This was three blocks from our hotel in Paris. It’s officially known as L’Hôtel national des Invalides and is now a military and armaments museum. It is also the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
The building was constructed by order of Louis XIV in 1670 as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers. He later added a chapel for the veterans and one for himself. The stunning private royal chapel has a gleaming gold dome (Église du Dôme) inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture.
What can I say about this amazing place that hasn’t already been said? I only had four hours–that’s my art attention span–but you could spend a lifetime. This important museum is best visited in small bites over several days. If only I’d had several days. Maybe next time…..
I’ve been working a lot of hours. Now that Ramazan is over, new classes are starting and we are suddenly short on teachers. I’ve been schedule 40 teaching hours a week–not counting prep time or office hours. All I’ve done is work and sleep. So it’s taking a bit to post my Paris photos.
This is the Flame of Liberty (Flamme de la Liberté), located along the Seine, near the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, on the Place de l’Alma. It’s a full sized, gold-leaf replica of the flame from the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor, a gift from France. This torch was a gift to the city of Paris in 1989 by the International Herald Tribune.
The flame has became an unofficial memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales after her 1997 death in the tunnel just below. It’s become a tourist attraction for her and probably most people think the torch was put up in her honor.
So last week, I finally made it to Paris. Yeah, those who know me are surprised that it was my first visit. I’ve probably been to 30 countries in my life, but not France.
OK, technically, I’ve been to France a few times, jf you count Charles de Gaulle Airport. I don’t.
The reason I’ve put it off so long is simple: All of my worst travel stories involved a rude Frenchman, Charles de Gaulle Airport or AirFrance. Some of them involve all three. There’s the time it took 27 hours to fly from Dublin to Atlanta on AirFrance–and 11 of the hours were spent sitting on the tarmac. There’s the time in the security line in Charles de Gaulle when security confiscated my money belt–with a credit card and $120 in it. They refused to return it. There was no one to complain to. Security officers are gods. Or devils. Another time, I was pulled out of line for a “special” security search. They have you spread your arm out, so it’s hard to react quickly, but before I knew it, the officer had put her hand down the front of my pants and into my underwear. I couldn’t stop myself from striking her in the face. I’m surprised I got to leave the airport, but she didn’t even flinch. Probably it happens to her all the time.
So I’ve avoided France. But I decided to give it a try. Luckily, Shelley, another teacher here in Istanbul, agreed to go, too. It’s a lovely city. And as long as the French are not in line with you (or work for security or AirFrance) they seem to be good people.