This was our first wet day but it only drizzled a little and it wasn’t even worthwhile getting out our umbrellas.
We had one last thing to do before we leave Paris and that was to visit the Arc de Triumph. This is one of the most famous monuments in Paris and stands at the western end of the Champs Elysee at the centre of Place Charles de Gaul, the junction of twelve radiating avenues. It was inspired by the Roman arch of Titus. It is 50 metres high and 45 metres wide. It was constructed in 1810 to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz – one of the engagements in the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 1800’s.
Beneath the arch is the tomb of the unknown soldier and the national memorial to WW1 is in the hallway inside the top of the arch.
We crossed to the Arch via a tunnel although we did see one rather silly mother walking across the busy road with a stroller and three young. children. We paid for our ticket and then went through the usual security check to climb to the top via a circular staircase inside the pillar of the arch.
There is a good view from the top. On one side we could look straight down the Champs Elysee and on the other side look along towards Defence with its square arch that crosses the roadway.
A fresh breeze made it quite cool, so we only spent about 20 minutes outside. Buy the time we reached ground level, our hands were quite dirty from the rust on the iron handrail down the stairway. We stopped at a McDonald’s store near the top of the Champs Elysee to wash them at their toilets. Would you believe that we even had to pass through a security check to get into the McDonalds Store!
The Champs Elysee has been a central point in the recent riots by the ‘Yellow Vests’. I expected to find a lot more damage but most of it been cleared and repaired. The graffiti on the Arc de Triumph has been removed. Some broken shop windows were boarded up, but there were only a few. The riots have mostly taken place on Saturdays and the Monoprix store was taking advance action by boarding up its windows in preparation for any riot activity again tomorrow. It seems that the rioters have been mainly attacking the large brand stores that symbolise power and wealth.
We walked down the Champs Elysee passing several perfumeries (one of which were visited by the girls) and Cathy bought herself some nice perfume for herself for Christmas. I stopped at the Sephora store to buy something for Jill. We ate at the Paul Cafe and we could even sit outside as the drizzle had stopped. Audrey and Violet are getting tired of posing for photos, so I have to grab a quick shot when I can.
We continued our walk down towards the Franklin Roosevelt metro station. We could see that we were on top of it by looking at our Google Maps but we couldn’t find the entry. In the end, we asked at a nearby cafe where the friendly receptionist pointed us in the right direction. By mid afternoon we were back at our hotel, tired but satisfied.
The girls were pretty well tuckered out and had rest watching the BBC on television. Cathy and I walked around the neighbourhood to find a post office to buy some stamps and to do a recce on places to eat tonight. We are always amazed at the grand buildings we come across in Paris. Here on one of the side streets was this very grand building. I’m not sure what it is.
Further along the Boulevard on which we are staying, we came across another arch at St Denis. This was originally a gateway through the Wall of Charles V that was built between 1356 and 1383 to protect the Right Bank of Paris. The medieval fortification had two gates and was surmounted with four towers. However, with the advent of gunpowder and the development of cannons and bombards, the walls were partly torn down in the 1640s to make way for the larger and more fortified Louis XIII Wall. In the 1670s, the remaining walls of Charles V were entirely demolished when Paris spread beyond the confines of its medieval boundaries.
To replace the old gateway of Porte Saint-Denis, Louis XIV commanded architect François Blondel and the sculptor Michel Anguier to build him a monumental archway that would honor the capture of Franche-Comté in 1668 and the victories on the Rhine during the Franco-Dutch War. Work began in 1672 and was paid for by the city of Paris.
Jill and I stayed in an apartment near here on a previous trip. We weren’t aware that it was in the middle of the red light district. There was a prostitute who took up position by a lamppost under our window. She wasn’t wearing much warm clothing and I always wondered whether she ever made it through the winter.
Our final dinner in Paris was at the Chartier Restaurant – one of Paris’ traditional restaurants.
The restaurant is over 100 years old. It began in 1896 with the goal of providing a decent meal at a reasonable price and give customers good service in order to earn their loyalty. The internet tells me that it has now served over 50 million meals and has had only four owners over its life.This place has known and been touched by all those, the many famous and anonymous faces, who have dined there,
It had a very large dining hall and an extensive menu. Surprisingly, it was not all that =expensive. Cathy tried the escargot and to our sunrise, Audrey actually enjoyed one. Violet persisted with her usual meal of chicken.
Then it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready for our train trip to Bruges in the morning.