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Entries about paris

The Left Bank and the Latin Quarter

by Ben

overcast 8 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Paris: Artist Market

Paris: Artist Market

We slept!!!! Last night was a real break through for getting a good night's sleep. It seems like our bodies have fully adjusted to the new time finally (or I just drank enough wine last night to ensure a better night's sleep--I don't know what Muriel and kids drank). Actually, we not only slept but we slept in until 8:30 am which is pretty late for us.

Energized, we got ready to go out to the Saturday market so we could buy fresh produce and meat for our last dinner in Paris. We had been disappointed yesterday to find the market not operating. We knew that the market was definitely on for Saturday since there were huge banners hanging over the market area advertising the times. When we arrived at the site, there indeed was a market but not one selling fresh produce, meat and seafood but instead it was an artist market selling predominantly paintings. The presence of so many painters and no food certainly brought to mind the expression 'starving artist.' We got over our disappointment pretty quickly as all the art certainly was a feast for the eyes. We found our visits to the Louvre and the D'Orsay gallery gave us new insights into the styles of the art we viewed at the market. It would seem that no artist is worth their salt unless they have produced a prodigious quantity of female nudes as well. Only one realist painter had neglected the requisit nude and produced only paintings of bowls of fruit (a Freudian interpretation of fruit may reveal that he was still honoring the female form).

Paris: Deportation Memorial

Paris: Deportation Memorial

We went home for an early lunch and then left on a nearly five hour outing exploring the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. We visited the used book sellers who have been plying thier trade along this side of the Seine since the middle ages. We also stopped to visit the deportation memorial located behind Notre Dame which preserves the memory of 200,000 French citizens who were sent to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. After this poignient experience, we wandered the Latin Quarter where artists and radicals have congregated and socialized for hundreds of years. The newer additions over the past century have been a large number of restaurants and tourist shops. We could not navigate this section of Paris without sampling a crepe from one of the countless creperies selling their wares. We were quite mesmirized by the abilities of our crepe maker. Hannah managed to get a bit of video footage that you might want to check out.

We loved the narrow winding street of this medieval section of Paris. None of the streets are straight and many buildings are at crazy angles. It is quite touristy but you can see many Parisians taking advantage of the shops and restaurants as well. Through our wandering we were working our way to La Sainte-Chapelle, an example of Flamboyant Gothic architecture. The Chapel was commissioned by Louis IX and completed in 1248. The Chapel was built to house what Louis believed to be Jesus' crown of thorns which he purchased from Turkey at price of 120,000 pounds. The container in which the crown is housed cost Louis 100,000 pounds. With those prices the chapel was a steal of a deal at a cost of a mere 40,000 pounds.

Paris: Sainte Chapelle

Paris: Sainte Chapelle

The Sainte Chapelle is attached to the French Palace of Justic,e or supreme court, which ended up making security more of an issue. As usual our backpacks were searched and an x-ray machine was at the ready (which was also standard at the Louvre). Muriel was asked if she had any sharp objects and being the honest person she was she produced her swiss army knife from one of the pockets of her backpack. The officer said "it is forbidden." He told Muriel to leave it outside but there was no place to put things and it became evident it would be confiscated and not returned if we stayed. We left the security area and decided that Muriel and Hannah would go in and see the site while Abby and I explored elsewhere. The funny thing was when Muriel re-entered they glanced in her pack as they did before and when she put her bag on the conveyer for the x-ray machine she was waved on saying they didn't use the machine. It appears only people who disclose they are carrying a weapon (i.e., tiny jack knife) are hassled; if you just keep your sidearm and bowie knife concealed and unmentioned, you are free to enter as you please. Just a mental note for next time for overly honest Canadians.

After reuniting an hour later we dedided to explore the neighbourhood further and have Hannah and Muriel just share their experience in pictures. We loved all the architecture of the buidlings along the Seine which included the Conciergerie, the prison in which Marie Attoinette was imprisoned before she had her date with the guillotine. Part of the prison is called the babbling tower because of all the torture that took place within its walls. The invention of the guillotine was to mark the end of torture and the beginning of a more "humane" way of treating prisoners. I guess that is why they used the guillotine so freely.

When our feet had had enough we took the metro back to our apartment, taking a small detour to a boulangerie to pick up some wonderful desserts. It looks like half our food budget for the day will have been spent on French baking. It seems like the proper percentage to devote to such purchases.

Tomorrow our European grand tour takes us out of Paris and on the road. We will be without an Internet connection for a couple of days so you can all take a break from reading until then. Note that you can subscribe to our blog and then you will automatically receive an email when we make a new post. Thanks for all your comments, we treasure each one of them. We encourage all our readers to get an account with Travelllerspoint so your comments can be permanent. Don't be shy about making a comment, it really makes the whole experience that much more special for us. Thanks for taking the time to follow our adventure.

Posted by KZFamily 11:42 Archived in France Tagged paris left_bank latin_quarter Comments (6)

Monumental Monuments

by Abby

overcast 5 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Paris: Eiffel Tower

Paris: Eiffel Tower

Today we all awoke from our short and frequently disrupted slumbers, barely ready to start off another day. But after my mother cooked me some eggs, all was well ... for me at least. But by the time we were all out the door we were all ready to start the day. We had planned to go to the outdoor market and shop for dinner at the beginning of the day, a huge change in our usual routine, but we were up for the challenge. Then we were scheduled to go back to the apartment, distribute our goods among the fridge and cupboards, and be off to the depths of the city. We soon found out that these plans were not meant to be and sadly had to shop at a regular grocery store after finding that there was no market that day, despite what we had been told about the market being open every day until Sunday. After we went home with our purchases we decided that we should just eat a little bit more and go out later, so that we could avoid buying lunch. So after half an hour of doing nothing we cooked up some tomato soup, cut up a fresh baguette, and stuffed ourselves some more. After the weather we had experienced a mere forty minutes before, three of us decided it was necessary to add an extra layer to ourselves.

Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower, and naturally, I became an obvious tourist (because I blended in so well before) and started going wild with my camera, taking pictures as well as shoving it in other people's hands and posing in front of the massive structure. My first impression was that it was a lot larger than I had thought it would be. Unfortunately, it was foggy and so we were unable to see the top. But we had seen it in the distance and knew what it looked like so we weren't too heartbroken. As we walked around the tower we stumbled upon two rows of colourfully painted bears. There were 140 of these "Buddy Bears" as we later found out they were called, each representing a different country. Canada was covered in squares that were different shades of green, blue and beige. The rest of my family all agreed that it symbolized the "cultural mosaic" of our loving and welcoming homeland. I'm still stuck on the theory of it representing our lucious forests, many warm beaches and glorious skies and waters.

Paris: Canada bear

Paris: Canada bear

After the Eiffel Tower we traipsed around and took even more pictures from far away. Then we walked to another large monument, The Arc de Triomphe. After taking some more pictures, we went down into the earth so that we could tunnel our way to the centre of the arc. Once in the centre, I was once again shocked at how large it was. Then, to our surprise my mother drew a furry, hoodie-clad animal from her backpack ... our mascot! I would tell you the name of this beloved stuffie, but sadly he/she is unnamed. I want to name it Florence (or 'Flo' for short) but some people are against it being a girl. Please leave suggestions below, he/she is a moose incase you were wondering. But anyways, the moose was brought out I instantly asked why it never got a picture with the Eiffel Tower. "I forgot" was the answer she gave me. Unbelievable. But our fuzzy mascot did get a couple pictures with the second monument, but then was harshly shoved back into a bag.

Paris: Arc de Triomphe

Paris: Arc de Triomphe

Once we had our fill of the arc, we started to walk down Champs de Elysee, a street that is full of expensive stores, McDonald's and pigeons. We fit right in among the shoppers that were walking in and out of Lancome and Mont Blanc with their purchased items in little fancy bags. We took a picture of the stairs in Swarovski, which is actually quite common because they are clear and filled with crystals and were quite the sight indeed. One strange thing we did notice though, was that the fanciest resturaunt any of us had ever seen was placed right beside a McDonald's. It was funny seeing the best of the best beside a fast food chain (it was like us in those expensive shops). But we did walk into a couple of stores, despite our lack of fashionable clothes and a stuffed wallet. One store that we all found quite reasonably priced was Swatch, a swiss watch company. But we decided against buying one, and I was fine with this as I was just given a watch as an early birthday present before we left, thanks to my lovely grandparents.

