Paris, mostly below

Volume 9, Issue 62; 27 Jun 2006; last modified 08 Oct 2010

A few hours of sightseeing in Paris.

Over the course of several days in Paris for XSL and XML Query Working Group meetings, I found a few hours to explore the city.

Initially, I wondered past Notre Dame

and through the Tuileries Gardens.

I had hoped for interesting photo opportunities, but found the bright, flat glare of an almost uniformly overcast sky difficult to use. I took pictures anyway, of course, but I think the glare won in most of them.

I started by going to the top of Tour Montparnasse, a nearly 60 story office building not far from my hotel, which offers panoramic views from its roof.

On said roof, I happened to notice Sacre Cœur.

Recalling that it too had a fairly panoramic view of the city, I went to take a look from that vantage.

The Dome was open, and I've never been able to resist a few hundred stone steps, so up I went. Nice views, despite the glare. Gargoyles I'd never seen before and, naturally, a view of Tour Montparnasse.

I came away from my first trip to Paris, in 1998, without a really satisfying picture of the Eiffel Tower. Due, somewhat ironically, to the fact that it was set against the flat glare of a uniformly overcast sky.

That, combined with my ambition to take some good photographs this time, lead to a brief sort of fascination with photographing the tower. I took bunches of them. The best, I think, or at least the most interesting, is the one with the Statue of Liberty.

I still don't think I've taken a really good photograph of the monument, but I think I'm hooked on its charms. It's interesting, and attractive, and big. Really much bigger than is conveyed in any of the photographs I've taken…so far.

There are more photographs on Flickr.

I went 0 for 3 on geocaches, in case it occurs to you to wonder. One that I sought turned out to be in a cemetery and I just couldn't bring myself to poke around among the monuments in a crowded city cemetery. My French isn't good enough to explain what I was doing, if anyone asked. The second cache was in a little playground just below Sacre Cœur. Unfortunately, it was crowded with elementary school children at recess when I was there. I made a few furtive explorations, but there was just no way to look without drawing attention to myself. By the time I reached the third, I'm afraid dinner was demanding my attention, and after a casual inspection, dinner won. C'est la vie.


The view from the top of the Centre Georges Pompidou is great and hardly publicized. I recommend you going up there next time you've got some time to kill in Paris. Just before dusk makes great light.

—Posted by Christophe Grand on 29 Jun 2006 @ 10:24 UTC #