Saturday, August 24, 2013
DBS Euro Trip 2013 - Paris, the Things
This is the final post of the Euro Tour recap. For this final one, these are the structures and/or places. The most well-known and prominent structure in Paris is, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also did a little sculpture known as the Statue of Liberty, is a breathtaking landmark adjacent to the Seine River.
As a structure, it's extremely impressive. The wide base rises majestically to a point way above your head, but it never seems like it dominates the surroundings because of the large Champ de Mars park around it. People picnic and lay out on blankets here to enjoy the Eiffel Tower. At night at 10:00 pm, they light the Tower up with a series of "sprinkle lights" that people turn out in droves to see. There's a ride to the top that we unfortunately did not do. To compensate, DB~ took approximately 86 pictures.
We used the omnipresent Metro to go over to the Champs Elysees and see the Arc de Triomphe. Instead of trying to re-enact Frogger across the giant roundabout, we took the underground tunnel and popped up right under the Arc. This one we did tour and walked up nearly 200 steps to the top. You get unbelievable panoramic views of Paris from up here. The level of detail on the exterior of the Arc is impressive, as well, with inscriptions and engravings.
To the east of the Arc is Notre Dame and the Louvre. You can probably spend 3-4 days at the Louvre. We did it in 3-4 hours. You can get a map with the "highlights" on each floor and just kind of cruise around from there. The line to see the Mona Lisa is 20 deep and the mass of humanity got to be a little too much for me, but DB~ sifted through the people and got a nice shot of the Mona Lisa.
About 10 minutes from the Louvre is Notre Dame on the little island in the Seine where Paris started out hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Notre Dame started construction in 1163 and finished nearly 180 years later in 1345. The scope and, again, level of detail is something you just may never see be built again. That baroque style and level of artistry just is not done anymore.
The final "thing" is Moulin Rouge (the Red Windmill) in the neighborhood of Montmarte. Frequented by Van Gogh and Lautrec, along with copious amounts of absinthe, the Moulin Rouge is a classy burlesque joint. We watched streams of middle aged people pour in for the 7 pm show. The area around Moulin Rouge is extremely seedy, with strip joints, sex shops, and general debauchery as far as the eye can see. Just one block parallel to the street where Moulin Rouge is located is a standard, albeit artsy, street in Paris with the ever-present array of bakery, fruit stand, butcher shop, and clothing stores that ensures you never have to leave your neighborhood.
Paris is one of the world's greatest cities. The people were friendly enough to us, even as I was butchering their language at every chance I got. The buildings, the food, and the general romantic nature of the city makes it a Top 5 city in the world.