A Travellerspoint blog

Palace of Versailles

All the glories of France

0 °C

Louis XIII to Louis XVI, they all had a hand in transforming Versailles to an enchanted land. Louis XIV officially moved his Court there in 1682 from Paris. Over one hundred years later the French court under Louis XVI was returned to Paris, as a result of the women's march on Versailles. In 1837 king Louis-Philippe opened the museum.

So much of the development of this palace is the result of the political happenings of the time. There is the room of war and the room of peace. It is amazing how beautiful this place is. Everything is over the top and I love it!

Everything is glorious...
the gates

the gates

the courtyard

the courtyard


the Church

the Church

the ceilings

the ceilings


the statues

the statues


the halls

the halls


the rooms

the rooms


the paintings

the paintings

yes I was able to get a picture of this massive painting the Coronation. There are two! No idea if either one is a copy though]

the grounds

the grounds

Out of all of our trips this one was the most stressful, after doing some research we found out it was easy to take the metro to the nearest RER C line which would take us directly there. All we needed to do was stop at the information booth in the metro, they'd tell us where to make the connection and we could get our tickets for RER. Well it didn't work like that at all. We got to the metro station and there was no one there. After waiting 5 minutes we figured our own way to connect with the RER. We excited at that stop and went to the information booth, where we were told we had to go to a different station which was across the street (in reality, two blocks). Yes we did find our way, but it was stressful. When we got there the cobblestones were covered with a film of ice. It was so slippery, I thought I was going to wipe out for sure. I didn't and was glad to be an unfashionable Canadian in my sneakers.

I have waited almost 30 years to make this trip to Versailles. It didn't disappoint.

Posted by kwtraumer 10:14 Archived in France Comments (0)

Alba Opera Hotel

The place to stay in the 9e arrondissement.

We've spent the last few days at the Alba Opera Hotel, an interesting place. It is the embodiment of the historic, cultural, and architectural charm of the 9e arrondissement.
Alba Opera ...
Alba Opera

Alba Opera

Many artists and musicians have stayed here over the years. In the 1930s, Louis Armstrong lived here for a year. In the days that we've been here, there have been two interviews and a photoshoot. One of the interviews was with Race Horses. They performed live at the hotel. While we couldn't watch the performance, we enjoyed listening it through the walls.

Speaking of rooms, they are simple but clean. My first night, I really wondered how I was going to be able to sleep here as every noise seemed to echo through my room. The noise from the lobby, the streets, the other rooms all seemed to filter through my room. Maybe I had some weird jetlag or maybe I just got used to it; either way I've had no problems sleeping. The room has a nice dressing room with wardrobe. The three-piece bath is adequate, but I still haven't figured out how to take a shower without flooding the bathroom!
My room

My room

The staff is very friendly, with just the right amount of French aloofness, enough so that we really feel like we are having a nice France experience. They encourage us to speak French and come to our rescue when our language skills failed. They are very helpful and easily accommodated my 6-hour early check in. The main concierge (I think he must be the owner/manager) has been present since day one and he is great.

The hotel is located on a cul-de-sac just off the rue de la tour d'Auvergne accessed by rue des Martyrs. We've spent a lot of time on the rue de Martyrs. There we've found great restaurants and shops. This road has been our main road on our walking journeys. From this road we can see the Montmartre.

This area seems pretty safe, during the day anyway. There are a number of homeless people and their dogs curling up on the streets. They are mostly quiet and sit their with a cap. Night, we were out later than usual and a man, who appeared to be homeless, called out, hey, hey, hey. He then followed us and waited for us outside a store.
View of the hotel

View of the hotel

Every day we wake up to this view. I could get used to it.
View from my window.

View from my window.

Posted by kwtraumer 23:57 Archived in France Comments (0)

Musee du Louvre

Masterpieces.

3 °C

The long awaited training to the Louvre. After a poor night's sleep, K and I headed out this morning to take in the Louvre, with a false confidence that we would have no problems finding our way. Monday we'd successfully navigated our way home from Notre Dame, via the Champs Elysees without needing a map, and yesterday we were equally brilliant getting to, from and around the Montmartre. Somehow,we got lost getting to the Metro, even though we had been to that station before. Thankfully, a wonderful person offered us directions. This is the second time that out of the blue someone has offered us directions. We righted ourselves at soon as we found the station and made it to the Louvre with ease.

K and I tried to preplan our tour of the Louvre but eventually agreed to see the Masterpieces first and then tour around randomly. Well that was everyone else's plan I think as everyone started with the Masterpieces! But here are a few of the must sees:

The Winged Victory

The Winged Victory

How did that guy's head get in the picture?!

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo


Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa


Grande Odalisque

Grande Odalisque

Some of the most amazing sites were on the ceilings
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Some that we wanted to see we could not find like Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix, instead we found this portrait which I loved...
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Somethings just couldn't be captured on film like the Consecration of Emperor Napoleon (too big) and Psyche and Cupid (Canova) too beautiful.

There were oh so many religious paintings
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The Napoleon Apartments were great! Not only was there a lot to see...
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... the best washrooms are accessible at the end of this wing.

Biggest change since my last trip 30 years ago - the pyramids. Some of which house this amazing display of sculptures ...
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Worst thing about this tour...The crowds!

