France 2001: Paris and Versailles
We arrived in late May 2001 at the Gare du Nord on the Eurostar from London - the black, yellow and gray high speed (186 mph) Chunnel train can be seen at left. Located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, the station complex was designed by French architect Jacques Hittorff and built between 1861 and 1864. Based on the number of travelers - 190 million per year - Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe.
Carol and the flying buttresses of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris - June 2001
Joe at Notre Dame - early June 2001
Sainte Chapelle has one of the most extensive in-situ collections of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world. Fifteen huge mid-13th century windows fill the nave and apse, while a large rose window with Flamboyant tracery dominates the western wall. The stone wall surface of the church is reduced to little more than a delicate framework for the colorful glasswork. Ste. Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture.
An example of 20th century stained glass can be found at the Hard Rock Cafe in Paris, where Joe poses with a stained-glass Elvis. Carol offers a toast beneath a naked marble butt at the Musée d'Orsay restaurant, a very good place for a relaxing lunch.
The Eiffel Tower at dusk, photographed during an evening river cruise on the Seine. We visited the Eiffel the next day and rode up to the viewing deck for some sun drenched views of Paris. Joe is wearing his chapeau de miracle at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre in the north end of Paris. About half the people in the area were Middle Easterners peddling bottled water and pestering everyone.
Musée du Louvre is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of over 650,000 square feet. The museum opened in 1793.
Usually, the Mona Lisa room is jammed with people and you can hardly see the darned thing. To beat the crowds, we (1) bought museum passes in advance, (2) went to the group/prepaid entrance in the Passage Richelieu, (3) entered the Louvre as soon as it opened and (4) proceeded directly to the Mona Lisa (first floor, Denon wing). There were only two other couples in this large room. We exchanged cameras and took each others' pictures. And stood back and took in the wonder of the painting ... before hordes of pushy Japanese tourists descended upon us.
The legendary marble sculpture, Venus de Milo - an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created between 130 and 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite (known as Venus to the Romans) the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Joe & statue of 'Winged Victory' - a second century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike - at the Louvre. We had lunch at Le Grand Louvre in the museum, under the Pyramid. It's great. (The only disappointment - they didn't have a dessert named 'I. M. Pie'.)
The 1889 Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris looks better at night when it is brightly illuminated.
Shortly after we arrived in Paris, we took a bus trip to the Palace of Versailles, a royal château and gardens about 10 miles away:

Joe - with a lampost sticking out of his head - poses by a Smart car outside the palatial Hôtel Ritz, home of the famous Hemingway Bar. Looking out the window of our more modest accommodations - we stayed for almost a week at the very nice Hotel Acadia Opera in the 9th arrondissement - one can see that most Paris secondary streets are narrow and parking is tight:


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