Enjoying Paris

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

When I went to Europe in January, one of my favorite parts of the trip was the day in Paris.

Paris is so full of history; it was amazing to see all of the structures that I had learned about in school.

The Eiffel Tower was awesome.

I can still remember how I felt standing at the bottom of the Tower and gazing up at it.

I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing the Tower in person.

Although it was windy and very cold that day, I didn’t even care.

All I could think about was how cool it was to be in Paris!

I have to say, pictures and footage on television do not fully capture the beauty of the Tower. It is one of those things that you appreciate more if you see it in person.

So, I encourage everyone to try to visit Paris at least once in their lives.

The Eiffel tower is the tallest building in Paris and it was designed by Gustave Eiffel. The tower is 1,063 feet high (including the 79 foot antenna).

The construction of the tower was completed in 1889; it was actually built for the centennial celebration of the French Revolution at the World’s Fair.

The tower was supposed to stand for 20 years and then be torn down.

However, the tower was so valuable for communication purposes that the City of Paris decided to leave it standing.

Another interesting historical structure in Paris is Notre Dame Cathedral.

It is a Roman Catholic Gothic Cathedral and is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris.

The name Notre Dame means “Our Lady” in French.

Construction of the Cathedral started in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII.

Construction of the two towers began in 1200.

Many architects worked on the Cathedral, which explains the various styles of architecture. The Cathedral was completed around 1345.

In the early 19th century, the cathedral was so run down that the City contemplated tearing it down. Victor Hugo, a French novelist, wrote “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to raise awareness of the Cathedral’s history.

The novel brought the Cathedral’s sorry state to the public’s attention and a campaign began to collect money to save the Cathedral, which began the 1845 restoration.

Another fascinating site in Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, which stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs- Elysees.

The arch was built to honor those who fought for France, especially during the Napoleonic Wars.

Jean Chalgrin designed the monument in 1806 and it was completed in 1836.

Since 1920, there has been a tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I underneath the arch.

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of the monument was the location.

The Arc is surrounded by a roundabout, where traffic rushes by constantly.

When we took the tour bus ride around Paris, we ended up traveling in that roundabout, and I thought we were going to die!

There were no lines to mark the pavement, so the cars are traveling around in a circle, about three or four layers deep of traffic.

When a driver wants to enter or exit the roundabout, he must signal, pray, and then whip in or out of the circle.

Visiting Paris was an experience that I will never forget.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.