Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 7 - The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame

Today was another tour day.  We are doing more tours with tour companies here in Paris because we felt that 1) it would get us to see more quickly and 2) it would get us around the language barrier a bit.

Today we were on a walking/boat tour of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  It was another all day tour, but just not as early as the last one.  We had to be there by 9:30 for the start, so we were up and out of the apartment at 8:30.  Guess what we hit?  Rush hour.  Holy moly the train was crazy.  But we managed.  We find that the French people are very polite if you are very polite.  We used our French words to make our way through the crowd on the train and it worked just fine.

We also hit some rain this morning, but it was gone in a few hours.  Didn't interrupt our day at all, thank goodness.  It continues to be cool, (in the 60s) so we took along our jackets and ditched the cute dresses for today, and went for the long capris and tennis shoes.

Our tour groups have been small (around 15 people) so it is easy for us to maneuver.  We were given headsets again today so that we could hear our tour leader as we walked around.  Those things are genius.  They give us so much historical information that we would be lost in these big crowds if we didn't have them.  We would never hear the guide.

We walked from the tour meeting place to the Louvre, which wasn't very far.  A little history - the Louvre is a museum.  (I am sure most people know that).  It used to be a palace of the Kings of France before they built their castle at Versailles (which we saw yesterday).  It was turned into a museum after the King of France moved to Versailles and it has been that ever since.  The last time it was added on to was in 1989.  Most parts of the Louvre are the original from when it was a palace.  It is funny - it really does look more like a palace than a museum for the most part - especially with the large windows and the painted ceilings.  It is just like they removed the furniture and put paintings up on the wall and wala - you have a museum.

We were there for three big things, but we were in the museum of 2 hours, so we got to see a large part of it.  I think you would need a week to see all 35,000 pieces of art (even our tour guide said she has never even seen it all).  It is just massive.  But we saw more than I expected.  We saw the largest painting in Paris - which weighs 1 ton.  It was painted elsewhere, wrapped around a tree trunk and brought by boat to the museum in the 1700s.  It was the size of our house.  It was crazy big.

We saw the Mona Lisa (which of course was on  Finley's list of musts) and it was just so cool to stand in front of the real thing.  We found out that it was painted on wood - not canvas - and it took 3 months for DaVinci to paint it.  We also found out that no one knows WHY it is so famous, but that many painters over the years have mimicked the smile from the painting.  It is behind glass to protect it if the museum ever has a fire.  It is on a wall all on its own.  Very cool.

We also saw winged victory and Venus de Milo.  Also amazing to see the real thing up close and personal.  I found it interesting that we could 1) take pictures (just no flash) and 2) how close you could actually get to them.    Anyway - Venus de Milo is an ancient Greek statue and it was actually created around 100 BC.  It is that old.  It was discovered completely by accident by a farmer who was removing stones from an ancient wall.  They are sure the original statue had arms, but they were never recovered.  This statue is made entirely of marble.

The same goes for Winged Victory, who is not only armless, but headless as well.  It was made around 200 BC and discovered in 1863.  It was also buried and then excavated.  She is also made of marble.

We saw many paintings, and many scultures, and had a great time in the museum in the morning.  When that was finished it was on to the Eiffel Tower.  The crown jewel of our visit!

Finley was very excited about seeing the tower today.  We took a boat ride on the Seine river to get to it from the Louvre, which the kids really enjoyed.  The French pronounce Eiffel as eff-ell.  Not "I fell" like we say.  It was named after the guy who built it, of course.  :)  It took 3 years to build and it was around the World's fair that they made it.  IT was supposed to be taken down about 20 years after it was built, but they decided to leave it.  The original tower was yellow.  Then it was painted red.  The final color is the color it is today - brown.  It has to be painted BY HAND every 7 years to keep the metal from rusting.  25 acrobats paint it and it takes them 1 year.  Incredible.

We had lunch as part of our tour on the first floor (which is actually 190 feet in the air).  It was the reason we picked this particular tour. There were two to chose from.  One that went all the way to the top, or one where you could eat lunch at the restaurant.  We let Finley chose, and she chose to eat there.  She is pretty afraid of heights, so she didn't want to go to the top - she just wanted to see the thing.

Anyway - lunch was first, and it was delicious.  We had a two course meal (the kids a 3 course) and it was fun.  We had a table by the window so we could look out at Paris while we ate.  I have to say - the kids have been very well behaved while we have been out and about.  The French people expect it, and we talked to them about it, and they are taking it seriously.  They are also using all the French words we have learned and using their manners.  I hope it continues at home!

After lunch we were free for 1 1/2 hours before we were moving on, and we could do what we pleased.  So we walked up to the 2nd floor of the tour (another 150+ feet or so).  We could have taken an elevator, but the wait was long, and it actually wasn't a terrible climb.  Finley wasn't thrilled, but she did great.  It is a little daunting - just don't look down as you climb and you will be fine.

