Walking The Streets of Paris

When Bryan and I visit foreign countries, we tend to do a lot of walking.  If our destination is within three miles or so of our starting point, we’ll choose to walk over taking public transportation because when you walk you get to see things (metros don’t tend to be all that scenic)…time spent walking is never wasted, it is invested.

We thoroughly enjoyed walking around Paris during May.  The weather was pleasant, everyone was happy, flowers were blooming in window-boxes, and signs of life were everywhere.  I don’t really know the exact locations of most of these photographs, so this post won’t contain much writing.  Even still, I wanted to share these pictures with you because the streets are what made me fall in love with Paris.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Here’s a link to the Imgur photo album containing the images in this post.

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Rue Cler Neighborhood

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Sainte-Chapelle

St. Chapelle Collage

Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is a medieval Gothic chapel.  Its construction began after 1239, and it was consecrated in 1248.  France’s King Louis IX commissioned it so that he would have a place to store his collection of passion relics.  The cathedral was damaged during the French Revolution and restored during the 19th century.  The cathedral is said to be a prime example of Rayonnant Gothic architecture.  It has one of the best collections of 13th century stained glass in the world.

We purchased our tickets for Sainte-Chapelle ahead of time to decrease the amount of time that we spent waiting in line.  I got pretty good at navigating websites in French in order to purchase tickets in advance.  We attempted to visit the chapel on our first day in France; however, we were turned away and notified that the chapel was closed because they were in the process of removing tarps from some of the windows that had just finished being restored.  The man that we spoke with told us that we should come back the next day because the work would be finished — talk about good timing!  We went to Sainte-Chapelle on the same day that we visited Musee d’Orsay.  The stained glass was beautiful, and we were provided with a guide so we were able read about the Bible stories the stained glass is depicting — it was nice to actually know what we were looking at for a change.

If you’re planning on taking photographs in Sainte-Chapelle, you may want to consider going on a day when there is lots of sunshine in the forecast, as the chapel is dimly lit.  If you want to get good photographs of the outside of the chapel, consider bringing a fish-eye lens; there are other buildings in close proximity to the chapel that make it difficult to get good photographs without a wide-angle lens.  Sadly, I did not have my fish-eye lens with me at the time.

Here’s a link to the Imgur photo album containing the photos in this post.

b2wh4hpCreepy Gargoyle

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Jardin du Luxembourg

France4Bryan and I had traveled to Europe twice before our trip to France, and both trips were during December.  I thoroughly enjoyed our December trips to Germany; however, it seemed to me that Paris would be perfect during spring, so we chose to visit France during May.

Prior to the trip, I researched parks and gardens in Paris and knew that I wanted to make time to visit Luxembourg Garden.  We went to Luxembourg Garden on our second day in Paris — the same day that we visited Musee d’Orsay and St. Chapelle.  Luxembourg Garden did not disappoint!  It was full of people, statues, flowers, and life!  We even got to watch a few rounds of pétanque (which I regret not taking any photos of), a game we read about before our trip.

Marie de’ Medici, a native of Florence and the wife of King Louis XIII, began creating Luxembourg Garden in 1612.  She wanted something to remind her of Florence.  Today the park is owned by the French Senate and occupies 60 acres.  It is home to 106 statues, of which I photographed a mere 17.  We spent a couple of hours at the park and didn’t even come close to seeing everything.

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Statue of Marie de’ Medici

Here’s a link to the Imgur photo album containing the photos in this post. Continue reading

The Eiffel Tower

I haven’t been doing  a very good job of posting regularly to my blog but did want to go ahead and get at least one more post out before 2016.  The Eiffel Tower is definitely a site to behold!  The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair; it was not supposed to be a permanent structure.  It was supposed to be demolished in 1909 but was turned into a radio tower and was saved.  It took 300 workers, 18,038 pieces of wrought iron and 2.5 million rivets to build the Eiffel Tower.  When the Eiffel Tower was built, it passed the Washington Monument as the tallest man-made structure.  At 1,063 feet tall, it was the tallest man-made structure until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built.  During WWII, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top.  The Eiffel Tower Wikipedia article is worth reading.  The History Channel website also has a good article on the Eiffel Tower.

The first glimpse that I got of the Eiffel Tower as we were walking through the city was magical — it made being in Paris finally feel REAL.  It was neat to walk around the city and be able to see the Eiffel Tower peaking in and out between buildings.

