An April 1985 trip
to Paris by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: Paris is known as "La Ville Lumiere (the City of Light)" and was my memorable first trip to Europe during my senior year of high school, 1985. Since then, I have been to Europe four more times and am hopelessly addicted to European travel, history, and culture.
We spent two separate times in Paris. We spent from April 15-17 at a hotel on Avenue McMahon off of l'Etoile and near the Arc de Triomphe. We spent our last two days, April 19-21 after touring the Loire Valley and Normandy. Our second hotel was the Hotel Hamilton on Rue Lafayette. On the first morning in our hotel on Hotel McMahon, my two roommates and I were awoken by the concierge who delivered our breakfast. He knocked on our door yelling "Bonjour!" It took me a while to wake up and before I get out of bed to could answer the door, the concierge had come in with his own key still cheerfully greeting us "Bonjour, bonjour, mesdamemoiselles. Le petit dejeuner!" I groggily answered back "Bonjour," and he still happily said "Bonjour!" That was the beginning of my Paris adventures.
Paris is a city with thousands of years of history. Much of this history has survived wars and revolution and can be seen in its glory. When Paris was about to be liberated by the Americans in August 1944, the Germans were ordered to destroy Paris, but it was declared an open city and nothing was destroyed by the retreating German army, which is good for us tourists and the French
I missed going up to the top of the Eiffel tower, but the views of Paris are just as good from the top of L'Arc de Triomphe. The Louvre was c'est magnifique, but I wish we could have stayed longer than half a day. Place de la Concorde during the day and night were spectacular as well as strolling down the Champs Elysses practicing our high school French. We were recognized as Americans, and one male Parisian praised us for our efforts to speak the language when we asked for directions to a bank to cash our traveler's checks.
The food in Paris was great except for one restaurant where our group ate almost every night during our first stay. When we went out to dinner on our own, I enjoyed escargot (snails in garlic and butter sauce) and salmon with Bernaise sauce.
My stay in Paris was too short, and I hope to return to La Ville Lumiere in the near future to see what I missed the first time.
Paris is a large city of over 3 million people. It is crammed full of tourists, businessmen and Parisians doing their daily things, and rampant with beggars and thieves looking for an unsuspecting tourist to rob. Please, carry your money and documents in a money belt.
In order to capture the magic of Paris on film, have a good 35mm camera. I borrowed my sister's 110 camera, and many pictures of our night cruise on the Seine did not come out, and I am saddened that I didn't have more pictures to put into my album.
Paris caters to many people's interests and styles. So plan an itinerary of where you would like to go before leaving home so that you don't miss anything or get museumed out.
Once in Paris, the best way to see everything is by the famous Metro, Paris subway system. Forget about renting a car because traffic in central Paris is a nightmare. I almost was run over once by a speeding car. You can purchase Carte Orange tickets at many ticket counters at many stops along the Metro's routes. It is the most inexpensive and safest ways to travel in Paris.
Walking is also another great way to see Paris, especially the shopping centers and the Champs Elysees. If you are a female, you will be whistled or stared at by Parisian males while walking. My classmate and I had to endure the many catcalls from many men while walking on the Champs Elysses. Some might be offended, but most of us call it a great memory!
Attraction | "L'Arc de Triomphe"
L'Arc de Triomphe was built c. 1806 by Napolean Bonaparte as a celebration for his victories in battle in Europe and North Africa. It is the second tallest triumphal arch in the world (North Korea has the tallest triumphal arch).
For a small fee, you can climb up the stairs in the arch to the top in order to see all of Paris. There is no elevator to the top, so if you are not in good shape, the long climb is not recommended. My classmates and I climbed up the l'Arc de Triomphe to be greeted by some of the most beautiful views of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and other sights. After a few minutes of taking photos and soaking in the views, we went into the souvenir shop at the top of l'Arc and bought posters and other souvenirs and practiced our French for the first time.
L'Arc de Triomphe is located at one end of the Champs Elysses and 12 main streets of Paris radiate from it in an area known as L'Etoile (Star).
When you are on the ground of l'Arc de Triomphe, you can enjoy the huge sculptures and freizes that decorate l'Arc. Napolean wanted to go big and he did. After World War I, the French installed an eternal flame to honor the soldiers who fell in battle, and there is a monument honoring France's World War I unknown soldier. Every November 11, there is a ceremony of rememberance commemorating the end of World War I.
L'Arc de Triomphe is open daily for tourists and is less crowded than the Eiffel Tower. So if you want to see great views of Paris without the crowds, go up l'Arc de Triomphe.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 13, 2003
Arc de Triomphe
Paris, France 75008
+33 (1) 55 37 73 77
La Place de la Concorde is the big square that anchors the other end of Les Champs Elysees in central Paris. It was made famous by Charles Dickens in his novel A Tale of Two Cities. During the French Revolution, Place de la Concorde was known as Place du Revolution and was the place where the famous Guillotine stood during the French Revolution and executed thousands of French aristocrats during the bloody Terror.
I had just read A Tale of Two Cities in my senior English class that year, and I was happy to go to the place of such bloodshed. I could hear the sound of the carriages on the cobblestone paths carrying its victims to their deaths, the sound of the guillotine sliding down to behead someone, the sound of the cheers of the crowds, and one could visualize Madame LaFarge sitting in the front row knitting the names of the victims into her work.
