Paris - Tuesday, 5/31

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What a full day in Paris! Before we left the hotel, I tried to look up a few basic French phrases to be a bit more conversant in asking questions and being polite when ordering food, etc. I found out the Parisians are very conscious of basic courtesy and you should never ask for help or a favor without first expressing a greeting (Bonjour!). I learned several other phrases as well that all came in handy through the day.

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We left the hotel via the rails and went first to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Cathedral was very beautiful. You cross the Seine river to get to the Cathedral. which runs through Paris, on a bridge to get to the Cathedral. We were all impressed at the fast pace of the river.

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There was an impressive statue of Charlemange in the small courtyard outside the front of the cathedral.

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The first buildings of the Cathedral began around 1200 AD with most of the Cathedral walls and towers completed by the end of the thirteenth century.

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It was filled with beautiful stained glass, sculptures, paintings and engravings all around. Feel free to skip any or all of the following pics - I understand!

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Next we took the rail to the stop closest to the Eiffel Tower. We walked the streets of Paris for several blocks until we arrived at the tower. The first sights of it are spectacular. It is 324 feet tall and there are 1665 steps to go from the bottom to the top. Ellie and I rode the lift to the top, Gammy, Justin, Lindsay and Britten took the stairs to the second level (800 steps). The rest of the stairs were closed, so they rode the lift the rest of the way. We met at the top and walked around the sides, looking at the city. The view was obscured by clouds since it was a drizzling, rainy day. We all rode down the lift together to the bottom. Next we visited the Arc of Triumph. It was in a block surrounded by the main streets of Paris on all sides. It is a very impressive piece of architecture. We returned to the Eiffel Tower that evening after seeing our other sights. At 10:00, they turn on lights flashing up and down the length of the tower for about 10 minutes. It is a beautiful sight!

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After this, we found a French bakery for lunch. I ordered a loaf of bread and a sample of several different pastries for all of us to try. It was quite good! Janet had ... After lunch, we headed out to explore the Louvre. The day we were there, the Louvre itself was closed, but the grounds all around it were quite impressive. The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world. There are over 8 miles of corridors in all of its buildings.

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The famous glass pyramid was reserved for some hi-class meeting while we were there, so this is as close as we could get. There are some more pictures of it below.

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One fascinating feature of the glass pyramid is that the designer painted the front of it so that at a given distance, the painting on the pyramid is identical to what you are looking at in the building behind. Look closely at the two pictures below to distinguish between the roof behind and the painting on the glass pyramid.

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After we left the inner court of the Louvre, we walked around the outside blocks. One thing I was captivated by was the shops selling collector's item of small soldiers and other characters. The detail was phenomenal. The characters included Napoleon and Wellington at Waterloo, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, and, of course, Elvis!

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Another thing I enjoyed seeing was the "Place Colette". It made me think of Mom. I bet she never knew she had a theater building in Paris named after her!

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We continued walking around the outside of the Louvre. They had a courtyard type area, paved with tiles and what looked like classrooms on one wall. There was also a beautiful garden that included trees.

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