France

Nick vs. Louvre: Round 2

I decided to have a rematch with the Louvre, seeing as how I only saw about a quarter of it in the first 3-hour dual we had. This time I spent about 4 hours and probably got to about the 2/3 mark, maybe. One thing that helps is that the cards on all the paintings are all written in French, which does me no good. This is helpful, though, because if I could read the cards I never would have made it off the first floor of the first wing! Here’s some of my favorites from my 2nd time around.

I think my favorite was the re-creation of Napolean’s Apartment.

img_5840

img_5820

img_5827

img_5828

img_5813

Besides this apartment, here are some of my other favorite pieces.

img_5802

The little boy riding a snail.

img_5866

img_5881

img_5887

img_5934

img_5960

This next one I found pretty amusing.

img_5962

img_6003

And finally…

img_6013

After round 2, the result, not surprisingly, is Louvre: 2 – Nick: 0. Maybe next time.

Advertisements

Night Shots

Paris pretty much has a dual personality, kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You have to see everything during the day, but then again at night because I think everything looks better lit up at night. I think the Eiffel Tower at night was my favorite. See what you think.

img_5625

I didn’t actually get to go up the Eiffel Tower like I wanted because both times I tried, once it was raining, and the other time the very top was shut so you could only go to the 2nd level. I wasn’t about to wait in line for an hour if I couldn’t go all the way up. One really cool thing, though, is that every hour the tower sparkles for 5 minutes. It’s actually really cool to see. We happened to get there about 10 minutes to 11, so it worked out pretty good.

img_5645

img_5657

Next on our schedule was the Arc de Triomphe. I had to crank up the ISO on my camera to get some of these shots.

img_5658

img_6027

Next up: Moulin Rouge. This place especially looks a lot better lit up at night.

img_5664

So the moral of the story is that everything in Paris looks better at night.


Saint Chapelle

Here’s some pictures from the Cathedral de Saint Chapelle. The stained glass inside is beautiful and I happened to catch it on a sunny day.

img_5022

img_5024

img_5034

img_5054

It was pretty nice.


Montmartre District

One afternoon I went on a tour of the Montmartre district of Paris. This area has always been known for it’s artists, writers, poets, etc. Some famous names that have lived in this area include Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh.  I’m sure there’s been many more as well.

We began the tour in front of the Moulin Rouge, yes the one that was in the video. Moulin Rouge means red windmill in French. I almost wanted to go see a show there and see what all the hype was about, but the 95 euro pricetag for an hour and a half show was a little out of my budget. So instead I took a picture of it.

img_4695

The Moulin Rouge is at the beginning of the Red Light District of Paris. People call it the little brother to Amsterdam, but it still has itof sex shops, strip clubs, and prostitutes. Also, there is an Erotic Museum that had a funny sculpture in front of it that made me laugh as I walked by it.

img_47011

The next place we walked by on our tour was a cafe which was apparently in the movie Amelie. I have never seen the movie, but apparently everyone else on my tour had and were all freaking out because they actually got to see it. I guess a lot of the movie was filmed in this area. After that we walked past the former apartment of Vincent Van Gogh.

Then we saw a guy who literally lost his head! Well the story goes that he was preaching a protestant religion at a time when everyone was forced to be Catholic. They ended up chopping his head off, but magically he picked up his head and walking up the mountain reciting all of the verses of the bible. When he reached the top of the mountain and had finished with all the bible verses, he dropped his head and fell over dead for the 2nd time. That seems like it was a pretty famous story.

img_4712

Our guide next showed us a cafe that Pablo Picasso used  to eat at before he became popular. He used to trade 3 paintings a month to the owner of the cafe for free food whenever he was hungry.

