Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 2 morning - Paris

Paris arrival on our own
Day 1 morning on our own
Day 1 afternoon board ship

After breakfast we have an included city sightseeing tour which covers the highlights of Notre Dame, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Opera, Madeleine, Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower. The bus departed at 8:30.

The photos are not that great as they were mostly taken from the bus. One complaint I would have about all these sightseeing city tours we've taken on river cruises is that they are not long enough. I was also very disappointed that we did not have a stop at Notre Dame.

We did have an unexpected visit to the Gardens of Luxembourg where we had time to get out and wander around.

Paris is small: no corner is farther than six miles from the square in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral. The city has a total area of 41 square miles (105 square kilometres), if the two big parks at either extremity are included, and 34 square miles without them.

The city occupies a bowl hollowed out by the Seine.The river arches through the center of town, visiting 10 of the 20 arrondissements. Entering the city at the southeast corner, it arcs northward and bends out of Paris at the southwest corner. As a result, what starts out as the stream's east bank becomes its north bank and ends as the west bank, and the Parisians therefore adopted the simple, unchanging designation of Right and Left Bank (when facing downstream). These terms are not much used in conversation, as specific places are usually indicated by arrondissement (e.g., quinzième) or by quartier (e.g., Observatoire).

Paris map


A notable feature is a one-fourth scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, 22 metres high and facing west in the direction of its larger sibling in New York City. This monument, which was inaugurated by French President Marie François Sadi Carnot on 4 July 1889 (nearly three years after its counterpart), was given to the city of Paris by the American community of Paris, commemorating the centennial of the French Revolution. The statue initially faced east, toward the Eiffel Tower, but it was turned west in 1937 for the exposition universelle hosted by Paris that year. Its base carries a commemorative plaque, and the tablet in its left hand bears the inscription IV Juillet 1776 = XIV Juillet 1789, recognizing the American Independence Day and Bastille Day, respectively.

The Flame of Liberty (Flamme de la Liberté)  is a full-sized, gold-leaf-covered replica of the new flame at the upper end of the torch carried in the hand of the Statue of Liberty at the entrance to the harbor of New York City since 1986. The monument, which measures approximately 3.5 metres in height, is a sculpture of a flame, executed in gilded copper, supported by a pedestal of gray-and-black marble. It is located near the northern end of the Pont de l'Alma.
It was offered to the city of Paris in 1989 by the International Herald Tribune on behalf of donors who had contributed approximately $400,000 for its fabrication. It represented the culmination of that newspaper's 1987 celebration of its hundredth anniversary of publishing an English-language daily newspaper in Paris. More importantly, the Flame was a token of thanks for the restoration work on the Statue of Liberty accomplished three years earlier by two French businesses that did artisanal work on the project: namely, Métalliers Champenois, which did the bronze work, and the Gohard Studios, which applied the gold leaf.

The flame became an unofficial memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales after her 1997 death in the tunnel beneath the Pont de l'Alma.

The Arc de Triomphe Paris, the most monumental of all triumphal arches, was built between 1806 and 1836.
The Arc de Triomphe stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the "Place de l'Étoile". It’s located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The arches whole decorative style is entirely of the tradition of sculpture from the first half of the nineteenth century.

The triumphal arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular, those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars. Engraved on the inside and at the top of the arch are all of the names of the generals and wars fought. There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I where the Memorial Flame burns and have made the Arc de Triomphe Paris a revered patriotic site.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is the smallest of the three arches on the Triumphal Way, the central axis between the Louvre and La Défense.  Arc du Carrousel was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his Austrian victories and honour his grand army.

On top of the arch were four gilded bronze horses taken by Napoleon from St. Mark's Square in Venice. The statues were returned to Venice after Napoleon's downfall at Waterloo.
In 1828 a replica of the horses as well as a chariot were installed as a replacement.
Originally a statue of Napoleon was supposed to be put in the chariot but he rejected the idea so the chariot stayed empty until the restoration of 1828 when an allegoric figure took the place of the emperor. It is flanked by statues symbolizing Victory and Peace.

