Thursday, April 29, 2010

We'll Always Have Paris

Remember those olde tyme movies when the romantic couple, who were doomed to be separated, turn to each other, and say plaintively--we'll always have Paris.

I've always wanted to say that!

And, with our most recent trip--now I can. Of course, it will just sound silly as an off-the-cuff-unrelated-to-anything comment.

There were many high points in our recent trip. I loved Lyon. While it was very early in the season, Provence was charming. One striking place was Les Baux. This small town takes it name from the word "Baou" which is the Provençal word for a prominent protruding rock. In turn, Les Baux gave its name to bauxite (aluminum ore), which was discovered first there in 1821.

Here are two photos that show ever so briefly the stunning vistas that we saw at Les Baux.

But, enough about the provinces--let's celebrate Paris.

We had been in Paris about 10 years ago, and had an extensive tour of the Eiffel Tower, including riding the elevators as high as they go. On this visit, we approached the Eiffel Tower from the right bank. Perhaps predictably, this was one of the most crowded places--the obligatory visit to Eiffel Tower.

We went to other sites we had not seen 10 years ago--The church at Les Invalides above.

The Palais du Luxembourg is a lovely palace built for Marie de Medici who missed her Italian homeland. She was the second wife of Henry IV, king of France. His first marriage had been annulled and he married Marie de Medici, of the Tuscan Medici family, in 1600. She was more than he bargained for, however, as she did not like his lead mistress. When the king died in 1610, she became regent. She began building the palace in 1615.

Here she is in all her stony glory.

I thought the fountain in the gardens at the Palais du Luxembourg quite lovely.

Another major site we had not seen was the whole Montmartre area. To get there, we rode this "petit train", bouncing all the way up and down the hills of
Montmartre. This area has a history interwoven with artists. For a long time, it was outside the official city limits of Paris, so it became a popular gathering place, without the taxes imposed within Paris. The area was slated for destruction when Paris was undergoing its urban renewal, and was saved by artists who helped preserve its unique character.

Renoir's painting "Bal du moulin de la Galette" celebrates a summer afternoon with people gathered in Montmartre near the Moulin de la Galette. Below, you can see the actual windmill that lent its name to the location.

Another artistic site is a restaurant named La Maison Rose, a place painted by various artists, including Utrillo.

We walked around Place des Tertres, where today's artists have license to exhibit paintings. Frankly, we saw no budding Picassos or Dalis or Renoirs. The area was even more crowded than the area around the Eiffel Tower. Since we were there in early spring, presumably we were there when crowds were light. Can't imagine what it is like in the summer--although I am happy to miss the crowds.

One other find was a
Wallace fountain. We had learned of them from the guide who took us around Montmartre. The fountain name derives not from the designer but from Richard Wallace who underwrote the cost to have hundreds of these fountains placed around Paris.

The crowning glory of Montmartre is the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur. This 19th century site was built to commemorate deaths suffered in the Franco-Prussian War and the
resulting uprising of working classes in Paris in the Paris Commune.

In addition to the over-the-top architecture of the basilica, its location at the height of Montmartre gives it a commanding view of Paris.

Perhaps you are wondering about some of the other iconic Parisian sights that I have not mentioned. Well, 10 years ago we toured Notre Dame, spent some time in the Louvre, and drove along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, including stopping at the Arc de Triomphe.

So, that leaves quite a few places we have not yet seen. Oh, we need more time. . .

Until then, we can just say--we'll always have Paris. . .to go back to someday.


Beverly said...

Thanks for the wonderful sightseeing trip.

Thanks for your thought over on Facebook.

Jayne said...

What a wonderful trip, and how nice that you got to see things you missed 10 years ago. Thanks for taking us along!

Anvilcloud said...

It continues to seem like a trip for the ages.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Very interesting post.

I hear rumours that I may get taken to Paris. In the meantime I expect "We will always have Antwerp!"

Anonymous said...

WOW! I'm going to have Hubby look at these, just in case he wants to plan a surprise.

Anonymous said...

My brother, Philip, (Tossing Pebbles in the Stream)emailed me your blog about your recent trip to France. I have enjoyed it so much as it brought back many fond memories of the places I have visited with my family. Your photos are excellent and your thoughtful comments were much appreciated. Thank you!

amarkonmywall said...

What a wonderful tour through your trip! I loved Provence so much and I can't wait to get back to that general area of the world. Paris- well, I was too young to really appreciate it so these are delightful photos to me. Mostly I remember Notre Dame and the impressionist museum. The thing is, the HISTORY. Like Marie de Medici- can you imagine what went into that palace? The lives of the builders and servants and all the ladies in waiting and that of Marie, herself? Mind boggling. I love it.

JeanMac said...

Spent a week in Paris in September 09 - it's all people say and more. Loved the Tower - still takes my breath away to see pictures of it!