Jeff and Glenda went to Paris Christmas of 2014 and had a wonderful experience. This page is summing up the trip with stories and photos. Enjoy the show, and ask us for details.
On Sunday 12/21/14 we drove to the El Rancho Hotel in Millbrae, CA the night before our trip. They let us leave the car for a week while we were gone. We met a few of Glenda’s INNHS friends for dinner. The morning of 12/22 we shuttled to SFO and boarded a plane for Seattle, where we boarded a 767 for Paris. We landed at Charles de Gaulle International Airport Tuesday morning 12/23/14.
When we got to Charles de Gaulle, I [a pilot] noticed that it was freaking huge! By acreage, it is probably the largest airport I’ve ever seen. It has three towers. It took our 767 about 12 minutes to get from the runway to the gate. We hopped on our prepaid shuttle and drove to Paris. We drove through farmlands and it was quite pretty. We drove by an SST mounted on display. Once in the city we immediately noticed that the driving in Paris is INSANE. Why did they even bother to draw lines on the road?
Our hotel was two blocks from the Eiffel Tower, and we could see it out our room window, which was neat. At night we’d lay on the bed looking at the lit tower, which “sparkled” for five minutes at the top of each hour with strobes. Here is a shot from just outside our hotel, the Mercure. Also is a shot from the Trocadéro on our first day there. We look tired, don’t we? We have been up for about 40 hours when these shots were taken.
Glenda outside our hotel with the Eiffel Tower behind.
Us with the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro.
The Eiffel Tower.
The fountains at Trocadéro.
Underneath the Eiffel Tower is an inflated ball with a bunch of Christmas trees inside. I think it was supposed to blow snow around and look like one of those shaky shake snow-globes. But it never did blow the snow while we were in Paris.
At night the tower is lit.
Glenda is by the Christmas decoration outside our hotel. They really like purple there. Our bathroom was purple too.
The next day, which was our first full day in Paris, 12/24/14, we got on the Hop-On:Hop-Off Bus called the Big Bus. We took it from the Eiffel Tower to the Champ de Mars, by the École Militaire, by L’Hotel des Invalides, past the Rodin Museum, the Obelisk of Luxor, which is 3000 years old, Madeleine Church, around Opera Garnier, Placé Vendome, through the Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame, past La Sorbonne University, past the Musée d’Orsay, up the Avenue des Champs Elysées, around the Arc de Triomphe, back on Champs Elysées to Grand Palais, then to the Trocadéro, and finally back to the Eiffel Tower. This gave us a fix for the geography of the city. From there on we took on the city on our own. We actually did the Big Bus route twice, once to get a fix on things, then we took a break, then got on it again to get around and get off at the places we wanted to see in more detail. It ended up raining hard that day, so we finally got on the Big Bus, but on the uncovered top, and got rained on for an hour or so. It was cold but fun. We were so jet-lagged that we were falling asleep on the Big Bus. On this second tour around we stopped at Pont des Arts [padlock bridge], Notre Dame, but didn’t go inside [this time]. The crowds were extreme. There is a bridge over the Seine in which people put padlocks on it. There are so many that it is tearing up the bridge. So instead of putting our padlock on the bridge, which would probably not be there when we returned, we put it on the fencing next to the bridge. It probably won’t last either, but we’ll see when we go back. Where we put it are lots of locks, but nothing compared to the bridge. The bridge is so dense with locks that people are putting their locks on other locks. It weighs tons, all on wire fencing. Many of the sections have fallen into the river.
This is the fencing that we decided to put our lock on.
In the background you can see the bridge with the locks on it, but not only is it completely full, but it is boarded up so that you can’t put any more on.
Here we are posing with our lock of love. Mahal kita Maganda!
On one side is the date. We actually put it on the fence on 12-24-14, but I had to paint it in Lathrop before leaving, and we guessed the date we’d be at the bridge, and we ended up being off by 1 day. No big deal, I don’t think the bridge police will arrest us.
On the flip side are the initials J & G.
On a side note: They have lots of cars that we don’t have, and we have lots that they don’t have. They still have current Citroёns, Peugeots, and many brand names that we have but models that we don’t. Same with the motorcycles. Here are some shots of a fairly new Citroёn.
