SO MUCH TO DO. Honestly, I was actually not that excited to go to Paris before my trip, but I was able to spend three weeks (1 week at the beginning of the trip & 2 at the end) doing EVERYTHING possible. From taking the metro to a random neighborhood, drinking wine under the Eiffel Tower, picnicking in the Luxembourg gardens, getting pooped on by pigeons, cruising on a boat down the Seine, or having a night out in the Latin Quarter. Those were just a few things about Paris that I saw and loved. Too much to write but here are a few key places:
The Eiffel Tower
Seriously, this thing is WAAAAAY taller and more amazing than I ever imagined. Grab some wine, cheese, bread and stay for the sparkling lights at night. Have a picnic during the day. Walk around Paris anywhere anytime and basically just see this icon hovering constantly.
- La dame de fer – the iron lady
- Built in 1889 and is a global icon of France
- Centennial of the French Revolution
- 300 workers put together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron and only one man died
- During the time there were many angry letters written by the art community of Paris – but today it is a striking peice of structural art
- Designer: Gustave Eiffel created the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair
- 1,063 feet (324 meters) tall and was the tallest man-made structure in the world upon its completion
- The most visited paid monument in the world – 200 million + visitors since the construction
- One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe
- The naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture
- First period of construction from 1163 into the 1240’s coincided with the musical experiments of the Notre Dame school
- The official chair of the archbishop of Paris – Andre Vingt-Trois
- First building in the world to use flying buttress – arched exterior supports
- The cathedral was completed by 1345
- Suffered from desecration during the French Revolution in the 1790’s and much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed
- An extensive restoration by Eugene Viollet le Duc removed remaining decoration, returning the cathedral to an “original” Gothic state
- Jean de Jandun recognized the cathedral as one of Paris’ three most important buildings in his 1323 “Treatise on the Praises of Paris”
- December 2, 1804: the coronation ceremony of Napoleon I and his wife Josephine, with Pope Pius VII officiating
- May 16, 1920: Joan of Arc was canonized
- One of the most famous monuments in Paris designed in 1806
- Honors those who fought and died in France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars
- Beneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from WWI
- It became the rallying point for French troops parading after successful military campaigns
**I loved going to the top during sunset and being able to see the city from all different viewpoints.**
- Located at the summit of Montmartre – the highest point in Paris
- It’s a political and cultural monument that is featured in many films
- My favorite view of Paris was seen from here – OK lots of places in Paris were my favorite view, but still I REALLY liked this one, too.
Ok, so I can read stained glass, I can read art, I can (now) read Korean…. Well I can also learn how to read a rug – I mean tapestry.
- The Bayeux Tapestry is a 224.3 foot (68.4 meter) long embroidered cloth that depicts events leading up to the Norman conquest of England (and the conquest itself)
- It’s annotated in Latin
- Earliest known written reference is a 1476 inventory of the Bayeux Cathedral
- the origins have been the subject of speculation and controversy
- French legend: the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, and her ladies-in-waiting (there are other theories and legends about the construction, as well).
- Plot summary: Two combatants – English Anglo-Saxon, Harold Godwineson and King of England and the Normans, William the Conqueror
- William- title and warrior at age 19
- Captured the English crown in 1066 at age 38 – always in battle
- Battle of Hastings – October 4, 1066
- English on foot, Norman on horses
- Harold’s death scene: arrow in his eye or spear through chest or legs cut off
- His death causes the remaining troops to flee and resulting in a Norman victory
- William- title and warrior at age 19
- The tapestry is from a Norman view point which may result in biased or skewed depictions
I love learning everything about WWII. But to actually BE AT Pointe du Hoc was such a humbling experience.
The feat of the 2nd Ranger Battalion:
“A link in the long-range defenses in the bay of the seine – six 155 mm guns of French origin had been placed on a platform. Following aerial bombardment, 2 case-mates had been built in the spring of 1944. With a range of 12 miles, the battery was a threat to both Omaha and Utah beaches. Its landward defenses and position in a narrow bill ruled out and attack from the rear, much less a parachute drop.”
The assault against the fortress:
“225 men under Colonel Rudder were to scale both faces of the cliff at 6:30 AM. The attack was late due to navigational errors. the small landing craft did not arrive until 7:10 – 40 minutes late, and 40 minutes after the naval bombardment. Having recovered from shock, the German gunners were ready for their assailants. The Rangers attacked from the eastern side only. With their rocket-fired grappling hooks and rope ladders, they began the climb under gunfire and grenades. The Rangers reached the top at 7:15 AM and at 7:35 AM 150 survivors seized their objective.”
“An artillery position with no guns! They were removed and withdrawn to positions further inland. But the Germans replaced them with wooden beams covered with camouflage nets – misleading aerial observation. The 155 mm guns were found 1 km south. Cornered against the clifftops, the Rangers had to fight for two days (June 6, 1944 – June 8, 1944). They were down to 90 men by the time the rescue tanks arrived.”
