As my friends know, this has been a limited traveling year due to inability to walk, and back surgery. When my son, David, accompanied me to an appointment with my back surgeon earlier this year, he said, “my Dad is not ready to slow down.” Well, I am not, and back surgery went well, and I am beginning to get back on the road. In fact, I just returned from Paris (France not Tennessee). David and Mari asked, “would you mind touring Alex around Paris while we are at a conference?” Microsecond of thought, “HAPPY TO!” I had the same problem, and had to to go to London to help four years ago. So, off we flew on Tuesday, October 11.
Mari arranged to rent an apartment on the Left Bank near the site of the conference at Université Paris Descartes. We arrived the morning of the 12th, and the apartment was just south of River Seine at 9 rue Guenegaud.
You can “click” on the images below to see larger views (as with any of my image galleries).
As you can see on this map, it was a perfect location, with what you see below just minutes of walking, including Metro stops (click for much larger view).
Mari’s parents joined us for a few days, arriving about an hour after we did at Charles De Gaulle Airport. They flew in from Cortona, Italy, Mari’s home town. After getting something to eat before the apartment was ready, we rested a few hours before “hitting the pavement.” The plan for the first day was the Eiffel Tower – tickets are sold out weeks ahead, but Mari booked a “private tour” – a more expensive way to get in when you want. We crossed over the Seine first to Île de la Cité …
and then walked down to Notre-Dame Cathedral …
It was then onto the Metro for David, Alex, Mari, her parents, and me to head to the Eiffel Tower for our tour. We arrived in short order.
David and I reminisced about our visit here 30 years ago – but that was a fast partial day drive through the city, with the only real stop to go to the top of the tower. Built in 1889 for the “world’s fair” celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution, there are three levels to visit (each costing a tad more for entry). The first level (with exhibits) is at 200 feet, the next level is at 400 feet, and the top level at 900 feet. Each level, of course, is smaller than those lower. A few interesting facts: Three different shades of paint are used as you go higher, the tower is painted every seven years, by twenty-five men by hand, completing the job in 15 months.
Below is a gallery (click to enlarge) of “Everything Eiffel – with commentary”
And, now a few views from atop various levels of the Eiffel Tower. The first is a panorama that you can click for the larger image.
The above (remember to click to enlarge) is looking southeast over the Champ de Mars towards Ecole Militaire (straight ahead), and Napoleaon’s tomb a tad to the left. Note the large “skyscraper” in the distance. Our guide told us this is affectionately called “the middle finger of Paris.” The original plan was for six of these “fingers,” but Parisians, being Parisians, there was an outcry of complaint over the spoiling of the skyline, and zoning was passed to limit building height to seven stories within city limits.
And here is a comparison of two different levels on the Eiffel Tower looking to the northeast across the Seine to the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadero (which I did not get to visit this trip).
Hopefully, you noticed the tall buildings in the distance, and if like me remembered that Paris buildings were limited to seven stories — yes, I asked. The city’s business district is actually outside the city limits, and building height not restricted.
And, timing was good as we were getting ready to leave.
Heading back to the Metro, and “home” and dinner on the way. Good night, first night.
Thursday, our second day in Paris, the conference began at 5PM, so our plan was to first get to the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. We walked across Pont Neuf and the island to get to the Metro.
And, then we arrived at the Arch of Triumph, 165 feet high and 130 feet wide, commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 .
You know I have great timing ….
Here are a view views from the top observation area.
We then began walking down the Champs-Elysees, and David and I checked out eating establishments while everyone else checked out the Disney store – go figure, in Paris. Following lunch, Mari and her Dad went back to the apartment so she could continue preparing for giving the conference key-note address, and we walked to the Louvre.
LOUVRE — OVERWHELMING
But, Alex wanted to see the Mona Lisa. Doesn’t everyone? The Jumbotron recorded that I was the 1,479,985,955th visitor — BUT, I knew better. On display was the larger size (and easier to see) reproduction — the rare national treasure is actually kept safe away somewhere in a secret place.
Yes, I was really there — I am not good enough with photoshop to combine images.
Back to apartment, get ready for opening of conference, and a short ten minute walk to the historic auditorium at Université Paris Descartes. I am still trying to totally understand the research son David, and my daughter-in-law, Mari have accomplished. In simple terms, they work with lasers in bio-medical research, and currently working with the flow of blood in the brain (hope I have it correct). David runs a research center for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard, but Boston University has hired him away in July 2017 to establish a new research center for them. Among his other accomplishments (and Mari is right there with him along the way, working in his labs – google them separately – David Boas – Maria Angela Franceschini) he established The Society for functional near-infrared spectroscopy (SfNIRS), a professional organization of basic and clinical scientists seeking to understand the functional properties of biological tissues, especially the brain, using optical methods. David is now the past-president.
One of Mari’s accomplishments is the first movie of imaging of the brain using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as an effective technique for the non-invasive monitoring of cerebral hemodynamics and oxygenation (again I could have it wrong). She shared her paper on the work with me at this link. She mentioned this work during her keynote speech.
Quite a lot for two days. Thus my decision to break this post into two parts, and Part II will cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Thank you for joining a Walpoleon in Paris — as always, yours, RAY
1 – Wear all black in Paris so you mix in — even better if you adorn yourself with a scarf. Regardless, even if in black, your shoes will give you away as a tourist.
2 – Do not believe weather.com predictions. It was colder than I thought it was going to be. Maybe why the Parisians were in black, with black jackets and scarfs. Really not all necessary in 50s, but there was little sun.