Monday, January 31, 2011

Evening in Paris...

A most memorable New Year's was!

So how was it that we landed up in Paris en route to Kenya? When opportunity knocks...we open the door! Last summer we began to make plans for our trip Africa. We would be traveling with our long-time friends, Dave and Janet...with whom we have vacationed on many occasions over the years. It is Dave's brother and sister-in-law who we would be visiting in Kenya...and who were making all the arrangements for us, once we arrived. When it came time to book the flight, we asked the travel agent if there might be any possibility of spending a few days sight-seeing in Europe on our way down. There were no flights available at a reasonable price in the early New Year, but she suggested we fly out at the end of December and ring in the New Year in Paris. We thought that sounded like a great plan...and so that's how it came about that we spent five days touring Paris and several more in London, before we eventually arrived in Kenya.

Our Parisian hotel was in the perfect location...across the street from the metro station and right near the Eiffel Tower. 

We spent December 31st touring Paris on the Hop-on/Hop-off bus...and opted for the upper deck with it's unobstructed views. Did I mention it was very cold in Paris...and our cold weather clothing was mostly back at home? We wore many layers...but were quite chilled to the bone by the time we hopped-off at Notre Dame Cathedral.  The eight dollar coffees seemed almost worth the price!

We toured Notre Dame more than 700 years old and with bell towers that rise 200 feet into the sky.

With it's beautiful stained glass windows, famous gargoyles and perfect location along the Seine...there's a good reason the Notre Dame is the most famous church in France.

We passed by amazing old buildings...many which we toured later
(the Louvre, the Army Museum and the Rodin).

We crossed over the Seine River several times...most of our sightseeing took place within a few blocks of the river.

We 'hopped off' at the Place de la Concorde...the city's largest square and the place where thousands of victims (including Marie Antoinette) were beheaded by guillotine in 1792.  Amid the fountains, tourists and traffic stands a 3,300 year old obelisk...a gift from Egypt.

From there we carried on down Champs-Elysees...the greatest of the many grand 19th century boulevards on the right bank of the Seine River.

All roads seem to end at the Arch de Triumphe...the magnificent arch commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at the battle of Austerlitz.  Much of French history has played out at the base of this arch over the past two centuries.

As darkness descended, we made our way back to our hotel...from where we had a nice view of the Eiffel Tower light show every thirty minutes.  The tower is illuminated with 20,000 bulbs and four rotating floodlights at the top.  Rather spectacular!

We had heard that the Eiffel Tower was the place to be in Paris on New Year's Eve.  Though we could see it quite nicely from our hotel window...we decided we should join the masses under the massive tower for the amazing fireworks that take place at midnight.  As we made our way there...we noticed a lot of  security personnel...and fully armed riot squad out and about...and hoped they would not be called into action.  The crowds waited patiently for the stroke of  midnight...but it came and went with no countdown...and NO fireworks.  Eventually we found someone nearby who spoke English and learned that the fireworks had been cancelled due to terrorist threats. Oh well...we had a good time, and can say we rang in the New Year under the Eiffel Tower.  And all that happened one month ago today...New Year's Eve in Paris!


  1. We thought of you celebrating in Paris, as we celebrated here. What a great idea. I love how you seized the possibility and made the most of your time. What wonderful memories you must have made - fireworks or not, it was a unique experience.

  2. oh, that would have been amazing! One day...

  3. Great photos and narrative! Thank you for sharing. Paris looks like a beautiful city. Happy for you that you had such a terrific adventure.

  4. Judy what a memorable trip this was! Paris looked cold but I bet there were less tourists there at that time so it was easier to enter all the museums and places of interest without large crowds. I did hear that the Eiffel Tower was targeted by terrorist threats around that time, so I'm sure that caution was needed. We live with signs of extra security all the time in NYC. It can be unnerving to see SWAT teams with machine guns guarding buildings and tunnels at times. I hope to see Paris one day, so please keep the name of the hotel you stayed at handy! :)

  5. I am loving this!! How wonderful to experience Paris by way of your blog! Can't wait to see where I will end up next! Thank you!!!

  6. Your title instantly evoked the memory of the perfume of the 50s!! Sounds like a fabulous time celebrating the turn of the decade - and no snow - at the end of December!! Thanks for sharing these lovely photos with us!

  7. OH we thought of you too ..and I even looked to see how Paris was bringing in the new year. . now I know why it wasn't covered. Only the Aussies still seem to know how to do it up right.
    We did pray for your safety there as we DID hear about the threats.
    I have looked so forward to your pictures and commentary and as usual.. don't dissapoint.

  8. What a fabulous time you had. I would love to visit Paris someday. And, New Year's Eve under the Eiffel Tower is a magnificent memory.

  9. Great place to spend New Year's Eve! Too bad about the fireworks; the Parisians can really put on a fantastic show...the Musician and I were once there, it was the middle of a blazing hot summer but one evening there was an amazing (and long) fireworks display on the Sienne.

  10. Such beautiful buildings. The architecture is wonderful. Those darn terrorists are always raining on good folks parades. What a memorable time and how wonderful to have good traveling friends to enjoy it with...

  11. Looks like you did loads and saw loads...great way to celebtrate NYE

  12. Paris is so beautiful any time of the year. What fun to celebrate a new year in an old city!

  13. It is great to see and hear about your trip. My DH and I had 5 wonderful days in Paris 3 years ago and seeing your pictures reminds me of how beautiful it is! I am glad the lights were on on the Eifle Tower: I had heard that they were turned off due to terrorism, and I thought, "Oh, how sad". Your photos are good, especially considering the low light conditions.
    (P.S. I am going to Africa this Friday to be with my daughter but our stopover is in Frankfurt. Wish it were Paris!)

  14. Wow! You do a great job of capturing the sights and feelings of this tour . . . in one short post ... not easy, Im sure . . . and the highlight of your New Year's Eve in Paris. What a memorable night!

  15. It sounds so upper class to be able to say: "We decided to spend New Years in Paris this year."

    Next year you can say: "We've decided not to spend New Years in Paris this time" and it sounds equally upper class!

    (You can also truthfully later add: "Elmer decided not to buy a yacht after all, we decided to give the money to the orphanage instead" to the conversation, just for fun!)

    What a dreamy way to start your travels. Can't wait to see the next stops!

    I'd rather be cold than baking when sight seeing!

  16. What a fabulous place to ring in the new year. Your pictures are great and I can only imagine how spectacular it was in person.
    I'm guessing there were no refills with that $8 coffee :).

  17. New Years in Paris...once in a lifetime...It's nice to see you on board sharing your photos and highlights. I will be savoring some of these places...You never know when one get's on board again to see and participate in the history of our world.
    I'm sure we all have had a bottle of that perfume in our teenage days.

  18. Helllllooooo?!!! What an awesome start to your trip! Smart thinking to have a few days in Europe before hitting Africa, I mean, you have already travelled so far...why not?! Have your cake and eat it too! Oui Oui!

  19. Wow, what an adventure! Pictures are great. Were the french people nice? When my daughter went through a french airport on her way to Spain, they were very rude. They didn't appear to like Americans much. That was about 8 years maybe things have changed.So glad you had such a memorable time! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  20. that is just fantastic! what a wonderful place to celebrate NYE

  21. Wow.. walking in history.
    What a shame the fireworks were cancelled.
    The tower is beautiful with the lights... Your camera captured the city so well!

  22. Yes you did have an unusual New Year's Eve Judy! "The last time I saw Paris" was on Easter weekend 7 years ago...Paris in the spring was chilly too. My daughter was arriving from Rome several hours later so after checking in to our hotel, I walked a few short blocks to see Notre Dame and we spent the next 5 days wondering the amazing streets of Paris. I would love to go back! I'll look forward to your next Paris chapter.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson