Glimpses of Paris

When it was built, the Eiffel Tower was a temporary exhibit and was to be taken down. But the creator, Gustav Eiffel found ways to keep the tower in use. He created a weather laboratory, a military watch tower, and a radio station atop the mammoth spire. Ultimately, the tower stayed. Such was its grandeur that when Hitler ordered it’s demolition the Nazi governor of Paris chose to disobey him rather than demolish it. It’s only when you see the Eiffel Tower you know what it is — truly a marvel.

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The Arc de triomphe or Arch of the triumphant star was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 after the famous victory at Austerlitz. Ironically only his dead body could visit the monument in 1840 on way to its final resting place down the Champs Elysses at des invalides.

All my life, I had visualized Arc de triomphe to be an older cousin of the India Gate: after all how different can one gate be from another?

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One look at Napoleon’s arc and I knew how wrong I was. Not only is it much larger and grander, but, like everything else in Paris, it is as intricate and elaborate as it is imposing. The statues that adorn the gate, the flag that flutters inside the arc, the heap of flowers at it’s base — all leave you feeling like a tiny, almost insignificant speck in the larger scheme of things.

If you notice the people and the vehicles around it and you’d know how huge the arc is.

 

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Paris was born over two thousand years ago from a tiny island in the middle of Seine.  The tiny island today houses the most iconic cathedral of the city, and perhaps the world — the Notre Dame. Always bustling with visitors and tourists — and yet staying quiet and calm, the cathedral still stands tall and strong showing no sign of age or fatigue.

 

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Musse de Louvre, perhaps the most coveted museum in the whole wide world, and rightly so. With over 35,000 exhibits, the museum takes over a week to cover, and yet you may not be done. The grand gallery is so wide that it can accommodate two passenger trains side by side, the courtyard so grand that it can accommodate a small town in itself.  The Louvre’s conversion from a palace to museum happened in 1793 when the Louis the XIV decided to move to the Palace of Versailles.

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The home of Monalisa and Last Supper, the abode Venus De Milo and The Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre often resembles a fair ground on the outside. And yet, it remains one of the most enigmatic places in Paris.

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