Paris, France

Paris, France

Paris, France – April 10, 2010

WOW!  My first time in Paris.  What a beautiful city!  I did NOT find any of the people I encountered to be rude, even though I heard that warning from so many people before I traveled.

My boss at the embassy agreed to send me to Paris for a greening and environmental workshop.  Part of the workshop was to be at the American ambassador’s residence.  When asked if I wished to attend, it took me about 0.002 nanoseconds to answer yes!

The flight to Paris from Madrid, Spain was uneventful.  While descending to the Paris airport, one could easily spot the Eiffel Tower from the plane.

After landing, it took about an hour to get to the hotel by taxi.  That was due in part to traffic and in part to distance.  When I got to the Hotel Regina Louvre (it is directly across the street from the Louvre Museum) and checked-in, the desk clerk asked if I was alone. That seemed to be a rather odd question, but I responded that I was alone.  She said I was lucky because my room had been upgraded.

When I entered the room I discovered what she was talking about.  The room was actually a suite!  Walking into the room, one is in an entryway.  In that entryway were three armoires, side-by-side, one of which contained a minibar.  Leaving the entryway, one comes into a large sitting room or parlor.  Off of the sitting room is a large bathroom complete with his and her bathrobes.  Off of the other side of the sitting room is the bedroom.  It is very large, with a king-size bed.  off of the bedroom is another full bathroom, even larger than the other one.

The sitting room and guest bathroom in the Hotel Regina.
The guest bathroom.
Detail of the stained-glass skylight.
The bathroom off the bedroom.

After I got myself settled, I went out to walk around.  Little did I know my walk would end up being 11.6 kilometers (7.23 miles).  Note for anyone considering a similar march; wear something other than deck shoes!  By the time I returned to the hotel, my feet were killing me!  Tennis or walking shoes would have been a much better choice.

The march began as I crossed between the Louvre Museum and the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens), walking south toward the Seine River.  I crossed over the river to the left bank via the Pont du Carrousel (Carrousel Bridge).  There I found many street vendors selling copies of famous art, postcards, etc.  I ended up buying a map of Spain and Portugal dating from the 1890s.  It is printed in French.  The price of 10€ (US$12.40) made me very skeptical of the authenticity, but that did not deter my purchase.

The memorial to Joan of Arc just outside the Hotel Regina.
The view across the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) toward the Eiffel Tower.
Throngs of people at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, approaching the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum.
The north wing of the Louvre Museum.
The view across the Seine River toward the Musée d’Orsay (Orsay Museum) with Eiffel Tower in background.
The south façade of the south wing of the Louvre Museum seems to go on forever.
People on the Pont Royal (Royal Bridge) near the Louvre.
A sightseeing boat on the Seine River passing the Musée d’Orsay.
A barge on the Seine River.
The view under the Pont Royal toward the Grand Palais (Grand Palace).
A tree near the Pont Royal.
Many vendors on the left bank of the Seine River.
The view from the left bank near, the Pont du Carrousel,
toward the Louvre.
People at the south end of the Pont du Carrousel. The Louvre is in the background.
Boats moored on the left bank of the Seine River and the Pont Neuf (New Bridge).
The Max Chaoul Couture Paris store along Quai de Conti (Conti Quay).

I continued along the left bank to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris Cathedral).  From Notre Dame, I crossed the island, Île de la Cité (City Island) and stopped at a sidewalk café on the other side of the Seine.  I sat there, had a glass of white wine while I caught my breath, and watched the people.  After some time, I decided to get something to eat.  I ordered a bowl of French onion soup and an assortment of cheeses.  The cheeses included bleu and brie, neither of which I really like.  Regardless, I did eat quite a bit of each.  I ended up having another glass of wine to wash everything down.

A tourist boat on the Seine River approaches the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris Cathedral).
The iconic Notre Dame.
Throngs of people at Notre Dame.
Another view of the cathedral.
The statue of Charlemagne et ses Leudes (Charlemagne and his Guards) is near the cathedral.
The view from Rue de la Cité toward the Palais de Justice de Paris (Palace of Justice in Paris).
The statue at La Fontaine du Palmier (The Palm Fountain) in the Place du Châtelet (Châtelet Plaza) at the north end of the Pont au Change.
While sitting at a sidewalk café on the Quai de la Mégisserie, a man walked by my table.