Paris: Crystal on the Champs-Élysées

Paris: Crystal on the Champs-Élysées

But that is about all for our day of sightseeing, as after we finished the street we went to find a metro station to get us back home, as we were all getting quite tired and a little chilly. On the walk from the station to our apartment we passed by a boulangerie (bakery) and decided to buy a little snack. Hannah and I got identical pastries and my dad got a sugar covered sweet. My mom picked up yet another baguette as I inwardly groaned. For me personally, I don't need to have two baguettes a day. In my opinion if we don't stop soon we may get a little tubby around the edges ... just saying. And to continue on the food theme, tonight we look forward to Roast Chicken and Bolognaise flavoured chips (they are two different flavours just to clear things up).

Posted by KZFamily 13:41 Archived in France Tagged paris de arc triomphe champs-elyes Comments (4)

Louvre: 1 Konings: 0 (Overwhelmed by the Louvre)

by Muriel

semi-overcast 8 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Louvre

Louvre

It's like no other museum in the world, attracting 9 million annually to view its huge collection (or, more likely, parts of it). Apparently, the Louvre has over 35,000 items on display; alas, we only saw 21, 405 of them. Upon arrival, we thought we should take in the most popular picture (the Mona Lisa) before the crowds filled her room. It was smaller than you might think but we relished her perfect smile (some say smirk) and mesmirizing eyes nonetheless. While Abby liked the painting, she actually felt there were more impressive works, namely, The Wedding at Cana, the largest in the museum at 10 metres across -- it shares a room with Mona. We took in most of the Italian paintings, some of the French portraiture and visited the Northern European painters as well (Durer and Flanders are two I remember). While the paintings are definitely a highlight, we also appreciated the statuary, both the early Greek works as well as the eighteenth century French sculptures which were based on the Grecian style. I enjoyed viewing the Venus Di Milo (would she have been as famous with arms?) and the Winged Victory of Samothrace; however, there were many intriguing lesser-known sculptures as well, many in violent death throes and various states of undress ("What's the point of that?", asks my daughter). Grand beyond description, the museum's rooms are artwork in themselves. It was a pleasure just sitting (especially sitting) and letting our eyes roam around the ornate cornices and beautiful ceilings.

Louvre: Apartments of Napoleon III

Louvre: Apartments of Napoleon III

Near the end of our stay, we popped into what are known as the Napoleon III apartments (although he never actually stayed there; they are named after the Napoleonic style of the times). They are so incredibly ornate, with every patch of wall and ceiling devoted to gold leaf, glass, painting or gleaming wood. The chandeliers would have the Phantom of the Opera salivating. We all wondered just a bit what it would be like to have attended a meal in the beautiful formal dining room.

We got to the museum shortly after opening and stayed there for five hours. We could have stayed longer except our legs and spirits started flagging so thought it best to listen to our circadian clocks and make it an early day. So as not to belabour the point, I'll accept that 'a picture says a thousand words" and let you enjoy the attached photos -- you may see something new that you like as well.

Parisian Dessert

Parisian Dessert

On our way home, we sent Hannah out to the neighbourhood boulangerie to buy the ubiquitous baquette and a treat for dessert. The goodies she came home with! ... a chocolate tart, a nut confection loaded with caramel and a meringue sandwiching layers of coconut and cream, arguably the best meringue we've tasted (albeit Abby was quick to say that she preferred the ones her sister makes instead). This is fast becoming our bakery of choice -- Ben ran out early this morning and relieved the boulangerie of some brioche, pain du chocolate, and chausson aux pommes, the latter being the French version of the apple turnover. We've noticed that there exists a boulangerie within two blocks of any Parisien; we doubt that the Atkins diet made many inroads here.

Again, all we can say is that Paris is over the top -- in everything.

