We entered France from it's eastern border with Switzerland at Basel. We took Highway A36 and caught A6 south of Dijon and took that into Paris. It was a long drive through the beautiful French countryside to Paris. We passed countless farms where the white Charolais cows were enjoying the plentiful grass and clean air. The terrain was basically flat with gently rolling hills.
We visited the Eiffel Tower in the early evening and watched the dazzling light show. We visited it again in the late morning and rode up to the second level, 379 feet above the ground. We saw spectacular views of Paris and the surrounding area.
The tower is 984 feet tall and was completed in 1889. The vast green esplanade beneath the tower is the Parc du Camps-de-Mars. The lilting Trocadero fountains are nearby. During its lifetime, the Eiffel Tower has witnessed a few strange scenes, including being scaled by a mountaineer in 1954, and parachuted off in 1984 by two Englishmen.
This spectacular view from the Eiffel Tower begins with the Palais De Chaillot, which is just across the Seine River. As you can see, the huge Paris metropolitan area is dominated by white buildings. The streets are an interesting mixture of wide and narrow, asphalt and brick and dotted with a plethora of cafes and restaurants, many with outdoor seating.
Paris is 9 miles east to west and 6 miles north to south, giving it an area of 33.5 square miles. The Eiffel Tower is on the south side of the Seine River. The south side is also known as the Left Bank or la Rive Gauche.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. We approached it via the Champs-Elysees. The arc actually stands in the middle of a rotary where twelve streets come together. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon I at the peak of his fortunes. Laying foundations alone took two years, and in 1810 when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed.
Champs-Elysees is the most prestigious and broadest avenue in the City of Paris. With its cafes, and luxury specialty shops, the Champs-Elysees is one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as $1.25 million a year for 1,000 square feet of space, it remains the 2nd most expensive strip of real estate in the world (the first in Europe) after New York City's Fifth Avenue in the U.S. The Champs-Elysees is known in France as La plus belle avenue du monde ("The most beautiful avenue in the world").
To the southwest of Paris is Versailles. We took a short journey from Paris to the lavish 17th-century baroque palace built by Sun King Louis XIV, with its magnificent State Apartment, Hall of Mirrors, and the Royal Chapel. We strolled through parts of the elegant 250-acre Gardens.
The Palace of Versailles began as a modest hunting lodge. Then Louis XIV enlarged and embellished the old lodge, turning it into the great chateau we know today. In 1837, Louis-Philippe converted it into a museum of French History.
The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790. The Hall of Mirrors, Galerie des Glaces, is the biggest room in the Palace of Versailles. It owes its name to the seventeen mirrors facing seventeen arcaded windows overlooking the gardens.
The beautiful gardens disappear into the distance as you view them from the palace. They contain pools of water of varying shapes and sizes. Shrubs, bushes and flowers are arranged in free form patterns throughout the landscape.
Notre Dame Cathedral (Notre Dame de Paris, French for "Our Lady of Paris) is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris. It is an example of French Gothic architecture and among the largest churches in the world. It is situated on a small island in the middle of the Seine River which flows through Paris.
The cathedral of Notre Dame is over eight hundred years old. Construction began in 1163 and it took nearly 200 years to build.
During the French Revolution many of the church’s treasures were plundered or destroyed. Two thousand year ago, during Roman times, all of Paris was on this little island.