A long overnight bus ride due west from Heidelberg, Germany, and we had finally reached the “City of Love”.
No city in the world can compare to the romantic mix of arguably the world’s best wine, food, museums, churches, monuments, scenery…. The list goes on.
Luckily for us, Andrew’s cousin lives in Paris, so we stayed with her in the heart of the city; a small apartment with a boulangerie (bakery) next door and a cave à vins (wine shop) a few doors further down. Yep. Our world was truly French now.The most striking feature of Parisian streets are the apartment buildings which line the wide boulevards. Thanks to the 19th century vision of Georges-Eugene Haussmann, under Napoleon III (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte), a massive city-wide major works renovation resulted in the homogenous, but architecturally beautiful façades that are synonymous with Paris.Amongst the sea of apartment buildings, myriad museums and churches can be found, some small, some monumental!
After a rest day, we left the map (and our family tour guide who unfortunately works during the week, like normal citizens do!) at home and went exploring on our own.
We stumbled upon this:
It was originally built as a church with a façade modelled on the Pantheon in Rome. Eventually it became a mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. The inscription above the entrance reads:
AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE
(“To great men, the grateful homeland”)
The mind boggles at the scale of it all!
Among those buried in the necropolis are Marie Curie, Louise Braille and Napoleon Bonaparte himself.The main central dome was under restoration at the time, which obscured the exterior from the outside and the view from the inside looking up (but perhaps not looking down?).Along the Seine River, Musée de l’Orangerie is an art gallery in the Tuileries Gardens, most famous for being the home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet. Here’s a tease…
There was a heck of a line to see it though. We even caught the famous actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, jumping the queue ahead of us! No lie!Across the river, Musée d’Orsay is one of the largest art museums in Europe. It displays mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914 and houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters like Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
At the time, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the galleries. So, unfortunately, the following highlights weren’t taken by us. (Although the ban was finally lifted in early 2015 by both museums, so we just missed out on that one!)
The museum itself is housed in a former railway station. An ornate clock looks over the (still) bustling interior.Times change.
But some things were built to last.Visited 5th to 7th October 2014.