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Paris and Normandy
Many Sights, One Day

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Many Sights, One Day
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Our third and very full day...

A bird in hand...
Feeding pigeons at the Eiffel Tower.

The next day was absolutely packed with sight seeing. First we stopped back by the Eiffel Tower to mail a post card to my parents. Larry got a really good picture of a boy feeding pigeons right out of his hand.
Next we walked around a little and made our way to the Louvre, which is a truly amazing museum. The place is absolutely huge, with so much to see it would probably take days to really see it all. It started out as a medieval fortress and palace, then became a museum about two centuries ago.

Tour the Louvre online.

Louvre
The spiral staircase in the center of the Reception area.

Napoleon's apartments
Napoleon III's Apartments

Larry and the Code of Hammurabi.
Larry and the Code of Hammurabi.

Holly and sculptures
Me in the sculpture gallery.

The Louvre has several galleries: Oriental, Egyptian, and Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities, sculpture, painting, objets d'art, and prints and drawings galleries, and an underground medieval section. We actually managed to spend a little bit of time in each section. One of my favorite areas was the sculpture gallery. There was something about the quality of light and the openness that appealed to me. Larry was especially interested in the Code of Hammurabi. While we were there, we made sure to see the Mona Lisa.
Larry and I both enjoyed our time at the Louvre. It was overwhelming how much there was to see. We're glad we went. We would definitely recommend a visit.

Sainte-Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle

From there we went to the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic church with beautiful stained glass windows as one of its dominant and striking features. In his guidebook, Rick Steves aptly described this chapel as, "jeweled." The complexity and intricacy of the designs on the windows was truly mind-boggling. A person could spend hours just looking at all the scenes played out in the panels of glass, some of which include the Stations of the Cross and the life of Moses. Our next destination was the Paris Archaeological Crypt located right near Notre Dame. The crypt has interesting displays of Roman ruins that are illuminated by different colored lights. It's interesting to see how early Paris developed on top of the Roman ruins. This particular exhibit was something I enjoyed that I definitely hadn't expected.

Paris Archaeological Crypt.
Paris Archaeological Crypt.

Notre Dame.
Notre Dame.

After that it was on to Notre Dame. The 700-year-old cathedral is very impressive. It took over 200 years to build. There was a festive holiday atmosphere both outside and in. We climbed up the 400 steps of the north tower. It was definitely worth it for the view, the bell, and for the gargoyles!

Gargoyle
Gargoyle on Notre Dame.

Larry on Notre Dame.
That climb to the bell tower will sure get your heart rate up!

We needed a snack after all the walking around and stair climbing we'd been doing all day. We grabbed a bite at a little café. On the same principle as the quiche and croissant, I had French onion soup. It was delicious!
We took the metro back to our room to rest up. We still had a busy evening ahead.
We went back out on the metro and popped out at the Grande Arche, which is actually a sky scraper of an office building. With its 90 degree angles, it looks more like an upright grand square. It was built to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.
Nearby was a Christmas market. The only other one in France we'd been to was in Strasbourg the year before, so we were looking forward to checking this one out. It was very similar to all the Christmas markets we'd seen, with individual stalls selling various wares and things to eat. We made it there just in time before it closed. We grabbed some food and found a place outside the market to sit and eat.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

From there we went to the Arc de Triomphe. Napoleon commissioned it to be built to commemorate his victory at the battle of Austerlitz. The Arc was lit up and looked very impressive. We climbed the 230 steps to the top of the world's largest triumphal arch, stopping on our way up to look through a museum dedicated to heroes of past wars.
(With the 400 steps up Notre Dame and the 230 steps at the Arc, along with all the stairs in the metro and our hotel and all the other places we'd been that day, we figured we had to be close to having climbed 1000 steps in one day!)

View from top of Arc
View of the street from the top of the Arc.

The view from the top was nothing short of spectacular. The Arc is at the center of a traffic circle with twelve converging boulevards. Each one was lined with trees that were strung with masses of white lights for Christmas. It was quite a sight. Before we left for Paris, someone in Larry's company had described the view as reminiscent of the spokes on a Trivial Pursuit board. I could definitely see why.
Larry pointed out an interesting optical illusion taking place down on one of the streets. It looked like at one point, cars driving along the boulevard just disappeared. That one section of the road actually heads underground. It was fun to watch.

Larry on the Arc de Triomphe
Larry at the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

We had a great view of the Eiffel Tower from our vantage point on top of the Arc. There's a light on the top of the tower that rotates, in addition to the whole tower being lit up. We stayed for a while, taking pictures and enjoying the wonderful view, before heading back down and back to our hotel. Though we definitely had a full day of sightseeing, we didn't feel at all rushed or like we were trying to cram too much in.

Holly on the Arc
Me at the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

There are lots more photos from this day and the rest of our trip. Be sure to visit the photo gallery!

Photo Gallery

Normandy

Click on the above link for our visit to Normandy.