- Paris, France
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Sun 4-Jan 04 Dublin
Finally got around to visiting the Chester Beatty Library again (which is actually just inside the Dublin Castle Grounds, only a few hundred metres from where we were living), to have a better (and slower) look after our mad sprint of a guided tour last time on 19th Oct 2003. A very interesting collection of old books, scripts, painting etc.
This evening we flew across to Paris after work for a quick weekend away - nice aye! We went via RyanAir and so landed in Beauvais, about 1hr 10 north-west of Paris. From the airport we caught the airport bus into Paris, catching glimpses of various landmarks along the way (the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées etc). Once in the city we navigated our way on the Metro (subway/tube/underground/...) system and arrived at our Hotel room at about midnight, so not much sightseeing today!
Sat 10-Jan 04 Paris
This morning we took the Metro into town and started a semi-random wander along the River Seine, east to west. We started along the two islands in the Seine, Ile St-Louis and Ile de la Cité, visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Crypte Archéologique (showing ancient Gallo-Roman foundations of the city, which was really fascinating), the Sainte-Chapelle (or here) with amazing stained glass, and the Conciergerie (which was used as a dungeon/prison etc through the ages). It was an overcast day, but everything was absolutely beautiful just the same. Lots of old sandstone buildings, cobbled paths, and the river with numerous bridges and walkways. It's almost like a 'show city' as everything is so perfect and in it's place, with amazing extravagance everywhere you look! Also, being out of season it was reasonably quiet.
The River Seine, Paris
(we just liked the look of it!)
Ile St Louis, Paris
The Notre-Dame Cathedral, Ile de la Cité
Ancient cellar ruins at 'Crypte Archéologique', Ile de la Cité
Saint-Chapelle, Ile de la Cité, Paris
We next continued along Ile de la Cité and then the 'Right bank' of the River Seine, and had some authentic French cuisine for lunch - okay, so it was kebabs in a Greek Cafe, but it was popular with the locals also! Unfortunately we didn't end up going back to look through the Louvre museum itself (one weekend is of course way to short), but we had a look around the outside - an amazing building in it's own right and absolutely enormous! We also ducked up to the Palais Royal.
The Musée du Louvre
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
Art in the Palais-Royal Courtyard
Continuing on our walk along the river we went through the Jardin des Tuileries (gardens) and Place de la Concorde to the famous avenue Champs Elysées. At the end we chose to do the rather energetic climb up the 284 steps of the Arc de Triomphe - well worth the climb! Next we hopped onto a tour bus to have a bit of a rest and to get some commentary (in French and English!). We passed the Eiffel Tower and the Hôtel des Invalides (home for wounded soldiers - a very pretty building and gold painted dome church) before then catching a metro up to Montmartre to see the Moulin Rouge windmill (although we didn't go to a show) and the Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart chapel) at the top of Montmartre hill.
A very long and busy day, but we weren't finished quite yet - we now headed back into the city centre to wait in line to visit the Eiffel Tower. It was now dark, and although a bit misty/hazy, there were really good views from the top!
Egyptian Obelisk, Place de la Concorde
Ornate Fountains @ Place de la Concorde
The Hôtel des Invalides and Dome Church
Views from the Arc de Triomphe - down the Avenue de la Grande Armée and of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower
The Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, Paris
View looking up underneath the Eiffel tower!
Sun 11-Jan 04 Paris
It was drizzling this morning but we still had a great day and Paris is still pretty when wet! Metro'd into town and then went for a walk through Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens) to Arenes de Lutece (a 2nd century Roman Amphitheatre), and then on to The Panthéon. The Panthéon is another amazing building - large and almost overpowering on the exterior, but really ornate on the inside, with an enormous crypt underneath (with the likes of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Marie Curie buried there).
Jardin des Plantes
The Panthéon - The exterior and a battle scene painting from inside
From the Panthéon (and after getting tottally disoriented and almost giving up) we could caught another tour bus around the Montparnasse and Latin Quarter areas. After grabbing something to eat in the Latin Quarter we went for a nice walk along the Left (south) bank. Starting to run out of time before having to head to the airport for our flight 'home', we doubled back into Montparnasse to have a nosey in an old cemetery we'd seen earlier (Cimetière du Montparnasse, with tombs that look like rows of little houses!) and then to see the miniature Statue of Liberty on an island in the Seine past the Eiffel tower. I managed to get a photo of it before my camera died! It was also time to start heading to the airport :-(
A typical Parisian side street
Cimetière du Montaparnasse
The Statue of Liberty, River Seine, Paris
A very busy, slightly rushed weekend, but absolutely amazing!! A lot of the time we find that places that are highly recommended by lots of people can actually be a let down, but Paris certainly wasn't - it's a lovely place! We also got by pretty well without knowing any local lingo beyond Bonjour, Merci and Au revoir!
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