On the way South to the Eiffel Tower, we passed several things I had to photograph for various family members.
Mom, I thought you would particularly enjoy this:
And Ryan and Jonathan, this is for you:
And I guess this one is, too – a funny covered motorcycle:
When we first reached the Trocadero, I suddenly snapped into full-tourist mode. We’d been in the city for more than a day, but hadn’t seen very much that was, to me (not a former resident), really PARIS. Being the basic American tourist, as we rounded the corner of the Eastern wing of the Palais de Chaillot (i.e. the Architecture museum) and saw the Eiffel tower in full view – let’s just say, I squealed a little and took way too many photos. I made John pose, and he reluctantly complied:
… but he absolutely refused to be party to any ridiculous Eiffel-tower-grabbing touristy nonsense. I was on my own. Do you know how hard it is to line this up correctly when you’re both the photographer and subject? I’m going to pretend that’s the reason I have such a silly expression in this photo.
Really, I think I was just very excited.
We sat on the steps overlooking the fountain, the tower, and the city, and ate another treat we had picked up at Lenotre: Madeleines! Another check off of the list of necessary Parisian snacks, and well worth it. Soft, slightly sweet and slightly lemony, and perfect.
Then after enjoying the view for a few moments more …
… we headed down toward the tower, passing the carousel that I think I took at least one ride on in my youth.
(Although it might have instead been the one across the river.)
As we approached the tower, we both noticed something that neither of us had before. There are names running all the way around the lowest level. We walked to each side and came to the (correct) conclusion that they must all be scientists and mathematicians. We did not recognize most of the names, but all of the ones we did recognize ( e.g. Fourier, Le Chatelier, Daguerre, Lagrange, Laplace, Ampere, Carnot, Legendre, Becquerel, Cauchy, Fresnel, Coulomb, Foucault, Lavoisier, Poisson, Wurtz, Clapeyron) fell into that category. “Dumas” threw us off when we reached the Northeast side of the tower – but looking it up later, we discovered it was a different Dumas then the one that originally came to mind.
It seemed a little funny at first, since now the Eiffel Tower is a cultural symbol of the city of Paris – but of course originally it was an impressive feat of engineering, so the science-oriented inscriptions make sense.
We strolled through the Champ de Mars, then exited to the east, hoping to reach the Rodin Museum before closing. Despite the specific destination in mind, John was willing to patiently pose for more self-portraits.
We passed some more interesting sights on the streets – a rotisserie stand, an all-cashmere clothing store, a grocery store that we went into and got kicked out of. (We were ejected because I had my jacket hood up. I think this is related to anti-Islam sentiment feelings, and Muslim women not being allowed to wear their head scarves in some public places. Or maybe not. Either way, the grocery store bouncer told John that I might be trying to steal something in my hoodie – and we promptly left.)
We also saw another classic American pizza joint, and its delivery fleet…
… and on the opposite end of the beauty spectrum, Les Invalides, a veteran’s home from the 17th century with a hospital and chapel and 15 courtyards, including an extra large one for military parades.
Yet another of the day’s many unexpected sights was a giant squad of police decked out in riot gear outside our destination – the Rodin museum. It was very strange – people walking dogs, tourists, families with strollers were all allowed to enter the street without any problems – but clearly something was going on, or about to begin. The whole scene was a little disconcerting. These white vans filled with policemen lined the entire block, all the way to the end.
Whatever was happening, we didn’t stick around to find out. We’d arrived 15 minutes too late to enter the museum, so continued down the sidewalk, sneaking peeks through the wall at the gardens and their sculptures, like The Burghers of Calais.
Of course we only got to see their backsides, but it was pretty cool nevertheless. (Here’s the front view.)
This sculpture has an interesting story behind it that I’d never heard – it represents six men who volunteered to give up their lives to save the other people of their city – and I recommend the wikipedia article (link above). More interesting still: there are 13 casts of this sculpture, the original of which is in Calais as a monument to the men, and not all of them are presented as they are here, as a group on a single pedestal. Some have the figures separated, and each displayed at some distance from the others.
Our last sight of the day before our stroll along the river was the National Assembly building…
… and its gift store across the street, where you could buy patriotic hens, chicks, roosters, or plush dogs.
Cute, but a little odd!