Paris – Day 13 – Guillotines and Symphonies…

Paris Days 1-5, including our trips to the Sacré-Cœur, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame, Catacombs of Paris, Versailles, and much more, can be found on the London and Paris page.  You’ll also find posts about our seven days in London – with visits to the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, The Who Shop, and more pubs than I care to admit.  On to day 6, which is day 13 of our trip…


Day 6 – Paris – 4/12/2016

So as hinted at in the previous post (Day 5 – 4/11/2016 – Our First Anniversary!), we had a decision to make.  We had tickets to the symphony and Disneyland – with the original plan being a trip to the symphony on Tuesday and a trip to Disney on Wednesday.  Seems legit, why would there be a decision to make?  Well, because the Weather Channel app apparently goes a little brain dead in Europe.

We’d been watching the app all week, trying to plan our outside and inside days accordingly, but one thing had been incredibly steady – it was going to rain on Wednesday with “severe thunderstorms” possible all day.

  • On Thursday (4/7/16)
    • Tuesday’s (this post’s day) weather: Sunny, 10% chance of rain, Highs in the 60s
    • Wednesday’s (the proposed Disney day) weather:  Cloudy, 70% chance of rain, Highs in the low 50s.
  • By Monday (4/11/16)
    • Tuesday’s weather: Partly cloudy, 20% chance of rain, Highs in the low 60s
    • Wednesday’s weather:  Cloudy, 90% chance of rain, Highs in the upper 50s, Severe Thunderstorms possible all day.

We both wanted to go to the symphony, but the Disney tickets were WAY more expensive (symphony tickets were only €15).  Would it be worth going to Disney on a day when the Weather Channel was calling for a 90% chance of severe thunderstorms all day?  Fortunately, between Monday afternoon and Monday night, everything had changed on the app.  Now it was calling for rain on Tuesday and Thursday…and Wednesday was supposed to be nice.  Whew, problem solved.  So Symphony on Tuesday and Disney on Wednesday after all.


Place de la Concorde

Other than the symphony at 8PM, we had no plans; however, if you’ve read any of our other Paris posts you’ve seen that we were in search of a bookstore that sold kid’s books.  We researched it, and found an English bookstore (WH Smith).  The bookstore was near the Tuileries Gardens (the gardens in front of the Louvre), and we had been wanting to walk through those gardens, so we headed that way.

The Metro let us out right beside the Roue de Paris, which is in the Place  de la Concorde.  We definitely wanted to check this area out, but first the bookstore…and lunch.   Hmmm…the sky is awfully blue…didn’t you say it was going to be raining all day, Weather Channel App?

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What a difference an hour makes…

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So a continuation of the story that began this post:  Blue skies turned to fierce grey skies pretty quickly, and while it had sprinkled a bit, it definitely wasn’t raining (like the Weather Channel app said it would be), but it looked like it would be soon. We checked the app again, and, even with the clouds looking as they did, chances of rain today – suddenly very small, chances of rain when we were going to Disney – back up to like 70%!!!  How?  How had the weather app changed with such extreme fluctuation within an hour?  Ahhh!!!  At this point, it really didn’t matter, though.  I guess we were going to be rained on at Disney.  Hopefully, they wouldn’t shut half the rides down.  C’est la vie

So the photo above shows looming grey clouds, but it also shows (left to right) the Roue de Paris, Lion (also called the Concorde Lion), the Luxor Obelisk, and the Eiffel Tower.

The photo below shows a similar scene without the ferris wheel.

Lion is by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Franchi and was placed here in 1819.  (Waymarking.com)

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The Place de le Concorde has quite the history – At 20 acres, it is the largest square in Paris.  In 1763, a large statue dedicated to Louis XV was erected here, and by 1772 the square around the statue had been completed.  However, in 1792, during the French Revolution, the statue was removed and replaced by a statue called ‘Liberté‘ (freedom) and the square was called Place de la Révolution. A guillotine was installed at the center of the square and in a time span of only a couple of years, 1119 people were beheaded here. Amongst them many famous people like King Louis XVI, Marie-Antionette, and revolutionary Robespierre.  After the revolution the square was renamed several times until 1830, when it was given the current name ‘Place de la Concorde’.  (AViewOnCities.com)

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Luxor Obelisk

The Luxor Obelisk is a 75 ft high Egyptian obelisk standing at the center of the Place de la Concorde. It was originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple, in Egypt, where its sister still stands.  The obelisk is over 3,000 years old, and is decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the king Ramses II.  It has been in its present location since 1836 (three years after it arrived in Paris).  Similar obelisks can be found in New York and London (these two are from the city of Heliopolis).  All three were gifts from Egypt.  (Wikipedia)

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Fountains of Concorde

Two fountains flank the obelisk.  To the north is the Fountain of the Rivers.

