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To Paris via London – Part 3 – Paris – Iron Maiden – Disneyland

Weather forecasts change from day to day. These days, Paris was promised heavy rain, but it’s just hot sunshine. I like it already. Sun! Keep it up.

The art day started slowly. The first museum is the world-famous Louvre museum with its most famous work of art – the Mona Lisa. There are a lot of people both outside and inside the museum area. At first it seems that there will be a queue, but it is not the busiest part of the tourist season and we spend only 20 minutes in the queue. The never-ending tour of the artworks can begin. There are a lot of works, but in my opinion a lot of them looks similar. Of course the hall where Mona Lisa is located is full and they even control the entry limits. Everything else is relatively more relaxed, but when I get to French artworks on the second floor, I get the feeling of where the tourists have lost. Even the basement floors near the antique art are very comfortable and small crowded. The building sometimes seems more impressive than the works themselves. The recommendation is to research the art movements and artists you want to see before you visit so you can understand which part of the building to go to, because it is huge and sometimes I walk into the same point where I have already been at some point. A leisurely visit to Louvre would take up the whole day.

– The arch and Ferris wheel next to Louvre
– Looking through Louvre windows, you can see the glass pyramid, and beyond it the Tuileries Garden
– After the arch, I can see Concordia square at the end and the obelisk in the centre (Egypt gift to France, according to the guide, the obelisk took seven years to transport, 19th century). In the distance you can see the main arch in Paris – the Arc de Triomphe.
– Tourists and art lovers crowd – everyone wants to see The Mona Lisa up close
– Louis XIV – Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701
– One of the rooms in Louvre where artists have historically worked. The Mona Lisa is in the room beside.
– Model of Louvre

Time to visit Mister Bean’s ruined painting in the Musée d’Orsay. Near Louvre. The Musée d’Orsay is not as good as Louvre, it doesn’t have as many exhibits, but it’s good. Lots of different sculptures. The museum is united by one huge space, which is astonishing in its scale. There are art exhibits on the sides of the space, on several floors, and sculptures all along the middle of the space. Today, the time for studying art is over. I don’t need much good, and I need rest. I wouldn’t say that art exploration has come to an end. There will still be a day to visit the palace of Versailles. That will be enough for today.

– At the entrance to the Musée d’Orsay are several sculptures
– Inside the Musée d’Orsay, view of the entrance/exit. The size of the people at the end of the room can give an idea of its size.
– Whistler’s Mother by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1871
– An episode from the movie where Mister Bean “ruined” a painting
– The Musée d’Orsay hosted two temporary exhibitions of artworks. One by the architect Antonio Gaudi and the other by the sculptor Aristide Maillol. The picture shows Maillol’s work, which is used in all the advertising for the temporary exhibition.

Every day comes faster and faster. It seems like the day has just begun, and I wake up in the evening wondering what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Today is Friday, which was supposed to be a day of free improvisation. The day is spent solo exploring the city. I start by going to La Villette Park, which is home to a science museum. I don’t visit the museum itself, but I walk around the park and take a few pictures of the highlights.

– Fountain at La Villette Park
– Installation in La Villette Park. Mirrored surface of the plates.
– A giant mirror ball at Europe’s largest science museum in Paris

Next, I’m going to places that are well visited by tourists. Such as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which is only accessible from the outside, due to a not too recent event (the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris). At the foot of the building, there are more crooks on duty, here two ladies are apparently asking for some kind of donation, and there are already several entries on the list (most probably fake, as creativity is needed here too). I kindly shook my head twice to signal that I was not interested in their business idea. The guide for the second part of the day mentioned that the floor of this building had recently collapsed during renovation work because the workers had not been digging in the right place, but had successfully forged new burials.

– Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, currently closed to the public
– On the other side of the cathedral, you can see the intensive renovation work and the numerous containers for the renovators
– Paris National Opera, a magnificent building that is also currently being renovated
– One of the sculptures on the roof of the opera house

I have a guided visit to the Eiffel Tower at the end of the evening, so I fill the interval with photographing the views of Paris and going to the Arc de Triomphe to see the city from a different angle.

