Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Arc de Triomphe.

On top of the Arc de Triomphe, admiring the view of the Eiffel Tower.

I
  
  let Z sleep in a bit this morning.  I'm sure he could have slept for a few more but there is no rest for the traveler.  Poor kid,  he wasn't feeling much better this morning than yesterday and I didn't even have breakfast for him.  Bad aunt!  He's a real trooper though - not about to let a cold slow him down!

Before we left the apartment, Z spent a few minutes looking at the metro map.  Our first destination of the day was the Arc de Triomphe and he had to navigate us to the Charles de Gaulle Étoile metro stop.

By the time we hit the streets, it was 10:30a.  We walked to the Place Monge metro stop.  Today, the Wednesday market was in full swing.  There were vendors selling food but Z was not interested so I just walked on.



It's apple season!

We used the metro tickets that came with our City Pass to get in to the station.  It was well past the morning rush hour so the station was relatively quiet.


From Place Monge, which is on the number 7 (purple) line, we had to switch at Châtelet to the number 1 (yellow) line heading in the direction of La Défense.

The train stations seem to be in various stages of "modernization".  I think the ones that are most frequently used by tourists are the most modern, especially in terms of signs.  As you can see, the trains come very frequently - in this case, it was 3 minutes between trains!


On board the train, monitors track the progress of the training so you can see what the next station is - no need for an announcement over the PA system as we have in DC or for the rider to have to look out the window to try and read the station sign as the train pulls into each stop.


At Charles de Gaulle Étoile, we exited about half block away from the Arc de Triomphe.  It wasn't hard to find - you just had to head in the direction of where the mob of tourists were standing.  The iconic landmark stands smack dab in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle which is basically the center of a roundabout.  I think at least four lanes of traffic circle the Place.  I don't think it's possible to cross the lanes from above ground - it would be a really stupid thing to attempt because Parisian drivers are maniacs.  You would be flattened in two seconds.


Before we headed to the underground pass, I had Z pose for our obligatory Arc de Triomphe photo.  Not the best photo but he now has proof he was indeed here!


We headed down into the underground pass.  There, a long line had already formed to buy tickets.  Fortunately for us, our city pass gave us free access so we bypassed the line and headed up to ground level.  I am really appreciating the skip the line thing.  You have to pay extra for the privilege but to me, it's so worth saving the time!


I have been to Paris I don't know how many times and believe it or not, I have never seen the Arc de Triomphe up front.  Even though I have seen countless images of the bas relief carvings under the arch, nothing beats seeing for myself.  All I could do was look up and say, "Wow!" 

Constructed between 1806 and 1836, the Arc de Triomphe is a monument to France's armies, past and present.  Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz in 1805 resulted in the construction of the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the Tuileries Gardens. But the emperor wanted another monument to commemorate the victories of the revolutionary armies he had led to fame when he was General Bonaparte.  This is that  monument.

The bas relief work is of the arched ceilings is incredibly fine.  The arched ceilings of the three arcades are decorated with carved roses - 40 on each of the two smaller arcades and 21 on the center arcade. 



Names of higher ranking military officials, who lost their lives in combat, are inscribed on the facades of the pillars.



There are also relief panels as well as sculptures.  This is as beautiful a war memorial as you will ever see!



After a few minutes outside, we headed instead where a set of circular steps leads to the top of the Arc.  Z has the energy of a 22 year old male so he bounded up the steps with ease.  I took my time and occasionally stopped to catch my breath.  No need to rush.

Part way up is a floor where there were a few exhibits related to the Arc.

Recreation of a bust from the sculpture titled, "Departure of the Volunteers of 1792" by
François Rude.  The complete sculpture can be seen on one of the pillars of
the Arc de Triomphe.  The sculpture, which is considered to be Rude's masterpiece
portrays the goddess of library, Marianne, urging the forces of the French
Revolution forward.  Marianne's cap is topped with a dragon.

Permanent exhibition about the design of the Arc de Triomphe.

Monument to World War I.

From the exhibition level, there was a metal stairway that led to the very  top of the monument.  I emerged to join a mob of people.  Z was somewhere in this crowd.  It was crazy - so many people that I found myself having to wait to get to the edge to see the view!

Of course,  it was all about the wonderful view of Paris.  We're not up all that high but the terrain of the city is pretty flat and there are no real skyscrapers so you can see for quite a ways in the distance. Unfortunately for Z, he's not yet been to any of the monuments so the view wasn't quite as meaningful as it would have been had he already explored the city.  I tried my best to point out a few places that we would be going to see, including Sacré-Cœur Basilica which you can easily see in the distance.


Place Charles de Gaulle is the center of where twelve avenues converge.  The most famous of these is Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  You can't miss it - it's the widest of the avenues and it's always full of people :-)




We spent quite a bit of time at the top.  After that, we headed back down to the exhibition level to use the facilities and then from there, back down to the ground level.  Before we left, I took a couple of photos of the West Pillar.  The North, South and East pillars look similar.



Eternal Flame commemorating the Unknown Soldier who gave his life in World War I. It is lit every night at 6:30p.

Next, we're on to see THE tower!