Posted by KZFamily 10:42 Archived in France Tagged paris louvre Comments (3)

Hotel Invalides and Other Rubbernecking Around Paris

by Ben

overcast 4 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Paris: Approaching Invalides

Paris: Approaching Invalides

The day dawned with ephermeral signs of sunshine and a sharp nip in the air. We started out with plans of walking outdoors as much as possible to take advantage of the clear skies. However, as with all things ephemeral, the sun quickly hid itself behind a thick low lying layer of cloud. Still optimistic, we set out at nine picking up a couple more baguettes for a picnic lunch and plunged underground for our metro commute popping up near Hotel National Des Invalides a half hour later. Despite the mist, the views of Hotel Invalides, Pont Alexander III and the Grand Palais were still spectacular. We could see the base of the Eiffel Tower in the distance with the top lost in the clouds. After a few shivery minutes it became readily apparent that an outdoor day was not in the cards.

We decided to tour Hotel Invalides, which is a military museum and monument to Napoleon Bonaparte. Hotel Invalides was established by Louis XIV as an institution to house disabled soldiers. At its peak, it housed 4,000 veterans. Napoleon changed the attached chapel into a military pantheon which after his death housed his tomb.

Paris: Invalides

Paris: Invalides

The museum houses armour and weapons dating back thousands of years including Greek weapons and armour. There is a huge collection of armour and weapons dating from the 12th to 19th century and another collection covering WW I and II. As with all large museums you can't hope to take it all in. We took in the medieval collection and all the items up to and including Napoleon which was more than enough information for our brains to process. We saw armour as ornate as any jewelry and swords, crossbows, pikes, lances, daggers, flintlocks and canons in the hundreds. Humankind has been preoccupied for a long time with ways of killing and protecting themselves from being killed. Seeing the technical developments in warfare over an 700 period was a great educational experience (yes, even the women found the war stuff interesting).

Seeing armour for kids as well as adults was an interesting twist. It was hard not to miss how much smaller people were in the past. A lot of the armour and uniforms on display would barely fit Abby let alone a full grown 21st century adult male from North America. Over time you can see some growth in the stature of people and the portraits by Napoleon's time show that at least the officer class was finally making it to our present day equivalent of middle age.

Paris: Napoleon's Tomb altar

Paris: Napoleon's Tomb altar

The real eye popper of Hotel Invalides is the Tomb of Napoleon. The inside of the churchlike tomb nearly rivals St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome. The wide varieties of marble, the generous use of gold leaf and the huge scale of the monument are as mind numbing as they are beautiful. Centered under the dome is the huge red marble sarcophogus of Napoleon surrounded by statues and relief carvings symbolizing his military and civil accomplishments. You would think Napoleon and his admirers were really trying to compensate for something. When you start looking around Paris at other structures you begin thinking maybe it is just par for the course. The idea of "over the top" seems to have originated and been perfected in Paris, just check out Pont Alexander III out front.

All the touring around the museum made us hungry so we braved a very brief picnic outside. We all got quite chilled and ducked back into the museum bookstore to warm up and make plans for the rest of the day. We decided to walk the gorgeous Pont Alexandre III (bridge) and check out the exteriors of the Grand Palais (site of the World Fair that also saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower) and the Petit Palais across the street which now serves as Paris' Fine Arts Museum. The Grand Palais had a VIP event going on so was inaccessible except to the well-heeled of Paris. In front were parked Rolls Royces and BMWs exclusively. We did go into the foyer of the Petit Palais and had to cope with a very curt and demanding security check at the entrance. Apparently 13 year old girls are particularly dangerous, since Abby was told to wait outside the front door while we got checked through and then was signalled in a very loud and demanding fashion to enter and reveal all that she had on her person. Right after Abby was checked in the security guard was relieved by a much friendlier female attendant.

Paris: Hot Chocolate and Meringues

Paris: Hot Chocolate and Meringues

After five hours of sightseeing in the cold we decided to head home and pick up fixings for dinner on the way. It is nice to have a warm cozy apartment to come home to where you can have hot chocolate made from creamy milk or a homemade cafe au lait. The plan then was to blog, nap and have a leisurely dinner. What next? Perhaps a nice evening stroll of Paris to see all the buildings lit up. We will need to bundle up for that!

Posted by KZFamily 13:01 Archived in France Tagged paris pont_alexandre_iii invalides Comments (4)

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