Third Largest City in China

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On our second day in Paris, we headed straight for Notre Dame, passing the Palais de Justice along the way. The building housed the Parlement of Paris from the 16th century until the French Revolution.  This is also the location where Marie Antoinette was held prior to her beheading.  Today, the building houses several courts of law.

Notre Dame was just a short walk from the Palais de Justice.  The church was completed in 1345 and has been a symbol of the city ever since.  Amy and I couldn't be bothered to wait in the extremely long and time-consuming security line to get in so we just enjoyed the outside view.  The inside is just like every other church in Europe anyhow (you can tell that we just LOVE Paris), and, for the price, I’d rather visit St. Paul’s Cathedral in London again, a larger, more spectacular church.  Either way, the outside is really gorgeous and the flying buttress supports located on the back of the church are stunning.

We meandered our way around Notre Dame to the back courtyard areas where the flying buttresses can be seen more clearly.  Paris also has this shoe-dirtying habit of not paving areas but matting them down with a type of sandy dust which basically serves one purpose: making your shoes and pants filthy.  It was out here that the gypsies swarmed, faking their deafness all over the place.  Meanwhile, they walk away laughing and talking to each other.  These particularly gypsies, for being so "poor, deaf, and destitute," were clad in high heels, nice jeans, and button-up shirts.  I mean, they weren’t classy by any means, but they certainly were enjoying the fruits of their stolen goods.

There’s a little bridge that crosses the Seine named the Pont de l'Archevêché. The gate that faces towards Notre Dame is literally blanketed with locks.  Here, couples write their name on a lock and attach it to the gate before throwing the key into the river as a symbol of their eternal love.  Amy and I were even “blessed” enough to witness a locking ceremony between a couple while we were there.  However, while we were inspecting some of the locks (which range between normal padlocks to bicycle D-locks to motorcycle chain locks) Amy just happened to accidentally break one off.  Without knowing what to do, she merely let it fall out of her hand into the river where it undoubtedly joined the key.  We apologize to the couple that inevitably broke up but next time please don’t use a plastic lock.

Our next stop was to the Hôtel de Ville, or City Hall.  The original building was burned down at the end of the 19th century but quickly rebuilt just as it was before.  City Hall is only a short walk from the Louvre so we made our way there next.  The line for the Louvre was astronomical, but we decided that this was probably worth it.  It also just happened to be unseasonably warm this day and the glass pyramid that lies in the center of the Louvre (which also serves as the entrance, however, there are alternative entrances we learned about later where the lines are not so long) served as a greenhouse for the entire museum.  As we explored the exhibits, we were hear people mutter things like, “I’ve never been in a hot museum before…”

  Formerly a royal palace, the building that is the Louvre is quite magnificent, filled with painted ceilings and grand hallways.  The collection is essentially the same as the British Museum (but not as good or as free as the British Museum), but it does, of course, house some very famous pieces of art, including Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and the Mona Lisa.  Winged Victory, created sometime around 190 BC is regarded one of the finest surviving masterpieces of its time.  Likewise, Venus de Milo, created around 100 BC holds a similar status of fame.  Amy and I sweated through the museum to find the Mona Lisa which, after peering over a sea of Asian tourists (this would be when I made the comment that the Louvre is the third largest city in China), can be seen occupying her own wall.  Smaller than imagined, the Mona Lisa is the star of the Louvre.  Some parts of the museum were dead while almost everyone immediately flocked to the Mona Lisa.  Amy and I had a significant amount of trouble getting close enough for a decent picture.

Lastly, it was time to visit the Eiffel Tower up close, but we decided to go in the evening to catch a glimpse of the tower when it “shimmers” for 5 minutes at the top of the hour every hour at night. Built for the 1889 World’s Fair (something that most Western nations could care less about these days) with the intent of being demolished shortly thereafter, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument in the world.  However, Amy and I weren’t about to pay to go in it seeing as how we had better views of Paris from the cheaper Tour Montparnasse.  The searchlights at the top and the sparkling lights were installed for the Paris’ 1999 millennium celebration and have been kept since.  We got there just at the wrong moment to have to wait about 45 minutes before the tower would sparkle again.  The wait was worth it when the tower finally shimmered in the night, and, only for a moment, we didn’t hate Paris as much as we did the day before.

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