dimanche, juillet 02, 2006

A Walk Through the 7th to the Tour d'Eiffel

Today's walk took me through the 7th arrondissement to the Eiffel Tower and back. After three and a half hours on my feet, I'm pooped. But it was a beautiful day, warm and dry, and the Tour Eiffel is a sight worth a long walk. The part of the 7th I cut through was handsome, perhaps a bit formal. The lively part of Boulevard St. Germain and neighboring streets, stuffed with shops and cafes, soon gives way to stiffer apartments with courtyards behind closed gates and government buildings. I passed the Palais Bourbon, built by a daughter of Louis XIV and now home of the Assemblée Nationale, an embassy or two, and then encountered Les Invalides. This imposing and extensive building was built under Louis XIV as a home for old and invalid soldiers, and it is Napoleon's burial place. Lots of people were out on the grassy areas sunbathing, playing ball, and picnicking. Giving the attractive Rodin Museum a pass this time, I cut up to the Seine and followed it downstream to the Eiffel Tower. What a grand structure it is! The Michelin Green Guide informs us that it was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel for the Exposition Universelle in 1899. At that time it was the tallest structure in the world. Greeted with considerable critical scorn early on, it became a popular favorite and is now of course an icon worldwide. It is an impressive combination of strength and beauty, an unabashed pig-iron monstrosity of great elegance, rising proudly over the Champs de Mars. I find its metal tracery as inspiring as that on the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. The great airy power of this structure can be appreciated by the fact that its 984 ft. height and 7000 tons have a deadweight of only 57 pounds per square inch, or (again thanks to Michelin) the equivalent of that of a man in a chair! After thoroughly feasting on views from many perspectives, including right below it where I and many others enjoyed the pergola-like shade it afforded, and roaming the adjacent fields, I crossed the Seine and climbed the modest heights of the Trocadero to the Palace Chaillot. This is a bit too much like an art deco Soviet realist monument for my taste, but it does command the low bluff and afford a sweeping panoramic view back to the Eiffel Tower and much of Paris beyond. The large formal pools at its base also provide men, women, and children with a welcome haven from the heat of a day like this; the pools were filled with bathers. I stayed over on the rive droite for most of the walk back. This let me take pictures of the Seine’s bridges between the Pont d’Ièna and the Pont de la Concorde that I had missed on an earlier “bridge walk” (to be featured in another entry. Blogspot is not allowing me to enter any of the pictures I took on the walk right now, but as soon as it does I will add several pictures of key sites, especially of the Eiffel Tower.


Blogger Leslie said...

A wonderful tour ... feel like I am walking wiht you.

5:57 PM  

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