Place de la Concorde has two fountains at each end of the square. It also has the 3,300-year-old Luxor obelisk that was given to Charles IX in 1829 by Mehmet Ali of Egypt. The obelisk has hyrogliphics and drawings all over it, and it dominates Place de la Concorde.
It is free to see Place de la Concorde and if you are a Dickens fan or a French Revolution aficionado, a visit to Place de la Concorde is highly recommended.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 13, 2003
Place de la Concorde
Paris, France 75008
Aucun téléphone disp
Attraction | "La Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris"
La Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris's extterior has all of the features a Gothic Cathedral needs with its flying buttresses, towers, and gargoyles that keep the evil spirits out. Notre Dame's interior houses some of the biggest stained glass windows in the world including its 30-foot La Rosace Sud (Rose Window). Unfortunately, my camera was not equipped for taking shots of the dark interior and my pictures came out poor. There is also an 11th-century 7800-pipe organ near the altar that is played during monthly concerts.
There is the famous bell tower made famous by the character Quasimodo in Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but if you want to hear the bells, you will have to rent the 1982 Anthony Hopkins TV movie by the same name. The bells are only rung during solemn occasions.
Notre Dame de Paris was built on the 3rd century sight of Roman and Gallo-Roman ruins and is Europe's largest archeological ruin.
La Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris is open daily for tourists, but it is closed most of Sunday for masses. There is a small fee to enter the cathedral and souvenirs and postcards are available inside, but there are souvenir peddlers selling there wares outside, too, but be careful not to get ripped off.
6, place du Parvis-de-Notre-Dame
Paris, France 75004
+33 (1) 42 34 56 10
Attraction | "La Musee du Louvre (The Louvre Museum)"
The Louvre was built 800 years ago and was the residence of the French Royal family for the first 400 years of its existence. Louis XIV lived in the Louvre for the first 30 years of his life until he moved to his creation at Versailles. He hated life in Paris since almost being killed as a child in the infamous Fronde rebellion.
At the height of the Terror during the French Revolution in 1793, Le Louvre was made into a national museum complete with paintings and sculptures created by many of the masters such as Da Vinci, David, etc.
Le Louvre is the home of the famous sculptures Venus de Milo (ever wonder what happened to her arms?) and the Winged Victory of Thamothrace (the Goddess Nike). But one of my favorite sculptures in the Louvre was of Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt and Moon. I was told as a child that I was named for her, and it was great that I could be up close and personal with the sculpture that up until April 1985, I only saw in an encyclopedia at home.
Of course, no visit to the Louvre is complete without seeing da Vinci's masterpiece, "The Mona Lisa." Until this day it remains a mystery. Was the Mona Lisa actually a male lover of Da Vinci like legends go? Rough Guides says that the "Mona Lisa" was a neighbor of Da Vinci's in Florence. What about that mysterious smile? The "Mona Lisa" was crowded by tourists that I could not get as close as I wanted, but at least I saw it. The painting is so popular that it is protected by a glass cover. To find "The Mona Lisa," follow La Jaconde (the French term for the painting) signs throughout the museum.
In order to avoid the crowds at the Louvre, it is best to make reservations ahead of time and enter through la Porte des Lions entrance. I only was in the Louvre for one morning, but more time is needed in order to see almost everything depending on one's interests. Since 1985, the Louvre has been expanded and now includes an Egyptian section and the controversial glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei.
There is no flash photography allowed in the Louvre, but you can purchase books, postcards, and other souvenirs in the nice souvenir shop at the end of your Louvre tour. The Louvre is not recommended for children under 10.
Musée du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli
Paris, France 75001
+33 (1) 40 20 51 51
My classmates and I couldn't find any good bargains in Galleries, but we enjoyed looking at French clothing and lingerie, which is world-famous. Unfortunately, a classmate got sick and we had to cut that trip short to bring her back to our hotel on Avenue George V.
We went to lunch at a restaurant in Paris and was served by a man who looked straight out of the disco era with heavy gold chains, hairy chest, and polyester shiny shirt. As we ordered he was saying in broken English, "Don't worry mesdamemoiselles, I speak English, I will be glad to help you!" We ordered ham sandwiches and fries that were very good.
After lunch, my mates and I took Le Metro to Le Forum des Halles, an underground Mall in Paris with some great bargains on clothing which most of us were looking for. I bought a pink wool sweater in one shop and another turquoise soft wool sweater in another shop for about $20 each, a bargain in Paris. Another classmate bought a pair of pink overalls that looked great on her.
Then we were about to leave and catch Le Metro back to our hotel for dinner, but we couldn't remember which entrance we came in (typical Americans). So we spent a good hour or so looking for the Metro entrance. We asked many people where it was. Our broken French was a giveaway, but finally we found the Metro, but took the wrong one. We wound up touring Paris's Little Italy. Finally we got on the right subway and made it to our hotel before M. Du Lude, our teacher, called the National Guard to look for his wayward students.
For those with thicker wallets, Place Vendome and Rue de Rivoli in the 1st Arrondissement are the best places to buy designer fashions by Chanel, Yves de Laurent, Nina Ricci, etc. We walked through these places on our last night in town and just window shopped. Two of our teachers/chaperones, Mr. Cavalarro and Mr. Fontes, did an arm in arm dance and skip through singing Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." And that we did!
Since 1985, my sweaters aren't anymore. My mother accidently washed my turquoise sweater and it became a great sweater for my dog Heidi for the last five years of her life. However, I have many great memories of my shopping adventures in Paris.