The 2nd floor gave us much better views and we could see for miles.  It is a cloudy day, but no rain, so it was fine.  Paris is just huge.  And crowded.  We looked it up last night and there are about 2 million people that live here - about 6 million less than London.  But it just seems more crowded.  Maybe because of the narrow streets which are almost all cobbled.

After staying and enjoying the view, we walked ALL the way back down to the bottom.  That took a bit (even thought it was less tiring) because Finley didn't like going down any more than she liked going up.  So we took it slow.  Once at the bottom we had time to explore the grounds a bit before having the meet at the boat.

The final stop on the tour was Notre Dame church.  Notre Dame was built for the Virgin Mary.  It was started in the 1100s and took 200 years to build.  200 YEARS.  It is a Gothic church, and you can definitely tell.  Most of the church is original - even the original wood is from the 1200s.  And the church has never burned down.  (like most other buildings here and in London).  50% of the stained glass windows are original from the 1200s.  Our guide told us that since many people in the 1100s and 1200s couldn't read, the stain glass windows is how they learned about the Bible.  They still do 3 church services a day during the week and many more during the weekend.  Over 2000 services a year we were told.  And the church can hold 9000 people standing up.

This was also where Napoleon crowned himself king.  The chambers where he did that is still there today - and we had a chance to see it.

It is amazing to see things that close and be able to touch things that are 850 years old.

After the church, we departed from our tour group and headed over to LoveLock bridge.  I had first heard about this bridge when I watched the movie "Now You See Me".  It is a bridge (well there are 3 now because it has become so popular) where people go and lock a padlock with their names on it (or whatever you want to write) and throw the key in the river.  It was originally meant for lovers - to lock away their love.  But now families and individuals put locks on there.

I had gotten locks for us before we left home.  Blue for Cainan, Pink for Finley, and Purple for Arlington.  And I even got a cool one for Mat and I.  So we went on the bridge and locked them on and threw the keys in the Siene.  It was fun.

Then we walked down a street called St. Germain Des Pres.  It represents a lot of what Paris really is - cafes and shops.  No trinket stores here.  It was neat to see, but the kids were getting tired, so we found a little shop to buy some food for dinner, and then headed home on the subway.

So that was our day.  It was a full one!  Enjoy the pictures.

The Louvre

 We took a few pictures in one of the halls just to show how massive the paintings are:

 The Mona Lisa!

 This painting was in Versailles - this is the original.  It is Napoleon crowning himself.
 Winged Victory:

 This dates back to 200 BC
 Venus de Milo:

 Outside the Louvre.  It is just massive:

 Traveling down the Seine by boat:

 A huge, and very ornate bridge:
 Fnley photo bombing her brother on the boat:

 The Eiffel Tower:

 Lunch at the Eiffel Tower:
 Our view out the window at lunch.  This is 4 museums.  The area originally was a vinyard and small villages.
 The kid's dessert.  It was a chocolate pudding/cake with a cream sauce shaped like the Eiffel Tower:
 Adult dessert:
 There are areas where you can stand on glass floor and look down. thank you.
 Finley and I climbing up to the 2nd floor:
 Me trying to get Finley close to the edge to take a look.  She wasn't having it.  I have to say, though - Finley never fussed.  She was a good sport.  Has been this whole vacation.  Finley has always been very easy to please:
 Views from the Eiffel Tower:

 See that small mountain in the distance - with the domed building on the top?  We were very staying in an apartment very close to there:

 I am pretty sure this is Englise du Dome - where Napoleon is buried.  (we are seeing that tomorrow)

 Climbing back down:

 Exploring the grounds:

 Back down the Seine:
 LoveLock Bridge from the boat:

 Notre Dame:

This is actually the kind of picture we get 13 times before we get the kids to "stand nicely" for a photo:

 This is the stained glass that is 50% of the original (from the 1200s)

 The story of Jesus from the 1300s. 

 A choir was singing while we were there.  It was a choir of high school age girls:
 The organ.  It has 1000 pipes.

 The Gargoyles:

 Love Lock bridge.  It is so cool.  1000's of locks.  

 Cainan putting his lock on:
 Throwing his key into the water:

 Finley putting her lock on:
 Arlington putting her lock on:
 Throwing their keys into the river:
 View of Notre Dame from Love Lock bridge:
 Putting our lock on.
 We had technical problems.  But we eventually got it!
 Finley loves the pigeons.  Ahhh, the rats of the sky.  She fed them a few pringles today:

 While we were at Notre Dame there was a bridge there taking pictures.  This was a cool one.  So they spread seed in front of her so the birds would gather.  Once they had enough, they waved them off, and they flew up while she sat there.  Pretty cool picture:

Walking the streets of St. Germian des Pres.  I love the cobbled streets.  They were everywhere.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very awesome! The Norte dame church is just like on the hunch back movie ! Glad you had a great day!! :)