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david and carol

Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 1
Europe 1999
London, Paris, Venice, Florence


David and Carol




Day 3


Another good night's sleep and a delicious French breakfast in the hotel dining room, then up the narrow street and around the corner to the Musee de Rodin. We are blessed today with beautiful sunny skies. Took photos of each other thinking at the foot of The Thinker, with the gold-covered dome of the Hotel des Invalides sparkling in the background. The gardens at the Rodin are exquisite, and we took our time slowly wandering amongst the various works of art.

Rodin's The Thinker with the dome of Les Invalides in the background
Then we were on our way past the massive, grand Invalides. Across the huge, green lawn of this old hospital are cannon, relics from the Revolution.

Hotel Les Invalides
We walked along the expansive Esplanade des Invalides, the wide boulevard that runs from Les Invalides, crosses the Seine and intersects the Champs Elysee ("Fields of Heaven.") Along the way we crossed the Pont Alexandre III, an ornate gold-gilded bridge, and passed some large, lavish palaces with huge, elegant, marvelous doors.
We decided to walk up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. It is Sunday, so a lot of shops are closed, but the boulevard is full of people enjoying a Sunday stroll or, like us, off to see the magnificent Arc. This monument to Napoleon (built by the never-humble Napoleon) is the largest of its kind in the world. Its sides are decorated with statues and scenes commemorating the various successes of the great "emperor." Its scale is enormous. Beneath the Arc is France's memorial to the Unknown Soldier.

Arc de Triomphe
We often wondered during our trip how the various architects and builders devised their methods of construction. How did they achieve the scale and detail of these unique monuments with the tools of the time? Everywhere you look in Paris, on every boulevard, there is incredible and timeless beauty, art and architecture. Every building, every door is a work of art. It seems as though Paris herself is a monument to the potential of Man, an eternal magnum opus commemorating Man's civilized and social potential. There are lush gardens and green parks everywhere. Cathedrals and spires reach for the sky. The scale, scope and grandeur of buildings such as the Louvre are breathtaking and unlike any architecture we have accomplished in the "young" culture of the U.S.
We spent some moments at the Arc reflecting on thoughts such as these, and then had to walk several blocks to where we had arranged to take a bus tour of this magnificent city. I had decided to take photos of the extraordinary doors that can be seen throughout Paris, and along Rue de Friedland I stopped to take another photo. A fellow saw us and came up to us to inquire as to why we were interested in photos of doors. His name was Ibrahim Moussa, an Egyptian decorative painter who often did "faux" work, and showed Carol how this technique is applied to doors. He was very interesting, and I took some photos of his demonstration with Carol. After recording his address and promising to send him the pictures, we were back on our way to catch the bus. We rushed down Boulevard Haussman, made the obligatory toilette stop for Carol and finally got situated on the bus.

Ibrahim and Carol
Christina, an Italian multi-linguist, was our tour guide. We sat in comfort as the bus wound its way down the tiny streets and busy sprawling boulevards of Paris, past the Louvre, the Place du Vendome, and back to our beloved Notre-Dame where we parked. Carol and I walked around to the cathedral's north side, which we hadn't seen yesterday. This is where the magnificent Dor Rouge is located. Back on the bus, across several of Paris's wonderful bridges, one paved with stones taken from the Bastille after it was stormed and torn down by the People following the Revolution. At the Place Vendome we saw the tall obelisk made out of cannon melted down after the War. Saw the Ritz, where Princess Diana stayed prior to her tragic accident. Drove through the Latin Quarter, along Rue St. Honore (down which Marie Antoinette was led in a cart to the guillotine in the courtyard of the Palais,) then over to the majestic Tour Eiffel, which was being readied for the Millenium. We got out and took several photos of Eiffel's famous landmark. Terrific spot for people-watching. No matter how many photos you see of these monuments, cathedrals, towers, palaces and museums, it is never as magic as seeing "the real thing." We were sad to leave the huge erector-set tower, but we had to board the bus. The tour let some folks off at the Seine for a boat cruise, and then we found ourselves on Boulevard Haussman where our tour had begun.

At the Tour Eiffel
We thanked Christina, who was much fun, and walked past the Ritz and the nearby "cannon" obelisk to the grounds of the Louvre. Many people milling about the large and grand ex-palace. Then we strolled down Rue St. Honore, by today's standards a tiny street. In Marie Antoinette's day it was the largest street in all of Paris. We found an outdoor café where we had wine, beer, pommes frites, fromage and herring. A delicious snack, and more wonderful people-watching.

"Canon" obelisk
Afterwards we walked all the way to Rue St. Denis and found ourselves in the porno district. Walked quickly through and towards the Marais and ended up in the gay part of Paris, where the streets were full of men. Lots and lots of men. We found a busy outdoor café where we sat among dozens of men and had more beer, wine and cigars and enjoyed some very incredible and memorable people-watching.
Later we walked down the Rue des Archives to the Seine and across the Pont Louis Philippe to Isle de St. Louis, where we found an interesting restaurant called Café Med. It was small, and we had to wait a bit, but its candle-lit tables looked invitingly romantic. Our table-neighbors were a Venezuelan couple, both physicians now living in Boston. They were Bartolome and Doris Celli, and we enjoyed an hour of great food and stimulating conversation. I had yummy smoked salmon, shrimp and chocolate mousse, and Carol had a savory avocado and shrimp salad, steak au poivre and profiteroles. The bottle of wine was delicious, and it was truly a memorable dinner. We were sad to say farewell to our new friends, the Cellis, but dinner was over and we were off to the very lively Latin Quarter. Many Greek restaurants. Strolled the entire way home arm-in-arm, window-shopping along the way. Paris at night is a sight to behold, to be experienced…

Previous Day

Next Day

Day 1 London/Paris | Day 2 Paris | Day 3 Paris

Days 4 and 5 Paris/Venice | Day 6 Venice/Florence

Day 7 Florence | Day 8 Florence | Day 9 Florence

Day 10 London | Day 11 London | Day 12 London

Day 13 Home | Reflections

 copyright 1998 / david and carol lehrman / all rights reserved

 email david@davidandcarol.com