Paris Vacation

1 - 8 June 2002

Revised 30 June 2002,
Photos & Text © 2002 by Len Schwer

  I was invited to present a short course on "Geomaterial Modeling" to some of the customers of the the French LS-DYNA distributor, CRIL Technology, located just outside of Paris. This was a great opportunity for Ms Becky & me to make our first visit to the "City of Lights."

  We departed SFO on Friday 31 May at about 18:30 and arrived in CDG on Saturday 1 June at about 14:00. The weather on Saturday and Sunday was wonderful with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80's. We did some joint sight seeing on Sunday and Monday and again on Friday, before leaving Paris on Saturday 8 June, and these are the pictures. Ms Becky covered all the other Paris sights during the week, while I was slaving away over a hot projector talking about soil, rocks and concrete.

Click on a picture to size full size view in floating window.

Hotel Terminus
  The class coordinator selected the Hotel Terminus for us, it is very close to the southern Paris train station with a Metro entrance immediately outside the hotel's entrance. The room was a bit small by US standards, but had a nice bathroom and a great air conditioner; the latter was probably another reason for selecting the Hotel Terminus, for American visitors. The view out our 5th floor (European counting system) was along the street leading to the Montparnasse train station.
  Being located on the 5th floor meant that we used the elevator going up, but found the stairs faster going down. The elevator was a bit tiny, as only two people could use the elevator at the same time. Upon arrival, I sent Ms Becky and her bag up first to find the room and followed with my
luggage in short order. When we left the hotel, I sent Ms Becky down via the stairs and then loaded the bags into the elevator and sent them down while I followed along the spiral stairway that encircled the elevator.
  The hotel entrance is on Montparnasse Boulevard in an area with many restaurants and cafes. Our room was directly above the letter "L" in the word "Hotel." On Sunday evening a large group of roller bladers came down Montparnasse Boulevard and passed by for over ten minutes, as all the traffic waited to pass through this otherwise congested confluence of streets. However, just a few streets away from Montparnasse Boulevard are residential neighborhoods where we saw a flea market while walking about on Sunday afternoon.
BeckyRoom.jpg RoomView.jpg RoomViewNight.jpg
BeckyElevator.jpg UsElevator.jpg RollerBladers-Hotel-A.jpg
RollerBladers-Hotel.jpg RollerBladers.jpg FleaMarket.jpg

Paris Metro
  We took to the Paris Metro quite quickly, as this was our primary means of getting about the city. While the system worked great, I did find the comparison between the Paris Metro and the Vienna U-Bahn interesting in one regard. In Vienna you buy a ticket, validate it and enter the train system without passing through any gates. In Paris, not only do they have ticketed turnstiles, similar those used in the States, but they also have large clam-shell doors just after the turnstile that you need to push through. I guess these are supposed to keep free-riders from jumping the turnstiles and entering the system. But we saw several people jump-and-push into the system without a ticket. Becky even saw a woman and her dog enter in this manner; first the woman, and then the dog waited patiently for another paying customer before making its dash through the clamshell doors.
  There are some rather long tunnels connecting one Metro line to another. The one pictured below was the longest we encountered. It included a moving walkway, and had decorations on the walls to serve as diversions; not as diverting as the United Airlines tunnel between Terminals B and C at ORD. On our Metro travels we also saw two of the famous art deco Metro entrances.
BeckyMetro.jpg BeckyUnderMetro.jpg BeckyArtDecoMetro.jpg