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Figures at this fountain represent the Rhône and the Rhine River. Other major figures represent the main harvests of France; Wheat and Grapes, Flowers and Fruit.  The figures above the vasque who support the cap represent the spirits of River Navigation, Agriculture and Industry.

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And to the south, the Maritime Fountain.  Both were installed by 1840 (around the same time the obelisk was installed).  Together they are referred to as the Fountains of Concorde.  (Wikipedia)

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Figures on this fountain represent the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Other figures beneath the vasque represent the industries of the sea; coral, fish, shells and pearls.  The figures are seated in the prow of a ship, the symbol of the City of Paris, and they are surrounded by dolphins spraying water through their nostrils.

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From the Place de la Concorde, you can see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe (as seen the the photo below)

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From the Pont de la Concorde (the bridge connected to the square) you can also see Notre-Dame Cathedral.

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Across the Pont de la Concorde is the Palais Bourbon (the seat of the French National Assembly).  Originally built in 1728 as the home of Louis XIV’s legitimized daughter, Louise Françoise de Bourbon, and his mistress, Madame de Montespan, the building was nationalized during the French Revolution.  (Wikipedia)

The statue in front of the building is of Henri François d’Aguesseau,Chancellor of France three times between 1717 and 1750.

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The fence surrounding the palace also had an interesting feature – this tree, weaving its way in and out of the fence, was fascinating.  We were both wondering how long it had taken to grow this way.

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Pont Alexandre III

Directly west of the Palais Bourbon was the Pont Alexandre III.   The bridge spans the Seine, and connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower.  Several colossal statues are displayed on the bridge (and we all know how much Brittany and I like statues.)

The bridge was built at the end of the nineteenth century as part of a series of projects undertaken for the Universal Exposition of 1900. The exposition took place on either side of the Seine river and the new bridge would enable the millions of visitors to more easily cross the river. (AViewOnCities.com)

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Four pillars provide stabilizing counterweight to the bridge’s arch without obstructing the view. On each base sits an allegorical sculpture representing France in a different era: King Charlemagne, the Renaissance, King Louis XIV who built Versailles, and modern times. Magnificently gilded allegorical statues crown the pillars. The Sciences, Arts, Commerce, and Industry each bringing the winged horse Pegasus to heel. (BonjourParis.com)

On the Right Bank (in the photo above),Renommée des Sciences (Sciences) and Renommée des Arts (Arts); at their bases, (unseen in the photo) La France Contemporaine (Contemporary France) and France de Charlemagne (France of Charlemagne).
On the Left Bank (in the photo below),Renommée desCommerce (Commerce {on the right}) and Renommée de l’Industrie (Industry {on the left}); at their bases France de la Renaissance (France of the Renaissance) and La France de Louis XIV (France of Louis XIV).

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France de la Renaissance (France of the Renaissance)…

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La France de Louis XIV (France of Louis XIV)…

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Grand Palais

Crossing the Pont Alexandre III led to the Grand Palais.  “In 1900, Paris was playing host to the Universal Exposition. Because of the importance of the event, the city undertook a number of building projects which included the construction of the Pont Alexandre III, the Grand Palais, and the Petit Palais (seen in the next section).  The Grand Palais is one of Paris’ most recognizable landmarks thanks to its magnificent glass-domed roof, and is currently the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world.

For more than one hundred years, the Grand Palais has been a public exhibition hall and host to a variety of grand events. Though the main gallery is now a designated site for displaying contemporary art, you’ll see everything here from antique car shows to fashion extravaganzas from some of Paris’s top designers.” (AViewOnCities.com)

 

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Petit Palais

Directly across the street from the Grand Palais is the Petit Palais, which was also built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition.  The building was originally meant to be a temporary structure (like the Parthenon back home in Nashville), but after the exhibition it was left standing.  Today the Petit Palais serves as the home of the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts).

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Jardin des Tuileries

We completed the loop and ended up back at the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden), which is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde.

Several public gardens in Paris offer garden chairs that you can take to sit wherever you like (for free).  So Brittany and I grabbed two that were already in prime position, and she took a nap in the garden (which she is also currently doing beside me as I write this).

When she awoke, well rested, we took a stroll through the garden.

The gardens are very nice.  It contains several fountains, a couple of cafés (that are named after famous cafés that once stood there), and many, many statues.  The Grand Carré (Large Square) had a fountain at its center and was surrounded by 15-20 statues.

That’s where we found La Comédie by Julien Toussaint Roux in 1874 (I’m assuming it’s a representation of Thalia – muse of comedy).  Anyway, she’s a nice addition after we saw Melpomene: Muse of Tragedy the day before at the Louvre.

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We also found this battle…Thésée combattant le Minotaure (Theseus fighting the Minotaur), by Étienne-Jules Ramey in 1821.