When I finished my “meal,” I began my walk to the Eiffel Tower.  There are many sights to see on the left bank.  One of the odder sights I happened across was a boat wedged against one of the piers of the Pont d’Léna (Léna Bridge).  I can only assume the boat lost power and ended up stuck at the bridge.  There were several first-responders on the scene.  Since they did not seem frantic, I hoped there were no significant injuries in the mishap.

Detail of the Louvre Museum above the Place Du Carrousel (Carrousel Plaza) entrance.
Boats “double-parked” on the Seine River.
A houseboat.
A sightseeing boat passes under Pont Alexandre III near the Grand Palais.
Pont Alexandre III.
Pont Alexandre III.
A boat wedged against the Pont des Invalides by the current of the Seine River.

I continued on to the Eiffel Tower.  I was quite tired by the time I got there.  That may have influenced my decision to merely look at the tower from the ground and not to go up onto the tower.  The other part of that decision was the length of the queue of people waiting.  I wanted no part of that.

Looking up at the Eiffel Tower. The top is some 324 meters (1,063 feet) above the ground.
The Eiffel Tower as viewed from the Pont d’Iéna.
The Eiffel Tower above the Seine River.

Crossing the Seine again, I began my march back to my hotel.  It seemed I might never make it back!  Regardless, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and was finally able to collapse in my hotel room.

A small Statue of Liberty on a boat just across from the Eiffel Tower.
A parting view of the Eiffel Tower.
Two characters on a docked boat.
Walking back toward my hotel, I saw the boat rescued from the Pont des Invalides. However, some police were still in attendance.
Decorations at the north end of the Pont Alexandre III.
The L’Harmonie Triomphant de la Discorde (The Triumphant Harmony of Discord) statue at the Grand Palais.
At the north end of the Pont Alexandre III hides a red Ferrari.
Detail of the Pont Alexandre III.
It looks like cars and mopeds are at the starting line at the Place de la Concorde.
Some late afternoon traffic at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
Joan of Arc in front of the Hotel Regina Louvre.
Pedestrians at the Joan of Arc statue.
The backside of Paris. The view from my hotel window.
A portion of the lobby in the Hotel Regina Louver.

Tomorrow I plan to go to the Louvre Museum.  Note to self; wear more comfortable shoes.

The Monument à Cézanne by Aristide Maillol.
The east side of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
The statue of King Louis XIV dates from about 1677.
The iconic glass pyramid at the Louvre by architect I. M. Pei.
A water fountain coming to life outside the Louvre Museum.

After buying my entrance ticket, I made a beeline to the Mona Lisa.  I wanted to try to get to that very popular painting before it was mobbed by other tourists.  It was quite spectacular to see the Mona Lisa in person; although, one can get no closer than about 25 feet to the painting.

The Louvre is by far the largest I have ever been in, ever!  In fact, the Louvre is the largest museum in the world.  I may break my record of 11.6 kilometers yesterday just in the museum!

