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A whirlwind cruise through Paris

Part of the sweeping Arc de Triomphe vista

More than 30 million people visit Paris every year, making it the top tourist destination in the world. After an action-packed, heat-stroked three day trip around the sites, I know I hardly even skimmed the surface of what one of the cultural centers of the western world has to offer. So I’ll be brief.
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Sacre Coeur approaching from the front

My brother Oliver and I ended a quick jaunt through Europe with a food and site-filled whip around this immense city. Coming from Amsterdam, it was a big change.

We started by trying to get a vibe for the city. All senses on high alert, we wandered from Gare du Nord to Montmartre where we saw the Sacre Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart) just after being nearly assaulted by some tourist-hustlers with friendship bracelets. The Basilica is worth seeing, and despite having my camera, I was one of the only people obeying the no photography signs inside this place, so please enjoy the exterior architecture shots.

Sacre Coeur from the northwest corner

Cafes, boulangeries and patisseries line the winding streets at the top of Montmartre, near the Sacre Coeur Basilica

A man walks with his bag down a street in Montmartre

The late afternoon invites friends and lover to the banks of the Seine

Sun falls behind the buildings of another beautiful winding Parisian street

The Eiffel Tour is rather prominent in this otherwise short and flat city

From Gare du Nord we took the subway to Champs Elysees where we stayed in a fifth floor cupboard. It could have been cooler, but it was actually pretty fun. We walked up the Avenue des Champes-Elysees past the Arc de Triomphe and down toward the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel). Determined to climb the thing, we found the shortest line, paid 5 euro and made our way up to the second level, where we bought lift tickets, huddled in an anxious line and made it to “the top.” The Champagne bar had closed, saving us a minimum of 15 euro each on a top-of-the-world toast. I have to say, we were at first hesitant about the lines and the cost of the tower, but it was well worth the experience and the view.

The view from the center of the Eiffel Tour blueprint, looking straight up. The signs on the way up remind you of the extensive use of pylons for in its design and construction.

Guess where this is taken from!

Taken from really high up, looking at the Seine River, Place de Trocadero and downtown Paris in the background.

The Arc de Triomphe in all its glory at sunset. A full moon rises beneath the Arc.

On the way back from the tallest point in Paris, we hit the Arc de Triomphe in all its glory. You can see a full moon rising under the Arc. The next morning brought an early trip to the Louvre to beat the lines. We beat them, but only with our Museum Passes. Already at 9 there was maybe an hour long line for those buying a regular single entry ticket. The Paris Museum Pass was well worth it.

The facade of the Richelieu wing of The Louvre stands high above a short glass pyramid.

For all you may have heard about The Louvre, it is truly remarkable. In 4 hours Oliver and I saw one floor of each of its massive wings, catching the Mona Lisa in the early morning before it got “too crowded.” You could spend days at The Louvre and never run out of new art and history. The building itself is a work of art.

Notre Dame perched above the Seine on Ile de la cite.

We visited Notre Dame.

The front of the Notre Dame de Paris

A humanesque chimera juts out of the northern wall of Notre Dame

The pulpit of Notre Dame de Paris. More than 700 years old!

And climbed the tower to see the vast city once again, under the protection of hundreds of chimera (gargoyles).

A chimera sits quietly at Notre Dame. Looking northwest, you can see Sacre Coeur at the top of Montmartre in the background,

The main hall at the Musse d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay had great air conditioning. Also the class of impressionist galleries.

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The main entrance of the Chateau de Versailles. They used some gold. It looks nice.

On our final morning, we took an early train to Versailles, only to be beat to the line by… hundreds of visitors. The Palais was yet to open and already had an hour and a half wait. We perused the massive gardens and enjoyed some beouf tartare at a bistro in town. Good decision.

A tiny chapel juts out of the east wing of the Chateau de Versailles. Wow.

After all our sweaty adventuring and excellent French, we ate some food. Thanks to the recommendations of friends we dined well around the city, despite recent suggestions that the culinary heart of the city needed a few hundred joules. These photos are from a meal at Le Relais de Venise. It’s a simple place with excellent food. You have two decisions: 1) How do you like your steak cooked? and 2) What kind of wine do you prefer?

Self portrait with Oliver. Taken at the Relais de Venice.

Oliver slicing into some steak frites at the Relais de Venise.

Down the hatch!

I hope you enjoyed this post. To see more of my pictures from Paris, go to the Paris Gallery, here!

If you have questions or comments, please leave me a note! Don’t forget to follow me if you like what you’ve seen!

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