One of the draws of Paris is the Left Bank of the Seine, the area of Sorbonne, Les Jardins de Luxembourg, and Notre Dame Cathedral. The Left Bank also features the American Church of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, or Tour Eiffel. I was able to spend quality time on both banks of the Seine, upon leaving Tuileries. The place to begin, for me, was Place de la Concorde. Below are slightly elevated views of this historic, and bustling place.
The whole thing with the golden, and the gilded, in this site of compelling history, is that it is only very recently in the scheme of things that the gold has come to belong to the people. King Louis Philippe I, in the mid-19th Century, found his forebears’ self-obsession misguided, and determined that it was the nation of France, not the king himself, which was due for glory. Thus, the royal properties came to truly belong to the people. In the midst of Place de la Concorde is an obelisk. It symbolizes France’s endurance, and was designed to liken the country’s glory to that of Egypt. Nicknamed, Cleopatra’s Needle, the structure was Louis Philippe’s way of showing France, and the world, that the Revolution was over, as it replaced the guillotine that occupied this spot. In fact, he would be the focus of the people’s anger during the upheavals of 1848, and would leave France again in the hands of the Bonapartes. Here is the obelisk, which is better than a guillotine, in my humble estimation.
As with all Bourbon-era public monuments, Place de la Concorde has its share of allusions to classical Greek and Roman mythology. We see this abundantly in Tuileries, the Louvre and the Chateau de Versailles. Here, a cherub blows his trumpet, whilst mounted on Pegasus.
Andre Le Notre was one of the main architects of Tuileries, and of the magnificence that surrounds the gardens, on both sides.
Once sauntering past Place de la Concorde, the magnificence continues. My path took me along the Seine, on the Left Bank, but towards Embassy Row and Le Tour d’Eiffel, rather than towards Ile de la Cite and the Latin Quarter. Roma people came up to me three times, along the Seine. Each one would drop a gold ring in the dust, pretend to have just found it, and offer it to me, as a souvenir of Paris, for “petit monnaie”. I deferred each time, having actually seen them drop the piece. Here is the Seine, from the Romani vantage point.
Given the right incentives, I think the Roma make marvelous LEGITIMATE entrepreneurs. I know a few here in the States who have become so. Next, I came upon an East Asian couple, just married in the American Church of Paris, who were having their wedding photos taken in front of the church. A few business people insisted on photobombing the scene, but I was brought up differently, and kept a respectful distance. Here is a view of the church.
Eiffel Tower is an imposing monument, surrounded by the signature beautiful French gardens, which are everywhere, and always tres magnifique. After a nice “emportee” (to-go) lunch in La Reservee ( the park surrounding the tower), I took photos from the base, opting not to climb the tower, as the lines were long and I had much to yet accomplish in the hours ahead. Here is a view of the garden.
Equally impressive is L’Arc de Triomphe. The traffic on Champs Elysees is phenomenal and swift, but I got close enough for several scenes.
Such was the first, very full day of my first complete day in the City of Light.
NEXT: A Day in Versailles, Chateau and Town