On Christmas Day, we slept in a bit, then decided to go out and investigate. So we took a River Taxi up the Seine River and got off at Notre Dame. The line was long and we weren’t going to go inside, but then we noticed that the line was at least moving, so we got in. We ended up experiencing Christmas Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral. This was perhaps the most moving experience I [Jeff] have ever had. The organ, choir, the bells, 850-year old cathedral, all of it. My mind could hardly accept what it was experiencing. Extreme.
Glenda and Jeff at Notre Dame on 12-24-14,
and then inside on 12-25-14.
The artwork over the entrance door at Notre Dame.
The artwork beside the entrance doors at Notre Dame.
The inside of Notre Dame is far more impressive than the outside, which is also awesome.
The altar in Notre Dame shot from the rear.
The back side has the hanging buttresses.
You can see that it is on the Ile de la Cite, the Isle in the City.
Below are additional photos taken at or around Notre Dame.
Jeff eating a Subway turkey sandwich at Notre Dame.
Jeff at the back side of Notre Dame, which is very ornate for a back side. The hanging buttresses are awesome on this structure, especially since they are 850 years old. The technology was most likely ahead of its time.
Glenda in front of the statue of Pope John Paul II. We were earlier talking about how all the statues in the city were of old events, and someday there will be current events that will eventually become old. This would be an example of that.
Then there’s Jeff by the front door of Notre Dame. The limestone architecture is incredible.
Jeff and the flying buttresses.
Here are some videos taken at Notre Dame. It is unfortunate that I missed the best organ/choir piece. It was over when I realized I ought to be videotaping. But I got a few, keep in mind that live is better than this.
We walked up to the Pantheon and went inside to see where Léon Foucault did his pendulum experiments, and to see the entombment of many famous French heroes. They included Marie and Pierre Curie, Victor Hugo, and Voltaire just to name a few.
Below are our shots of The Pantheon. It has a huge dome, but the outside shots aren’t here since it was covered with a white tarp for some kind of repairs.
Jeff outside the Pantheon.
Glenda under the columns at the Pantheon.
It was dark and most of our inside shots didn’t work out too well. Here are three shots, barely showing the magnificence.
We got back onto the River Taxi and got off at the Musée du Louvre. We didn’t go inside at this time [closed on Christmas Day], we were just making sure we knew how to get there and to get our outside photos taken. We knew that when we went to the Louvre we would spend our energy inside, so we took care of this business on Christmas Day. The Louvre is huge, both outside and inside.
Glenda on the River Taxi [empty, off-season].
Jeff and Glenda outside the Musée de Louvre.
At the Musée du Louvre.
Click Here to see outside the Musée du Louvre on Christmas Day.
Back on the River Taxi to the Eiffel Tower. We spent a lot of time at the Eiffel Tower each day since we were so close to it. It became routine. The Eiffel Tower is 1000 feet high, give or take. It was built in 1889 and is the most visited paid man-made monument on Earth, having had 250 million visitors. Underneath it are guys from West Africa selling Eiffel Towers for tourists to take home. We found out later from Adam, our Eiffel Tower tour guide, that they are “immigrants” brought by Coyotes, who are also West African guys, only in nice suits [slave-owner-pimp sort of dudes], who have a stranglehold on these guys. The deal is that they brought the poor guys to Paris, then make them earn money by selling trinkets, and when they sell enough they will get their residence paperworks worked out. But they have to pay them for lodging, food, expenses, and they never get into black ink, and therefore are their slaves forever. Pitiful. Anyways, just as you get one off your back another one comes and starts trying to sell you their crap. So we referred to these guys as flies. They are everywhere near the Eiffel Tower, they are at Notre Dame, the Louvre, basically everywhere a tourist would be. And they never give up. Flies.
Another group of pests are what look like gypsy or Middle Eastern women in groups of three or four. They always come up and ask if you speak English and show you some papers, like they are really important and they need your help. They are team pickpockets. If you are in Paris, avoid these folks.