– The road to the Arc de Triomphe. Lots of cars and then lots of people.
– The stairs leading up and down from the Arc de Triomphe

The view from the arch is magnificent, as the circle around the arch connects countless roads, and this is one of the busiest intersections in Europe (according to the guide). The cityscape makes you stop in time.

– From the old arch, the new arch can be seen in the distance (La Defense district)
– Of course, from the arch you can see the most famous landmark in Paris – Eiffel Tower.
– The Sacred Heart Cathedral (Sacré-Cœur) is faintly visible in the distance from the Arc de Triomphe

Grand Finale of the day – Eiffel Tower. I walked around the tower from all sides and distances, because of the time and because there are other sights nearby. At the foot of the tower, there is a different kind of pseudo artists, with a group of people – pretending strangers, one playing with three cups (boxes on the other side of the tower), the others showing off their tracking skills. The essence of the game (scam) is to track the ball, if you put in a certain amount of money and return the ball, you get double the amount. The persons involved both win and lose, creating a trustability effect. I tried to film the whole thing, but one of the people involved was purposely standing in front of the camera. I get tired of the fake show, and my time to visit the tower is approaching, so I go to the appointed meeting point with the guide. The plan is to see the very top level of the tower, but unfortunately it was already closed for the evening (it tends to close for various reasons, so there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen just in time for your visit). My visit to the tower starts with the 674 steps of the staircase, and a guided tour of the sights that can be seen from the tower (information that may be useful when thinking about what to see in the city, but I had all the sights marked in advance, I just won’t get to see all the sights on this visit to Paris). A few unknown facts about the city and the tower, and the guide’s story ends. I would say he told relatively little. We spent more time walking up the stairs. There is an option to take the elevator and just take photos and pictures on the first and second level of the tower. Even without being at the very top of the tower, where Alexandre Gustave Eiffel had set up his working room, you have a magnificent view of the city. The district (La Défense), where skyscrapers are allowed, stands out. The modern Arc de Triomphe, built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the old arch, shines among the skyscrapers. Other tourist attractions can be seen from the tower. There are souvenir shops on the second level of the tower, I think at a higher price than other shops on the ground, but people buy. On the first level there is a bar where you can sit and enjoy the view with a drink. Downstairs, mostly everyone takes the elevator, but I don’t wait in line and quickly make my way down the stairs. The Eiffel gave great views, but the tower itself looks better from a distance. It’s starting to get dark, so I can think about rest time. I meet my traveling companion at the Arc de Triomphe, and go off to rest after 12 hours of active walking. Time to gather our strength to explore the big area of the Palace of Versailles.

– The Eiffel Tower looks great in the sunny weather
– The curious on the first level of the tower visit, as you can see the tower is under renovation
– The original tower staircase and paint have been preserved. This is the color that the whole tower was originally.
– From the tower you can see the square on the other side of Seine, some museums and even the aquarium (the guide recommended the aquarium)
– The House of Invalids, with the War Museum and the Cathedral with Napoleon’s sarcophagus
– On the other side of the Eiffel Tower is the park where the horse races were held on the day of the visit. In the distance you can see the Montparnasse Tower, which is open to tourists (another recommendation from the guide is to visit this skyscraper at night, just after sunset, to enjoy the illuminated Eiffel Tower).

Time to get up, but it’s cloudy outside and it looks like rain. On days like this I usually want to sleep more, but Versailles is calling. A quick drive from the hotel and Versailles is under foot. Versailles is a place where you can step back in time, but at the same time be right there. In an age of royalty and luxury. King Louis XIV spared no French money and invested it purposefully in his fantasies of how a king should live. Parts of the palace look ornate and gilded, there are paintings of many war battles, many statues of generals and busts. All about victories and successful leaders.

– The central entrance to the Palace of Versailles, the ornate roofs of the palace, even on a cloudy day they glow

Although it’s cloudy outside and raining for the first part of the day, there are plenty of tourists. In the first halls, there are real traffic jams at the doors, but further inside the large masses of tourists disperse. I expected more from the palace itself, but it’s worth looking at the originality of the paintings and the scale of how it’s all been made.

