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Europe: Paris, France

┬źLuxembourg Europe Overview┬╗

30 June – 3 July 2000

Travel to Paris and the Classic Sights of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe

Friday was spent in transit between Luxembourg and Paris. We first took the 10:15am bus from Echternach to Luxembourg City and then left on the 1:08pm train to Paris. The train was very crowded and we had 10 people in our eight person second class compartment. We were very happy to arrive in Paris about four hours later and to see Sandy’s parents who met us at the train station. They came from vacationing in England to spend the last four days of our trip in Paris with us.

We immediately bought five day Metro passes and made our way to the Gare de Lyon stop where our hotel was located. After we checked in we rode across the city to the Eiffel Tower. It was about 7:30pm and not too crowded so we decided to go up. We bought tickets to go up to the top level and stopped there and at the second level. It was a little hazy but the views were pretty good, especially across the way to the Trocadero, which was built in the early 20th century for an exhibition. We had dinner near the Eiffel Tower and then rode back to the hotel in a crowded Metro car.

On Saturday (1 July) we all met for breakfast at a bakery in the Gare de Lyon train station. We bought three day museum passes, which covered the major museums and churches that we planned to see. We then took the Metro to Notre Dame. We visited the inside of the cathedral and also viewed the crypt. It was too crowded to go up to the roof so we left and then had a picnic lunch in a park. We walked around and went to a bookstore before visiting Sainte Chapelle Church. It had two stories, both of which were beautiful. The second story contained about 2,000 different scenes depicted in stained glass.

We boarded the Metro and rode out to La Defense, which contains an office complex. We walked around a little as it rained and could see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. After a snack there we rode the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe as the rain cleared. We climbed to the top and admired the view of Paris from all sides. Twelve different streets meet at the Arc and it was neat to watch them all. After going back to the hotel and relaxing we had dinner at a sidewalk cafe on the Left Bank.

Paris Museums and Versailles

Our first stop on Sunday was the Musee d’Orsay, which contained art from 1848 to 1914. It is located in an old train station. We visited some sculptures on the lower level and then went upstairs to view some paintings. Among the art we saw was Whistler’s Mother and works by Renoir and Van Gogh. We took a ferris wheel ride at the Place de la Concorde and had good hot dogs with cheese from a booth.

The next stop was Versailles, which is about 10 miles outside of Paris. The palace there was built by Louis XIV in the 17th Century. We toured the Kings wings and the Queen wing. The rooms were very nice but the palace was crowded with several tours. The most impressive room was the Hall of Mirrors, which was very beautiful. It began to rain quite hard as we finished seeing the inside of the palace, so we couldn’t go through the gardens. Instead we had a snack and then went back to Paris and the hotel.

Darren and Sandy went to the Montmartre area of the city to have dinner in a nice old restaurant. After dinner we went to see the Eiffel Tower lit up. The soccer final of the European Championship was being played and France won in over time. As we made our way back to the hotel at about 10:45pm, the celebrations had begun. The Metro ended up being closed down because people were celebrating on the tracks so we had to walk about two miles to the hotel, finally getting back at midnight!

On Monday (3 July) we met for breakfast again at the bakery and then set off for the Louvre Museum. We first saw the incredible scupltures, such as the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. After viewing famous fresco paintings and then visited the main painting gallery. No visit to the Louvre is complete without seeing the Mona Lisa. There were many people crowded around the painting. We also saw the Coronation of Napoleon, which is the largest painting in the museum.

It was raining as we left, and we walked a couple of blocks to a great sandwich place for lunch. After that we visited the Paris Opera House. It was beautiful inside. We couldn’t go into the theater because a rehearsal was taking place, but we were able to peak through a door and watch some of it. The weather had improved after we left the Opera House so we took an hour cruise on the Seine River. The route took us from the Eiffel Tower to just past Notre Dame and then back. We had dinner on the Left Bank and then went to the Eiffel Tower one last time to watch it light up. Starting at 10pm it sparkled for 10 minutes because it was the year 2000. We watched as the sky grew darker as the tower sparkled.

The next day it was time to go home. We all met for breakfast at the train station and then headed to the airport on the train. We boarded our flight to Los Angeles at 1:30pm. We landed, after 11 hours and 21 minutes, at 4:30pm.

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