We chose not to go up into the Eiffel Tower while we were in Paris for two reasons — the lines were very long (and our time was limited), and you can’t see the Eiffel Tower if you’re in it.  In order to make the best use of our time we chose to only “see the city from up high” from one place, and that was the towers at Notre Dame, which offered a great view of the Eiffel Tower.  If we had time to go up into another building/structure, we would have gone up into the Montparnasse Tower.

During our short stay in Paris we were able to see the Eiffel Tower against many backgrounds (stormy skies, sunset, night) and from many different perspectives.  Here are some of my favorite Eiffel Tower photographs.

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Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris – Inside & Outside

Notre Dame Cathedral

Visiting Notre-Dame on the day that we landed in Paris was a great way to kick-off our trip to France…and a great place to take refuge from a brief rainstorm.  Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris in French) was every bit as beautiful inside as I had hoped it would be.  Notre-Dame is on the eastern half of Île de la Cité, and is a great example of French Gothic architecture.  Notre-Dame’s cornerstone was laid in 1163, and construction was completed during 1345, though it was damaged, restored, and updated many times throughout the years.  It was one of the first churches built with flying buttresses as supports.  It was designated a Monument Historique in 1862.  Fun fact: much of the outside of the cathedral, including the gargoyles and chimeras were painted in vivid colors at one point in time, though all of the paint has since worn off.

Rose Window

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Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris Towers

FranceWe got to our hotel in Paris around 10 AM, checked in to our room at Hotel du Cadran, grabbed our backpacks, and ventured out into the city.  Our first stop was Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.  It started raining almost immediately when we got out of the metro station, so we went straight into the cathedral without spending any time outside.  The inside of the cathedral was beautiful, but I really wanted to go up into the towers.  Thanks to the rain shower (which passed quickly) the line for the Notre Dame Towers was fairly short, so we didn’t have to long to wait.

As I understand it, the gargoyles are used as water spouts to direct the flow of water off of the cathedral roof.  I assume that everything without a water spout is a chimera.  Chimeras are mythological fire-breathing creatures, most often portrayed as lions, though I did not see any lion-esque chimera at Notre Dame.

Being eye-level with the chimeras was amazing, and the views of Paris were spectacular.  The 387 step climb to the top of the South tower was well worth it!  I was amazed to see that each of the chimeras on the upper levels of the cathedral appeared to be unique.  So much thought and artistry went into the design of older buildings.  It always amazes me that mankind was able to accomplish so much with such little technology.  According to the cathedral’s website, the gargoyles and chimera were installed during the 17th and 19th centuries and were designed by Viollet-le-Duc and Emmanuel Bell.

For reference, I thought I’d include a photograph of the front of the cathedrals so that you can see where the towers are.  The South tower is on the right.

Notre Dame Cathedral Towers

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Night Photos of La Ville Lumière

Prior to embarking on our trip to France, I contacted a good friend of mine from college (Chris — who had just gotten back from Paris) to see whether or not he brought his tripod with him on their trip, and, if he did, whether or not it was worth the hassle.  I brought my tripod with me on the December 2014 trip that Bryan and I took to New York City, but I did not use it a single time.  I didn’t want to bring it along on our trip to France if it was just going to sit in our hotel room the whole time.  Chris more or less said, Sarah — Paris is The City of Light, if you’re going to bring your tripod on only one trip, it should be this one.  Chris took some excellent night shots during their trip to Paris, and he made a convincing argument in favor of toting a tripod overseas, so I made the decision to bring mine — and because I decided to bring it, I told myself that I would definitely use it — no ifs, ands, or buts.

For being such a populous city and popular tourist destination, it was surprisingly easy to find places in Paris to set-up a tripod (without inconveniencing others) in an attempt to get nighttime shots of many of their popular tourist destinations.  Bryan patiently (and graciously) escorted me around the city late at night (it did not get dark in April until after 10 PM) so that I could take photos of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and Notre Dame.

The first stop that we made for nighttime pictures was Pont Alexandre III, one of the many bridges that crosses the Seine in Paris and a location that Chris suggested for getting photos of the Eiffel Tower at night.  The location definitely did not disappoint, and being able to get portions of the bridge, the Siene, and a neighboring bridge all in the same photograph as the Eiffel Tower made the photos a little more interesting.  Here are two of my favorite shots from that location.

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