LA GRANDE AVENTURE – THE GRAND ADVENTURE: PARIS, FRANCE


Wednesday July 1, 2020


GRAND ADVENTURE
by ANNA MARIE MATEESCU

 

PARIS, FRANCE

Paris is undoubtedly famous for iconic symbols like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Moulin Rouge, its cafe culture, pastries, and fashion. The city is known for radiating beauty, elegance, and being boldly romantic. Being one of the most desirable travel destinations in the world due to its stunning architecture, history, its wealth of art, and culture, it is no wonder this popular spot’s exquisite gastronomy will leave you feeling a few pounds heavier – but blissfully so! Regardless of what time of year you visit, Paris will enamor and enchant you with its picturesque landscapes and worldclass museums. Whether your visit to Paris is for a day or a week, you’ll be left longing to return so that you may explore this magical city even further. The French capital has long been known as the City of Light, with most thinking this moniker comes from the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower that grace the banks of the Seine at night; along with the glistening boulevards around the city. The nickname actually comes from the mid-17th century when Louis XIV (the Sun King, or “Roi Soleil”) decided to restore the public’s faith in law and order by quadrupling the number of police officers in the city and installing lanterns on almost every major road in Paris. From that point on the city became known as “La Ville- Lumière” (The City of Light).

NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS

“Our Lady of Paris” refers to a medieval Catholic Cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral was consecrated in honor of the Virgin Mary and is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The rib vault and flying buttress, its enormous and colorful rose windows, as well as the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration, set it apart from the earlier Romanesque style. The cathedral is one of the most widely recognized symbols of the city of Paris and the French nation.

Louis IX deposited the relics of the passion of Christ – which included the crown of thorns, a nail from the cross, and sliver from the cross (which he had purchased at great expense from the Latin Emperor Baudouin II) – in the cathedral during the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle. The decision was made to add transepts to the choir – where the altar was located – in order to bring more light into the center of the church. The use of simpler four-part over six-part rib vaults meant that the roofs were stronger and could therefore be higher. After Bishop Maurice de Sully’s death in 1196, his successor Eudes de Sully oversaw the completion of the transepts and continued work on the nave, nearing completion at the time of his own death in 1208. At this time the western facade was already largely built, though it was not completed until the mid-1240s. The 2019 fire destroyed the roof and spire but left the structure intact.

The stained glass windows of Note-Dame – particularly the three rose windows – are among the most famous features of the cathedral. The west rose window over the portals was the first and smallest of the roses in Notre- Dame. It is 9.6 metres in diameter and was made in the year 1225, with pieces of glass set in a thick circular stone frame. None of the original glass remains in this window, but rather it was recreated in the 19th century. The two transept windows are larger and contain a greater proportion of glass than the rose on the west façade. This is because the new system of buttresses made the nave walls thinner and stronger. The north rose was created in the year 1250, and the south rose in 1260. The south rose in the transept is particularly notable for its size and artistry. The south rose has 94 medallions arranged in four circles, depicting scenes from the life of Christ and those who witnessed his time on earth. The inner circle has twelve medallions showing the twelve apostles.

THE EIFFEL TOWER

La Tour Eiffel is arguably the most famous monument in Paris (if not the world!) and is much loved by all of those who visit. Interestingly “la dame de fer” (the Iron Lady) was only supposed to be a temporary installation, intended to be in place for just 20 years after it was erected for the 1889 World Fair. Here we are, 130 years later, still admiring its architectural beauty! The Eiffel Tower is one of the most visited monuments in the entire world and is often referred to as one of the most romantic destinations; with up to three proposals happening at the top every hour! While queues to the Eiffel Tower can be a bit manic, a visit to at least see the tower (if not venture up within it) is a must for all visitors to the French capital.

LOUVRE

For Paris being a city filled with museums, you’d figure it would be hard standing out in the crowd – but The Louvre is something so spectacular that it simply cannot GRAND ADVENTURE be matched in terms of its sheer size nor its breadth of exhibits. The Louvre Museum is the world’s largest art museum and a historical monument located in Paris, France. It is home to 400,000 different objects including paintings, sculptures, mummies, metalwork, & musical instruments. It offers collections ranging from the early Mesopotamian era, to ancient Greece and Egypt, the Roman Empire, right down to the impressionists of the 19th century.

