After the Louvre we headed to the Eiffel Tower (of course). We did not feel like fighting the crowds and were unable to get a reservation in the tower restaurant (despite an amazing effort from the Concierge). Exiting the metro at Trocadero (Paris has an amazing subway system), we enjoyed the view across the river.
As you exit the metro, you come across a WWI monument to the people who fought the war.
As we looked down on the Eiffel tower from the Trocadero, we did not realize the importance of the location:
For the Exposition Internationale of 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot which now tops the hill. It was designed in classicizing "moderne" style by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma. Like the old palais, the palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc: indeed, these wings were built on the foundations of those of the former building. However, unlike the old palais, the wings are independent buildings and there is no central element to connect them: instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond.
The buildings are decorated with quotations by Paul Valéry, and they now house a number of museums:
- the Musée national de la Marine (naval museum) and the Musée de l’Homme (ethnology) in the southern (Passy) wing,
- the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, including the Musée national des Monuments Français, in the eastern (Paris) wing, from which one also enters the Théâtre national de Chaillot, a theater below the esplanade.
It was on the front terrace of the palace that Adolf Hitler was pictured during his short tour of the vanquished city in 1940, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This became an iconic image of the Second World War.
It is in the Palais de Chaillot that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This event is now commemorated by a stone, and the esplanade is known as the esplanade des droits de l’homme ("esplanade of human rights").
I never knew who Foch was. Interesting quote from him:
He advocated peace terms that would make Germany unable to ever pose a threat to France again. His words after the Treaty of Versailles, "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years" would prove prophetic.
Enjoying a baguette, in the sun on a brisk December day in front of the Eiffel tower was a magical experience. We then headed down to the river and enjoyed a boat ride – a Paris must do. A few sights captured below.
Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter, widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris .
The bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank.
Not the kind of detail you would ever see on a Canadian bridge.
Another Egyptian obelisk liberated, the Obelisk of Luxor in the Place de la Concorde:
The center of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the nineteenth century. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. In the 1990s, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.
The obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, offered the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1831. The obelisk arrived in Paris on December 21, 1833. Three years later, on October 25, 1836, King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the center of Place de la Concorde, where a guillotine used to stand during the Revolution.
The architecture of old European cities is breathtaking.
Notre Dame. We did not take the time to visit, the boys are all ‘churched’ out.
And it was finally time to start walking back to the hotel.