Friday, June 14, 2002

Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower

14 hours of flying, 3 hours of traversing through customs and Charles De Gaulle, and we still managed to squeeze in a landmark. We both agreed that this was well worth the added wait before bedtime.

Taken from the top of the Eiffel Tower looking west (we think).

The same view, zoomed in a little closer. On the very point of the land in the middle of the river, just past the second overpass from the bottom, stands France's Statue of Liberty. Squint a little -- she's hard to see!

We're not sure exactly what significance this garden and it's fountains have... for us this was just another great view from 1050 feet in the air.

The Arc de Triomphe as it sits surrounded by the city of Paris.

Along the banks of the Seine, the Louvre is difficult to miss. In the background (upper left corner) stands the Arc de Triomphe.

L'Hotel national des Invalides was built in 1670 to house disabled soldiers. It still serves that purpose as well as accommodating a veteran's hospital, the burial site of Napoleon (and other French war heros) and several military related museums.

A closer view of the hotel and the golden dome.

The twin spires in the center of the picture are the front towers of Notre Dame.

Back on the ground, looking up at where we had just been.

We took this picture just because I like carousels and later found out that it was somewhat controversial. We never found out why, though, beyond a general shrug and one "Ze French, zey love a con-tro-ver-see, oui?"

The Arc de Triomphe

Taken from across the square. The traffic around the Arc de Triomphe is insane (as you'll see in the picture of the traffic that we took from the top). We stood here for quite some time and watched the cars, bikes, buses, scooters, motorcycles, vans, and delivery trucks weave in and out and around each other. Shaking our heads in amazement that no one was killed, we eventually headed down the stairs to the much safer pedestrian walkway below ground.

Once we had made our way safely through the underground passage that our guide book recommended, we stepped out to this view.

There are 285 steps that lead to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. We know because we climbed every. single. one. of. them. This is a picture looking down the center of the tightly winding staircase that led us to the top.

The Champs Eleysees is one of the streets that feeds into the round-about that circles the Arc de Triomphe. Calm and civilized, mais oui, but appearances can be oh-so-deceiving...

Et viola!  I believe this might be what the guidebook was referring to when the author(s) wrote "Death is certain!" if one were to attempt to cross from the sidewalk to the Arc de Triomphe above ground. Note the lack of lanes, traffic signals, or traffic cops. Less obvious on film was the lack of patience as communicated by frequent "taps" of the horns on vehicles so equipped (gestures worked quite well for those without). And yet, despite our frequent flinches, we never heard the scrape of metal on metal. Incroyable!

Of course, turn about is fair play... since we captured the Arc de Triomphe from the Eiffel Tower, we must have evidence of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe! 

Another view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. In the distance (on the hilltop)lies the Basilique du Sacre-Couer (Basilica of the Sacred Heart).

At the base of the Arc de Triomphe lies this tribute to the French soldiers who died for their country in World War I.

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