This morning, it was off for a massive circuit of Parisian landmarks. We started the day with a short metro ride down to the Champ de Mars to begin our journey. Starting from just in front of the École Militaire, the Eiffel Tower looks small, but us we wandered closer and closer, the sheer enormity of it quickly came upon us. It is a beautiful structure, conveying both strength and grace, as was the intention of it's designer, Gustave Eiffel. The lines to head up the tower were enormous, and we knew we could pre-book tickets and avoid the queue, so we stood in awe of her for a while before crossing the Seine and heading up to the Trocadéro for the postcard view of the tower, before jumping the Metro to our second destination.
Arc de Triomphe
Another of Paris' iconic landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe sits at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Again, it doesn't seem that big until you get close. We were there only 2 days after the attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and there was a noticeable military presence around the arch. We had seen a similar presence in Milan around the Duomo square and it's pretty confronting, for us little Aussies, to see soldiers with automatic rifles patrolling around city streets.
The lift to the top was not working, so we grit our teeth and climbed the 290 odd stairs to the roof. It was well worth the effort and we were rewarded with some spectacular views of Paris.
Next we tackled the Champs-Élysées; the famous Paris avenue that is home to world class fashion and restaurants. Kind of wasted on us, but an interesting stroll anyway. At the end of the avenue we stopped in the park for crepes before jumping on the Metro for a short ride down to the Louvre.
The Louvre is another place I have waited all my life to visit. It's such a massive museum and we arrived at 5pm at the end of a very long day, so needless to say, it was the condensed visit.
We went into the basement to see the original foundations of the old castle that stood where the palace now stands. Then we headed into the sculpture halls to see wonderful works by Bernini, Michelangelo, as well as the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
We then made a bee-line to the Grand Gallery and it's renaissance masterpieces. Raphael, Filippo Lippi and of course, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Alas, with quickly waining children and creeping exhaustion, we cut our visit a lot shorter than we would have liked, and made our way across the Seine to our flat and a well deserved dinner.