Join Me on a Virtual Field Trip to Paris!
Let’s visit Paris, the City of Lights, which has been the cultural capital of Western civilization for centuries and is the capital of the French Republic. For this trip, however, you don’t need a passport or to learn French (although that won’t hurt ya!) and I’ll be your guide. We all know the Eiffel Tower…so let me share with you some of the other sites that made an impact on me. I hope you enjoy our little trip! Bon voyage!
One of the first things to strike you when you first arrive in the City of Lights is its incredible age and rich history. Our country is only 235 years old and many of our oldest historic sites aren’t much older than 400 years. The city of Paris has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years! The city itself is named after the Parisii, a tribe of Celtic people, first living on the spot along the river Seine.
Now that you have deboarded the 777 jet that took you from the US to the Charles de Gaulle Airport and you have all your luggage and have smoothly passed through French Customs, lets visit some of my favorite sites! Hope you get goosebumps! I’ll include the pronunciations so you can imagine me saying the words with a French accent! Bon Appétit!
La Défense (lah day-FONTS)
La Défense is the most modern, architecturally new section just on the margin of Paris. It’s rapidly expanding because it provides space for new developments and large buildings and sky-scrapers that cannot fit within the historically preserved center of town. It is home to many corporations and serves as an important center of business for the city. Stunning at night, this modern section of town still preserves the vibrant energy of Paris.
Musée du Louvre (mew-ZAY doo LOOV-reh)
Not many Americans have ever visited a real-life Palace. No, I don’t mean just a beautiful home, but the actual residence of a King and Queen! While, a fortress for the king has been on the site since the 1100’s, the Louvre as it appears today (minus the pyramid, of course) was completed in the 16th century and is a gorgeous example of French Renaissance architecture. It is now the most famous–and one of the largest–art museums on the planet. You will be struck first by how massive of a complex the Louvre is. As our bus was taking us to the Louvre, we recognized the famous facade and the rows of Renaissance windows seemed endless, then we turned a corner, and it continued! Just when you thought the Palace must be an entire city itself (I swear my hometown could fit inside of it!) We entered the complex through a real-life portcullis (those scary spiky gates that come down from above like on a castle!) and reached the central courtyard that you see above. The glass pyramid was added in 1989 and was the pet project of then President François Mittérand. The contrast between the modern pyramid (despite it’s ancient shape) and the Renaissance palace behind it remains controversial to this day. In fact, this is how French people torture American tourists: they will ask “Do you like our pyramid?” If you reply that you do, they will act disgusted and tell you that Americans have no taste. If you say you don’t like it, they will act disgusted and offended that you dare insult their national monuments! It’s a Catch-22!
The Louvre houses some of humanity’s greatest artistic treasures. Despite the sheer size of the collection alone–if you spent one minute admiring each artifact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it would still take you six months to see it all!–the artworks are so valuable that they are considered to be exalted beyond all price. Security is tight, they will search and X-ray your belongings before you are permitted to enter the galleries–and thats after walking down the longest hallway of your life, with continuous Greek columns on both sides. If you ever want to be so overwhelmed and utterly impressed to the point of breathlessness, visit the Louvre Palace.
Here are some of the artworks you CANNOT miss during our visit:
We CANNOT leave Paris without visiting my favorite—The Garnier Opera House. Moving from the Hunchback of Notre Dame to the Phantom of the Opera; this opera house is the home of the legendary phantom! This structure is inscribed with the words “Academie Nationale de Musique et Danse” (National Academy of Music and Dance). Can you guess why it’s my favorite on the tour? The facade also includes likenesses of the goddesses of lyric poetry and choreography. I think our recitals will be held at the Opéra from now on!
Thank you for joining me on our tour! I wish we had time to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, the Conciergerie, the Musée d’Orsay, and the National Library. I also wish that I could treat you all to a crepe or croissant! Next time!
Merci et au revoir!
Posted on July 8, 2011, in Historical Sites and tagged ballet, Cupid and Psyche, field trip, France, La Defense, Louvre, Mona Lisa, Notre Dame, opera, Palais Garnier, Paris, Venus de Milo. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.