Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Paris - Best Seen From Sky

We fly over Paris, checking out the real view, much more than a walk with a map on the ground. Hang on, here we go!!!

An overall wide view to begin with shows the immense operation of town planning which has created, on left bank of the Seine, a whole modern district. Offices, apartments and hotels grace these turns. The district is still in expansion mode, with the highest building of Europe.

Built for the Exposition Universelle of 1889, the Eiffel Tower is the work of engineer Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the metal frame of the Statue of Liberty. The most famous French monument, which inspired so many writers, singers, artists, did not always have the notoriety. At the beginning, many personalities protested against this project: “Useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower… which even the blatantly commercial America would not like.” With its aerial, the Tower amounts to 320,75 Mr. It comprises 15.000 metal parts and 2.500.000 rivets. It shelters a restaurant of first order, the Jules Verne's. On the left of the Eiffel Tower, is the Champ de Mars.

In 1677, Le Nôtre, the brilliant inventor of des jardins à la Française “who could not suffer the limited sights”, decided to prolong the prospect for des Tuileries - its work by a double line of elms. It is the outline of des Champs-Élysées. This alley finishes then with the roundabout, also traced by Le Nôtre. In the 18th century, des Champs-Élysées - this name goes back in fact to 1789 - are prolonged up to the level of de l’Étoile puis du Pont de Neuilly. The cycle race “the turn of France” is completed traditionally on this avenue, that the runners traverse 10 times. They go up to the Roundabout, turn and go down again, in the middle of an enthusiastic crowd and good child.

La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, which with the aspect of a wedding cake, is a popular tourist place, undoubtedly because of its situation in full Montmartre and of the sight that one has there on Paris and beyond, up to 50 km in clear weather. Following demolishion of 1870/71, the National Assembly, trained by the French catholics, decided to construct it as a sign of hope. Searches and subscriptions are organized. One can “buy” a stone, or a pillar, or a column. One needed an enormous carriage trailed by more than 20 pairs of oxen to hoist the Savoyard there, one of the largest bells of the world (19 tons).

This ensemble des Invalides is the symbol of the classical architecture in its perfection. “L’ Hôtel Royal des Invalides”, built from 1871 to 1876, was wanted by Louis XIV to lodge the thousands of wounded soldiers. On July 14, 1789, a crowd attacked the buildings, neutralized the guards and seized 30.000 rifles which would be used against him to conquer the Bastille. The Revolution was launched. In 1840, ashes of Napoleon were transported there. The famous mausoleum would be completed only 25 years later. The esplanade of the Invalids, long and broad of 250, 500 m was arranged at the beginning of 18th. The cupola (depend on the Church of the Dome) was regilded in 1937; One needed 350.000 sheets of gold, if thin that the whole weighed only 6 kg.

Following a wish, Louis XIV decides to build a news and sumptuous church for the abbey of co. Genevieve, owner of Paris. She will have the shape of a Greek cross. Started in 1758, the building will be completed only the day before the Revolution. You think well that the government of then, the Constituent one, did not leave him this religious vocation. It is transformed into temple intended to receive “the great men of the time of French freedom”. It is the Pantheon, with its famous inscription: “With the great men, the grateful fatherland”. Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo rest there, and also Jean Moulin, hero of Resistance, killed by the Nazis during the 2nd world war. The church on the left is the church Saint-Etienne-Of-Mount. Beside the church, the college Henri IV with, emmaillotée of scaffolding, the tower of Clovis, only vestige of the Holy-Genevieve Abbey.

General sight of the two islands of the Seine, the heart of Paris: in the foreground, the Island of the City, cradle of the capital. It is there, in IIIème century before J.C., that the tribe of Parisii settles. They found Lutèce which, at the first century after J.C., will become a small Gallo-Roman village. Notre-Dame appears later; law courts also, with the Ste Chapelle which one sees with the background. Saint Louis had ordered the construction of holy Chapelle to shelter the relic of the crown of the Christ, whom it had brought back of the crusade. It is a true jewel, a genuine ECRIN, with splendid stained glasses.

La Place de la République is a creation of d’Haussmann which arranges, as from 1854, this vast space in order to defuse the popular quarters of the Parisian East, too unsettling for its liking. The course between the Republic and the Bastille has seen numerous political processions and the steps of working protest. On the right, the barracks Hook ropes, also built in the time of d’Haussmann to shelter 2000 people. The monument of the Republic, in the center, dates back to 1883.

To conclude our flight, I present this building built in a circle to you: The House of the Radio. Built in 1963, it shelters the various services of Radio-France. Many kilometers of labyrinthine corridors make rooms even harder to find than in the Pentagon, Washington. But it does not shelter all the studios of radio; it is just one of the several buildings housing the radio in the capital. Perhaps it was considered too small…

from the book “Au-dessus de Paris” edited by Robert Laffont.

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