On the next day [12/26/14], my computer died, not to be reawakened until we returned to CA. It was our only connection to home, and a second place to store photo images. Even though the power cord says 100 – 400 volt, 50 – 60 Hz, it didn’t like the European voltage. When we returned to CA it charged and worked. Piece of crap tablet. Anyways, on the 26th we did our prepaid Eiffel Tower tour. The lines for the tower are hours long, but Glenda had bought a prepaid tour and we were able to walk past the lines and go right up. We met the guide at the Trocadéro, and walked to the tower. Along the walk and up in the tower he continuously gave us information, and it was very interesting. His name is Adam, he’s from Toronto, and is studying in Paris for his Ph. D. in Nuclear Health Physics. We took the elevators to the 2nd level, ended our guided portion, gave back the headsets and took the elevator all the way to the top. Remarkable! We were able to view the whole city, understand the lay of the land, register where things were that we had visited visually, and shot pictures. Then we came back down to the 2nd level, goofed around for a while, then took the stairs down to the first level, goofed around, then came down to street level. The whole tour was three or four hours. There is an ice-skating rink on the first level of the tower, a bar, a restaurant, and a glass floor to see straight down, which is disorienting. All three levels have observation platforms, and to say we had fun would be an understatement.
Here are the views from atop the Eiffel Tower.
Looking SW on the Seine River. At the end of this long island on the Seine is a Statue of Liberty that the USA gave to France thanking them for the real Statue in NY. On the lower left hand corner is a rounded set of buildings. In front of them is a light tan building, and to its left is a building with black and tan vertical stripes. This is our hotel, the Hotel Mercure.
This is looking west-northwest. The large pair of buildings is the Trocadéro, and in the background are the skyscrapers of the city La Defense. On this side of the Seine and to the left of the bridge is where we got the bus to Chateau de Versailles, and on the right of the bridge is where we got on the River Taxi. The Metro runs along the river on this side. By the way, this side is the Left Bank, and the other side is the Right Bank. There is a magnificent fountain system on the pond in front of the Trocadéro.
Looking east you can see the Musée du Louvre near the top center of the photo. On the other side of the river near the top left is the Grande Palais, and across the river from it is a long yard that leads up to the Musee de L’Armee. Just out of sight on that building is the Hotel des Invalides. The top right corner of the photo is faded due to air pollution, but that is where Notre Dame is. On the lower left corner of this photo is a really ugly building with red walls and an outer garden. This is the Musée du Quai Branly, a modern arts museum.
Zoomed in a bit you can see the Ferris wheel, and to its left is the Obelisk of Luxor. Right of the Ferris wheel is the Jardin des Tuileries, and the building structure to its right is the Louvre. The bridges with the golden Pegasus’ on its four corners is Pont Alexandre III [pont means bridge].
Looking SE you can see the long yard leading to the École Militaire. Left of it is L’Hotel des Invalides with the gold dome. Far in the backgrounds is Paris’ only skyscraper. There is an 8 story limit in Paris, not only for the sake of the view, but because of the limestone that has been taken out to build all the buildings. They are afraid the buildings will all sink. This one building is the exception and is called the ugliest building in Paris. Since then they have disallowed any more skyscrapers. At the top left of the photo above the gold dome is the Pantheon. It is also a dome, but it has a white conic top right now due to repairs. To its left out of view is Notre Dame. Behind the École Militaire on the right side of the strip is a three-winged building. This is the UNESCO building. At least ¼ of the people you see as dots are flies selling Eiffel Towers.
The photos above should be able to be stuck together to make nearly a full panorama. Only the direct view to the south is missing. You can Click Here to see a video looking from SW to NW, or Click Here to see the ice skaters on the first level of the Eiffel Tower.
Trocadéro seen from the 2nd level.
Glenda on the see-through floor.
Looking down at people on the see-through floor.
Glenda on the Eiffel Tower.
Glenda hugging the Eiffel Tower at the 2nd level.
Glenda and our tour guide Adam.
On another subject, crowds and lines in Europe are difficult for Americans. There is no personal space boundary, there are no rules on lines, and these can be very offensive to Americans. It’s just their way. I like our way better.
After the Eiffel Tower, we got on the Metro and went to the Louvre Museum. We had heard that it is open until 10 PM on Fridays. We made a beeline for the Mona Lisa. It was about 20” by 30”, and much darker than I expected. The anticipation to see her exceeded the visual impact. I’m not saying it wasn’t awesome, but the build-up exceeded the painting. Now, it is the single most valuable piece of art on Earth, estimated at 780 million dollars, nearly a billion dollars, and is a masterful piece of art considering it was painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503, but it didn’t stop my heart. So I let other people cram up to see her. The Mona Lisa is behind thick bullet-proof glass and you can see the reflection of people on her. In the past people have tried to destroy it using acid and such. Crazy. Meanwhile, behind her is a thin wall, and on the opposite side of the wall is hanging another piece of art. So on the Mona Lisa side you can’t get within 12 feet of her. But on the backside you can walk right up to her. So if you go to the back side you are only about 3 feet from the Mona Lisa. You just can’t tell because it’s a wall.