– A magnificent room in the palace. It’s not wide, but you wouldn’t recognise the person at the other end.
– Coronation of Napoleon – Jacques Louis David, 1807
– Portrait of Emperor Napoleon I by Francois Gerard, 1806

Next to the palace is a large garden or park area, divided into blocks, each with its own fountain. The larger blocks have larger fountains. Some of the fountains activate every 15 minutes and present a mini-show accompanied by music, and in the afternoon all the fountains in the park work for about an hour. You can also have a meal in the territory. After visiting the palace and the park, the road leads to the place where the kings and queens rested before the palace was built. The place is not far from the palace and is called the Trianon, a small and luxurious building where wealthy people lived. For example, King Louis XIV enlarged the place, remodelled it, and later Napoleon himself had a study in the building. The Trianon is divided into a small building and a large building. Marie Antoinette lived in the small one. The two buildings are linked by a small park, small in my opinion, but much more tasteful than the large park at the Palace of Versailles. Only there are no fountains. A visit to the small Trianon is the end of the visit to Versailles and we can go back to the hotel. The territory of the Palace of Versailles are much larger, even for active walkers one day might not be enough. A long but educational day.

– The vast gardens of the Palace of Versailles. They offer transport for hire so you can drive around and see everything.
– Each part of the garden has its own name. This one is “Orangery”.
– Looking back at the castle from the fountain in the central part of the park
– I loved this fountain. I couldn’t wait for it to start working, but the idea is already impressive.
– There are also new and modern fountains
– Almost all fountains have fine details and beauty to be admired for a while
– The big Trianon no longer has the same luxury rooms as the palace itself, but the opulence remains
– Garden at the big Trianon
– The garden between the big and the small Trianon

– Fountain in action

The last day of the week is set to end with a proper rock concert at Europe’s biggest arena (La Défense Arena), a few stops from our hotel. Sunday started with an addition to our traveler group, and now we are five people. We are all going to see Iron Maiden, which is sold out. Before the concert we make a quick visit to the war museum where Napoleon is buried in an impressive sarcophagus in the nearby cathedral. As the name of the museum suggests, the whole theme is about war. The main focus is on the time of Louis XIV and Napoleon. When the French had one of the best cavalries in the world. There is also information about the two world wars. It is noteworthy that this place is called the House of Invalids, and the buildings mentioned above are part of it. The quick visit to the museum is over, and it’s time to go to the arena, as the concert started at 18:00 and will finish at 22:00.

– Exterior of the House of Invalids
– The roofs of the buildings are also strictly war-themed
– Armour even for young children
– Historical photography of Hitler posing in front of the Eiffel Tower
– Next to Napoleon’s sarcophagus is his statue, all gilded
– Napoleon’s sarcophagus with his ashes.

We are in the middle of the arena during the concert, and the feeling of that huge space is impressive. 40 000 people attended the concert. Iron Maiden had two warm-up bands. Lord Of The Lost and Airbourne. I like some of Airbourne’s songs better than the main band of the night, but of course the concert is all about Iron Maiden. A good and “heavy” concert. The atmosphere is great. We and the rest of the crowd go home. After waiting a bit for the big crowd to leave, we also wait for our train and go to our hotels to start the week with a visit to Disneyland Paris, Europe’s biggest park (by attendance).

– The opening band, Airbourne, had a huge flag in the background
– One of the last Iron Maiden stage decoration
– The last Iron Maiden song

