Sacré Coeur, Paris

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’.

The site of Sacré Coeur has long been an attraction for religious figures and groups. Though dedicated to peace and brotherhood, the building owes its birth on the site to the misfortunes of war and violence. Continue reading “Sacré Coeur, Paris” »

Pompidou Center in Paris

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.

Known to Parisians simply as Beaubourg (after the neighborhood), The Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou is a museum of modern art rivaling the best in New York or London.

By design, so to speak, the architecture of the 1977 building is in sharp contrast to the traditional surrounding houses of Paris’ oldest district. Continue reading “Pompidou Center in Paris” »

Arc de Triomphe in Paris

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.

Though less artistic than its older cousin of Porte Saint-Denis, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile is the more famous and far larger. Set atop the hill of Chaillot it forms the center from which radiates a dozen busy Parisian avenues.

There are in fact several “Arc de Triomphe’s” in Paris. A large arch with two thick towers surmounted by a large horizontal section has been a popular architectural feature since the time of Louis XIV (the ’14th’) in the late 17th century. Continue reading “Arc de Triomphe in Paris” »

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Apart from appearing in millions of photographs and thousands of television commercials, it has been used more directly as an advertising vehicle. From 1925 to 1934 the tower supported billboards for the automaker Citroen.

But the tourist needs no commercial to motivate a visit. The view from the observation platform, especially at dusk, more than exceeds any expectations set by ads. All of Paris twinkles below as the city is illuminated by both the onset of electric lights and the fading sun.

Originally intended as a structure to commemorate the French Revolution, who could’ve guessed that 100 years later The Eiffel Tower would become the symbol of Paris itself?

But, judging by the six million annual visitors and the millions of photographs, that’s what it has become. To date the tower has received over 200 million visitors since its completion in 1889. Continue reading “The Eiffel Tower in Paris” »

Montmartre district in Paris

The word ‘bistro’ comes from the Russian meaning ‘quick’. It was first imported in the early 19th century by Cossack occupiers who wanted to be fed immediately. Everything from frogs legs to Tarte Tatin is served at spots as old as 1793 in the Place du Tertre.

At the Espace Montmartre one can view an original Dali etching and browse to the glares of the staff. The museum houses Dali sculpture, lithographs, drawings and even some furniture pieces.

Montmartre is a fascinating mixture of old and new, seedy and sacred, bizarre and blasé. Within this section of Paris, technically the 18th arrondissement, there is everything from Moulin Rouge and Musée d’Erotisme to the Sacré Coeur Basilica. There are several art shops, a Dali museum and even a winery. Continue reading “Montmartre district in Paris” »

The Louvre, Paris

Within the museum walls are Egyptian sarcophagi, Persian and Greek artifacts, medieval and Renaissance paintings, 19th century classical and Romantic sculptures and a smattering of the latest forms. Some estimates run as high as 100,000 pieces, but in truth no one could know with certainty.

The museum itself is an eclectic collection of styles, the consequence of its many additions and changes over the centuries. Much too large to see in one day, the visitor is well-advised to pick a few favorite periods or countries and focus on them. Naturally, the best strategy is to opt for several visits but that may not be practical for most.

Unquestionably the most famous name in the world of art museums, The Louvre largely deserves its renown. Enormous and filled with irreplaceable treasures from around the world, this premier series of exhibits offers something for everyone.

The building itself is something of an historical and art adventure. The construction of the original structures began as long ago as the 13th century, though the present museum has its origins in efforts of three hundred years later. The existing Château du Louvre, which forms a large portion of the floorspace, was begun in 1546. Continue reading “The Louvre, Paris” »