Friday, October 11, 2013

A Day with a View

Before we left for Paris, I looked through my Paris walking tour book (from my study abroad) to remember all of the places that I wanted to show my mom. On this day we did a fair amount of walking, and got to see all of my very favorite views of Paris.

We started out at l'Eglise de la Madeleine, a huge church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. When you see the outside, you pretty much feel like you're in Greece.

It wasn't originally built to be a church. Napoleon had it built to be a temple dedicated to the glory of his armies. Doesn't that just seem like something Napoleon would do?

Anyways, when the good old Bourbons came back into power it was converted into a church. 

You can see our next destination, the Place de la Concorde, from the entrance to the church.

See that obelisk in the distance?

To have enough strength to reach the end of that road, we stopped at the conveniently located Ladurée bakery that's just about halfway between the church and the obelisk. Ladurée is one of the most famous bakeries in Paris, and we wanted needed some macarons!

Macarons in France are magical. They come in a TON of different flavors. Besides chocolate, my favorite flavor is rose. It tastes like the flower smells, I swear. I don't know how French people come up with these things. And I'm pretty sure my mom's pistachio macaron was just about the best part of her trip to France.

Dear macarons, you're the best.

I love Place de la Concorde because it's one of the best views in Paris, it's where Marie Antoinette and her husband were executed, and it was even the Nazi headquarters during WWII. Beautiful views+history=why I like Europe.

In the middle of Place de la Concorde is an ancient Egyptian obelisk that used to be part of the Temple of Luxor.

Here's the obelisk+the Eiffel Tower+a fountain!

To the west, you look down the tree-lined Champs Elysées and can see the Arc de Triomphe.

To the north, you see l'Eglise de la Madeleine and two famous hotels (one was the Nazi headquarters...).

To the east are the Tuileries Gardens.

To the south is the Palais Bourbon (where the National Assembly meets). You can also see the golden dome of Les Invalides.

But basically, if you stand at the obelisk, to the east and west you see a straight row of trees (Tuileries and Champs Elysées), and to the north and south you see matching classical Greek buildings with columns (Madeleine and Palais Bourbon). Parisians are the BEST at symmetry. Plus you can see the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides, which makes the view even better!

To reach my next favorite view of Paris, we started heading down the Champs Elysées. But before going very far down the road, we turned south and started walking toward Les Invalides.

First, you walk between the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.

These buildings usually house temporary art exhibitions, and sometimes events like fashion shows.

After walking past the Palais, you come to my very favorite bridge that goes across the river. It's called the Pont Alexandre III.

There's a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower from this bridge!

At the end of the bridge, you can see Les Invalides- which used to be a military hospital, but is now the home of France's army museum and Napoleon's tomb.

We didn't walk all the way to Les Invalides, but instead headed back past the Palais and back to the Champs Elysées.

We got some delicious Italian food for lunch, and stopped in a few stores on the way to the Arc de Triomphe. I got to say hello to my best friend, Zara.

Mom wanted to go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and both of us had never done that before. I'm not really a big fan of heights, but it turned out to be pretty cool. 

The Arc de Triomphe is in the center of Place de l'Etoile, which means star. From the air it looks like a star because 12 avenues radiate out from the Arc de Triomphe. They're all straight, tree-lined streets, which was fun to see from the top of the Arc.

Here's the modern part of Paris, La Défense. 

See the huge arch? Now this will blow your mind. The arch of La Défense follows a straight path to the Arc de Triomphe, which then follows a straight path to the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel in the Tuileries Gardens.

If you look closely, you can see the Carrousel arch right behind the obelisk of Place de la Concorde. Best symmetry ever.

We also caught a glimpse of the basilica that we went to the following day: Sacré-Coeur!

I might as well finish out this post with one more view of the Eiffel Tower- from the Arc.

After that intense day of sightseeing, we met up with Claire Porcher for dinner. Claire first came to our house as an exchange student in 2005, and my mom hadn't seen her since the last time she was in the U.S.- in 2006! We've loved keeping in contact with Claire over the years. It was so great to see her again, and I'm happy that I'll get to see her a few more times during my stay in France!

So all in all, Day 2 in Paris was a lot more successful than Day 1. It was a beautiful Parisian day!

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