In the Louvre are too many pieces of art to take in on a single visit. The next most valuable item may be the Venus de Milo sculpture. Again, it didn’t stop my heart. That’s ok, it was made by an unknown sculptor 2300 years ago, and that makes it incredible. There are more impressive artworks in the museum, such as the Coronation of Napoleon, which is about 20 feet tall and 30 feet wide. I’m not a French historian, but I think he took the crown from the Pope establishing his command, then placed a crown onto Josephine, which is the act in the painting, Napoleon placing the crown upon Josephine. Holy crap, this one is awesome. Again, too many paintings to list. The building itself is a masterful piece of architectural art. I think we could have spent two weeks in the Louvre and not seen everything we wanted to see.
The Coronation of Napoleon,
and Aphrodite, or Venus de Milo.
Glenda found a Michelangelo painting that is exactly 400 years older than her being painted in 1554.
Here she is with the Mona Lisa in the background. The crowds are horrible. On another note, isn’t it amazing to see da Vinci and Michelangelo under the same roof?
Getting out of the Louvre we decided to take a taxi to the hotel. It was raining and dang cold. Taxis have a red light on the top if they are busy, and a green light on the top if they are available. A green light taxi was sitting there, so we tried to get him to take us, and he said no. So we started walking. We tried to hail taxies along the way and nobody would stop, so we kept walking toward our hotel. Finally a taxi stopped and took us to the Eiffel Tower which is very close to our hotel. She drove us right back to where we came from to get on the one-way street heading our way. We finally got there. Big Day.
After a huge day, resting in the lobby of the Mercure.
12/27/14, we slept in, walked around the Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro, and then we got on a pre-paid bus tour and went to Chateau de Versailles, the opulent palace from King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. In the palace is a copy of the Coronation of Napoleon, and when I say a copy, I don’t mean a cheap copy, I mean they made two of them. Priceless each. This palace is the size of a small city and the huge amount of wealth used to make it was extreme considering the population was so very poor. They put both of these people in the guillotine. It does make a wonderful museum now.
The Hall of Mirrors.
The front of the palace.
Glenda and I put an offer on this house, but we’re not sure that we’ll be able to get a loan for it. We’re a bit afraid that the plumbing and electricity might be old and have to be redone.
These pictures are supposed to run together, hope it’s at least close. These are part of the gardens, but during the winter are dormant.
12/28/14, we headed out on the Metro to the Musée des Arts et Metiers, [arts and crafts, and when they say crafts, they mean scientific metrology] where Foucault’s Pendulum now exists. There are two of the pendulum balls, the original in a viewing case, and a secondary ball on the wire, which is hung in the adjacent church. This museum was my Christmas present from Glenda, a surprise visit to Foucault’s pendulum ball. That was awesome, but what we didn’t expect was that the rest of the museum was fantastic. The most notable item in this museum, to my surprise, was the double repeating circle with which the Earth was accurately measured by Pierre Méchain during the French Revolution. This survey was performed in order to determine the distance between the North Pole and the Equator, all done in France from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Once they determined this distance, they divided it by ten million and used that as the definition of the meter. Pierre Méchain made a precision error and never went back to fix it. As a result the meter is off by 0.18mm per meter, or 18 parts in 100,000. They could have made the meter accurate to 1 part in 100,000, but didn’t go back and take care of the mistake because the French Revolution was going on. Nonetheless, the double repeating circle is a remarkable and precise instrument, and is a part of metrology history that is close to me, and seeing it was a thrill. On another note, the double repeating circle that is in this museum is dated 1802 or so, and the measurement was made in about 1790, so either this has date errors or this is not THE repeating circle used by Méchain and Delambre. Either way, it is a real double repeating circle. This museum was much larger and filled with more stuff that either of us expected.
This is Foucault’s Pendulum Ball, which weighs about 62 pounds. There are two, this primary ball, and the secondary ball, which was hanging.
This is the double repeating circle. As boring as it is to read, the book “The Measure of All Things” describes this device in detail and how important it is to how we measure every single object on Earth.
Also on the Musée des Arts et Metiers were Pascal’s calculators, the first mechanical calculators.
