Eiffel Tower: Sights, sounds & smells…

Photo by Bryon Meyer

Photo by Bryon Meyer

The Eiffel Tower is a “must see” when visiting the grand city of Paris, so we crammed this icon into our itinerary.

We walk from the metro… Hmmm… where is a bathroom?  Ah-ha! Just after we passed the Louvre (and a Gypsy having a loud argument with an African Eiffel Tower vendor), Randy spies a small pay toilet and he pays the lady attendant.  Randy proceeds to conduct his business  only to notice the woman is still standing there watching him.  Awkward…

After a lengthy walk, we arrive at the latticed wrought iron landmark and find we are not alone. The area around this popular tower is crammed with tourists, vendors with large rings of tiny Eiffel Tower replicas, Gypsies attempting to scam tourists… Do you speak English?  Sign my petition for orphans… along with the regular pick pockets. They would have to dig pretty deep to get any of my valuables and I’ve learned to say “No,” so I’m still feeling pretty secure.

We stroll through the area and see a man urinating in the bushes right by the sidewalk. We continue on our way and see another man doing the same thing and we soon discover why.  The only bathroom facilities we could find was one of the automatic pods that takes a minute to disinfect  between users.  Long line backed up waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. This may explain why so many areas in the city smell like urine.

The Eiffel Tower, La Tour Eiffel in French, was the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition — or World’s Fair — of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France’s industrial prowess to the world. Not all were pleased with the project as a group of 300 artists, sculptors, writers and architects sent a petition to the commissioner of the Paris Exposition, pleading him to halt construction of the “ridiculous tower” that would dominate Paris like a “gigantic black smokestack.”

There are many fun fact to know and tell about this massive structure, but the most interesting to me was the effect of the sun. Logically, the tower was built to sway slightly in the wind, but the sun affects the tower more. As the sun-facing side of the tower heats up, the top moves as much as 7 inches (18 centimeters) away from the sun. The sun also causes the tower to grow about 6 inches.  livescience.com

Even though the tourist trap atmosphere and lack of bathrooms at the Eiffel Tower are negatives, you can’t help but be amazed at the architecture and stare at the design from all angles possible. It is a worthwhile stop.

Best advice when visiting the Eiffel Tower?  Restrict your liquids or wear Depends.

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Rollin’ On the River Seine

Since 1991, the Seine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected as an important natural and cultural artifact.

 

 

 

 

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The river runs for 776 km (482 miles) through France and into the English Channel at Le Havre and Honfleur (Belgium). Its source is in the French region of Burgundy, and its mouth is the English Channel. These houseboats could go for quite a ride with that kind of distance. Wonder how much it costs to park here?

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In Paris, the banks of the Seine are connected by a total of 37 bridges and provides plenty of background for photo opps.

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The river’s name originates in the latin word, “sequana”, which some believe relates to a Gaelic name that would have been attributed by the earliest Celtic settlers.2014Paris-1080021dmv

Hey, guys… what’s for dinner? I see wine bottles and glasses, so I’ll bet a fun time will be had by all. I do wonder why so many have their heads down when the view is the selling point of this experience. 2014Paris-1080018dmv

Here come some more boats of tourists using the services of a company called Bateaux-Mouches. (Click on the link for their website and touring options.)

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There are many boat tour operators in Paris offering various levels of service from taxi-boats to private dining experiences. The most famous are still the Bateaux-Mouches.2014Paris-1080015dmvcr

Yep, there they go.2014Paris-1080140dmvWe appear to be forlorn since we did not go on a river boat cruise. It was a lucky day for the cruisers since they were able to watch us watching them.

Inquiring minds want to know…

 

~A Paris Guide:  The River Seine

Shopping for bargains in Paris


Shopping in Paris… high fashion glamour at its finest, right?  I guess that’s not how we roll.

Sympa is a bargain clothing store located in the Montmartre area of Paris where you can find lingerie, dresses, blouses, skirts, and coats–all designer seconds from previous collections at a 75% discount. There are at least five Sympa shops dotted around Montmartre area of Paris, France.

I believe this Sympa store is located along the rue de Steinkerque, a street once notorious for its prostitutes and dance halls. Imagine this “dumpster style” of shopping inside a former brothel that Pablo Picasso frequented during his Blue Period.

If only walls could talk…
2014Paris-1080009plcrSupplies are renewed on Wednesdays and Saturdays and we are lucky enough to walk by on a Saturday.

2014Paris-1080010clA couple of tips:  Know your European size number as there are no dressing rooms. Keep your money and other valuables close to your body for this is pick-pocket heaven.

I’m not a shopper so I think I’ll pass on this opportunity to locate the ultimate bargain.  Even Randy passed this one up.

Musée de Cluny

Musée de Cluny joins together two prestigious buildings in the heart of Paris: the Thermes Gallo-Romains de Lutèce (Gallo-Roman baths), built at the end of the 1st century and the Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny, built at the end of the 15th century.

Click on images for a larger viewing window:

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The six tapestries depict a slender, blond woman in a Mediterranean garden with a unicorn and a lion on either side. They were woven in Flanders in the early 1500s by unknown artisans — most likely ordered by a wealthy family in Paris, but their subject remains mysterious.

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They are considered some of the finest examples of medieval handiwork in the world.

