For years Disneyland has been a symbol of magic and enjoyment for children all over the world. The mystery and adventure that precedes a trip to the famed resort on the outskirts of Paris usually ensures plenty of disturbed night’s sleep for parents. However, there is more magic to discover in the city that is …
The Eiffel Tower continues to attract thousands daily more than 100 years after its difficult birth. Still one of the tallest structures in France, the three-leveled spire adorned with thousands of lights inspires awe decades after being surpassed in height.
Inside, along with first editions of the writer’s works, is a painting of his funeral procession at the Arc de Triomphe. At the time of his death his fame and popularity were so great that millions came to mourn his passing.
There are also portraits of his family. Alongside are drawings and documents showing the life story of Hugo and the many artists he knew as friends. Balzac and Dumas, Paganini and Liszt, Musset and many more dined here. Even Dickens and the Duke of Orleans paid visits.
La Tour Eiffel can be seen changing shades from cocoa to gold as dusk fades to dark. The lights along its four pillars melding into the spire are only one of the many sights not to be missed. Joining the left and right banks (the ‘rive gauche’ and the ‘rive droit’) along this ancient river are bridges themselves no stranger to time.
Once reached via that winding, narrow passageway the visitor enters a large area dominated by a huge church bell and spectacular sights. From here it’s easy to imagine the fictional Quasimodo (the Hunchback of Notre Dame) ringing the 13-ton bell and clambering on the gargoyles around the perimeter.
This tree-lined avenue begins at the Arc de Triomphe and ends 2km (1.2mi) east at the Egyptian Obelisk, through the 8th arrondissement. An ‘arrondissement’ is a district. Paris is divided into twenty with the first at the center and the others winding clockwise around it.
Many of the traditional rides from the California theme park were recreated (with some French twists) at the park and resort only 32 kilometers (19 miles) outside Paris.
There’s the familiar Pirates of the Caribbean, on which the recent films were based and the love-it-or-hate-it It’s A Small World ride, along with dozens more. The Legend of the Lion King show regularly sells out, so get tickets in advance.
Despite its late-19th century origins, the architecture is a much older style. A mixture of Romanesque and Byzantine, the white, Oriental-style domes house a 19-ton bell (Savoyarde) and elaborate reliefs. Note: ‘Oriental’ does not mean ‘Asian’. The architecture of the Middle East is commonly known as ‘Oriental’.
Looking like a cross between a hyper-modern factory joined to a low-rise office building, it accurately reflects its contents. The red, blue and green pipes on the rear are only one example of the tradition busting goals of its makers. The architects goals were to ‘turn the building inside out’, and they’ve largely succeeded. A low glass box that looks like the scaffolding is yet to be removed, the modern heir to Bauhaus displays air-conditioning ducts and metal stairs on the exterior.
As you stand underneath the structure (though given the traffic in Paris, never in the center, unfortunately) you’re overwhelmed by the massive stone. Here it’s easy to imagine Napoleon’s armies marching triumphantly down the boulevard and through the opening.