The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel (pics) traces its history back to the eighth century. It is built upon a tidal island that is some 600 meters offshore. At low tide it is surrounded by acres of sand. But this section of coastline experiences a 45 to 50 feet difference in low to high tides.
This island sits along the northwestern coast of France. There’s not much else around, the village of Beauvoir is about 8 kilometers inland, another 5 kilometers gets you to Pontorson which has train service. When we were here it was a bit cold and windy with some rain.
By the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700’s, there were scarcely any monks in residence. It was closed and converted to a prison and remained so for almost 100 years. In 1874 it was declared an historic monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
It’s not difficult to find something around Paris (pics) that you want to photograph: monuments, fountains, sculptures, museums, food.
Place de la Concorde is one of Paris’ most impressive plazas, anchoring one end of the Champs-Élysées opposite the Arc de Triomphe. In the 1790’s, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined in Place de la Concorde along with some 1340 others over a two year period. And then, of course, the Arc de Triomphe is another Paris icon.
For the week we spent in Paris, we rented an apartment in the 2nd arrondissement. It is a terrific location, just a short walk to the Royal Palace, the Louvre, close to two subway stations and in an area with lots of restaurants and shops. In addition, it is about 4 blocks from Palais Garnier (pics), one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
Our host for the apartment suggested either taking the tour of Palais Garnier or, better yet, checking out ticket availability for performances while we were staying there. We did just that and found that we could get tickets.
It’s the Eiffel Tower. The most visited paid monument in the world. It’s hard to imagine that this beautiful tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World’s Fair. The builder, Gustave Eiffel put up about half of the money needed to construct the tower in return for which he was given a 20 year contract that permitted him to collect the fees for entrance to the tower. By the end of the world’s fair there were almost 2 million visitors. After this 20 year period, ownership would revert to the city of Paris and they planned to tear it down.
The River Seine
Eiffel Tower, Look up
Sadly, during our visit in Paris, the top level of the Eiffel tower was closed. Such is the nature of travel. You can’t always visit a particular place during a perfect time for weather, events or availability of major attractions.
One thing for sure, there’s no shortage of world class museums in Paris. But, if you want to experience French paintings, specifically French impressionists, then you would need to double up and visit both Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay (pics). You can purchase a single ticket to visit both for 16 Euros which requires that you visit both museums within a 4 day period.