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For images and more information about this series of tapestries and information click on the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musée_national_du_Moyen_Âge

http://heindorffhus.motivsamler.dk/arthistory/frame-TapestryUnicornLady.htm 

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Early medieval sculptures from the seventh and eighth centuries are also stored in the museum.

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Adam made of stone from around 1260.

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cluny-1080100Vaults of the gothic chapel

cluny-1080095While Musée de Cluny is probably not the first place that comes to mind when visiting Paris, it was well worth the visit.

 

Locks of Love

A love lock or love padlock is a padlock which sweethearts lock to a bridge, fence, gate, or similar public fixture to symbolize their love. Typically the sweethearts’ names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love. Since the 2000s, love locks have proliferated at an increasing number of locations worldwide.
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The locks first started appearing on bridges in Paris around 2008, shortly after young couples in Italy began attaching padlocks to the Ponte Milvio, a bridge over Rome’s Tiber River, apparently mimicking the protagonists of a popular 2006 Italian novel I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia who made a film adaption in 2007. ~Wikipedia

2014Paris-1080154dmvMunicipal authorities see the locks as litter or vandalism and the weight of the locks are causing excessive stress on the bridges

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According to Bonjour Paris, A French tour guide was overheard explaining the phenomenon to her enthralled group. “There are two bridges in Paris with the locks, you must be very careful which bridge you put your lock on because Pont des Arts is for your committed love, while Pont de l’Archevêché is for your lover.” This may explain why Pont de l’Archevêché is completely packed with locks, while Pont des Arts has plenty of room.  ~Bonjour Paris

2014Paris-1080164dmvI quickly photograph my new accordion friend sitting on the bridge and notice he seems quite sullen.  Time to inconspicuously dig into my anti-pickpocket bag under my shirt for some coins.  After coming up with enough coins equivalent to about an American dollar, I smile and drop the coins down into the brown case in front of  him.  The man then unleashes a long, irate, scolding French rant, making motions to look like he is throwing the money in the river, so I don’t think he is impressed with the tip. Not sure how he even knows the value of my coins from where he is seated. I don’t see anyone else show the love by giving him money after that and people strolling by are giving him plenty of space. You draw more flies with honey, dear!

Exploring Paris: Art, toilets & crepes, oh my!

 

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Looks like we have security at the Artists’ Market in Montmartre area of Paris, France. Watch out, Bad Guys!

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 Place du Tertre is where the legends of 20th century art used to roam. Now it’s filled with watercolors, portrait sketchers and caricaturists.

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 Picasso, Vlamenck, Derain, Soutine, Modigliani, Van Gogh and countless others lived and worked in these narrow streets.

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 Wall plaques identify buildings and cafes as historic with crucial info such as “Hemmingway once peed in our bathroom…” etc.  ~ http://www.aparisguide.com/montmartre/

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Speaking of toilets, we find dire shortages of bathroom facilities throughout the city (which explains the frequent urine smells in stairways and in the metro.) and begin to plan our itinerary around estimated time of need. (I believe Joan may be researching the next toilet location as she waits her turn.) A few rare instances one may find a futuristic looking toilet pod as pictured above and below. ( Paris Sanisette:  Click on this link for detailed operation instructions.)

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The door closes after the previous user and it takes a full minute for the empty toilet pod to go through its disinfecting cycle before the next person can use it. A robotic arm comes out to scrub the toilet and the floor is cleaned so I patiently wait my turn. That extra minute between users is a long time if a person has to REALLY go and there is a long line. Wish me luck as I allow the doors to the unknown to close upon me. If I fall asleep in there or find myself locked in, it will automatically open after 15 minutes. So they say…

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With that business taken care of we can focus on finding real French crepes since all of this tourist activity has made us hungry. This crepe vendor looks authentic enough, right? 2014Paris-1080006dmvDoesn’t that look just nummy…?

I’ll marry you anywhere as long as it’s Paris

Love is in the air as we tour Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France and see wedding photo sessions on the cathedral grounds. My shots are quick little snaps from quite a distance and just for giggles and kicks.

Every day of the year, masses, vespers and the sacrament of reconciliation are celebrated at Notre-Dame de Paris. Since the cathedral is no longer a parish, baptisms, marriages and funerals are no longer held there. Even though weddings are no longer performed in the cathedral, it doesn’t stop brides from using the grounds to jazz up their wedding photos.

2014Paris-1080081hfm20fp20popcmUnlike Minnesota or South Dakota, only brides and grooms appear to be photographed as no bridesmaids or groomsmen can be seen anywhere.

2014Paris-1080080dmvAlthough he was quite close to the action, I believe this photographer is a tourist since the real photographer was shooting Canon and orchestrating the posing.

2014Paris-1080040hfm40fp40pop40plcrIs he wearing flip-flops?  Might as well be comfortable.2014Paris-1080032dmvcrThis photographer carries flowers, brides arm and his camera is under the flowers. What a guy!

2014Paris-1080026dmvkpPigeons are plentiful around the cathedral. Bread for sale…

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2014Paris-1080036dmvThe line to enter the Cathedral of Notre Dame moves faster than it appears.

2014Paris-1080039dmvcr Gypsies are known to run begging, pick-pocket and other scams in the Paris tourist areas and metro. This little lady is working the line for the Notre Dame Cathedral.

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2014Paris-1080044dmvConstruction began in 1163, and Notre-Dame would be completed some 100 years later, in 1272. Click on the link for more information – The Official Notre Dame website.