“I think everyone who has ever spent time in Paris keeps those memories in their hearts as though it were yesterday! There’s just something magical about Paris.” –  Blog comment –Favourite Paris Quotes http://itsallmaya.com/favorite-paris-quotes/

Before going to Zurich for 2 weeks we already set our mind to spend one weekend in the city of lights, the capital of France – PARIS!  After over 6 hours train ride we are there.  We splurged a little in hotel since its just one night we stayed walking distance to Champs Elysees called Hotel Saint Augustin Elysees the hotel pride itself as an American Hotel but they don’t have English movie channel.

Paris was a glimpsed of idea how people were, there still something sophisticated about this illuminated city making their residents way of life more elegant. There’s more to Paris than meets the eye and yes, this city is bigger than LV, Mona Lisa, Hermes, and the Eiffel tower, being there I have experienced the best of both contemporary and age old European culture and I can’t wait to go back for a longer stay.

The Eiffel Tower

As soon as we arrived, we checked in and went directly to the Eiffel Tower.  I made lunch reservation online at 58 Tour Eiffel. I was so glad I followed my colleagues advised to book a restaurant to avoid the long queue going up and it worked like having a fast pass ticket in Disneyland no more waiting time.

The lunch was superb and the price was reasonable. My friend and I savoured each minute, there’s a sense of pride etched in our faces while munching our meals and desserts and sipping coffee afterwards. Never had I imagined I would see myself having lunch in the 2nd floor of the ‘La dame de fer’ located in the street of Champs de Mars, overlooking 360 degrees view of Paris in the afternoon.

Coined as the iron lady The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Europe, if not the world. It is an iron structure built in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition of that year in Paris. It is named after its designer, the famous engineer Gustave Eiffel.

Musée du Louvre

Having seen the splendour of the Louvre Museum was the highlight of my trip. What I read and seen in the Dan Brown’s novel came alive and was taken into account. Going back home in flight, I actually watched the movie again but this time there’s the ‘I can relate moment’ after being in Paris.

The Louvre was the central landmark of Paris Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II, same Philip II of Spain whom the Spanish explorer Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas or Philippines in honour of the said ruler in 1543.

The Louvre is the granddaddy of all museums, it has seen a lot of centuries and monarchs, it has become a symbol of art and a mecca for artists and art lovers because it has absorbed and reflects the centuries of change in the political and social environment.  Houses more than 6000 European paintings dating from the 13th century to the 19th century. Its largest collection is of prints and drawings with an inventory of 130000 Including the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Other collections include Islamic art, Oriental Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, and Greek Antiquities with pieces that date back as far as the seventh millennium B.C. Indeed the Louvre “exemplifies for the vast public the very concept of the term ‘museum’

Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe

We strolled the stretch of Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe on a sunny Sunday morning, there are  few people walking around and judging from how they are dressed,  you can tell they have never woken up yet because they have never been to bed,  still wondering around happily in their last night clothes. This “most beautiful avenue in the world” was vibrant in the evening as we are also here last night, wandering and enjoying a taste of Paris night life. Now a ghost town in the daylight, most shops are closed on a Sunday but many tourist are roaming around taking pictures on this  prestigious avenue in Paris, with its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops (Louis Vuitton biggest shop can be seen here) and clipped horse-chestnut trees now looks fresh in the morning with less people.

In the west of this avenue ends at the roundabout there is a shrine called ’Arc de Triomphe’, built by Napoleon Bonaparte to tribute his victories and one of the most famous monuments in Paris that honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. With the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces, beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

Notre Dame de Paris

Sitting in the bench along Champs-Élysées, we reckoned we had plenty of time left and so we decided to visit Notre Dame.  I only heard of this French gothic cathedral owing to Victor Hugo’s published 1831 novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ which the story is centred. Completed in 1345 this by far is the oldest church I have ever set my foot in and mind you, mass was still being held, still an active Catholic church, a place of pilgrimage, and the focal point for Catholicism in France.  Notre Dame de Paris or “Our Lady of Paris” access to the cathedral is open and free of charge every day of the year.

The cathedral is very dark, as all cathedrals tend to be. Taking photos inside the cathedral is permitted (except during services). Inside you can feel the strong structure of its parapets, everything inside are remnants of the past and if these walls could talk I guess they have plenty to say apart from Napoleon Bonaparte, who had declared the Empire on May 28, 1804, was crowned Emperor at Notre-Dame on December 2, 1804. Like any other ordinary churches there was the main altar and there are small altars on the side and most of the sculptures are very familiar to me. The statues I have seen are the Jesus Christ on the cross, St. Therese, St Joan of Arc, The Pieta, etc., there’s also the biggest and I’m sure the oldest church organ I have ever seen.

When I was there I wonder why Gargoyles and Chimeras carved in this house of worship but as researched gargoyles are sculptures of animals that conceal rainwater spouts on the cathedral. These spouts direct rainwater away from the walls of the cathedral when it rains, in order to reduce erosion of the stone in the building. The Chimeras are grotesque sculptures composed of body parts from several different animals that serve a purely decorative purpose on the cathedral.

Many people refer to all of the surrealistic sculptures on the cathedral as gargoyles, but in fact only those that are waterspouts are truly gargoyles. The word gargoyle comes from the French word gargouiller which means “to gurgle”.

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