France is for the French, Paris belongs to the whole world. Montesquieu.
Now you finally come to the essentiel: the Louvre, the most spectacular museum in the world. Downtown close to the Seine. Known for so many famous pieces of art. Sorry, Birgit and I have not yet been there. Not because we don't want to. But Paris is so enormous. And there were so many other things we wanted to see. A poor excuse, but: 'we still have someting to come back for'. But this does not prevent you from visiting the museum,
just a click away.
But now that you have come this far, I will show you 2 of the most well known pieces of art. Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa - people always say, that the picture is smaller than they had imagined. I don't, since I have not seen it.
Venus from Milo. Dates back to Greece several mellennia before Christ. Her arms were gone when they found her, so don't blame me.
The Pantheon - in opposition to the "real" Pantheon in Rome - only dates from Louis XV. It is a result of a vow, made by the king, having been cured from a serious illness. (Well, it was not finished until 45 years after the vow - but as we say in Denmark: better late than never. Maybe the king just wanted to make sure, that he in fact had recovered). The church was finish in 1789 , the beginning of the Revolution. We specially admired the beautiful frescos. In the top of the dome experiments were made in 1850 on the rotation of the earth. I can testify, that the earth moves - especially after 2 glasses of Calvados (remember to pronounce the "s", or else the French will consider you a paysant.) In the church many great men of France are burried: Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and Braille.
La Défense is a relatively new area of Paris, which was planned by Pompidou. The idea was to combine modern industrial buildings with high standard buildings for people to live in. Onle first part of the plan has been realized, since the citizens refused to live in these futuristic surroundings of skyscrapers housing headquarters of all major international concerns. So La Defense 'dies' every day at 17 o'clock, when approx. 50.000 workers leave their job to go home. It was quite fascinating to watch all these people - all clerks with their cases - heading for the Metro. So there are almost no shops in the area, no restaurants, no bistros etc.
So why come to La Defense (the name goes back to the strong resistance, that the French soldiers put up against the Germans in the war 1870-71)? Well, if you are a Dane, you come because of the new Triomphe de Arc.
Arc of Humanity or La Grande Arche
In 1983 Mitterand put up a contest for La Défense area, hoping to 'make a bridge' to the old Paris. A project by Johan Otto v. Sprechelsen (he is Danish!) and Erik Reitzel was chosen. The idea of the project was to make 'a window to the World'. So they proposed a huge marble cube with a hole in the middle. The building was completed just in time for the 200 years celebration of the French Revolution in 1989. Unfortunately Sprechelsen did not live to see it - in protest against the bureaucracy he left the project, and soon after he died. The arc soon proved to be a tourist attraction because of the second-to-none view over Paris. You go to the top of the building by transparent elevators. If you are enclined to dizziness I recommend the interior elevators in the building, which houses thousands of employees from public offices. On top there are beautiful art galleries.
The Pompidou Centre
I'm not so sure that we like the look of this building. But with 25,000 visitors a day, the Centre national d'art (Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse, Braque etc.), de culture Georges Pompidou is one of the most popular cultural sites in the world. Its glass and steel architecture, with its multicolored pipes, its walkways, and its famous escalator suspended along the outer wall, provides a striking contrast to its historic surroundings in the heart of Paris. The Centre Pompidou brings together under a single roof the Musée national d'art moderne (no charge on Sundays), Centre de création industrielle, the multimedia Bibliothèque publique d'information, and the Institut de recherche acoustique/musique. It thus offers public access to all forms of contemporary artistic theory and practice: painting and sculpture, photography, design, architecture, theater, music, dance, film, new technologies, literature, and philosophy. We found, that the most spectaculous thing about the Pompidou Centre is the life taking place on the large square in front of it. From ealrly morning till late night.