A visit to Paris, Nantes … Etc. [France]

If you love art, Paris is a great city to visit. There was fantastic weather the first couple of days and thereafter it got progressively colder, not surprising, considering it was November.

* Paris is truly multi-cultural, with Africans, Chinese, Arabs …

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.
The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

* Louvre is just AMAZING. Great brochure with directions (easy to navigate), spotlessly clean and just some mind-blowing pieces of art. I just had 6 hours to spare there and could barely touch upon the main highlights. It definitely warrants further visits in future

Venus de Milo: From around 100BC ... (Louvre Museum)
Venus de Milo: From around 100BC … (Louvre Museum)
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The gallery of Marble artwork … (Louvre Museum)
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The Winged Victory of Samothrace, a 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Louvre Museum)
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An art that needs no introduction. Mona Lisa, by Leonardo di Vinci’s masterpiece. In a huge hall, this painting is the star attraction and the sheer number of people in this hall is testimony to its appeal … (Louvre Museum)
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The crowd milling around Mona Lisa and other artwork …. (Louvre Museum)
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One of the many ornate ceilings of Louvre Museum …
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“The coronation of Napoleon I”, a painting by David from 1807 … (Louvre Museum)
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“The Seated Scribe”: Department of Egyptian Antiquities. From the late prehistoric period to the late Middle Kingdom (1710 BC) (Louvre Museum)
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“Self portrait with a thistle”: By Durer … (Louvre Museum)
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“The Lacemaker”: The famous painting by the Dutch artist Vermeer … (Louvre Museum)
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One of the many fantastic exhibits from the Napoleon Quarters at Louvre Museum …
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Horses restrained by grooms, known as The Marly Horses: France, 17th and 18th centuries (Louvre Museum)
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Fayum Mummy Portrait, Egypt, 130AD (approximately). Paintings like these were painted on wooden boards attached to mummies from the Coptic period (Louvre Museum)
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Basin known as the “Baptistere of Saint Louis” – From Egypt or Syria … (Louvre Museum)
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Saint Mary Magdalene … (Louvre Museum)
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“Cheat with the ace of diamonds”: A painting by the French artist Georges de La Tour …. (Louvre Museum)
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Compelling entrance to the Louvre Museum …
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Well, the famous pyramid at the Louvre Museum. The ticket counters and souvenir shops are beneath this pyramid …

* Since I visited Musee Orsay after Lovure, it was a little underwhelming, but still definitely worth a visit for the fans of Monet, Manet, Sisley, Van Gogh, Cezanne Etc. My favourite was the works of Alfred Sisley. Visit is free the 1st Sunday of the month

Musee Orsay, from Seine River ...
Musee Orsay, from Seine River …
Musee Orsay, from the top floor. Compared to the humongous Louvre, Orsay is a tiny museum.
Musee Orsay, from the top floor. Compared to the humongous Louvre, Orsay is a tiny museum.

* Baguettes! Loved it … Had it whenever I could

Baguettes ... Yum!
Baguettes … Yum!

* Eiffel Tower: The elevator ride up was superb. Eiffel Tower is much taller than it looks. Once you reach the very top, that is when the height strikes you. The views all around was well worth the long queues. It took roughly 1.5 hours just to get to the ticket counter. If you get to plan the trip well ahead of time, it is definitely better to buy the tickets online, well in advance. I wish they allowed people to climb up the stairs (Stairs in the 3rd stage are for repair work and not meant for folks with Vertigo). I wonder how long it would take me to climb a 100-storey tower like the Eiffel

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Eiffel Tower, the face of Paris. A remarkable structure. As you can see there are 3 stages. Stage1 has elevators and stairs. Stage 2 and Stage 3 requires elevators. It does not look tremendously tall from the bottom. But man, from the top, it sure is 100 storey+
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The queue at Eiffel Tower. It took us 1.5hr to get to the counter!
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Eiffel Tower at dusk … Taken from the boat during the Seine River Cruise
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View from the top … Eiffel Tower. The garden area where I returned the next day early in the morning
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I love this picture showing the view from the top of Eiffel Tower, for the shadow you can see in the foreground …
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View from the top of Eiffel Tower …
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View of Palais de Chaillot from atop Eiffel Tower

* If you love pastries, I guess France is a must visit. I do not eat much pastries and could not go beyond tasting a few items …

Pastries galore ... Calorie-free I am sure ;-)
Pastries galore … Calorie-free I am sure 😉

* The Paris Metro network is pretty good, though quite tacky and ill-maintained in a few areas … The multi-day passes come handy

The Paris Metro train ... There are several lines within the Paris Metro. It will take a day or so to get used to it ...
The Paris Metro train … There are several lines within the Paris Metro. It will take a day or so to get used to it …

* One of the highlights of the trip for me was the (very) early morning visit to Eiffel Tower from the Hotel. It was part jogging and part brisk walking … It was surreal to be alone in an area, where just hours earlier, thousands of people were crowded together

* The area around Notre-Dame Cathedral, as expected, is quite historic and you can make it out from the ornate roads and bridges

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Notre Dame Cathedral … You can also catch a unique view of the Cathedral from the Seine River, during the River Cruise
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A close-up of the kind of work on the Notre Dame façade …
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The Pont de l’Archevêché spans the Seine just behind Notre-Dame Cathedral … Also called the “Love Bridge”. Notice all the locks …

* The River Cruise on Seine was well worth it. You get to see all those ornate bridges up close

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Notice the bridges spanning Seine … Each bridge had some unique work on it …
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You can see the floating restaurants getting ready for the dinner crowd … During the Seine River Cruise

* Sacre Coeur Basilica sure has a prime location. The views from the Basilica was awesome … There were tremendous crowds in and around the Basilica. Amazingly, a mass was going on, while tourists were happily clicking photographs

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The view from Sacre Coeur Basilica … As I said, the Basilica is on top of a hill, and the roads to it are filled with souvenir shops
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Sacre Coeur Basilica, in all its glory …

* TGV, like other high speed trains in the other countries I have visited (Germany, South Korea, Japan Etc.) was pretty nippy. And it was right on time. For 15.20 train, the doors closed at 15.19!

* Nantes is a historical city with a Chateau and a Cathedral right at the centre of the Town. Roaming the streets of Nantes was a fun experience. Though it was quite cold, I also managed to do an early morning jog in the downtown area

The mechanical elephant in Nantes ... When I visited, it was not operational. Kids would love it, I guess ...
The mechanical elephant in Nantes … When I visited, it was not operational. Kids would love it, I guess …
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Chateau in Nantes … Entrance was free. Did not get a lot of time for exploring, though …
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Cathedral in Nantes … As expected, very ornate and central to the Town
Downtown Nantes ...
Downtown Nantes …

France is a country which requires multiple visits. Paris is just the start. I hope to be back soon for more explorations.

Adios!

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