Monday, May 02, 2011

Paris: Notable Landmarks

As I mentioned, our hotel was right across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral.
It is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe.  Construction began on the cathedral in 1163 and was essentially complete by 1345.  It was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports).  

We peeked our head in early one morning, avoiding the crowds.

This was a display illustrating how the cathedral was built.

Most of these next photos were taken from our bus tour, which is why they're at a cock-eyed angle and include other people's heads.

This is the July Column, which stands in the Place de la Bastille, a square where the Bastille Prison stood until the Storming of the Bastille and its subsequent physical destruction in 1789-1790 during the French Revolution.   
The July Column commemorates the events of the French Revolution of (July) 1830, and is actually unrelated to the Storming of the Bastille.  Except that it stands in the center of the Bastille square.

This is the Arc de Triomphe, which stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.
I didn't study up on my Paris monuments before the trip; the only thing I know about the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées (a fancy schmancy avenue) is that it is the location of that final stage of the Tour de France bike race in the summer.

Luckily, we managed to take in a bit of the art scene in Paris.  In between the triangle trees, you can see the butt of The Thinker, the 1902 sculpture by Rodin.

This glass pyramid serves as the entrance to the Louvre Museum, one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world. 
The pyramid was designed by architect I.M. Pei, and was opened in October 1988.

This is the Luxor Obelisk, which sits in the center of the Place de la Concorde.  It was originally located at the entrance to the Luxor Temple in Egypt, like Cleopatra's Needle that we saw in London.
It is 3300 years old, and it was moved to Paris in 1833 (its twin remains in Egypt).  It is 75 feet tall, and like the obelisk in London, is covered with hieroglyphics.

After a long day of sight-seeing, we were ready to relax with some ice cream.  So we checked out Berthillon, a French manufacturer and retailer of luxury ice cream and sorbet.  

Worth the 30-minute wait and the extra Euros for the name recognition?  Probably not.  But still delicious!

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