Arc de Triomphe, March 21, 2016

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned  by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, 164 feet high and 148 feet wide, one of the largest victory arches in the world.   The Arc also honors those who fought and died in the French Revolution and other Napoleonic Wars. It stands at the western end of the Champs-Elysées, the most famous Parisienne avenue, and in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, a HUGE roundabout for traffic.  Today, national parades start and end here.

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Lady Liberty leading the French people to victory on one of the pillars.

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This pillar, La Resistance de 1814, commemorates the French resistance to the Allied armies during the War of the Sixth Coalition.

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Le Triomphe de 1810, with a toga-clad Napoleon being crowned by the goddess of victory on the pillar behind Steve.  The 4th pillar, La Paix de 1815, commemorates the Treaty of Paris.

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The ceilings of the Arc have sculptured roses and engraved names of French victories and military leaders of the French Revolution and Empire. (above and below)

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, has the first eternal flame, which is rekindled daily at 18:30 and new flowers are placed.

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The winding 284 stairs to the observation deck on top with beautiful panoramas of Paris.

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The Champs-Elysées, a 2 mile walk to Place de la Concorde and the most famous boulevard in Paris. (above and to the right below)

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Looking south towards Eiffel Tower (above and 2 below)

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View looking toward new Paris and the more modern buildings of Paris.

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Looking northeast to Sacre Coeur Basilica

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Victory statue and wreaths on display at the top of the Arc, one of the many highlights of our trip!

 

 

Historic Paris Walk , March 20, 2016

 

Walking from Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cite’ (City Island) in the Seine, we walked the Left Bank seeing numerous shops and restaurants, famous buildings, churches and booksellers, the Latin Quarter and numerous bridges over the Seine.

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Pont au Change (bridge over the Seine)

 

 

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Sainte Chapelle, (exterior above), built in the 13th century by King Louis IX, (the only French King now also a saint) is Gothic church architecture, a cathedral of glass, made to house the supposed Crown of Thorns (today kept in Notre Dame’s Treasury room for security).  The pictures below show the crisscross arches and columns created to hold the 15 panels of stained glass covering 6500 square feet (two thirds of it still being 13th century original).

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The 15 stained glass panels show over 1100 different scenes mostly from the Bible, from Genesis to the end of the world (Apocalypse).  Behind this altar is the Passion of Christ.

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Steve looking up to show some perspective on the size of these stained glass panels!

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The chapel’s rose window represents Judgement Day and the Apocalypse.

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Some of the frames and sculptures (above) in Sainte Chapelle.

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The Lower Chapel is directly below the stained glass chapel pictures seen above.  Definitely not as tall or showing such grand panels of stained glass, but beautiful in its own elegance and structure.

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Gate to Palais de Justice, a working courthouse in Paris, near the Concierge.  Below are 2 pictures of ceiling arches.

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Impressive stairwell in courthouse

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Beautiful clock on government building

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Above and below are 2 views of the Concierge, the famous prison for 2780 victims of the guillotine, including King Louis XIV, his wife, Marie Antoinette and Maximilian de Robespierre, the head of the French Revolution.

 

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After our walk, we stopped for a delicious dinner and headed back to our hotel.

 

Notre Dame, Paris, March 20, 2016

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Notre Dame Cathedral, started in 1163, dedicated in 1345 to “Our Lady”, is the historic center of France since 2300 years ago, and Point Zero, the center of France from which all distances are measured.  The bell towers are 200 feet tall, the rose window frames a statue of Holy Mary.  The faith of the people of France built this Gothic cathedral, doing most of the manual labor for free, including digging a 30 foot trench for the foundation.

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The central doors to Notre Dame are adorned with a relief of the Last Judgement.

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Entering into the interior, the columns are 10 stories high, and this is one of the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses (arched exterior supports) for support of the high walls (above and below).

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The huge organ of Notre Dame over the central doors

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The original rose-shaped window with medieval glass.

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Saint Joan of Arc (Sainte Jeanne D’Arc), whom assisted France in conflicts with England which ultimately France won and helped in the crowning of Charles VII, but was burnt at the stake for hearing heavenly voices and seeing visions from God.  She was beatified by Pope Pius X.

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We were blessed to have witnessed Palm Sunday Gregorian mass here.  Above is the ending procession.DSC09105

Some of the many gargoyles adorning the exterior of Notre Dame (they function as rainspouts).

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The Eastern side views of Notre Dame (above and below).

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Daffodils reminding us of spring in Paris!!

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Views of Notre Dame from the Seine riverside (above and 2 below).

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The Archaeological Crypts under Notre Dame.

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Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, was King of the Franks.  He united most of Western Europe during the early Middle Ages, laying foundations for modern France and Germany.   He became King of Italy in 774, then from 800, was the First Holy Roman Emperor (the first recognized emperor in Western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire 3 centuries earlier).  This statue is in the front plaza of Notre Dame.

One of the highlights of being in Paris!!

Palace of Versailles, March 19, 2016

DSC08957 The train that took us to Versailles, 6.5 euros round trip ($7.40) for 30-40 minute ride, southwest of Paris.DSC08961

The entrance to the Royal Courtyard, with the Chateau starting under the French flag in the background.

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Louis XIV, the Sun King, greets you out front.  He reigned 1643 to 1715, (72 years, being crowned as a child in the first Royal Palace, now the Louvre) and is considered one of Europe’s greatest kings, building Versailles and French dominance.  He is known as a true embodiment of the absolute monarch and a true Renaissance man.

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The Royal Chapel has the cross on top at the right.  Below are 2 interior pictures.

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The room of Royal Portraits and below the hall of Royal Sculptures

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A rendition of the Palace in the past and below a huge canvas of the Washing of Jesus’ feet.

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The Ceiling in the Venus room

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The Mercury room (above and below), one of the King’s bedrooms, but mostly where he held court with his nobles.

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Steve inspired by something in the War Room.

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Steve in the Hall of Mirrors.  The hall is 250 ft long, with 17 arched mirrors and windows,  24 gilded candelabra, numerous statues and  8 busts of Roman emperors.

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Overlooking the Grand Canal from the Hall of Mirrors

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The goddess, Diana.  Steve actually recognized this from past studies.

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King Louis XIV’s bedroom, which is at the exact center of the building overlooking the main courtyard (see below), and the center of the palace.

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Elaborate stairwells throughout the palace.

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The View overlooking the Gardens from the Chateau.  At this point, we walked outside to tour the Gardens and then the Grand Trianon.

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We walked past the Apollo Fountain, one of the original 1500 fountains with only 300 remaining, to the Grand Trianon, built as a getaway for King Louis XIV and his mistress (see below).

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Steve walking in the open-air colonnade (Peristyle) of pink marble and tiled floors, that connects the wings of the Trianon and overlooks more gardens.  Thousands of potted plants surrounded this area and were changed daily so Louis XIV could view a different setting every day.

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Above is the Mirrors Salon, with a view over the Grand Canal, which was the meeting room for Louis XIV and his Council.

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Above and below is the Bedroom of the Empress, including Corinthian columns and carved wood panelings.

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The Billiard’s Room

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Gorgeous marble slabs in Round Salon, relaid by General de Gaulle during the restoration of the palace.

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Ornate urns and Candelabra on table in the Emperor’s Family Drawing Room.

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The Cotelle Gallery was built to shelter the Trianon from the rigors of winter with 11 French windows on the southside and only 5 on the northern side.  It housed 24 paintings depicting the gardens of Versailles and the Trianon.  In World War I, the peace treaty with Hungary was signed here.  We loved seeing our TEXAS star in one of the beautiful wood floors (below)!!  LOL!

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This HUGE Malachite bowl, given by Tsar Alexander I of Russia to Napoleon, is the centerpiece of the Malachite Salon, the largest room in the Trianon palace. DSC09048

The Temple of Love was added to the Trianon area gardens by Marie-Antoinette (portrait below).

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We then began our walk back to the Chateau, (see below), seeing a crewing team on the Grand Canal (above) and lots of bikers and others touring the Gardens.

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Views above and below of Latona’s Fountain in front of the Palace.

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Very detailed landscaping and extensive varieties.  Am sure this is beautiful later in the year when more things are flowering and green!

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And the gates of gold to protect Versailles!  Very elaborate and ornate!  GOOD VISIT!!