July 14, Paris
Today is Bastille Day in France, their National Holiday like our Canada Day, and finally the weather is partly sunny. Yay! The Bastille was a fortress started in 1357 to protect against English invaders in The Hundred Years War and for most of its history was used as a prison by the Kings of France. Back on July 14 1789, the French revolutionists had gathered munitions and gunpowder from around the city and marched to the fortress. They successfully stormed The Bastille and in the process of the revolution, it was destroyed. The site has now been turned into a square and all that remains of the Bastille today are a few stones from one of the towers. After our breakfast, Brenna and I marched our way to The Bastille site on July 14 2012 and watched as the military paraded through in their war vehicles, tanks and jeeps as helicopters flew overhead. Once the parade was over, we headed down into the metro for a ride to Montmartre to see the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur or The Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It is located at the top of a hill, the highest point in Paris. There are hundreds of stairs leading up to the impressive white Roman Catholic Basilica. A mosaic in the apse, entitled Christ in Majesty, is among the largest in the world. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in the church, (although I did sneak one in) so you`ll have to go see it yourself. From there we set off in search of another site Brenna wanted to see, The Moulin Rouge also in Montmartre. It is located in the ``adult entertainment`` section of the city. Lots of sex shops etc so we didn`t stick around long. Back onto the metro to get to The Arc du Triomphe which is a very popular image associated with Paris along with Eiffel`s Tower. The Arc honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. There is a huge traffic circle surrounding the Arc, possibly the largest in the world. I wanted to try driving in it when we get our rental car but the circle is mayhem. There are twelve boulevards that radiate out in all directions from this star. After the Arc we decided to head back across the city to our hotel. In the process, we were passing the Luxembourg Gardens, another fancy one time Royal Palace with impressive gardens. There is yet another Statue of Liberty which was a small scale model used to make the large one in New York City. It is hidden somewhere in the gardens, we couldn't find it. There are many different sections within the Royal gardens with large trees, shrubs, flowers and chairs where you can just sit back and relax. Brenna wishes we had a park like that back home. A little further down the street we went into a clothes store so that Brenna could purchase some French fashion from Paris. She walked out with two very reasonably priced sun dresses. Back at the hotel, we relaxed for an hour or so (and it rained, just a short downpour) before heading back out for the fireworks at The Eiffel Tower. We first stopped at The Pantheon then went to a small store where we picked up a baguette, ham, salami, cheese, hot mustard and Sprite which we took with us to eat as we sat in front of the Eiffel tower waiting for the fireworks show to begin which is where today's blog has been written. I am putting the computer back into the backpack so I don't miss any of the show. I'll let you know how the rest of the evening was later. Well the fireworks were Très magnifique, they went on for 40 minutes along with music. It was a once in a lifetime experience to see the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, unless you were to arrange your vacation to coincide with the Bastille holiday. We walked through the city back to our hotel. We pick up the rental car in the morning and head off to western France next.