According to the museum's website, the Orangerie was originally built in 1852 by the architect Firmin Bourgeois and completed by his successor, Ludovico Visconti to shelter the orange trees of the garden of the Tuileries. Used by the Third Republic in the nineteenth century as depository for goods, an examination room, and place of lodging for mobilized soldiers, it also served to house sporting, musical, and patriotic events. Additionally, it was a place to display exhibitions of industry, animals, plants, as well as rare displays of painting.
The Musée de l'Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Though most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet, the museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Alfred Sisley, Chaim Soutine, and Maurice Utrillo, among others.

Place de la Concorde - in 1763, a large statue of king Louis XV was erected at the site to celebrate the recovery of the king after a serious illness.
The square surrounding the statue was created later, in 1772, by the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel. It was known as the place Louis XV.

In 1792, during the French revolution, the statue was replaced by a another, large statue, called 'Liberté' (freedom) and the square was called Place de la Révolution. A guillotine was installed at the center of the square and in a time span of only a couple of years, 1119 people were beheaded here. Amongst them many famous people like King Louis XVI, Marie-Antionette, and revolutionary Robespierre, just to name a few. After the revolution the square was renamed several times until 1830, when it was given the current name 'Place de la Concorde'.

In the 19th century the 3200 years old obelisk from the temple of Ramses II at Thebes was installed at the center of the Place de la Concorde. It is a 23 meters (75 ft) tall monolith in pink granite and weighs approximately 230 tons. In 1831, it was offered by the Viceroy of Egypt to Louis Philippe. Three obelisks were offered by the Viceroy, but only one was transported to Paris.
The obelisk - sometimes dubbed 'L'aiguille de Cléopâtre' or Cleopatra's Needle - is covered with hieroglyphs picturing the reign of pharaohs Ramses II & Ramses III. Pictures on the pedestal describe the transportation to Paris and its installation at the square in 1836.

Louvre Museum
Originally a royal palace, the Louvre became a public museum at the end of the 18th century. It is located in the 1st arrondissement, at the heart of Paris.
There are about 35.000 objects on display, spread out over three wings of the former palace. The museum has a diverse collection ranging from the antiquity up to the mid 19th century. A large part of the collection consists of European paintings and sculptures. Other rooms contain Roman, Egyptian, Greek and Oriental art. There is also a section with 'Objects d'Art', where objects such as clocks, furniture, china and tapestries are displayed.

Some of the most famous works of art in the museum are the Venus of Milo, the Nike of Samothrake, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and of course Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The site of Notre Dame is the cradle of Paris and has always been the religious center of the city. The Celts had their sacred ground here, the Romans built a temple to worship Jupiter. A Christian basilica was built in the 6th century and the last religious structure before the Notre-Dame construction started was a Romanesque church.

The Panthéon, an imposing 19th century building, was first designed as a church, but later turned into a civil temple.
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 Jardin du Luxembourg is probably the most popular park in Paris. It is located in the 6th arrondissement, near the Sorbonne University.

The park, about 55 acres, was originally owned by the duke of Luxemburg. The domain was purchased in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, mother of Louis XIII.

The gardens were laid out in Italian style on request of Marie de' Medici. She was of Italian descent and had spent her youth in Florence at the Pitti Palace. The Boboli garden at this palace was the inspiration for the Jardin du Luxembourg.

In the 19th century when the private park opened to the public, it was redesigned in a more French style but the original layout has been preserved.

Between 1615 and 1627 the Palais du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Palace) was constructed at the northern end of the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was built for Marie de' Medici, who was nostalgic about her youth at the Pitti Palace in Florence, so the architect, Salomon de Brosse designed the palace in a Florentine style. The widowed queen did not get the time to enjoy her new palace and gardens for long as she was banished by Richelieu in 1625, before the palace was completed.
In 1794, during the French Revolution, the palace served as a prison. It also served as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. The building currently houses the French Senate.

The first (original) Statue of Liberty stands in the Jardin du Luxembourg: an information panel on the pedestal claims that it is a bronze model used by Bartholdi as part of the preparatory work for the New York statue; the artist offered it to the Luxembourg museum in 1900 and it was placed in the park in 1906.The date written on this statue's tablet (where the New York statue has "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI") is "15 novembre 1889" (November 15, 1889), the date at which the larger Parisian replica was inaugurated.

It is said that the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after Bartholdi's mother; and the body after his wife, Jean Emilie.

Then it was time to head back to the boat for lunch.

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