Friday, August 17, 2007

Tour of Europe - France

After a morning of traveling, we made it from Switzerland over to France.
Our first stop as a group was the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral.

It's a little bit smaller than what the Disney movie depicts.

The famous gargoyles of Notre Dame. On this trip, we did not have enough time to go up the stairs and into the bell towers. That would have been really interesting.

Going inside there was mass going on. People are respectful while they're inside, so everyone walks around quietly while it's going on.

After seeing the probably the second most recognizable spot in Paris, it was time to go see the first. The Eiffel Tower!

The group arrived right around dusk.

There were long lines at the bottom to go up, but being part of a tour group, we got to cut the lines. There's three different levels to the Eiffel Tower. We took an elevator to the first level.

Then transferred over to another elevator to get to the second level.

From here we were afforded some beautiful views of the city.


The next morning came bright and early. It's our last day in Paris. Better make it count.
Theresa and I split with the main group (more on that later), and headed to a museum that houses some of the most famous artworks in the world, the Louvre.

We've got a busy day planned, so we were sure to be there before they opened, to get as much time there as possible.

Instead of blindly wandering around, we downloaded the Rick Steves audio guide and accompanying map. It was really useful in guiding us around the museum and hitting all the highlights.

Like Venus de Milo.

It's amazing to see what an artist can do with stone. I know it's rock hard, but it looks fluffy enough to lay on.

Winged Victory.

The Fall of Icarus.

What's that giant crowd? Why, they're only surrounding one of the most famous paintings ever.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. It's a lot smaller in person. Only 21" by 30".

At this time, guards were keeping the main crowds back, but allowing young children to get up closer.

With all the attention on Mona Lisa, if you turn a 180, you'll see yet another amazing painting. It might not be one you've seen before, but the sheer size and detail are stunning. The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese is a giant at 267" by 391" (22' by 33').

The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David.

While we were in Florence, at the Accademia, we saw the first 4 sculptures of the "Slaves" series by Michelangelo which were never completed. Here at the Louvre, they have two more in the series that are much more finalized. Especially impressive is the Rebellious Slave, who seems to by trying to pull his body out of the stone he's carved in. You can see the strain and striations of his muscles as he tries to pull himself free of the rock.

I remember learning about this in school. It's the Code of Hammurabi, a set of laws from 1754 BC.

I'm a fan of Hercules, so I got my photo by Hercules fighting the Lernaean Hydra.

It's been an eventful morning, but we've got to get going. We've got places to be.

Today the rest of our tour group is going to visit the Palace of Versailles, The Louvre, and finish their day at the Moulin Rouge.
A couple days ago T and I told our tour operator that we were splitting from the rest of the group today and going somewhere else. He was a bit shocked. "You're going to skip seeing Paris to go to... Disneyland?"
Yes, yes we are. Let's go to Disneyland!


  1. Such enormous paintings and impressive yet delicate statues in the much artistry in the Louvre. Such beautiful stained glass windows in the Notre-Dame cathedral, and so many unknown stories/meanings behind its sculptures. Always like those night photos with the lights dancing, beckoning, and shaping the city from on high...nice night ones of the Eiffel Tower, itself, too. I'm just imagining this unbelievable, incredulous look on the tour operator's face when you said you're "going to Disneyland" instead of seeing more of Paris (I couldn't help smiling and laughing when I read that!! That would be a perfect Disneyland commercial idea!) EOM

    1. You're imagining it exactly right. It was an incredulous look when we told him that.
      In the years since this trip, I've been fortunate enough to go to the Louvre a few more times and it's always a treat.