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Europe

The European continent was named after beautiful Phoenician woman called Europa.

Europe

When Zeus have seen Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers he immediately fell in love with her.

The Places in Paris I like to visit

With about 42 million tourists annually in the city and its suburbs, Paris is the most visited city in the world. The city and its region contain 3,800 historical monuments and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is of not surprise that I also like to visit Paris and each time I am there I can find new places that I have no seen yet and that I find attractive. Let show me a few of them.

Walking along the Quai of the Seine

Once someone made the trip with the boat and knows the topography of Paris, or at least the topography of Paris centre, it is a good idea to walk along the Quai of the Seine, eventually changing the side using of the bridges. This is exactly what we did on next day starting not far from Eiffel Tower close to Pont de l’Alma.

View on Seine from d'Alma View on Pont Alexander III
Pont Alexander III Ornaments on Pont Alexander III

We started our walk on the left bank of the Seine in direction of Pont de Invalides. On the right bank of the river one can see many Bateaux Mouche as well as big glass roof of the Grand Palais. After passing Pont de Invalides we continue along Quai d’Orsay in the same direction. Soon, we got in view the most ornamented bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III.

Lantarn on Alexandre III Built memprial of Alexandre III
Alexandre III Main sculpture of Alexander III

We decided that this is a good place to cross the river and see, first, the magnificent ornaments on the famous Alexandre III bridge and then, what are these big glass palaces about on the right bank of the Seine.

Grand Palais Grand Palais front
Grand Palais inside 1 Grand Palais inside 2

The Grand Palais is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. Its construction began in 1897 following the demolition of the Palais de l'Industrie as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900, which also included the creation of the adjacent Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III.

The structure was built in the style of Beaux-Arts and it reflects the taste for ornate decoration through its stone facades and the use of techniques that were innovative at the time, such as its glass vault, its structure made of iron and light steel framing, and its use of reinforced concrete.

The Grand Palais is used today the same way it was designed for, for big public exhibitions.  A little known fact is that the Grand Palais has a major police station in the basement which helps protect the exhibits on show. Regretfully at the moment of our visit the Palais was closed being prepared for the next exhibition and such preparations can take not days but even weeks.

Petit Paleis Petit Paleis income hall
Petit Paleis court Petit Paleis court architecture 1
Petit Paleis court architecture 2 Petit Paleis court architecture 3

The Petit Palais is today a museum. Built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900 to Charles Girault's designs, it now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts. Arranged around an octi-circular courtyard and garden, the palace is similar to the nearby Grand Palais. Its ionic columns, grand porch and dome echo those of the Invalides across the river. The tympanum depicting the city of Paris surrounded by muses is the work of sculptor Jean Antoine Injalbert.

Petit Palais plafond Petit Palais plafond 2
Petit Palais plafond 3 Petit Palais plafond 4
Petit Palais plafond 5 Petit Palais vloer
Petit Palais exhibition 1 Petit Palais exhibition 2

Not able to visit the Grand Palais we visited the Petit and it was really quite a lot to see. Beautiful ceilings with paintings, ornaments around the paintings as well as separately standing motifs, Marble columns. Even some parts of the floor are made as mosaics. The Petit Palais has served as a model for other public buildings, notably for the Royal Museum for Central Africa near Brussels, Belgium, and for the Museo de Bellas Artes in Santiago de Chile.

The museum displays also a remarkable collection of paintings and sculptures.

Petit Palais Petit Palais 2
Place de la Concorde Place de la Concorde 2

During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed "Place de la Révolution". The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Many other important figures were guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds and ending on the Robespierre self. The guillotine was most active during the "Reign of Terror", in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed. A year later, when the revolution was taking a more moderate course, the guillotine was removed from the square.

The square was then renamed Place de la Concorde as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution. There are two fountains de la Concorde built in 1840 and named Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation. This place underwent a series of name changes in the nineteenth century, but the city eventually settled on the name Place de la Concorde.

Execution of Ludvik XV Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde 2 Place de la Concorde 3

From the Place de la Concorde we walked further to the east through the park de Tuileries and then skipping the Tuileries gardens due to not adequate season of the year we walk further along the Quai de Tuileries. At some moment we arrive at the Pont Royal and the beginning of the Louvre buildings.    

Louvre 1 Louvre 2
Louvre Entrance Louvre 3

The Louvre Palace which houses the museum was begun as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century, with remnants of this building still visible in the crypt. Whether this was the first building on that spot is not known, but it is possible that Philip modified an existing tower. Although some believe that the word 'louvre' may refer to the structure's status as the largest in late 12th century Paris or to its location in a forest  one finds in the authoritative Larousse that it derives from an association with wolf hunting den.

The Louvre Palace was altered frequently throughout the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, Charles V converted the building into a residence and in 1546, Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style. Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre's holdings, his acquisitions including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. After Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682, constructions slowed; however, the move permitted the Louvre to be used as a residence for artists.

Louvre A Louvre middeleuwen

By the mid-18th century there were an increasing number of proposals to create a public gallery. On 14 October 1750, Louis XV agreed and sanctioned a display of 96 pieces from the royal collection, mounted in the Galerie royale de peinture of the Luxembourg Palace. Under Louis XVI, the royal museum idea became policy. The comte d'Angiviller broadened the collection and in 1776 and proposed conversion of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre, which contained just maps, into the "French Museum". Many proposals were offered for the Louvre's renovation into a museum, however none was agreed on. Hence the museum remained incomplete until the French Revolution.

Louvre with Piramide

During the French Revolution the Louvre was transformed into a public museum. In May 1791, the Assembly declared that the Louvre would be "a place for bringing together monuments of all the sciences and arts". On 10 August 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the royal collection in the Louvre became national property. Because of fear of vandalism or theft, on 19 August, the National Assembly pronounced the museum's preparation as urgent. In October, a committee to "preserve the national memory" began assembling the collection for display. The museum opened on 10 August 1793, the first anniversary of the monarchy's demise. The public was given free access on three days per week, which was "perceived as a major accomplishment and was generally appreciated". The collection showcased 537 paintings and 184 objects of art. Three quarters were derived from the royal collections, the remainder from confiscated émigrés and Church property.

Louvre C Louvre D
Louvre E Louvre G

Under Napoleon I, a northern wing paralleling the Grande Galérie was begun, and the collection grew through successful military campaigns. Following the Egyptian campaign of 1798 - 1801, Napoléon appointed the museum's first director, Dominique Vivant Denon. During the Restoration (1814–30), Louis XVIII and Charles X between them added 135 pieces at a cost of 720,000 francs and created the department of Egyptian antiquities curated by Champollion, increased by more than 7,000 works with the acquisition of the Durand, Salt or second Drovetti collections. In 1861, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte bought 11,835 artworks including 641 paintings of the Campana collection. During the French Third Republic the Louvre acquired new pieces mainly via donations and gifts.

Louvre Inside the piramide Louvre Mona Lisa
Louvre Maciek 1 Louvre Maciek 2

Museum expansion slowed after World War I, and the collection did not acquire many significant new works; exceptions were Georges de La Tour's Saint Thomas and Baron Edmond de Rothschild's (1845 - 1934) 1935 donation of 4,000 engravings, 3,000 drawings, and 500 illustrated books. During World War II the museum removed most of the art and has hidden all valuable pieces.

Louvre by night

By 1874, the Louvre Palace had achieved its present form of an almost rectangular structure with the Sully Wing to the east containing the square Cour Carrée and the oldest parts of the Louvre; and two wings which wrap the Cour Napoléon, the Richelieu Wing to the north and the Denon Wing, which borders the Seine to the south. In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed, as one of the Grands Projets of François Mitterrand the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, The Inverted Pyramid, was completed in 1993. As of 2002, attendance had doubled since completion.

Passerelle des Arts Quai de Louvre
Maciek and Pont Neuf Pont Neuf from quai de Louvre

Further we walked along the Quai de Louvre with a view on the next bridge, Passerelle des Arts. This bridge should be more than 200 years old but 30 years ago the bridge was rebuilt completely although with similar look. We pass the Passerelle des Arts and went further in direction Pont Neuf and Île de Cité.

Samaritain Paris Ile de Cité
Pont Neuf Maciek Pont Neuf Grazyna

We arrived at Samaritaine, the oldest warehouse of Paris that first opened in 1869, regretfully, not satisfying current safety requirements it was closed in 2005. From that point we could take the Pont Neuf and cross the river Seine. Pont Neuf was inaugurated in 1607 and was the first stone bridge in Paris without any houses on top. It has two parts, the longer one connects the right bank of the river with Île de Cité and the shorter one connects this island with the left bank. Thus we took the longer part of the bridge, took some rest on special sitting places along the bridge and finally arrived on the ïle de Cité.

Ile de Cite 1 Ile de Cite 2
Petit Pont Neuf Petit Pont seen from de Quai

Most scholars believe that in 52 BC, at the time of Vercingetorix's struggle with Julius Caesar, a small Gallic tribe, the Parisii, lived on the island. At that time, the island was a low-lying area subject to flooding that offered a convenient place to cross the Seine and a refuge in times of invasion. However, some modern historians believe the Parisii were based on another, now eroded island. After the conquest of the Celts, the Roman Labienus created a temporary camp on the island, but further Roman settlement developed in the healthier air on the slopes above the Left Bank, at the Roman Lutetia.

Later Romans escaped to the island when their city was attacked by Huns. Clovis established a Merovingian palace on the island, which became the capital of Merovingian Neustria. The island remained an important military and political center throughout the Middle Ages. Odo used the island as a defensive position to fend off Viking attacks at the Siege of Paris in 885 - 886, and in the tenth century, the predecessor of Notre-Dame was built on the island.

Ile de Cité 3 Place de Notre Dame 1

From early times wooden bridges linked the island to the riverbanks on either side, the Grand Pont was built in the same place as the Pont au Change spanning to the Right Bank, and the Petit Pont spanning the narrower crossing to the Left Bank. The Île de la Cité was and still remains the heart of Paris. All road distances in France are calculated from the 0 km point located in the Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame, the square facing Notre-Dame's west end-towers. Thus, walking through the Île de Cité we arrive at this place as well recognizing from a distance two famous towers of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame en face Notre Dame from below
Notre Dame entrance facade Notre Dame single entrance
Side of Notre Dame Koor window of Notre Dame

In 1160, because the church in Paris had become the "Parisian church of the kings of Europe", Bishop Maurice de Sully deemed the previous Paris cathedral, Saint-Étienne, which had been founded in the 4th century, unworthy of its lofty role, and had it demolished shortly after he assumed the title of Bishop of Paris. As with most foundation myths, this account needs to be taken with a grain of salt; archeological excavations in the 20th century suggested that the Merovingian Cathedral replaced by Sully was itself a massive structure, with a five-aisled nave and a facade some 36m across. It seems likely therefore that the faults with the previous structure were exaggerated by the Bishop to help justify the rebuilding in a newer style. According to legend, Sully had a vision of a glorious new cathedral for Paris, and sketched it on the ground outside the original church.

Window 1 Window 2 Window 3
Windows 4 Windows 5

To begin the construction, the bishop had demolished several houses and had built a new road in order to transport materials for the rest of the cathedral. Construction began in 1163, during the reign of Louis VII. Bishop de Sully went on to devote most of his life and wealth to the cathedral's construction. Construction of the choir took from 1163 until around 1177 and the new High Altar was consecrated in 1182. After Bishop Maurice de Sully's death in 1196, his successor, Eudes oversaw the completion of the transepts and pressed ahead with the nave, which was near completion at the time of his own death in 1208. By this stage, the western facade had also been laid out, though it was not completed until around the mid 1240s.

Notre Dame maquet achterkant Notre Dame maquet side view
Notre Dame inside view Notre Dame coronation of Napoleon the 1st

Bottom right, on 2nd December 1804 the coronation ceremony of Napoleon I and his wife Joséphine took place in Notre Dame, with Pope Pius VII officiating.

Notre Dame de Paris is among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress. The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave but after the construction began and the thinner walls grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral's architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. Many small statues were placed around the outside. These were crafted individually and served as supports for coulombs and water spouts. Among these are the famous gargoyles. These were originally colored, as was most of the exterior. The paint has worn off, but the grey stone was once covered with vivid colors. The cathedral was essentially complete by 1345.

Pont de Sully Entrance to Boulevard Henri IV
Quai des Celestines Morland

After visiting the cathedral we walked the Rue du Cloître Notre Dame down to the Pont Saint-Louis. We took this bridge and we arrived at the island Île Saint-Louis. Further, admiring the views on the Seine, we walked along the Quai d’Orléans, then Quai de Béthune. Finally we arrived at the double Pont de Sully that connects the east corner of Île Saint-Louis with the right as well as with left bank of the river. It is here at the Pont de Sully where the Boulevard de Henry IV begins.

Henri IV 1 Boulevard Henri IV 2
Boulevard Henri IV 3 Boulevard Henri IV 4

We walked along the Boulevard de Henry IV admiring the buildings on both sides of the boulevard with their very special character, iron decorated balconies and mansard roofs with specially designed windows. Although looking similar at the first view it was really difficult to find two identical mansard roofs.

Boulevard Henri IV 5 Boulevard Henri IV 6
Boulevard Henri IV 7 Plce de la Bastille

Finally we passed the Arsenal and we arrived at the Place de la Bastille. It got late at that time and we noticed that our walk along the Quai of the Seine took almost the whole day. This has ended our walk and we took the metro to our hotel. God thanks that there is a good metro in Paris. 

Opera Galerie Lafayette

When arriving near our hotel we could still have a night look at the Paris Opera and the famous Galeries Lafayette.