Most commonly known as Sacre-Coeur Basilica, or simply Sacre-Coeur, from high atop Montmartre, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris stands watch. It is a popular and well known landmark with unparrelled views of the city spread out below.
Notre Dame de la Garde sits atop the highest point in the city and, silently, stands guard over the harbor. The easiest, and fastest, way to get up there is by one of the many buses.. but if you decide to walk, it is a long way uphill.. worth it? Definetly..
But prepare yourself and take plenty of water 🙂
To be perfectly honest, I love Southern France.. This was my second trip here and the 3rd will be next May for a new photography exhibition in Arles.
Transfers from the airport to the center (or St. Charles Station) are extremely easy and inexpensive. There is a bus that runs about every 15 – 20 minutes and costs 9 Euros.. There is also a shuttle to the train that is free but you must have a train ticket to board. The biggest problem I encountered was that the ticket booth for the train did not take cash. Again, it needed a credit card with the microchip. Common in Europe…not so much from the USA.
Since Arles was my first stop on this leg of the journey, I needed a train ticket from the airport to Arles. I was told that you can buy a ticket from the attendant on the train as he comes to check tickets. This actually proved to be the case and I was able to purchase my ticket as the train pulled into Gare de Arles.. That’s right..I did not have a ticket TO Arles but I was able to buy one as I left the train IN Arles..
Arles is a quiet little town on the Rhone in southern France. It has a long history and was very important in the days of the Roamn empire, as both a seat of government and a supply point for the Roman armies. The Arles Coliseium, second only to the Colisieum in Rome, is a major attraction.
I, personally, like it more for the quiet side streets and cafes.. the open markets on the weekends and the laid back artist commune atmosphere.
Since this trip was planned late and Arles is busy during the first week of July, I wound up staying across the river in the town of Forques. A nice little 20 minute walk along the river, past rice fields and cottages, and you will find yourself looking across the river to Arles. The veiw of the left bank of the Rhone is especially dramatic in the evening as the sun sets and paints the town in red and gold.
Since I was enjoying Paris with my now ex-girlfriend, I decided to abandon my usual way of exploring a city and take the tourist route. That being said, it was highly enjoyable being a tourist in Paris. The first afternoon, after getting settled into the hotel, we headed out on a short walk to the Sacré-Cœur. This is a very impressive cathedral. It is located on the butte of Montmartre and is the highest point in the city. From the steps you have an amazing view of Paris spread out below.
Day 2,after a short metro ride to the center, we boarded one of the double decker Hop On – Hop Off Bus Tours. At 25.50 euros, it is a very economical way to see Paris without wearing out your feet. Just hop off at the sights you want to see… take photos … enjoy a coffee… and hop on the next bus.
Of course, the first thing to see is the Eiffel Tower. It is a must and, probably the most recognized structure in the world. Iconic and majestic, it stands at the head of the Champ de Mars and soars an amazing 324 meters (1,063 feet) into the air. It was named after Gustave Eiffel whose company designed and built it in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair. Eiffel, himself, actually had very little to do with the design of the tower. The designers of the Eiffel Tower were Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, two senior engineers who worked for the Compagnie des Etablissements Eiffel. And the rest is history….
The tower has 3 levels available to the public and the 3rd level is the highest point accessible to the public in Europe.
After a couple of hours of wandering and photos, we boarded the bus for the next stop .. Arc de Triomphe . It stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The monument stands 50 metres high, 45 meters wide and 22 meters deep. The Arc de Triomphe is so large that on August 7, 1919, Charles Godefroy successfully flew his biplane through it. The Arc was originally commissioned in 1806 but was not finished until around 1834. Beneath the vaults lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI. There is a museum at the top in the “attic” with models and details of the construction and after you can climb a few steps to the top and see some wonderful panoramic views of Paris.
Next … Off at the Louvre .
Once more I have returned to Paris… a short 3 hour flight from Kiev to Charles De Galle. Passport control cleared, luggage retrieved and off the find my way to the city. Usually I take a taxi, but this time, I decided to try my luck on the train… 9.50 Euros instead of 70 always sounds good.
It was actually fairly easy to find the RER B train terminal at the airport. There were plenty of signs and you just follow the arrows. The easiest way to purchase tickets is at the automated ticket machines. They take credit cards and coins. Beware though, all credit cards don’t work. It has to have have a microchip that most cards (including mine) from the USA don’t have, so Euro-coins to the rescue.
The most difficult task I faced was getting myself and my suitcase through the turnstiles. After several silent exchanges because of near-by children, I managed to lay the bag down and push it under the 4 armed monster and onto the platform.
The RER B line runs through the center of Paris with stops at major metro exchange stations. You can get off the train and enter the metro you need with the same ticket that you bought at the airport. Make sure you take the correct route because this is a one time deal. After that..you need new tickets for the metro.
Don’t let anyone scare you about the Paris metro system.. It is massive and, seemingly, covers every square inch of Paris but it is easy to find your way if you pay attention. Signs, numbers, and letters point the way and every train has maps that show every station and everywhere that line connects to another line. Simple! Really!
Here I am in Arles, where I was exhibiting photographs for the Nuit de la Roquette..at FreeSpace Gallery. 16 photos were hung and only 7 remain. Whether the missing ones are in someone’s flat or my outside exhibition was merely vandalized, I guess I will never know. Hopefully they are safe and sound hanging on a wall somewhere. I worry about them all alone in the city..
Since I am a complete I-Pad dweeb and cannot figure out how to upload photos to the blog without my computer, posts from France ( with photos) will have to wait until I get back to Kiev. Lesson learned … take computer and not just the I-Pad until you get it figured out.
I-Pad is awesome for instant gratificationon Facebook….feel free to add me as a friend and see photos there. :). But now I realize I should carry my computer too.. Like I said… Lesson learned.
Enjoy your week everyone!