Monday, November 26, 2007

Climbing in Paris with Patrick and James

When the boys were little they loved to climb steps, so we climbed the tallest towers in all the cities we visited. We have climbed St. Paul's in London, the Dom tower in Utrecht, Sacre Coeur in Paris, and lesser known towers and hills in England and other parts of Europe.
I guess I thought we'd done all the towers, but Jim decided while the boys were here again that we should climb some towers, so we did.

First we climbed the 387 (or 402 if you believe a different web site) steps to the top of the south tower of Notre Dame cathedral. Here is a picture of some of the chimera up there. If they don't act as downspouts they are called chimera instead of gargoyles. Notre Dame has both.

The next day we climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. (about 287 steps-I counted) This is the spiral stairway in the Arc de Triomphe. That's my boot in the bottom of the photo and some strangers climbing up behind us.
Here is a picture looking toward the Bois de Boulogne west of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
The next day we climbed the steps some of which are outside and others inside to the base of the dome of Sacré Coeur. That was 200 to 300 steps, not counting all the steps that you have to climb to get to the church in the first place. Then for some reason to climb the tower you have to go down to the basement and climb from there. The photo of the church here was taken on the day I visited it with Alice, which was a nice sunny day. It wasn't that nice the day we climbed it, so I don't have pictures from below on that day.

This is the view from the base of the dome. You can see the row of openings around the dome in the photo above. That's where this is taken from, looking down at the steps below the basilica. There must be about 200 of them too.
Here we all are in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a grey day and the line was long to go up it this day, so we didn't.
But we did return the next day when the weather was better. The line was still long so we climbed to the second level and then bought a ticket to ride the elevator to the top. That was about 700 steps, which really felt like a lot. They are numbered on the steps-668 to the second level then about 15 more to the elevators and another 15 to the lookout area at the very top.
This is actually taken from the second level. From the top the horizon is less interesting, because you are so high you are looking down on most of the easily recognized buildings. This is looking toward the Montparnasse tower, with the golden dome of Les Invalides church on the left.

Sadly, I expect this will be my last post from Paris. We are packing up to return to Duluth on Friday. But I still have lots more pictures of Paris, so I could continue to put together web pages and link them here. It's just that I would be doing it from Minnesota instead of Paris.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Walking in Paris with Alice

My sister-in-law has been here for most of this week and we've done a lot of walking. We followed 3 different guided walks, which were interesting. I have enjoyed the walks by Paris Walks. But this week things have been made more difficult by the transport strike here. This is one of the old metro entrances that were designed and built in 1900 to entice people to use the underground system. This was quite innovative and different in those days. We were lucky enough to get a train on the first morning of the strike that took us to the Mont Martre area of Paris up on top of the hill. We walked around the area before the walk started because we arrived early.This is the basilica on top of the hill called Sacre Coeur or "Sacred Heart." It was built in 1875. We were there on a cold, sunny day.
There are lots and lots of fabric stores in the Mont Martre area. We went into this one and found all these cute little mannequins. They are about 3 feet tall dressed in tailored outfits of all kinds. I took several pictures here. I asked Alice to get behind the table for this one so you could see the size of the mannequins, but I'm not sure it works very well.

And yesterday we took a walking tour of Hemingway's Paris in the left bank area. This is the fountain in the center of the traffic circle where the walk ended. We had lunch in the restaurant with the red awning. We both had Steak, French fires and salad. It was very good. Their bread was also especially good.

Today we are expecting my older son to arrive. He should be at the ariport now and trying to find a way to get here in spite of the transport strike. We sent him suggestions for several options to check into. He's 33, and has done some traveling, so we think he'll figure out something. I'm not at all happy about this strike, but we are dong our best to get around in spite of it, and doing more walking than we would if the trains and busses were all running normally.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

le Château Vaux-le-Vicomte

As I promised yesterday here is the page of pictures from Vaux-le-Vicomte. It's a wonderful château in the style of Versailles, but in a more manageable size. I suppose Louis IX would have a fit if he heard anyone say they prefer this one to his. The other thing I liked about it was that it was not at all crowded--no lines anywhere. So it is a recommended spot to visit if you can get there. I think you need a car. Vaux-le-Vicomte

I took more pictures of educational street signs today, which I would like to add here. Maybe I'll get that done soon too. I have walked past some of these without noticing them until today.

Would we be smarter if our street signs were more educational?

Here's a street sign that I passed yesterday in the Marais. The sign tells me that I am in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. (Paris is divided up into 20 smaller districts, each of which has it's own mayor.) It tells me the name of this street (King of Sicily) and that this king lived from 1220 to 1297, was the brother of King Lois IX and was proclaimed king of Sicily in 1266. Do your street signs give that much information? I'm starting a collection of photos of Paris street signs.
I have a page of pictures of the castle we visited called Vaux-le-Vicomte almost ready to link. I just need about half an hour to finish it up. Maybe tomorrow. I have to go out now to get some bread for lunch, then walk to an area near here that I want to visit today, then get back here because I have an apointment to get my hair cut this afternoon at 3:00. So you see I can't do it today. I will try to get to it tonight.