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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rodin to Napoleon to Victor Hugo: All in a day's work.

Someone has actually trade marked this!
Saturday:  October 29th, 2011

We got our wonderful guides back today, Michel and Chantal.  We planned a late start because we were going to stay in the city late.  MA and I walked to their flat around 11:00 AM and we were off to the city about an hour later.  Saturday is a busy day in Paris with all the tourists.  We don’t know how Michel does it but he always finds a parking place near where we want to get out.  On all the streets we were on today I can count on one hand the number of empty curb parking spots I saw.  Traffic and pedestrians are everywhere, and I mean everywhere!

Our first stop was the Rodin Museum, a place MA really wanted to see.  And bless his heart, Michel got all of us Air France discount tickets.  The only thing I knew about August Rodin is that he was a sculptor and he is famous for his “The Thinker” statue, which is the most famous of his artwork. In fact it's the first thing we saw when we entered the courtyard. 

We wandered about the grounds taking in more than a dozen other very interesting sculptures. Inside the museum there were many smaller sculptures on display and also two Van Gogh’s and a Renoir. I liked Rodin as an artist because you don’t have to try and figure out what he is saying with his art.  The guy could really imitate the human body.  I think of him as the French equivalent to Michelangelo. 

We had a lunch in the Rodin café which for me was a very good tuna sandwich.  MA had quiche.  As they say when in Paris, “Eat like the Parisians”. Not sure where tuna sandwiches fit in there, but surely the quiche did!

After the Rodin Museum, we walked around the corner to the “Hotel des Invalides” which was built to serve injured and disabled French soldiers, kind of like French “Walter Reed Hospital” that also serves as a residence for the disabled. The “Invalides” was built during the reign of King Louis XIV in 1670.
The service motto there is:  “That those who have risked their lives and lavished their blood in defense of the monarchy….may spend the rest of their days in peace.”  We saw a few WWII era soldiers in wheelchairs near the entrance to one of the wings of the buildings. The “Invalides” is also a military museum and the final resting place for the Emperor, Napoleon.  We did not get to see his elevated wooden coffin because it was near closing time.  But over it is a huge golden dome, very impressive.
I wish I'd thought of that!


Making our way out of the east door Michel’s Toyota was just down the street and we were off to the next adventure. We drove around allowing us to take in some more of the sights including the Place de la Concorde.   During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed "Place de la Révolution".
The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Frace, Charlotte, Madame du Barry, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Antoine Lavoisier, Maximilien Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just and Olympe de Gourg.
The guillotine was most active during the "Reign of Terror", in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed. A year later, when the revolution was taking a more moderate course, the guillotine was removed from the square. Execution of Louis XVI took place in the “Place de la Révolution”. The empty pedestal in front of his had supported a statue of his grandfather, Louis XV, and it was torn down during one of the many revolutionary riots.

The square was then renamed Place de la Concorde as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution. It continued to undergo a series of name changes in the nineteenth century, but the city eventually settled on Place de la Concorde.
I hope you enjoyed the history lesson!

From there we made our way to the Place des Vosges, a beautiful square built by King Henri IV in 1605.  It   is a true square, 140m X 140m and contains the former residence of Victor Hugo.  Michel again immediately spotted a parking place but as we got out of the car it started to rain lightly so we kept under the covered arched walkways. We were looking for a nice place to eat, but our first stop was a reject when the snobby waiter’s first words were “Cash only! No credit cards, thumping the menu where that was spelled out.” 
Even our Parisians friends were taken aback so we decided to dine elsewhere, settling on Café Victor Hugo.  I had a “Croque Monsieur” sandwich with “frites” and MA had Fettuccini, Michel and Chantal enjoyed steaks.  It was a good change of restaurant as the waiters were very accommodating.  In fact, that’s been our experience all week, very, very nice and helpful folks, all over the city. 
Place de Voges
Michel wanted to treat us to a special ice cream he likes a lot so we piled into his Toyota and drove over to the Isle St. Louis, directly behind the Notre Dame Cathedral.  I got some great night exposures of that famous Gothic structure.  It was still raining lightly and turning chilly so we decided to call it a day and headed by to Nogent-sur-Marne and our hotel.  It was a great day of seeing some special places in Paris with some very special friends.
Notre Dame at night

And for our TLC friends, we remembered to pray for the class and Barbara Eversberg’s lesson.  We thank her for stepping in for MA and Paul.  Our prayers were about 2:30 your time but the Lord didn’t care about the time!


  1. Wayne,

    Really enjoyed the travel update. Lots of history around there - thanks for the commentary. I hate to keep saying this - but I can't wait to see the D3s shots. Hope you had an op for Notre Dame interior shots. Keep the updates coming - nice way for me to start the day.

    HAVE A GOD BLESSED DAY - dave b.

  2. Hi Wayne!
    Nuts, just erased my comment! As I was saying, hearing about those poor souls who lost their heads in the Place de la Concorde was fascinating! My experience of having seen it back in the early 80s was with Randy. I didn't care much about such details back then, as I was so much in love with him and Paris!
    Bisous, Nola


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