Monday, April 7, 2008

Ahhhhh Paris

When I was a kid in primary school, I used to huddle in the library during recess time to scour books of places I dreamt of going, in lands far away. One of the more memorable books was on Paris, filled with images of the river Seine and the Notre Dame Cathedral. I still remember those pictures ever so vividly, and how, as a young child I longed so much to set foot on this most exotic and romantic of cities.

Well, yesterday (5th April 2008) was the culmination of one of my longest and dearest childhood dreams as I landed in Paris, straight from Boston. I barely had any sleep during the red eye flight, yet as soon as I checked into the hotel, I traipsed off on my Paris adventure immediately after freshening up. Work begins on Monday, so I only had the weekend to explore.

DAY 1 (Saturday 5th April 2008)

My starting point, Hotel Saint James & Albany on Rue de Rivoli which is just 50 metres down the same road from Louvre Museum. Yup, I can see the Louvre from my hotel. Armed with a map, swaddled in multiple layers of clothes, I was off to my French adventure!

Facing my hotel is the Tuileries Garden, which is a formal garden with trees planted and pruned symmetrically....I've noticed that Paris is full of symmetry, the building architecture, the gardens, plants, statues, ornaments....everything is about symmetry. Fits right into my own (some say, obsessive-compulsive) predilection for orderliness.
I walked toward Place de la Concorde. Besides the obelisk, there's also a beautiful fountain here, one of many in Paris.

I caught sight of this beautiful restaurant, Pavillon Elysee nestled amongst the trees. Kinda reminds me of one of the restaurants at Magic Kingdom Disneyland in Orlando which looks almost exactly like this.

The Grand Palais, which is actually a museum.

My first sight of the famous river Seine, with the Eiffel Tower a yonder. That was my aim for the day, I kept telling myself to walk toward the tower.

It was an overcast, sometimes rainy day. Eiffel Tower, the most famous of all Paris monuments against a cloudy backdrop.

Opposite the tower was a carousel. Paris is filled with carousels and the accompanying candy floss stall, even with no circus around. Riding on the carousel is as common in Paris as eating at the corner mamak shop is in Malaysia. This city sure knows how to have whimsical fun.
The French sister of the American Statue of Liberty on the river Seine. Given to the city in 1889, it faces west, towards the original Liberty in New York Harbour.
Arc de Triomphe. There's an underground tunnel that connects to the Arc which is in the middle of a roundabout and impossible to cross at street level.

Champs Elysees....also the name of my favourite Guerlain perfume. Now I know why; Guerlain has a store on this avenue.

I walked non-stop for 7 hours on my first day in Paris. The feet are aching but the spirit is willing.

DAY 2 (Sunday 6th April 2008)

I woke up bright and early to go visit the Louvre Museum. Read that entrance is free on the 1st Sunday of the month, what luck! There was a Paris Marathon this morning, and the road (Rue de Rivoli) in front of my hotel was jam packed with runners, it was almost like a stampede. That's the start of the Louvre Museum in the picture, and I could not cross the street to get to the entrance until all runners were gone; it took almost 30 minutes for the road to clear. So much for being kiasu early.

Finally joined the queue to the main entrance of Louvre. Since it was free, the line moved real quick.

Here's a little secret, for those who want to get in faster; enter via the Galerie du Carrousel which leads you to the basement level, and here at the upside down pyramid, is another queue that less people know of.

One of the rare Leonardo da Vinci paintings at the Denon wing (Louvre has 3 main wings; Denon, Sully and Richelieu, each with multiple levels). The Denon wing is by far the most popular wing as it houses the Mona Lisa by da Vinci, the holy grail for all Louvre visitors.

Speaking of which, this is the room in which the venerated Mona Lisa is kept, under guard and behind a special glass screen. The Mona Lisa is at the far end, left of this picture.

This was the closest I could get to it, without going pass the barrier.

The statue Michelangelo, in all its anatomical glory.

The Venus de Milo, alot of aunties posing for photos here, competing with Venus (aka Aphrodite).

It would take many days to cover the entire Louvre in detail, and since I had covered all the important must-see pieces, located mostly within the Denon wing, I hit the road again.

After Louvre, I strolled down the river Seine toward the Notre Dame Cathedral.....and fulfilled another childhood dream. Here's the front entrance.

I attended mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was conducted in French, and could not help but to marvel at the gothic architecture of this Catholic cathedral. Photo taken from my seat, sans flash.

View from the back of the Notre Dame Cathedral. This was the picture from my primary school days, emblazoned in my mind, now made reality.

Walking down the river Seine, there were many sidewalk stalls selling souvenirs and paintings. Bought a couple of both at a bargain.

The Place Vendome, at the top of the monument is Napoleon Bonaparte on a horse.
The Place de L'opera which looked really grand, with golden winged statues on its roof. I spent about 8 hours walking on my second day in Paris.
These are but a few of the photos that I took....being typically trigger happy, I've got hundreds. Wandering around Paris alone does make one many couples abound, and love is definitely in the air. It left me wishing very much that hubby were here walking right along with me, breathing in all the romance, though he would probably not be too fond of the freezing weather and marathon walking.
Out of all the cities I've visited.....New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Orlando, Baltimore, Tucson, Raleigh, Sydney and Tokyo....Paris ranks as number 1 in terms of being the most beautiful....but New York remains my ultimate love, by virtue of being the epitome of the home of the brave and the land of the free. (Hey, they don't call me Ms. America for nothing!)


wmw said...

Still haven't visited Paris. Was suppose to make a trip there the last time I was in London but I got really sick and had to drop the plan. As for US, my fave place is San Francisco!

Anonymous said...

oh please tell me you visited a patisserie! macarons! croissants! freshly baked goods!

Anonymous said...

ah yes the loo, all symmetry and arrangements. too much toilet training-parsimonious,orderly, obstinate [poo]

and did you meet the hunchback at n.d.?

and what about le koay teow?

Anonymous said...

paris the most beautiful city in the world?

ah, you visited "paris in the springtime" dat's y.

but the people from tourismo l'world has voted sydney the most beautiful city on earth.

Jessica said...

wmw: make sure you do visit Paris, at least once! it's worth the trip!

chocolatesuze: i already did - stumbled into a couple of them patisseries, and ate in one. yummmmm!

um: sydney is beaoooootifullll too, and of course will always be remembered for the "incident" at Mrs Macquaries' chair ;D! paris is old fashioned beautiful, this place is like a cinderella tale come alive....and i read fairy tales alot as a kid. :D

Anonymous said...

fairy tales are like hantu tales of the friendly kind.....

there isn't nuthin' like taiping.

unspoiled through the decades and so continuosly fresh. the maxwell hills [who knows now who maxwell is], burmese pool [ why/what/who is the burmese and how did the pool be named as such?], coronation pool, a concrete pool to be treasured for its imperial measure of 30 yards length, the remembrance cemetery, near the coronation pool for the fallen including 'here lies the forgoten soldier' an australian tribute, austin pool once in the wilderness in kamunting, the private wan lai [? spelling] pool and the private green valley pool both in the same area or thereabouts.
the taiping lakes, so natural as always, i hope they have not installed spouts and artificial lights etc. there used to be a little structure there to house a band. imagine a little magic with a band playing "oh malaysia" and a bit of ronggeng[?sp]...............