Here is another repeating circle, this time a single, not a double, and a very slow focal ratio Cassegrain telescope.
Here is the other Foucault ball, this one hanging in the church associated with, and now part of, the Musée des Arts et Metiers.
Outside, and another one inside, are Statues of Liberty that were used to scale up the one in NY.
Across the street from this Museum are very pretty buildings of which Glenda wanted a photo.
From the Musée des Arts et Metiers, we got back on the Metro and headed for the Arc de Triomphe. We got off on Avenue des Champs Elysées and found a McDonald’s. Oh crap, this was by far the best meal we had in Paris. Two orders, each with a Big Mac, 4 piece Chicken McNugget, Fries and a Coke. Twenty Euros, which is about $28. The crowds, again, were horrible. We got out and went up to the top of the Arch, which killed us. We were both hurting pretty hard by the time we stepped up to the top. Elevators were for handicapped only, so we climbed up the spiral staircase [and as a result became handicapped]. Whew!
Glenda on the east side of the Arc de Triomphe.
Jeff atop the Arch.
Glenda atop the Arch.
Glenda at the eternal flame underneath the Arch.
After the Arc de Triomphe, we got back on the Metro and headed for the Musée Rodin. We have a Thinker in San Francisco, but it would be cool to see a Thinker in Paris. Along with the Thinker at the gardens were the Gates of Hell and The Three Shades, two remarkable bronze sculptures. Inside the museum were Rodin’s paintings and more sculptures, but his paintings were not as wonderful as his sculptures.
Glenda in front of The Gates of Hell. Up close this is a remarkable sculpture.
This is The Three Shades, or just The Shades.
I don’t remember the name of this one.
Uh, another one that I don’t remember.
This is Rodin’s house. In front of Rodin’s house is a sculpture of a man playing with his kids. They’re all naked. Weird. We shot this picture because we thought it was a great angle, right up the guy’s butt. For some reason they considered Rodin poor. Check out his house. Poor?!?
Yeah, poor. I’d like to be so poor.
This is Les Bourgeois de Calais.
On 12/29/14 we walked to the Eiffel Tower, then to the École Militaire, which is an old military training building, and where Napoleon himself trained. Then to the Musée de L’Armée and connected to it is the L’Hotel des Invalides. This HUGE dome is gold plated, 6 kgs of gold altogether, and underneath the dome is the tomb of Napoleon. This dome is 351 feet high. It’s all lime stone and the tomb is solid marble. The interior of this structure is amazing, and you just can’t comprehend it unless you’ve been in it. We toured the Musée de L’Armee, which sounds dull but was incredible. Then we walked around to the front of the École Militaire and came in from the Eiffel Tower side. From there we were able to enter the church, which again blew us away. It seems every time we did something in this city it blew us away. The organ in this church was huge, the acoustics of the choir were awesome, and we almost didn’t make it in. We would have missed this if we didn’t go in, unexpected awesomeness.
The interior of L’Hotel des Invalides.
The altar is quite ornate [understatement].
Napoleon’s burial tomb, which is chocolate colored marble.
This is underneath a 351-foot tall dome covered in gold.
Napoleon lying inside here must have a lot of room since he was only about 5’ 6”.
Looking up at the inner dome in L’Hotel des Invalides. If Napoleon could see through his marble sarcophagus, this would be his view.
Outside L’Hotel des Invalides we walked around the moat. The complex is connected to the Musée Musée de L’Armée.
After going into the courtyard you can go into the church.
This dome doesn’t look it, but it’s 351 feet tall floor to top. That’s a football field with the end zones.
Glenda in front of L’Hotel des Invalides. She likes these trees.
Click Here to see inside the church at L’Hotel des Invalides.
On our way back to the hotel we took a few more shots of the Eiffel Tower [we just don’t have enough].
On 12/30/14 we got up, shuttled ourselves to the airport, hopped on an Air France 777 and flew home. Our Saturn “Sally” was at the El Rancho Hotel in Millbrae, she started, we drove home, and hit the hay. It was very cold in Paris, at times in the high 20s, and when we got to Lathrop it was in the high 20s.
So, I [Jeff] have an apology to make to the French people. I have always heard how rude and snobby they are. However, on this entire trip I saw nothing but polite, friendly, helpful and considerate people. I am sorry for all the jokes and conveyances of their snootiness that I’ve made all these years, it was unwarranted. I’m the rude one.