Probably the best part of the tour was the church Sacre Coeur, which I think means Sacred Heart in French.

img_4690

img_4752


Pub Crawl: Paris Style

I love doing pub crawls. It’s a good way to meet people and explore the nightlife of a city, especially when you’re traveling by yourself. I ended up going with a guy who I had met on my tour earlier that morning who is living in Paris for his job. Here’s a few pics from the craziness of the night.

img_4683

img_4686

img_4687


Gargoyles & Quasimodo a.k.a. Notre Dame

img_4833

Notre Dame Cathedral is really beautiful inside. After waiting in a ridiculously long line to get inside (even though it’s free), I  finally got in. It was definitely worth the wait! The stained glass windows are pretty amazing.

img_4777

img_4814

img_4791

A few days later when my friend Natasha got to Paris, we waited in the even more ridiculous line to go up the tower of the church to see the view of the city, as well as the gargoyles and the bell that Quasimodo rings.

img_5469

img_5468

img_5481

We were hoping to stick around until dark to see if the gargoyles actually come to life. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to do that.

img_5474

img_5502

Finally, even though the Hunchback of Notre Dame wasn’t home at the time, we still were able to see the bell that he rings several times a day.

img_5498


Louvre: 1 – Nick: 0

img_4668

The Louvre is the biggest museum I’ve ever been in. It’s just massive! There are 3 wings, Denon, Sully, and Richelieu, and I’m pretty sure each wing is bigger than most museums I’ve been in. There is no way that you can see the whole thing in one day (many have tried and failed). I made a list of about 30 pieces I most wanted to see and went from there. Once I got to the museum, though, and didn’t really have to wait in line at all, I decided just to try and do a whole wing in one day. One cool thing is that people from 18-25 years old get in free, so I didn’t have to pay the normal 9 euro entrance fee.  After spending about 3 hours wandering around the first wing I was kind of burned out. Here were a few of my favorite pieces.

You might know what this one is. You guessed it: The Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci. There was a million people around it, and no one around to tell you to turn off your flash, even though I wish there had of been.

img_5335

img_5405

One thing I noticed about all the Roman sculture heads is that they were mostly missing their noses. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to be like that or not.

img_5421

This next one is also one of the most famous pieces at the Louvre: Venus di Milo.

img_5434

img_5366

img_5372

After about 3 hours of wandering around, I had probably only seen about a quarter of the museum. Score – Louvre: 1 – Nick: 0.


Le Tour Eiffel

Here are a few pics of the Eiffel Tower, or in French, Le Tour Eiffel. It’s pretty crazy to think that, not only was it built back in the late 1800’s, but also that it was only built for the World’s Fair and was going to be taken down after the fair was over. They must have had some damn good engineers back then to make something like this!

img_4935

img_4938

This is looking up from directly underneath the tower. It’s pretty hard to hold the camera steady at this angle.

img_4946

img_4955

And this is what happens when you try and lick the Eiffel Tower.

img_5615


Arc de Triomphe

These next posts from Paris aren’t really in any particular order because I was there for 10 days and I don’t remember what I did which days.

At the end of Champs-Elysses, down the street from the Louvre, there is this tiny arc that you would barely notice. Just kidding. This is the Arc de Triomphe and it’s enormous!!

img_4878

img_4882

The view from the top of the arc is pretty impressive as well.

img_4890

In the distance here you can see the business district, La Defense. These skyscrapers are so far outside the city because there is a law against building these inside the city limits of Paris.

img_4893

You also get a pretty good view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the arc.

img_4895

About halfway up the arc as you’re going up the millions of stairs, there’s a small museum with kind of the history of the arc. They had this statue that made laugh every time I looked at it just because of the expression on it.

img_4906


I Love Free Walking Tours!!

When I woke up the next morning, I had breakfast and headed out for the free walking tour. I’ve done these in most of the major cities I’ve been to. I love them, one, because they’re free, and two, because the guides are always very interesting and tell you stories. Although we didn’t actually walk by a few of the main sites, we were able to see them from various points on the tour. Here’s a few of the pics I took.

img_4650

Here you can see Notre Dame in the distance.

img_4654

img_4657

These next statues were really funny. Apparently, King Henry (not sure which one) has his friends over for a party one night, got them all really drunk, then took pictures of all of their faces. He then had an architect create statues of these faces all around the palace he lived in.

img_4661

img_4662

Here’s the famous pyramids inside the Louvre.

img_4857

img_4670

Here is the Eiffel Tower out in the distance. It started to get cloudy later in the afternoon, so it didn’t make for the best picture.

img_4673

Here  is a view down the Champs-Elysees from the far end of the park behind the Louvre, and you can see the Arc de Triomphe at the end.

img_4677