Best thing about this trip - I had an awesome art history tour guide...
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Posted by kwtraumer 08:16 Archived in France Comments (0)

18e arrondissement

Sacre Coeur and Salvador Dali

sunny

What a fabulous day! K and I made the journey up the Montmartre to the Sacre Coeur today. This had been one of my favourite spots back in 1983 - (the first and last time I'd been to Paris). I was a little worried about going back. You know how sometimes things don't live up to your memory? Well this wasn't one of those times. The Sacre Coeur is simply stunning.
Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

I don't have any pictures from the interior as it is forbidden to take pictures in the church. This didn't stop some tourists. Some even used flash! Actually it was really nice not having to be a slave to the camera and being able to take in the beauty of the church without trying to capture it on film. The ceiling was spectacular! I loved the stained glass which had writing styled in the manner of le Chat Noir.
We walked around the grounds as much as possible, unfortunately most was blocked off.
An alternate view

An alternate view

Not well advertised is the opportunity to visit the crypts and the dome. As K and I are scaredy kats, we decided against the crypts and paid our 6€ to climb the 300 steps to the top.
For most of the ascent, we were in a dark spiral staircase, climbing worn stairs. Here is one of the nice open air moments.
Walking up to the dome

Walking up to the dome

Halfway up

Halfway up

Looking down

Looking down

The Sacre Coeur is located on the Montmartre which is the highest hill. The view from the top is spectacular.
View from the top

View from the top

Yes that is the Eiffel Tower in the distance

Yes that is the Eiffel Tower in the distance

I would have enjoyed this tour of the dome a lot more if I hadn't been worrying about the journey, "what goes up must come down". I was imagining my downward trek as a cartoonist tumbling routine. So for the first 1/2 of my descent I took two steps for each stair (the exact opposite of two steps at a time). Good thing it wasn't busy.

I would definitely recommend spending the money to go to the top it was so worth it. But reconsider if you have bad knees, fear of heights or claustrophobia.

One piece of advise when going to the Sacre Coeur, as you are awed by the church's beauty, beware of the men trying to affix string bracelets on your arm as you approach the stairs. They will tie the string to your arm then demand payment. Keep your arms close, and don't linger in this area. Be firm with your no. K and I made it safely through there but many didn't. There was evidence of these string bracelets littering the stairs.

From the Sacre Coeur, we walked through the rue de norvins. Although there were no string vendors, we were accosted by every caricaturist. Sometimes they followed us, sometimes they approached in groups of 4-5. We were happy to turn off onto the rue poublot to the Dali museum.

Unknown to me, someone is a huge Dali fan...

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We paid an extra 3€ and got the audio for the museum. Well worth it

I'm not going to pretend to be any art expert, but here is what I got from the tour. Dali was surrealist who was excommunicated by his school of art. This hurt him profoundly. Many themes were recurrent in his works, Alice, ants, snails, clocks, crutches.
Alice with a jump rope

Alice with a jump rope


Venus with clockface and ants on her body

Venus with clockface and ants on her body


Snail with angel

Snail with angel


Nobility of time

Nobility of time


Profile of time

Profile of time


Persistence of time

Persistence of time

(pleaded note the titles are only correct for the last three I can't remember what they were for the rest)

His inspiration for the clocks was a melting piece of camembert. He also struggled with his religious beliefs, his mother a Catholic his father and atheist. Resulting in one of my favourites
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Tomorrow, attempt # 2 at the Louvre.

Posted by kwtraumer 07:45 Archived in France Comments (2)

Les Touristes

Could we be anymore obvious?

semi-overcast 5 °C

K and I walked from our hotel, to the Louvre, down the Seine, to Notre Dame and back. We made this 10 km journey with map and camera in hand. Stopping and oohing and aahing at all the right places. Paris is a fantastic city. Our original plan to spend the day at the Louvre was foiled by a slow start to the day. After getting 4 calls at 3am, we figured we needed a little sleep in time.

Instead we headed out with a plan to check out Notre Dame. On our way we found this neat little garden...

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This is the square Louvois. The fountain in the middle has four women on it depicting the four main rivers. The one facing us is the Seine. The garden also has a glass plate remembering the Jewish children taken from France during the Nazi regime. I thought the plate said 11000 children were taken. I need to go back and double check that!

Still on the rue Richelieu was this statue ( most of the fountains are statues because of the weather. Also some have clown noses I don't know why)IMG_00000231.jpg
This apparently used to be a fountain of Richelieu, but it was replaced with this one of Moliere because it was interfering with traffic?

Not far from here is the Louvre. We contented ourselves with snapping a few photos from outside as we plan to spend all of Wednesday inside.
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From here we walked the gauntlet of vendors and do-gooders along the Seine before reaching our next goal of Notre Dame. Notre Dame is beautiful on the outside, the level of detail is amazing.

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The inside is wonderful too!
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Our touring around was complete with a visit to a couple of local perfumeries and a bowl of French Onion Soup - of course.

On our way home we realized for the first time that we have a fantastic view of the Sacre Coeur, our destination for tomorrow.

Posted by kwtraumer 09:43 Archived in France Comments (0)

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