Paris: Pix and Blogs Are Great, But Take Time to See

I'm back in America after two flight days and three hard-charging days of touring Paris. Merveilleuse. Magnifique. Passionante. J'aime Paris.

Blogging or Tweeting or Facebooking a trip is fun, but it can take you out of the moment. If you try to post live updates on the road, you lose time looking for wi-fi connections and staring at your screen instead of the amazing building or painting in front of you.

During the trip, I saved all of my blogging for late night at the hotel. I managed to put up my one post here about Notre Dame and three posts on my other blog about the trip, the Eiffel Tower, and bikes in Paris. I wanted to post much more, but just those four blog posts took time that I could have spent sleep to be better rested for each next day's adventures. Just taking photos (my count: 755) means reducing your experience of the moment to a tiny flat screen. 

You can and should make time to capture the wonders of Paris in pictures and words. But you also need to leave yourself time after each snap or tweet to put down the camera or phone and soak in the moment with your own eyes and ears.

Take your time. Walk in that park... at Versailles! There's no Wi-fi... but who needs it here?

Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity on Bikes in Paris

[Originally posted on the Madville Times, wee hours, Sunday morning, July 22, 2012]
The Tour de France concludes here in Paris tomorrow morning… after my plane leaves.
I rode a bus yesterday down the Champs Élysées, I returned later and walked by the finish line where the well-to-do will sit in white tents to view the racers.
But I’ve still seen plenty of bikes around the City of Lights, regular folks zooming along amidst hard-charging city traffic on two wheels and joie de vivre.
Stunt bicyclist in the Trocadéro
No, they aren’t all stunt riders like the dude above hopping his two wheels around the Trocadéro across the Seine from La Tour Eiffel.
Cyclist on Pont des Arts, Paris, July 21, 2012
Take, for example, this perfectly sane woman who got off the street to cross the Seine via the Pont des Arts (Bridge of the Arts).
Oh, and all those things on the side of the bridge? Locks:
Locks on Pont des Arts, Paris, July 21, 2012
Amorous Parisiens and visitors have taken up the Venetian custom of writing their names on locks, fixing them to the side of the bridge, and throwing the key in the river as a sign of their eternal love. I saw a bike lock in the mix (alas, that pic is on my other camera!). And for those of you who think Europeans have given up on capitalism, a gentleman has joined the traditional bouquinistes on the Left Bank to sell padlocks at the south entrance to the bridge.
(By the way, see that other bridge through the locks? Pont Neuf.)
Love in Paris means riding together in downtown traffic:
Couple on City Bikes in downtown Paris traffic
The couple shown above is riding right next to our tour bus, in a busy downtown street. They are riding Parisian Vélib’, two of over 20,000 public bikes available for rent at 1800 stations around the city.
Cyclist on Boulevard de Rochechouart, Paris, July, 21, 2012
On the Boulevard de Rochechouart, cyclists riding through Montmartre looking for the Moulin Rouge get their own lanes. Crossing the street from north to south you cross car lane, dividing strip, bike lane, wide shady pedestrian median, then bike path, divider and car lane.
Cyclist on Boulevard de Rochechouart
…and the occasional show-off. Riders ring their bells, and they expect you to cede them their lane.
Cyclist at Pont du Carrousel
Speaking of ringing your bell, this young woman was out taking a spin by the Pont du Carrousel tonight. No one will be wearing those shoes in the Tour de France.
But easy, fellas: this belle parisienne already has a boyfriend… who was bicycling with her along the Seine.

Eiffel Tower Totally Beats Hype; Let's Go!

[Originally posted from Paris on the Madville Times in the wee hours of Saturday morning, July 21, 2012.] 
We’ve all seen the Eiffel Tower in photos and film. The grand industrial-engineering-art project is so familiar that we might be tempted to think seeing the Tower in person might be a let down.
We would be wrong. I spent three hours looking at and climbing on the Eiffel Tower. I watched the sun set on Paris from its second observation deck. I drank hot chocolate from a café 38 stories above the ground to warm my hands. (I also had a beignet au chocolat… Why not a double dose? It’s Paris!)
And I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Twice, the second time from Field of Mars, where at 11 p.m., hundreds of people from numerous countries were sitting on the grass night-picnicking and saying their latest native translation of Wow! That’s cool!
Cory sees Eiffel Tower from bus
Good thing my bus buddy Chris woke me up… I almost missed it!
View of Paris from la Tour Montparnasse
View of Paris from la Tour Montparnasse
Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides
Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides
Sunset over La Defense, western Paris, viewed from Eiffel Tower, July 20, 2012
Sunset over La Defense, western Paris, viewed from Eiffel Tower, July 20, 2012
Lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower
Lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower

Heidelberger in Paris, Enjoying Art, Architecture, and Puns

[Originally posted from Paris on the Madville Times, Thursday night, July 19, 2012.]

Did I mention I’m in Paris?
CAH at the Louvre
Here I am at the Louvre, with our guy Pei’s great glass pyramid out front. The drastic contrast the the architecture of the old fortress still doesn’t well with some observers. But it creates a spectacularly light and airy entryway to the museum.
Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People
Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People”
Maybe this painting is why some American conservatives get ants in their pants about France: they don’t like women taking leadership roles in the fight for liberty.
Jacques-Louis David, "Le Sacre de Napoléon"
Jacques-Louis David, “Le Sacre de Napoléon
Just after the French got all excited about liberté, fraternité, and égalité, they let this bully declare himself emperor. You’ve got to watch out for those little guys who say they are fighting tyranny, only to become tyrants themselves.
Here’s where Napoleon held that coronation, in Notre Dame de Paris.
Notre Dame de ParisRemarkable building, even to non-Catholics.
By the way, what does every hungry classical music aficionado need before heading to the supermarché for groceries?
Poster for Chopin and Liszt

Notre Dame de Paris: Photos!

Notre Dame de Paris turns 850 years old next year. Paris begins a yearlong celebration of the cathedral this December. Here's how the building looked on my July 19 visit:

Prepared for Flight: Paris, j'arrive!

I'm at the Sioux Falls Airport, waiting for my flight to Minneapolis. I'm also testing my tablet's ability to post photos to Blogger.
It's raining... a great relief for farmers and folks who've been working in hundred-degree heat, but not for those who want their flight to launch on time.

Stay tuned: more to come... from France!