{September 21, 2014}   Europe Vacay: Paris 2
Day 2 of Paris we tried a nearby café for breakfast and had the traditional French breakfast: a croissant, café au lait (coffee with milk), and orange juice. The French typically eat a very light breakfast and then break for lunch early, they have tea later in the afternoon, and then a late dinner that lasts for hours.
We then went to see one of DJ’s favorite museums, the L’Hotel des Invalides (Residence for Invalids) . The history of the Invalides is that in the late 17th Century King Louis the XIV created the building to serve as a home for wounded soldiers. One could easily assume that it was the first wounded soldiers’ home. It amazes me that they had the foresight to create something like that so early in history. That was the running theme throughout our Paris trip, the incredible forethought that was put into every building, structure, even the design of the city. Although Paris is famous for art, love, wine, and culture. I would have to believe that other cities and civilizations possessed equal if not better representations of those categories. I think one of the main reasons Paris has stood the test of time was the insane amount of planning that went into every detail of the city. It was designed to stand the test of time not to meet immediate needs. The leaders all seemed to be ego maniacs and were obsessed with securing their place in history. Many believe that they were divinely appointed to their positions and, I think, that they were living out the next chapters of the Bible (whose to say that isn’t true). So because of that generation after generation took great care to preserve history and secure their own place in history by building monuments to themselves that would last throughout time. Thus, Paris has some of the oldest structures in the world.
Anyways the Invalides is a massive structure, larger than most castles, the building itself is a masterpiece. Inside it houses many masterpieces as well, almost all military related as it also houses the Musee de l’Armee (Army Museum). However, the Invalides is most famous for who it houses… The bodies of more than 80 famous (and the hearts of another 20 or so) French military men are interned at the museum including Napoleon, two of his brothers and his son.
The Invalides is truly a testament to the ego Napoleon possessed, throughout the military museum portion, a large part is dedicated to Napoleon. He had chairs made from pure gold that stood about 12 feet, yet the man was about 5 feet tall. His horse was stuffed upon his death to accompany him in the after life and it is the size of a pony. Walking through the museum really drives home the point that history really depends on the story teller. We grew up using Napoleon as a slight to little people with bad attitudes or ego problems. The French greatly revere and love Napoleon (even though they exiled him at the end of his life). The museum serves as a great history lesson and follows France’s entire military history. What is interesting is the number of original writings and artifacts that have been perfectly preserved since as early as the 10th or 11th Century because Kings in the 12th or 13th Century began to save these items and purposely preserve them for the future… Again, forethought.
After the museum DJ and I strolled around Paris looking at the architecture and the Seine (Paris’s famous river). We wound up in the very wealthy high fashion area. I tell you what, just because they have access to the finest fashions does not mean they are cheaper. I somehow thought they would be but they are not. $3,000/ $4,000 dollars for dresses, $200 for lipstick. By the way, some of the stores have live mannequins, whose sole job is to model the fashions on a live person in the store window all day long. How amazing is that?!  It is amazing to be around a walking runway. Even when they just throw something on for running errands its tailored and well put together. They truly put Americans to shame. You can spot a wrinkled, ill-fitted American a mile away. I have yet to figure out how the women walk all day without completely being in pain. I will say that they don’t all wear heels all day. They really love fashionable flats. What confuses me is that the soles of their shoes are so thin that they still seem like they would be so uncomfortable.
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Anyways, after the stroll down excess avenue (it was beautiful and creepy all at once) we found an outdoor exhibit celebrating all the different nationalities that aided the French in World War I, September is the 100 year anniversary World War I. France, to be such a small country is incredibly diverse. I would venture to say every nationality is represented and nearly every ethnicity was fighting with France in WWI. What shocked me are the close ties between France and Japan. If France wasn’t completely devoted to speaking French, and only spoke English out of necessity, I would say Japanese is the second language of France. There are Japanese people everywhere and sushi restaurants to boot.
There are a ton of museums in Paris, but really you could have a cultural visit just walking around. It seems like everything is an opportunity for art in Paris.
We also passed by a premier for the new Daniel Radcliffe movie. If DJ hadn’t been there I probably would have stuck around and waited for the stars to arrive. The crowd was just gathering so I knew it would be a few hours.
Then we went to the Arc de Triumph, one of Paris’s most famous landmarks. It is a monument to all of the Frenchmen who have died in WWI. There was a ceremony lighting the eternal flame when we arrived, so that was really nice to watch.
Then it was dinner and bed. One of my favorite parts about Paris is that they are really big on a complete menu or formula menu. Which means, you can order a la carte or they have menus that include entrée (appetizer), plat (entrée) — isn’t funny how we wrongfully use the words of other languages, and dessert for one price. It’s a great way to try a lot of things and switch up your desserts.
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