The Sydney Opera House is such an iconic landmark that it would be virtually impossible to write anything original so I have gathered together the pictures I took of it from various perspectives and times of the day. The architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon was a relatively unknown 38 year old Dane until January 29, 1957 when his entry, scheme number 218, was announced winner of the ‘International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’. With his vision the City of Sydney was to become an international city. The completion of this building created a piece of architectural art that became iconic, a symbol of the times, like the Pyramids, the Parthenon of Athens, the Colesseum/Aqueducts of Rome, the soaring Gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe and in more modern times the Eiffel Tower, the skyscrapers and the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge made possible by cheap steel from Henry Bessemer in Europe and Andrew Carnigie in America. No matter the perspective or time of day, the Sydney Opera House gives you that little chill that tells you that you are in the presence of greatness.
We have been in Paris for over five months now and we had not eaten at the Alain Ducasse restaurant, Le Jules Verne, in the second stage of the Eiffel Tower. We decided to remedy the situation and booked for lunch. The Jules Verne is the gourmet restaurant of the Eiffel Tower. Located on the second floor, it has an exceptional view of Paris. Taken over in 2007, after being closed for a while, by Alain Ducasse, it was renovated in a high tech setting dreamt up by Patrick Jouin, overlooking the City of Lights. With chef Pascal Féraud (formerly of Louis XV in Monaco and London’s Spoon), Alain Ducasse has created a resolutely modern French menu, devoid of all pretension, focused exclusively on pleasure. Sauces and pastries are prepared in a kitchen below the Champ de Mars before being whisked up the elevator to the kitchen, which is overseen by the young chef Féraud.
It was Mackenzie's birthday, our niece, and we took her to see the Eiffel Tower. We fibbed and said they lit it up just for her birthday. The tower was lit with the colors of the South African flag.
The Montparnasse Tower (Tour Montparnasse), built in 1973, was one of the first skyscrapers in Paris. A visit to the tower's observation deck is rewarded with a magnificent view over the city. Constructed from 1969 to 1972, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 231 m (758 ft) Tour First. The project started as a redevelopment scheme of the Montparnasse and Maine railway stations in 1958 and had strong support from the new government. The tower's simple architecture, large proportions and monolithic appearance have been often criticized for being out of place in Paris's urban landscape. Two years after its completion, the construction of skyscrapers in the city center was banned. All that having been said, it is a great place to see Paris from above, without the long lines at the Eiffel Tower. It stays open until 10:30 PM so you can see the lights. From the top of the Tour Montparnasse you can see the Eiffel Tower against the semicircular Palais de Chaillot and the Paris skyline as seen in the photo above.
It was a beautiful, sunny spring day, so we decided to go to Montmartre for some fresh air. The word Montmartre is translated to mean “mountain of the martyr” and was derived from the martyrdom of Saint Denis, the bishop of Paris, who was decapitated on the hill in 250 AD. Montmartre's most recognizable landmark is the Basilica Sacré-Coeur, constructed from 1876 to 1912. The white dome of this Roman Catholic basilica sits at the highest point in the city, at the summit of the “butte Montmartre” and the church is visited by millions of tourists each year. This hill outside the city was settled because, during the 19th century, Haussmann under Napoleon III redeveloped Paris and gave much of the prime land inside the city to his wealthy friends, who were charged with the task of developing it. The original inhabitants were forced to move to Paris's outskirts where they quickly established their own “town” without the rules and regulations of the city.
I have been putting off a post on the Eiffel Tower for some time because it is such a landmark that it is hard to photograph differently or say anything original. I have decided to do a series of posts instead, showcasing some of the new tools and techniques that I have recently learned. We live just a couple of blocks away from the Eiffel Tower and it is very convenient to use it as a subject. The picture above is my first effort at High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR). Since this my first try, I probably will change my workflow in the future, but you have to see the dramatic improvement compared to my previous outdoor pictures which you can find on the blog.
After we had finished at Cité, we were hungry and decided to get a bite to eat at Café du Trocadéro. This is part of my series on the six restaurants of the Place du Trocadéro. They include Le Wilson, