Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day 12: Thursday, August 17 (Paris)

We have been big fan's of Auguste Rodin ever since we found the Rodin gallery at Stanford University. The museum is a mansion where Rodin lived and worked, renting a room alongside another great, Henri Matisse. Some of our personal highlights in the mansion were:

Rodin's use of bronze:

The Kiss:

The Cathedral:


Rodin's work continues to be showcased in the gardens, which are immaculately maintained and provide a great view of the mansion itself.

In the gardens live, Balzac:

La Porte de l'Enfer (The Gates of Hell), Rodin's vision of Dante's trip into hell:

Le Penseur (The Thinker):
and, The Burghers of Calais:

The centerpiece of this fountain at the end of the gardens is a replica of the guy from the Gates of Hell who ate his kids for lunch. Yum.

Across the street from Rodin's gallery is the Hotel des Invalides, the golden domed church that holds Napoleon Bonaparte's tomb; and a complex of war museums and historical sights.

Inside the church is Napoleon's actual tomb and various memorials to him and his horses.

We toured the World War II historical museum, which was interesting but a little heavy on the French propoganda.

For lunch we ate at the generic Cafe de Musee and had the Croque Madame (with egg) and Monsieur (no egg).

Apparently the beer comes in Madame and Monsieur sized portions too (regardless of whether you ask for it or not!)

In the spirit of victory, we marched on to the Arc de Triomphe. The arc was constructed to celebrate Napoleon as the emperor of 'New Rome' and is today dedicated to the glory of all French armies. It's also the parade gateway for triumphal armies (including the invading Germans during World War II) and important ceremonies.

We walked up the massive spiral staircase...

And enjoyed the view from the top.

And then it was time for a walk down the Champs-Elysees, one of the world's grandest and most celebrated streets. We window shopped at high-fashion boutiques, luxery car dealerships, and celebrity cafes.

We stopped in at the classic tea salon and Patisserie 'Laduree' (tres elegant!)...

And had their world famous macaroons.

After a long walk, a little shopping and a much needed nap and shower, we were ready to conquer Eiffel. But, as we were literally opening the apartment door to leave, the entire place was lit up with a flash of lightening and a thunder boom shook the pictures on the walls.
Good thing we had our old friend Bombay to help up wait out the storm.

The rain started to let up, so we figured it was either now or never. We got to the Trocodaro and enjoyed the post-storm sky and some nutella and banana crepes:

The view of the Eiffel Tower from afar, especially after all the rain, was breathtaking.

We walked around the base of the Tower and bought tickets to go to the top. It was so, so, so crowded on every level. It was an amazing experience, and the view was incredible, but I think the general public left us feeling a little underwhelmed.

We ended the night with some vin at a sidewalk cafe and jumped in a cab for home.

No comments: