Monday, July 14, 2008

Paris: Day 18 - Bastille Day

Yesterday was Bastille Day the French Independence Day. So much was going on in Paris. The day started with a military parade. We had planned to be at the start of the parade but of course we were slow getting around in the morning and we didn't start heading that way until 10:45 AM. The streets of the Rue de Rivoli were blocked off from cars, bikes, etc. and it was so quite. It was really nice to walk along the Rue de Rivoli without any sounds! We stopped in shops along the way as they were just opening up for the day.

Luke & David Beckham in the Adidas store

I was feeling kind of sad that we were missing the parade. Phil REALLY wanted to go and then when we in the Adidas store we heard loud engines and we ran out of the store to catch the tanks, military vehicles, horses, planes, helicopters, etc returning from the parade route right on Rue de Rivoli! It was pretty cool! After the remnants of the parade had passed through we decided to grab a sandwich on the go and head over to the Louvre. The Louvre and Napoleon's Tomb were both free all day for Bastille Day.

We were excited to see the Code of Hammurabi at the Louvre which was one of the big things that we had missed from our last visit that we really wanted to see! We also saw Stela of the Vultures, Ebih-il The Superintendent of Mari, and The Winged Bulls from the Palace of Sargon II, Napoleon III's apartment, Renaissances tapestries and other castle interior pieces, French paintings, along with other various pieces. It is sometimes hard to know what we are looking at because all of the titles and explanations are in French! Sometimes they are also in Spanish, of all languages, and I find myself reading those explanations because my Spanish is better than my French! Our French is getting a little bit better. We know words for certain foods etc. All of the resturants here have to post their menu outside of their building and I was reading a menu and I thought "hey, I am getting pretty good at this" and then I realized that the menu was written in English! I felt sort of silly then. I am so used to NOT being able to read things that I didn't even notice when I could!

Alli in front of Hammurabi's Code

Luke playing with his soccer ball
at the Louvre

After the Louvre we headed in the direction of Napoleon's Tomb. Napoleon's Tomb rests beneath the golden dome of Les Invalides church. Hey, now we know what that golden dome is! We keep seeing it poking up above the skyline of Paris and now we know what it is. In addition to the tomb, the complex of Les Invalides-a former veterans hospital built by LouisXIV-has various military museums, collectively called the Army Museum. Visiting the different sections you can see the art of war unfold from axes and spears to both World Wars. We saw as much as we could see given the time, status of our weary walking feet, and hunger.

an ice cream treat outside Les Invalides!

Les Invalides church is amazing! Napoleon's tomb is in the middle of the church underground. There are various tombs surrounding Napoleon's. A World War I war hero, Napoleon's big brother (who was a king of Spain), Napoleon's little brother who was a king of the German kingdom of Westphalia, and his son Napoleon II who did sit on the throne of Rome but died when he was 21! The exterior of Napoleon's tomb is made of red porphyry and inside that is an oak coffin holding another ebony coffin housing two lead ones, then mahogany, then tinplate...I won't go into further detail. The tomb is a pretty big deal! Phil and I are trying to figure out why Napoleon was such a big deal to the French. He fought for democracy at home and abroad and in five short years conquered most of Europe. He was the Great Champion of the Revolution and became a self proclaimed dictator/emperor of a new Rome. He accomplished all of this by the time that he was 29 years old! It is all pretty unbelievable but a little confusing for us that he fought for the Revolution and then became a dictator that was loved by all? I will let Phil share his feeling on this as he is more enlightened on topics such as these. I am just an American tourist!

Philip in front of Napoleon's tomb

We quickly toured the military museum. We were all pretty tired at this point! We had already done a ton of walking. We toured the World War I & II galleries first. The museum houses military uniforms preserved for various countries. It also houses weapons, artwork, maps, etc. Each room takes you historically through different stages of the wars. We learned of Charles de Gaulle (which is the airport that we flew into). He was revered as a 20th century Joan of Arc. He had an unshakable belief in his mission to save France. At the time, he was virtually unknown to the French public but he was able to rally the French and became the focus of French patriotism and later guided the country into the post-war years. A likely honor to name an airport after him.

The rest of the galleries painted a historical picture of the history of warfare. We saw TONS of suits of armor. Suits of armor for horses, men, and children. We saw swords, spears, crossbows, quivers for arrows from 1500 and earlier, guns, cannons, and all of the various helmets and armors made of metal and other things. We also saw two galleries of samurai armor and weaponry. It was all very interesting but there were a lot of people looming around and it was difficult to maneuver the stroller and stick together. It was interesting for me but I am not a huge fan of weapons and was good to see but we are glad that we got in for free! I see now in our Rick Steve's book that we did miss a section. It was the section that is under renovation until September. We missed Napoleon's actual horse that has been stuffed and his dog that has been stuffed too and put on display! I don't think that we will be feeling the need to go back for that!

Luke could fit in that cannon!

a break outside of Les Invalides

By the time that we walked home it was 7:45 PM! That is a LONG day of walking. We only sat down twice to feed Luke. No wonder I fell asleep so early last night! We are both still pretty exhausted today...I wonder what we will do today? We missed the fireworks last night for the Bastille Day celebrations. They shoot them off behind the Eiffel Tower! It would have been really cool to see, we have seen pictures. It just wasn't in the cards for us yesterday. Luke needed to get to bed and apparently me too!

boats along the Seine River

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...