Ok so your first stop is la Bastille, or rather the site where the ancient prison once stood. The Parisian's stormed the place (on July 14th) because they wanted the weapons and gun powder stored within. The Governor was killed as well as a couple Swiss Guard. So now it is the starting site of many Parisian protests, one of which we just experience on the 7th of Feb. They seem to like their job security and were protesting the government's decision to make it easier to let employees go. It actually seemed like a big block party until you see the police who are armed and ready to dispel any overly zealous participants.
The next picture is of the restaurant we all were taken to on our first day in Paris. We were all a bit jet lagged, but that didn't stop our appetites. We were served duck with potatoes in a yummy sauce and of course fresh bread and wine. Then we were served coffee and a really good dessert. It was chocolate mousse with a coffee flavored sauce on top. So good! After the 2 hour lunch it was back to the grind stone, but our stomachs were full and we were content.
At the end of our first week we were sent on a bus tour of the city which was quite fun. Our tour guide was extremely talkative and the bus was warm so we were happy. It was so cold the first week and with our bodies being stressed from traveling and change of environment that to just sit and be warm while the city passed by the window, was quite relaxing. This picture of the effile tower was taken when we all got out of the bus for a photo op, but it was so cold I only took a couple and ran back onto the bus. I was not alone in this and we soon took off for the rest of our 3 hour tour!
The obelisk at place de la Concorde is not exactly the major attraction most visitors go to see (unless of course they're on their way to Champs- Elysees). So this 3000+ year old Egyptian artifact was given to France and placed here for all of us to enjoy. The gold leaf pinnacle was replaced here in France but all the rest is the original. The hieroglyphics depict the reign of Ramses II and marked the entrance to the Luxor temple. Just another old artifact hangin' out in Paris. Without warning in 2000 an urban climber scaled the obelisk without any support and was given the nickname "spiderman." What I want to know is if he got into trouble or if they just all applauded his skill.
Well this is a pretty sad picture of the Louvre but it was during our bus tour so I guess its really not all that bad. This of course is the home of many great pieces of art too many to discuss here, but I put this picture in because it shows one of the more modern pieces of art found in Paris. And like most things from Paris it was a very controversial piece. Anyway if you look close you can see the pyramid and looking even closer the inverted one.
So the Luxembourg gardens are really close to my paris pad so of course we frequent them often. Of course its winter so its a bit cold, but it is still a beautiful place to visit. All week long this place is pretty deserted, but come Sunday it is packed with families, friends, dogs, runners, and lovers. It is quite the people watching place! You can actually see the French smiling and laughing, which is not the norm for those in the know. Usually all you see is sullen faces of people you think is either going to break down and cry or jump in front of the Metro (well maybe not all, but enough to make one ride in the metro a bit depressing). Since everything is closed on Sundays going to a park is the best way to enjoy the day of rest.
The Willy Ronis exhibition at the Hotel de Ville was amazing and well worth the free admission. He is a native Parisian who took up a camera when he got tired of seeing the same old pictures (mainly portraits at the time) and captured the real Paris for all of us to enjoy. One of the best things is that he is still alive a kicking (as much as any 80 year old can) and even though he retired a few years back is still actively involved in his exhibitions and what-not. Look him up to see some pics, and you will find you recognize a lot of his work.
The Musee Rodin...so the kiss is a fairly famous sculpture and it's awesome to look at in person. The man remains a bit hesitant; he is stiff and almost seems guilty, while the woman is completely relaxed full gives herself over to him. This is no resemblance to the real world I am sure! lol! The gardens off of the building were beautiful and I'm sure they are going to be a nice place for a stroll when its a bit warmer. The thinker is by far the most famous of the Rodin pieces. In fact there are 3 of this size throughout the world. He comes from Rodin's Gates of Hell, which interestingly enough wasn't cast into bronze until after Rodin's death. He sits below three mutilated figures (all the exactly the same just placed at different angles) that point down towards the thinker and purgatory. The thinker, who is suppose to be Dante himself, is sitting is such a precarious position it almost seems as if he will fall right in!
The Picasso museum was also a fun time except that the whole upstairs (basically half the museum) was closed. I still got to see some really great works. I am always shocked when I look at some of his pieces. There is a strange mingling of complexity and simplicity, which boggles the mind and makes you gasp in awe.
On one of our architecture class walks I took a picture of this medieval Parisian home (now a library I think) because if you look closely there is a cannon still in the building. It is near the roof line in the stone (see the little black dot?) All those revolutions have left their mark on Paris and this is just one example.
The catacombs... wonderful to see once, but after that it would be better to do a unauthorized tour of the underground world of Paris... it's far bigger and more interesting than one would think.