NORMANDY, FRANCE

Normandy is a region in northern France. Its varied coastline includes white-chalk cliffs and beachheads including Omaha Beach, the site of the famous D-Day landing. Just off the coast, the rocky island of Mont- Saint-Michel is topped by a soaring Gothic abbey. The city of Rouen, dominated by Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, is where military leader and Catholic saint Joan of Arc was executed in 1431. This castle was used for the Hogwards scenes in all of the Harry Potter movies.

NORMANDY BACK COUNTRY

A few miles inland, Pont-l’Évêque is famous for its creamy cheeses. These include the famous Livarot, Pont l’Evêque, and Camembert cheeses. The Norman hinterland is covered with apple orchards used to make Normandy’s famous apple cider and Calvados apple brandy. Pont-l’Évêque is a small village situated not too far from Deauville in Normandy, but is also the name of a famous French cheese.

THE WORLD WAR II NORMANDY LANDINGS BEACHES

On the 6th of June in 1944, allied forces from the USA, Canada, Britain, France and several other nations landed on the beaches of Normandy. The goal of the allied invasion was to liberate France and the rest of Europe from Nazi control. Omaha Beach is a 20-minute drive from Bayeux. Most of the main World War II Normandy landing sites – that is, those that were key to the success of Operation Overload – are about an hour’s drive from Bayeux. Right behind Omaha Beach is the US Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, and towards the west is the strategic Point de Hoc cliff. If you keep driving westward you will get to Utah Beach and Sainte Mere Eglise. The British and Canadian Beaches of Sword Beach and Juno Beach are located on the eastern part of the coast between Bayeux and Deauville.

JARDIN DE TUILERIES

The landscaped gardens of the Jardin des Tuileries are located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. They are a lovely place to enjoy an afternoon stroll in the sun. The gardens were designed by royal gardener André Le Nôtre in 1664 and have been kept in pristine condition ever since. There are plenty of places to sit and relax, or you can visit the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and the sculptures of artists such as Auguste Rodin. The Tuilieres Festival runs from June to August each year and features traditional fairground rides, activities, and refreshments!

GALERIES LAFAYETTE

The Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket French department store chain. Its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris but now operates in a number of other locations in France, along with other countries. In 2009 Galeries Lafayette recorded earnings of over one billion euros. Aside from the Champs Élysées, Galeries Lafayette is probably the most famous shopping destination in the city. This stylish department store is located in a stunning building and offers visitors the chance to purchase designer goods (at especially good prices during ‘Les Soldes’, the January sale). Even if you’re not into shopping the building is well worth a visit; with its glass, domed ceiling, picturesque balconies, and amazing Christmas tree in the centre during the festive season. Galeries Lafayette also boasts a 7th-floor rooftop terrace which offers you views of the Palais Garnier, Tour Eiffel, Sacré-Coeur, and the Grand Palais.

LOIRE VALLEY

Loire Valley is a just short train journey from Paris and an easy drive from the coast of Normandy. Upon arrival, majestic chateaux peeping out from glowing sunflower fields, medieval towns with bustling markets, and some of the best wine in the world greet visitors. The Loire Valley has been the chosen retreat of the French elite for hundreds of years. Its popularity with aristocracy and royalty has left its lush countryside sprinkled with fairytale-esque, grand Renaissance-era castles that tourists can visit. There are 22 in the Grands Sites du Val de Loire (Major Sites of the Loire Valley) collective, but there are many smaller, less well-known chateaux worth visiting too. Markets are a way of life in France, and the Loire Valley is no exception. Many of the biggest towns hold events every day. In addition to the standard fresh food stands, markets also sell everything from second-hand books and vintage furniture to truffles and flowers.

PALACE OF VERSAILLES

Palace of Versailles, the former French royal residence and centre of government, is now a national landmark. It is located in the city of Versailles, Yvelines département, Îlede- France région, northern France, just 10 miles (16 km) west-southwest of Paris. Just another one of the many aforementioned locations that is well worth the visit. Bon voyage!



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