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And a shot of the Minotaur about to be brained by Theseus.  I mean, come on man, the guy’s so unconscious his tongue is lolling about…

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So, in the background of the photo below, we have the Louvre Pyramid and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, but that’s not what this picture is about…Nope, we’re looking at the Pigeon Whisperer (the guy in the leather jacket surrounded by pigeons).  This guy was pretty amazing (and weird).  He was here everyday that we visited the Louvre, and he was always surrounded by pigeons.  He would whistle and kind of point to a kid watching him, and all of the pigeons would go perch on the kid.  Then he would whistle again and hold up his arm and they would all come back to him.  It’s one thing to train animals in captivity, but it takes a totally different kind of commitment to train random pigeons (and, I’m assuming, a lot of bread).

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It was around 5PM and the symphony wasn’t until 8PM, so we decided to hop on the Metro at the Louvre and go to Montmartre before we went home to change.  Entrance to the Louvre’s metro is in the Carrousel du Louvre, which is the underground shopping center we had visited a few times.

Also in the Carrousel du Louvre is La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), which was completed in 1993.  It is a skylight constructed in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall in front of the Louvre Museum. It may be thought of as a smaller sibling of the more famous Louvre Pyramid proper, yet turned upside down.  Directly below the tip of the downwards-pointing glass pyramid, a small stone pyramid (about 3.3 ft) is stationed on the floor, as if mirroring the larger structure above: The tips of the two pyramids almost touch.  (Wikipedia)

In our photo (below), we were able to capture a series of rainbows refracted though the pyramid…

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We got off at the Anvers stop (below Sacré-Cœur) and casually walked up the hill toward Montmartre.  Along the way we found the Maison Georges Larnicol (maison=house).  The shop sells pastries and chocolates, which is obviously nice, but what drew us into the store was this scale model of Notre-Dame…made of chocolate…yum.  There were other chocolate models in the store, but this was the most impressive.

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By the time we made it up the hill to Montmartre, it was almost 6:30.  Our plan of walking around, going to change, and then going to the symphony had a hiccup…we forgot we hadn’t eaten dinner yet.  So we stopped and had dinner in Montmartre.  Poor Brittany – she tried to order the Daily Special, a steak, but they were out of it.  So she ordered the other Daily Special, thinking it would be a different cut of steak, but it turned out to be a filet of fish.  She said it was good, but when you’re expecting steak, a filet of fish just doesn’t cut it.  I, on the other hand, ordered a bucket of mussels and a side of fries…and they were delicious.  (Don’t worry, I let Brittany have some.  In fact, there were so many that we couldn’t finish them all.)

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Dinner was good, but it meant that we wouldn’t have time to go home and change before heading to the symphony.  We got to Avenue des Champs-Élysées around 7:30PM.  Champs-Élysées runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located.  It is known for the theatres, cafés, and shops that line the avenue.  In retrospect, we should have just walked from Place de la Concorde, but we didn’t know how close we were at the time.

I thought the symphony started at 8:30, so when I saw the Disney Store across the street, I insisted we go in.  And I’m glad we did…I found Spider-Man!  (Don’t worry…I played it cool…)

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And Brittany found a section of the store dedicated to Minnie Mouse’s apparent love of Paris…

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We left the Disney Store and made our way toward Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.  We got there right at 8PM. It was only then that Brittany informed me that the performance was at 8 not 8:30…I’m sure she told me earlier, but…

“The theatre opened in 1913, and provided a venue suitable for contemporary music, dance and opera, in contrast to traditional, more conservative, institutions like the Paris Opera. It hosted the Ballets Russes for its first season, staging the world première of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on Thursday May 29, 1913, thus becoming the celebrated location of one of the most famous of all classical music riots.” (Wikipedia)

A shot of the orchestra warming up…

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As seen in both the above and below photo, the ceiling (painted by Maurice Deni) is fantastic…

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There was absolutely no one around us during the performance (we bought seats in the nose-bleed section), but that was really, really nice.  It meant we could kick back and enjoy the music in our own little area.  (After 13 days of walking around London and Paris, I actually kicked my shoes off while watching.)


When the concert ended, we went back to Avenue des Champs-Élysées to walk around.  We ended up back at the Disney Store to buy Brittany a sweatshirt and found ourselves in the midst of a civil war…(I’m still not sure which side I’m rooting for…probably Cap’s…probably…)

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At the north-western end of Avenue des Champs-Élysées we found ourselves back at the Arc de Triomphe.

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Bellona, the Roman goddess of war, might be even more intimidating at night…

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Seeing the arch at night is completely different.  The shadows highlight unique areas that the glaring sun hides.

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The night also gave us a chance to mess around with the camera again.  We got a nice shot of the lion on this lamppost with the arch in the background…(I love lion statues…and they’re everywhere!)

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And one last photo of the arch behind the Place Charles de Gaulle sign.

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Well Day 6 in Paris may be forever known as the “Will it or won’t it rain” day to Brittany and I (FYI…it never did), but just like all of our other days, we were able to stumble into interesting and beautiful places.  So onto Day 7…officially our day at Disneyland Paris!!!

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