L'Open Tour Bus
  Our first full day of touring Paris was on Sunday. It was a beautiful weather day with temperatures in the 80's. It was also the first Sunday of the month and many museums and attractions are free on this one day of the month.
  We decide the best way to get an overview of the city, its numerous attractions, and a feel for the scale of our tourist efforts, was to use one of the two 'hop-on-hop-off' type bus services. We selected L'Open Tour has they had more extensive coverage consisting of three intersecting circular bus routes with easy transfer between routes.
  Although the city is quite large, the tourist attraction area centers on the place de la Concorde with its Egyptian Obelisk and bisection by the famous Avenue des Champs Elysees. The few outliers from this tourist epicenter are the Eiffel Tower, where we picked up the bus tour, and the
Bastille which now is only a memorial column.
  We started at about 10 AM and finally completed all three circuits about 3.5 hours later. A one point our bus was directed to pull over as a long stream of bicyclists took over the road. I am not sure what this parade-of-bikes was all about, but I guessed it was some kind of charity event, as there were a lot of people wearing yellow t-shirts. They rode past our bus for about 10 - 15 minutes before we could proceed along the road.
  On our last day of touring, in addition to the Louvre and Notre Dame, we visited the Rodin gardens and sculptures. The gardens are rather small, but a nice change from walking the Paris streets. Perhaps you are familiar with Rodin's most famous sculpture, The Thinker?
BeckyEiffel.jpg Eiffel-A.jpg Eiffel-B.jpg
BeckyHopOnOff.jpg Hotel des Invalide.jpg Seine.jpg
Champs-Elysees.jpg Champs-A.jpg Champs-B.jpg
TypicalStreet.jpg Obelisk-B.jpg Bastille.jpg
OperaHouse-B.jpg Bicycles-A.jpg BeckySeine.jpg
BeckySeine-A.jpg RodinGarden.jpg Rodin-Thinker.jpg

Notre Dame
  It is a cliché to say that no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to Notre Dame. The thing I found interesting about Notre Dame is the most famous views of the Cathedral are of the backside, and not the entrance.
  The stained glass windows and gargoyles pictures were disappointing, but that's the breaks-in-the-sun for you. While the flying buttresses are wonderful to see, if it is interiors of cathedrals you fancy, I recommend the Minster of York over Notre Dame for size and beauty.
NotreDame-B.jpg NotreDame-C.jpg NotreDame-A.jpg
NotreDame-Becky.jpg NotreDame-Gargoyles.jpg NotreDame-Window-B.jpg

Memorial of the Martyrs of the Deportation
  A monument dedicated to the memory of the 200,000 people deported from France to the German concentration camps during the second world war.
  As you descend the steps from street level into the monument, you get the feeling of entering a grave with the stark high walls obscuring your view except for the sky
above, and perhaps the spire of Notre Dame.
  The 200,000 lighted crystals inside the memorial represent each French citizen that died. The solitary light at the end of the tunnel perhaps represents hope, or illustrates that each life was of singular importance.
Deportation-A.jpg Deportation-C.jpg Deportation-Becky.jpg

  Who could possible visit Paris without spending half a day, or more, in the Louvre? The picture of the famous pyramid entrance to the Louvre also shows the long line of tourist waiting to enter the museum in a light rain. If they had purchased Rick Steves' excellent guide to Paris, they would have entered through a side entrance and been inside looking out, like me.
  I spent most of my time in the Louvre looking at their two Vermeer's: "The Lacemaker" and "The Astronomer;" the latter was my favorite of the two, although the former seems to get much more press.
  I have to admit, I also followed the herd past the Portrait of Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. I was suitably disappointed for my efforts, minimal as they were. One can hardly 'view' the works for all the not allowed flash photography.
  After our time in the Louvre, we spent some time walking in the surrounding gardens: Jardin des Tuileries. This is a most beautiful garden with views of the Eiffel Tower, and, through the place de la Concorde, a distance view of the Arc de Triomphe. That is the much smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel with Becky to the right and the Louvre pyramid in the center of the arch.
LouvreLine.jpg BeckyLouvreArch.jpg
BeckyLouvrePark-B.jpg LouvrePark.jpg LouvrePark-A.jpg

Return to Picture Hub (more pictures)

Return to Len Schwer's home page

Photos & Text © 2002 by Len Schwer