Sunday, September 28, 2014

Arc de Triomphe

After saying "Hello" to the Eiffel Tower, we hopped on the Metro once again to get to the Arc de Triomphe. Having arrived in Paris from Asia in the morning, we were able to have an incredibly long day as a kickstart. The excitement had definitely fueled us till we collapsed to our bed rightfully at night, already in Paris time.

This was a free and easy trip which meant we were at our own pace. We could choose to linger wherever we want, take photographs to our hearts' content and not to force ourselves to listen to a tour guide's spiels, which more often than not, is about what time you need to get back to your tour bus. (Speaking from experience...)

It was our first time in Paris and it is I think, forgivable that we stopped by at the famous landmarks even though the tourist crowds dominate these places. (But hey! We are tourists alright.)

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

In order to have a symmetrical photo of the Arc de Triomphe, one has to experience an almost death-defying stunt. I am not sure if the narrow strip at the middle of the road is reserved for pedestrians to amble their time and take photos, while there are speeding vehicles in both directions. No barriers whatsoever and a vehicle can be an arm's reach! Anyway, it must be a common thing because drivers seem to understand or most likely, have been used to a group of people milling in the middle of the road. And there is no traffic police that stop people from doing it.

The avenue that we were at, leads to the Louvre Museum and if you are up for it, you can fancy a 2-kilometer walk. This is the ground perspective as opposed to the bird's eye view of this avenue from the Eiffel Tower. It is never near in reality.

The avenue is lined up with boutiques of luxury brands on both sides. A great pleasure for those who have the money to burn. Out of curiosity, we ogled at the display of Cartier from the outside, with price labels openly tagged to each piece of jewelry. With how expensive those pieces are (of course),  we thought that the prices are displayed so that people with less the dough can only dare to enter the shop. haha! One piece can even afford us to go back to Europe up to four times! Crazy.

Luxury is way out of our league that's why, we promptly went back to our main goal. Arc de Triomphe is a monument dedicated to those who fought and died during the Napoleonic wars and the French Revolutionary wars. The names of the generals with the wars they had triumphed are eternally etched on the arc's walls. Thus, the arc's name.

The arc was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most influential French military in the history of France, who led the country to fundamental reforms in the early nineteenth century.

Napoleon, crowned by the Goddess of Victory.

Represents the French First Republic

Way back in time, to commemorate significant events, those in power commissioned monuments, sculptures, or any ostentatious work for everyone to see. It doesn't matter if these sculptures and monuments could take many years to build. Nudity in sculptures might also be an acceptable thing in the past. Nowadays, we have cameras and social media where nudity can cause an uproar and it doesn't take years. It only takes a second for the world to see.

Anyway, the other two sculptural groups on the other side of the arc, commemorate the French resistance to the Allied armies and the Treaty of Paris.

Tomb of the unknown soldier who fought during the First World War.

The tomb of the unknown soldier serves as a reminder of the lives that perished during the two world wars. It is originally for those who fought during the First World War but without the world knowing, a Second World War broke out.

With the horrors brought about by wars, it seems that the world never learns. Up to this day, wars are still being fought. We already have enough monuments, for crying out loud.

See those group of people?

A panoramic view of the roundabout

Back to a lighter note. The arc is actually at the center of a busy roundabout, where twelve roads converge! We didn't dare to cross the road to get to the arc but instead took an underground pass. We had travel insurance but we don't intend to use it ever.

In the panoramic photo, those were really tiny compact cars but a few are distorted because of the photo stitching. Pardon my shaky hands.

Droopy eyes but fightin' it.

Paris still had the daylight and we couldn't just end our day at the arc. We also did not go up the arc because we already planned to climb the Eiffel Tower towards the end of our trip. Our next stop after the arc also provides a panoramic view of Paris and it's even for free! Must be prudent with our Euros because it was yet our first day.

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