'm there!! Perhaps one day you could have them published in a book! Ka-ching!!!

moryarti said...

wow .. amazing :)

Destitute Rebel said...

Beautiful pictures, an amazing post of your trip, its nice to read of all your travels with such amazing pictures. Great Job.

Dubai Sunshine said...

Very nice...amazing pics as usual...I love Paris too...and I loved the Christmas decorations in your pics...it must be even more special visiting around this time of year...

I also thought the Mona Lisa was tiny...I was expecting a much bigger painting!

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

OHHHHH PARIS Tellement je t'aime!!

I am glad my little advice worked. But Mona Lisa is small ain't it?

I loved the islamic art section too. I am glad it's still there. I was under teh impression that it was not permanent.

What can I say..when it comes to Paris words befit me.

Was all the food teeny tiny in your eyes too?

Rich and warm pictures, I feel like being there again.

And now I must go home to my internet-less home.

CG said...

I am in awe. Those are all such beautiful photos.

bach-brahms said...

The beauty of Paris can't be described in words but your pictures; they bring back memories of yesteryears :)

Thanks :)

Happy Holidays :)

Anonymous said...

The beauty of Paris can't be described in words but your pictures; they bring back memories of yesteryears :)

Thanks :)

Happy Holidays :)

halfmanhalfbeer said...

Nzm: I adore Paris and your incredibly beautiful pictures have reminded me why. Have a wonderful Merry Christmas back in the cold of Germany!

HMHB

AM said...

Wow! and I thought my Paris photos were great!
Very nice photos :D

nzm said...

Thanks for all your comments.

Harsha: Thanks! Perhaps I should list, in the side column, the different posts that I've written for the various countries we've visited!

Wendy: that is one of the advantages of being over this way - Paris was only 90 mins by plane from Berlin. It took us longer to get to and from the airports in the trains!

Clayfuture: wouldn't that be nice? I would have to think of a different angle in which to present the book!

SS: yes, food was tiny and very expensive in the delicatessens.

I loved the light in Paris - it really brought back the challenge of photography for me to capture it.

Some of these have been enhanced in Photoshop and I had fun playing with some techniques that I haven't used in a while.

I'm proud to say that I'm really pleased with the set of images that I ended up with!

BuJ said...

lovely pictures.. thanks for sharing.. you seem to have a lot of talent for photography and must be armed with an SLR.. i wonder if you can tell me more about your camera.. coz I'm really tempted to invest in a "proper" one!

nzm said...

Buj: heh - that reminds of a conversation that you, Louis and I were having on Louis' blog about the quality of pianos and the pianists! lol

No - I don't own a digital SLR, and my film SLRs are wrapped in mothballs back in NZ!

All my images are shot on 2 Canons - an Ixus S400 and a G5.

I'll have to do a post on my cameras so that you can see what I shoot with.

chanchow said...

I just returned from spending the holidays in Paris. Your photographs made me nostalgic. Lovely!