The week has started with a great weather. We go to the amusement park to spin, roar and enjoy the amusement park rides. The whole amusement park is divided into three parts. Two parks that are separated from each other, i.e. you can buy separate tickets, and one common part where there are only eateries and souvenir shops. One of the parks has peaceful activities and there are not so many restrictions on activities (age and height). We start the day with the “calm” or small park. Among the attractions I would like to highlight the 4D attraction, where 3D glasses are used and we play the role of Ratatouille the Gourmet Rat. If you look at the screen and enjoy the attraction, you really get the feeling of running under tables, jumping and falling, and being splashed around a bit. Another good free-fall attraction in the small park is the one at the beginning of the ride, when you don’t know what to expect. There are still a few rides in the small park, but we have to hurry to the big park because it’s a one-day visit and we want to try as many rides as possible, because part of the time is spent queuing, which can take up to an hour for the more interesting rides. During the last two hours when the park is open (from 9:30 to 23:00), the queues are relatively short, so you can try the most interesting rides more often and faster. The big park already has more exciting attractions, with a sharper sensation. The craziest include a roller-coaster ride on rocks, sometimes in total darkness, Indiana Jones 360-degree loop and The Star Wars acceleration ride where the movements are so fast you’d rather lean your head against a chair. There are also several attractions where the calm atmosphere takes you into different stories from Disney World, such as Pirates of the Caribbean. The time goes fast and the evening arrives without noticing. The evening ends with a drone show and a firework in the centre of the big park. This year is the 30th anniversary of the park and there is a special drone show to celebrate. There are a lot of people, everywhere you look is full of people. We find a spot almost in the central square and wait patiently for the show, about an hour before the big evening show, which starts at closing time (22:55). Slowly it gets dark and the show can begin. The timing is perfect, which makes the atmosphere even more spectacular. It is a must to experience it in person, as the show is available to record on the internet, but this will not give you that feeling of presence and magic. Drones fly and fireworks fire. Great! When it’s all over, the big crowd slowly starts to leave the park. We go back to the train to return to Paris for the last day of this trip.

– A short ride until the stop reaches “crazy car”. Flames are thrown and waters are poured!
– Free fall attraction building
– Stylish fountain at Ratatouille attraction
– Pirates of the Caribbean themed, not only an interesting attraction, but also scenery outside
– Entrance to Indiana Jones attraction
– Crazy ride between the rocks with a train
– The iconic princess castle, found in the opening of all Disney cartoons (not only)
– A view of the park’s central object just before dark and the start of the show
– Playing with the lights and objects in the dark
– If you look at the picture, you can see the “flies” behind the castle, or the drone taking off before the show
– The so-often-seen semicircle created by drones
– Of course, to celebrate the park’s 30th anniversary, the figure is also represented by drones

It was a long day at the amusement park, but that didn’t stop us from new things in Paris on the next day. The last day of the trip is spent in relaxed mode, with a mid-day visit to the Paris Catacombs, a place where human bones were moved from various cemeteries to solve burial site problems a few hundred years ago. The bones are piled up like firewood. The catacombs are under the houses in Paris. At the moment, only 2 kilometres of the catacombs are open to tourists, but there are many of them.

– Around six million human bones were transported to the catacombs, an unimaginable number

Sightseeing is quick and we can spend the rest of the day walking around the city. At the end of the day, we split up again and later traveling companions go their own way, while we go to Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart of Montmartre). The highest place in Paris. To fully enjoy the view of the hill, you must also visit the cathedral itself, as it will give you a few dozen metres above the hill. We only enjoy the view from the foot of the cathedral, but it’s well worth coming here. As the sun disappears behind the hill, the front of the cathedral is shaded and cool, and we can climb down and see the last attraction on our way to the hotel. Moulin rouge. As a fellow traveler said, a place to watch sexual content online, or as they did in the past and continue to do today.

– The view from the foot of the hill to the cathedral, the picture shows nothing of how its height above Paris. Walking up, we met young people trying to tie a “lucky” bracelet around arm to ask money for that. They were ignored.
– The cathedral has two such statues, looking to the city of Paris
– Famous French-Italian singer with the stage name Dalida
– The man who could “walk through walls” (Le Passe-muraille)
– The famous Moulin rouge. It’s light outside, so we can’t see the real atmosphere of the place yet.

Two weeks of traveling are over. I’m on a plane and my thoughts are in Latvia, where at this very moment the graduation ceremony for my Master’s degree is taking place.

– Finally, in the end this magical view from Disneyland. Like a fairy tale, I’d say!

A good two weeks. See you on the other trips!

Read more: Part 1 Part 2

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