- Layout: 172.5 acre memorial overlooking a reflective pool to the grave plots, chapel, and statues
- Symbolic statues: Two granite statues represent the U.S. and France
- Graves: Ten grave plots – all men and women lie under headstones of white marble Latin crosses and stars of David
- The Chapel: Mosaic ceiling depicts America blessing her sons as they depart, and a grateful France placing a laurel wreath upon the American dead
- The plants: Trees, shrubs, and roses highlight the grave plot
- 9,387 headstones, 9,283 crosses, 149 stars of David, 1,557 MIA, 3 medal of honors, 41 sets of brothers
- The dedication was on July 18, 1956
- One of the 14 American WWII cemeteries on foreign soil – granted by the French government
- On a bluff overlooking Omaha beach
- Established June 8, 1944
- The 1,557 MIA Americans who lost their lives but never recovered have their names written on the walls on the east side of the memorial
- “Spirit of American youth” statue
- Notable soldiers:
- Theodore Roosevelt Jr – Medal of Honor
- Lesley J McNair – U.S. Army General
- Jimmy W Monteith – Medal of Honor
- Frank D Peregory – Medal of Honor
- Preston & Robert Niland
Mont St. Michel – Historical overview:
- 708: sanctuary built on the rock to honor the archangel
- 10th century: Benedict monks settled in the abbey
- Extensions through the 14th century
- 1337-1453: stronghold military architecture during the Hundred Years War
- It’s a symbol of French national identity
- Post-revolution (1789)-1863: used as a prison
- 1874: classified as a historical monument
- Tourist site today – experience what the people saw as a representation of heavenly Jerusalem on earth – paradise
The Archangel Michael – the head of the heavenly militia
- Appears in the book of Revelation
- He fights and defeats a dragon
- In the eyes of the (Catholic) church he was the only warlike angel who could fight against Protestant heresy
- Holds a sword and a set of scales
- The statue was created in 1897
- A city and commune in the south of France in the Bouches-du-Rhone.
- Known to be a place where Van Gogh got a lot of his inspiration.
- The Dutch post-impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, lived in Arles from 1888-89 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during that time.
- An international photography festival has been held there every year since 1970.
- Influenced by Liturgians (800 B.C.) then later the Celtics and then became an important Phoenician trading port before being taken by the Romans in 123 B.C.
- An ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gard River in southern France.
- it is a part of a 50 km (31 mile) long aqueduct that runs between Uzes and Nimes.
- It was constructed by the Romans during the 1st century A.D.
- It is the highest of all of the Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved after the aqueduct of Segovia.
- There are three rows of arches that are 160 feet high and formerly carried about 200 million liters of water a day to the fountains, baths, and homes of the citizens of Nimes.
- The Roman engineers were very precise.
- It was used possibly up through the 9th century A.D. well after the fall of Rome.
- There was a lack of maintenance after the 4th century so it became increasingly clogged by mineral deposits and debris which eventually ended the flow of water.
- We also spent a nice Monday afternoon in Cassis hanging out at the beach, getting a tan, kayaking, swimming, and playing.
Avignon is a town where you LITERALLY feel like you have stepped back in time – oh and where women walk their cats on leashes….I am a horrible person and only have these two photos saved from my short time in Avignon and it’s just from my 21st birthday shenanigans….
- One of the largest and most important gothic buildings in Europe.
- Palais Vieux (old palace): instruction of Pope Benedict XII; by completion it occupied 2.6 acres; it was very expensive, took lots of the papacy’s income to build.
- Palais Neuf (new palace): was expanded during popes Clement VI, Innocent VI, and Urban V; more towers were built and decorated with frescoes, tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and wooden ceilings.
- During the French Revolution (1789) it was seized and sacred by Revolutionary forces. It was taken over by the Napoleonic French state for use of a military barracks and prison. Lots of destruction until it became a national museum in 1906. Since then there has been restoration throughout.
Avignon Papacy: from 1309-1378 seven (French) popes in Avignon caused conflicts between the papacy, Rome, and the French crown.
- 1305: Clement V became pope and moved the court to a papal enclave at Avignon in 1309.
- 1316-34: Pope John XXII
- 1334-42: Pope Benedict XII
- 1342-52: Pope Clement VI
- 1352-62: Pope Innocent VI
- 1362-70: Pope Urban V
- 1370-78: Pope Gregory XI who returned to Rome
- And then the Western Schism….
- After 1378 there was a 2nd line of popes (anti-popes) through 1417
Chartres is about a 1.5 hour drive SW of Paris.
Dedicated to the virgin Mary and John the Baptist
Late Gothic style with signature flying buttresses
Construction happened between 1193 & 1250
Famous relic: the sancta camisa – said to be the veil worn by the virgin Mary; given to the cathedral by Charlemagne in 876
The first cathedral burnt down in 1020 and was rebuilt with a crypt
1194 a fire destroyed all but the west tower, facade, and crypt
October 24, 1260 the new building was dedicated to King Louis IV
Popular pilgrimage site
Labyrinth: 1205 it was used as a walking contemplation by monks – one path was 964 feet long
Stained glass: 150 – not only decorative but used as texts
Personal reflections – “This was one of my favorite sites. I loved reading the Bible stories on the windows. it shows how the stories have stayed the same for hundreds of years. The communities of people that constructed Chartres worked together so well for the sake of making something better for the future.”
- The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world; it is the most visited art museum and a historic monument.
- It holds about 35,000 objects from prehistory up through the 19th century in its 652,000 square feet (60,600 sq. meters).
- The Louvre palace was a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II.
- In 1682 Louis XIV chose Versailles as his place leaving the Louvre as a place for his royal collections.
- It opened as a museum on August 10, 1793 with 537 paintings – the majority of them being royal and confiscated church property.
- As of 2008 there are eight departments: Egyptian antiques; near Easter antiques; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiques; Islamic art; sculptures; decorative arts; paintings; prints and drawings.
- Things you may not know about the Louvre.