A splendid view, kick-started our day!
|The view from our room in Paris – Good Morning!
Mornings in Paris…
Woke up early today and decided to take an early morning walk around town before heading for breakfast.
It was so empty on the streets as there’s nobody around!
Everyone must be sleeping!
|Empty streets in the early mornings of Paris
Feels nice to feel the freshness of the morning breeze…
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|A pharmacy at a comer of the street in France
A walk along the Arrondissments of Paris
|Mornings in Paris, where the streets are deserted
After breakfast, we made our way down to the Louvre Museum, visiting the Greek Temple known as La Madeleine, before moving on later to the Église de la Sainte-Trinité; a Roman Catholic church.
Next, stopping by the Opera House and finally ending the day with some shopping at Galeries Lafayette.
Taking a walk along the 1st, 2nd to the 8th and 9th Arrondissements of Paris…
|Mornings in Paris can get really quiet
The city of Paris is divided in 20 arrondissements. The first one is in the center, the following ones spiral outwards in a clock-wise direction. Think of a snail’s shell…get the picture yet??
Most of the famous tourist attractions can be found in one of the central 8 Arrondissements.
The Arrondissements are encircled by the périphériquerique, a ring highway.
Outside the périphérique are the banlieues, the suburbs of Paris.
Arrondissement 1 – Louvre
|Glass Pyramid at the main entrance to the Louvre
The least populated of the 20 arrondissements in Paris is at the geographical center of Paris, hence the area is crammed with historic sights. The Louvre Museum, Royal Palace, Tuileries gardens, Forum des Halles, Bourse du Commerce and the upscale Vendôme Square are all located here.
The 1st arrondissement also comprises the western tip of the Île de la Cité, including the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.
|The front facade of the Louvre Museum
Musée du Louvre
The Louvre, originally a royal palace but now the world’s most famous museum, is a must-visit for anyone with a slight interest in art. Some of the museum’s most celebrated works of art include the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo.
The Louvre Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in the world. It is housed in the expansive Louvre Palace, situated in the 1st arrondissement, at the heart of Paris.
The most recent addition to the Louvre was the construction of the Louvre Pyramid, which functions as the museum’s main entrance. The pyramid was built in 1989 by the renowned American architect I.M. Pei. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to enter the underground floor.
The modern addition originally received mixed reviews, as it contrasts sharply with the classical design of the surrounding buildings, but today it is generally accepted as a clever solution which has given the museum a spacious central entrance without the need to touch the historic patrimony.
Located right near the Louvre, this church was once the church of the French Kings.
|Gothic church of Saint Germain
Founded in the 7th century, the church was rebuilt many times over several centuries. It now has construction in Roman, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The most striking exterior feature is the porch, with a rose window and a balustrade above which encircles the whole church, a work of Jean Gaussel during the period of 1435.
|Gothic detail on the architecture of the church of the French Kings
Among the treasures preserved inside are a 15th century wooden statue of Saint Germain, a stone carved statue of Saint-Vincent sculpted around the same time, a Flemish altarpiece carved out of wood, the famous “churchwarden’s pew” where important people sat, made in 1683 by François, Le Mercier from drawings by Charles Le Brun.
During the Wars of Religion, its bell called “Marie” sounded on the night of 23 August 1572, marking the beginning of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
The massacre started the moment the “Marie” and the church bells of the Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois started ringing. Thousands of Huguenots who visited the city for a royal wedding, were killed by the mobs of Paris.
A splendid stained glass still remains, in spite of plunderings during the French Revolution. The north tower was added in 1860 and stands opposite the Mairie of the 1st Arrondissement (1859).
The church is notorious for its connection with the massacre of August 24, 1572.
Arrondissement 2 – Bourse
Primarily a business district, with the Palais de la Bourse – the former stock exchange – as it’s most notable landmark.
Another important building in the smallest of Paris’s Arrondissements is the historic National Library. A modern expansion of the library is located in the 13th Arrondissement.
The second Arrondissement is also home to a number of historic shopping arcades.
Arrondissement 3 – Temple
Another small arrondissement; it contains the northern part of the historic Marais district.
The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts), the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum – devoted to the history of Paris – are located here.
Arrondissement 4 – Hôtel-de-Ville
The 4th arrondissement contains the southern part of the medieval Marais district as well as the Île St-Louis and the eastern part of Île de la Cité, the oldest part of Paris.
This area is very popular thanks to attractions such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place des Vosges, the city hall and the Gothic Tour St-Jacques.
Contrasting with all the historic buildings is the modern Centre Pompidou.
Arrondissement 5 – Panthéon
The Latin Quarter, with the renowned Sorbonne university, is situated in this Arrondissement.
The area’s popular avenue, the Boulevard St-Michel, marks the border with the 6th Arrondissement.
The most famous sight in the 5th arrondissement is the Panthéon, but there are many other noteworthy sights such as the magnificent Val-de-Grâce church, the intriguing St-Etienne-du-Mont church, the Cluny Museum, the roman-era Arènes de Lutèce and the city’s botanic garden, the Jardin des Plantes.
Arrondissement 6 – Luxembourg
One of the world’s greatest parks, the Jardin du Luxembourg, makes this Arrondissement popular with locals and visitors alike.
|It’s a little later now and the streets are starting to fill up
The 6th Arrondisement also contains a number of landmarks like the Odéon Theatre and the Saint Sulpice church, which sports two towers with a different design. Another important church in this arrondissement is the 11th century Saint-Germain des Prés, the oldest abbey church in Paris.
The church is at the heart of the namesake neighborhood, which is one of the most popular areas to stay in for visitors to Paris.
Arrondissement 7 – Palais-Bourbon
Government institutions and major landmarks dominate this upscale Arrondissement. The most famous of these landmarks is the Eiffel Tower, drawing millions of visitors each year.
Other important tourist draws are the Invalides – with its museums and Napoleon’s tomb – and three more museums: the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin and the Musée du Quai Branly, which is dedicated to non-European cultures.
The Palais Bourbon (National Assembly), École Militaire (Military School) and the UNESCO headquarters can also be found in the 7th Arrondissement.
Arrondissement 8 – Élysée
Another Arrondissement loaded with tourist attractions.
The Champs-Élysées – probably the world’s most famous boulevard – cuts through this Arrondissement from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Bordering the Champs-Élysées are the magnificent Grand Palais and Petit Palais, as well as the Élysée, the presidential Palace.
The arrondissement also features the temple-like Madeleine church and the romantic Monceau Park.
Église de St-Marie-Madeleine
The greek temple just north of the Place the Concorde is known as “La Madeleine” or “L’église de St-Marie-Madeleine”.
|The Madeleine Church
The large building is actually a church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. In French, Magdalene is known as Madeleine, hence the name of the building.
When construction of the church started in 1764, the plans made by architect Pierre Constant d’Ivry called for a design similar to that of the Invalides church. When d’Ivry died in 1777 his designs, which can be seen in the Musée Carnavalet, were dismissed by his successor, Guillome-Martin Couture.
He decided to raze the unfinished building and start with a new design, this time based on the Panthéon.
|La Madeleine in Paris
A Temple becomes a Church
Construction halted during the French Revolution until 1806 when Napoleon decided to build a temple in honor of his army. He appointed Pierre-Alexandre Vignon who razed the structure yet again and started with the construction of a temple based on the ‘Maison Carrée’, an ancient Roman temple in the French city of Nîmes.
With the construction of the Arc de Triomphe, which honored the French Army, the new temple was looking for a new function.
Some of the suggestions included using the temple as a parliament, a bank or even a train station. Finally in the year 1842, the building was consecrated as a church – a function it still holds today.
Arrondissement 9 – Opéra
A multifaceted Arrondissement, with prestigious boulevards in the south and the not so prestigious Pigalle area – a red light district – in the north. Pigalle does attract its share of tourists though thanks to the nearby Moulin Rouge in the 18th Arrondissement.
Just as famous, but located in the south part of the 9th Arrondissement, is the former Opéra Garnier, a magnificent opera house. The majestic Sainte-Trinité church is located in this Arrondissement too.
Nearby is the Galeries Lafayette, the well-known department store.
|Paris Opera House
Opéra de Paris Garnier
|Another view of the iconic Palais Garnier
The opulent Opéra de Paris Garnier was designed by Charles Garnier for Emperor Napoleon III. It is the most important symbol of the 19th century Second Empire baroque style.
Construction of the opera building started in 1862, but it wasn’t completed until 1875, partly because an underground lake was discovered during construction. The small lake still exists under the opera building. It was the hiding place of the “Phantom of the Opera” in Paul Leroux’s famous play.
Since the construction of the modern Opéra de Paris Bastille in 1989, the majestic Opéra Garnier is now mainly used for ballet performances. It was also officially renamed ‘Palais Opera’.
Even though the building has a seating capacity of less than 2,200, the Statue on top of the Opera Garnier building is one of the largest theatres in the world by acreage.
It is 172 meters long, 125 meter wide and reaches a height of 73,6 meters. The facade is decorated with rose marble columns, friezes, sculpture groups and two large gilded statues.
The interior of the Opéra Garnier building is even more impressive than its exterior. The marble Grand Staircase has a height of 30m/98ft, while the 54m long Grand Foyer features a mosaic covered ceiling and a large number of chandeliers. It is so luxurious that it has been compared with the corridors in Versailles.
Behind the Grand Foyer and below the green copper dome is the lavishly decorated auditorium with red velvet, plaster cherubs and gold leaf. The auditorium’s magnificent chandelier weighs a massive six tonnes.
Its large ceiling was painted in 1964 by Marc Chagall. The stage behind the auditorium is 60 meter high and has room for up to 450 actors!
The Opera de Paris Garnier is located at the Place de l’Opera, a square in the 9th Arrondissement, just north of the 2nd Arrondissement.
Stay tuned for part 2, where we continue from the Arrondissements 9th onward!
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