Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 1 - Ce Matin en Paris

I am calling this Day 1 as it is the first day of the river cruise.

We awoke to a morning dappled in sunshine and met for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7AM to 10:30AM. It was included and served very cheerfully by a server who also works as a porter.
Some photos from outside our hotel.

We have the morning to ourselves and decided to take a taxi with our luggage to the pre-cruise meeting location at the Pullan Paris Montparnasse hotel where the our Cruise Director,Danielle Oosterwal, was set up in a large lounge in the hotel; beverages were available, luggage was being staged for transfer to the ship, and carry-on bags could be safely stored here. We arrived and the porters immediately helped take our luggage from the taxi and whisked it away.  Included transfers to the ship would begin at 3:30 in the afternoon and passengers whose flights arrived this day were brought here from the airport to relax.

Once we checked in we also decided to take the optional tour to visit the Effiel Tower which would leave at 1PM and we would then be taken directly to the ship.

That decided, we headed out for a quick lunch at Le Petit Sommelier.

 None of us were that hungry and I wanted to spend my birthday money, so we had champagne and desserts.

Then we met up with the bus group. A view of the Effiel Tower from the bus which had a camera mounted at the front.

Waiting for the elevator which is a double decker and holds 100 people

On top of the montagne Ste-Geneviève, not far from the Sorbonne University and the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Panthéon looks over the Quartier Latin. As far back as 507, this site was chosen by King Clovis - the first Frankish Merovingian King - for a basilica to serve as a tomb for him and his wife Clothilde. In 512 Sainte-Geneviève, patroness of Paris was buried here.

The project to build the Sacré-Coeur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) was initiated by a group of influential people. Their reasons to build this monument was two-fold:
They had pledged to build a church if Paris escaped unscathed from the war with the Prussians and they saw the defeat of the French at the hands of the Prussian army in 1870 as a moral condemnation of the sins of Paris.
The project was authorized by the National Assembly in 1873, and a competition was organized. The goal was to build an imposing basilica true to Christian traditions.

Hotel des Invalides - Originally only a number of barracks were planned, but king Louis XIV chose a design by architect Liberal Bruant which consisted of a large impressive building with a royal courtyard and church.

The front facade facing the Seine river is 196 meters long (643 ft). The whole complex features 15 courtyards, the largest being the cour d'honneur (court of honor). This courtyard was used for military parades.
The building was completed in 1676 and housed up to 4,000 war veterans. A wide, 500 meters long esplanade designed by Robert de Cotte separates the Hôtel des Invalides from the late 19th century Pont Alexandre III and Seine river.

To the left you can see the gold domed church of des Invalides.

Dôme des Invalides
The church is connected directly with the Royal chapel, better known as the Dôme des Invalides. This chapel with a 107 meter high dome (351 ft) was for exclusive use of the royal family. Construction of the dome was completed in 1708, 27 years after the first stone was laid.

Plans to bury the remains of the Royal Family here were set aside after the death of king Louis XIV,
and in 1840 king Louis-Philippe repatriated the remains of the Emperor Napoleon from st. Helena - where he was buried after his death 19 years earlier - to have Napoleon entombed here. The Dôme des Invalides now also houses the tombs of several other military leaders like Turenne, Vauban and Marshall Foch.

From here we were bused to our boat which was docked about fifteen minutes away.


  1. Those marble plaques to the heroes of WWII are very moving to me. You see them across the country, but I always stop and read them. Enjoy your time en France. Have a couple of croissants for me :)


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