Paris from a high

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I recently read a book called my 20,000 wonders of the world. It wasn’t a travel guide as you might think. It was a kind of an anti travel guide. The book encouraged readers to visit famous places but to see beyond the famous sites and discover something for themselves. I’m not sure, if I achieved exactly that, but I did learn an interesting fact. I love interesting facts.

A nice Japanese man informed me that the highest point in  Paris is….. wait for it……. hold on…. not actually the top of the Eiffel Tower. I always thought it was. It was a nice piece of friendly information, it was just a shame that he decided to make this announcement to everyone in the elevator. The elevator in the Eiffel Tower. There I was, speeding up at high speed in a metal box, only to be told… that its not actually the top of Paris. Some tourists in the elevator ( the ones, I’m guessing that could speak English) asked our Japanese expert friend what was, in fact the highest point in Paris. Any ideas? I think if you live in the city of Paris, it’s not that much of a secret but it’s not something I ever knew or gave much thought to. If you look at the skyline of Paris, it does look like the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris and this is true, it is. Although, I’m not sure if it’s correct, to call it a building. Lets call it a structure, just to keep everyone happy. Our Japanese friend told us that theres a big hill in Paris in the 18th district and on top of that hill there is a church, a rather famous church, that you can climb to the top of (with a lot of difficulty, if you smoke a lot, like me) – the Sacre Cour.

The Sacre Cour is not a secret to anyone. Apparently after Notre Dame, it’s the most visited church is Paris. But I never knew it was higher than the Eiffel Tower and when you take a picture of the Parisian skyline, its cool to have the Eiffel Tower included in it. .

After doing some basic research on the internet, it seems the largest structure in Paris still the Eiffel Tower but Bellville on the Rue du Telegraphe is the highest elevation point at 148 meters above sea level. The Sacre Cour is built on a 135 meters elevation. So while the Eiffel Tower is much larger, the church is built on much higher ground. So, I guess the Japanese tourist was right unless anyone out there cares to challenge him. I do always love a good debate and I hate when I don’t know stuff that’s apparently obvious to everyone.

New York or Paris ?

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A recent walk along the Seine, I noticed a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Yes, a replica. That’s what I thought and that’s what I said to my French friend when she looked at me in a facial expression that was a delicate mix of horror and humor. “This is the original one. The one in your country is a replica”, she replied. Was this something I was suppose to know? I must have missed it in history class.

Walking along the Seine, about 30 miss after the Eiffel Tower, away from the centre, you’ll find a smaller “version” of New York’s most iconic statue. I know the story behind the Statue of Liberty. It was given by the French to the U.S as a gift to celebrate American Independence. I think this is common knowledge in the U.S but I didn’t realize that our American one was the real replica.

I did a little bit of internet research and all I can say it God bless the internet, because although the iconic statue was given the U.S in 1886, the one I was looking at was actually a replica. Don’t get me wrong, it is interesting and to accidentally stumble upon it, without knowing about it was a real surprise indeed. But it was created after the New York one.

The nearest metro station is Javal, and the statue is on a tiny island on the Seine river. You just have to walk across the Pont de Grenelle. It’s pretty cool.

But the reason I wanted to write this post was because I actually found the “original” Statue of Liberty and she really is in Paris. It was constructed by Frederic Bartholdi. Before he made the absolutely massive one, he made a smaller one, 6ft in height and also constructed in bronze. My guide book told me I would find it in the Jardin du Luxembourg and beside her is a memorium to the 9/11 attacks in New York. When I went to look for her, she was gone. The plaque is still there but no statue. With no French, I didn’t know how to ask where it was.

Luckily, the very next day, while I was checking out the Musee des Arts et Metiers, I found her. Right outside. It was the second time in a few days, I stumbled upon the design. Apparently, there are a few other examples or replicas of the statue scattered across Paris and copies of the design can be found in places as far off as Beijing, Ireland and even our beloved Las Vegas, which pretty much has a copy of everything.

So I guess the moral of this story is too not believe everything you are told and see for yourself. Paris will surprise you everytime.