The hall in the Louvre leading to the Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Many of the sculptures have outstretched arms; almost as if to say, “Don’t rush to the Mona Lisa.  Take a moment to stop and look at us.”
The Winged Victory of Samothrace.
A gallery near the Mona Lisa.
The relatively small Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
People in front of the much larger The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Caliari.
Another of the multitude of galleries.
The glass pyramid as seen from one of the galleries.
Brutus Condemns His Sons to Death.
Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau by Baron Antoine-Jean Gros.
A gallery with a skylight.
Bonaparte Crossing the Alps by Paul Delaroche.
An ornate ceiling in the Louvre.
Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter by Guido Reni.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel as seen from one of the galleries.
A bust in one of the galleries.
Juana La Loca by Raphael And Giulio Romano.
Artemas with a Deer.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne by Leonardo da Vinci.
Crucifixion by Giovanni Bellini.
A painted ceiling.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace.
The Galerie d’Apollon (Apollo Gallery) is where the French Crown Jewels are on display.
An ornate pitcher.
King Louis XIV in the Galerie d’Apollon.
King Henri IV in the Galerie d’Apollon.
A covered jade bowl.
The crown of Empress Eugénie is on the right.
Detail of the ceiling in the Galerie d’Apollon.
The Galerie d’Apollon.
Another portion of the ceiling in the Galerie d’Apollon.
The view from one of the galleries showing the Pont des Arts and the domed Institut de France.
An Egyptian stele.
A very small statue.
The god Amun protecting Tutankhamun.
A portion of the Sully wing of the Louvre as seen from one of the galleries.
Small Egyptian statuary.
A small bust.
Aphrodite, known as the “Venus de Milo.”
Athena, is known as the Pallas of Velletri.
The Great Sphinx of Tanis.
The main entry area under the glass pyramid.
A cylindrical elevator under the glass pyramid.
A bust of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the architect of Versailles and Les Invalides, dates from 1703. The artist is Jean-Louis Lemoyne.
Marble bas-relief, Farewell, by Jean-Joseph Perraud.
A hall in the Napolean apartment.
Detail of the Grand Salon in the Napolean apartment.
The fireplace in the Grand Salon.
The Seine in the Chapel by Antoine Coysevox.
A circular staircase in the Napolean apartment.
The bed of Charles X.
Cupid and Psyche Bathing in the Napolean bedroom.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and Eiffel Tower as seen from one of the galleries.
A decorated screen in the bedroom.
Detail of one of the blue tapestries in the bedroom. It is a wall hanging from the bedchamber of Louis XVIII in the Palais des Tuileries.
A bust of Napolean.
A crystal make-up table and mirror.
A pair of ornately painted vases.
A pair of ornately painted vases.
A wood door.
A highly decorated cabinet.
A writing desk that “disappears” into an oval table.
The bed of Charles X.
Shepherds and Shepherdesses Dancing.
A bust surrounded by circular images.
Napolean’s throne.
A crystal and gold chess set.
Detail of Le Roi à la Chasse (Charles I at the Hunt) by Anthony van Dyck.
Detail of Equestrian Portrait of Don Francisco de Moncada by Anthony van Dyck.
The view toward the Sully wing from the glass pyramid.

After walking through many of the wings of the museum, I had to sit down near the main entry.  I was absolutely out of gas.  I decided to take a quick look at the bookstore and then head back to the hotel for a well-deserved nap.

The next morning, breakfast was a little strange compared to what one might expect in the U.S.  Instead of sitting at a table of my own, the server directed me to a table with six chairs.  Another couple was just leaving that table.  So for a short time sat by myself.  Then the server sat another gentleman beside me.  He happened to be from Washington, D.C.  He is in the energy business with Lockheed Martin, here for the same event I am attending.  We had a nice conversation, but it was just a little strange to be seated with a stranger.

That evening, after the workshop, I met up with four of the other attendees to go out to dinner.  We went to a small restaurant about a 10-minute walk from the hotel.  The name of the restaurant is Chez Flottes.  It was tremendous.  I had a wonderful, delicious steak.  We all shared a bottle of wine.

It was interesting to discuss issues of common concern with some more seasoned facility managers.  In situations such as that, I always try to take in all I can for future use and reference.

The following day, when I returned to my room from the workshop, I discovered the hotel staff delivered a bottle of wine and some various candies.  I am not sure that I could have gotten much luckier.

In the evening the workshop attendees met for a mixer at the 1357ish Paris City Hall.  What a striking municipal building that was!

The Hôtel de Ville holds the city offices of Paris and has done so since 1357.

On the final day of the workshop, we met in the ambassador’s residence.  Another striking Parisian site.  One bit of history of the residence that was shared with the attendees is that the home was used as a Nazi SS officers’ club during World War II.  The home looked to me like something directly out of the movie The Dirty Dozen.  It is also huge, about 6,689 square meters (72,000 square feet).  Certainly not as nice as the Louvre or City Hall, but it was not bad.

One thought on “Paris, France

  1. WOW!!!! What a tour. A whole lot of walking, but some beautiful sights and memories. And what a hotel. Is that the most exquisite hotel you’ve stayed in? Thanks for the trip.

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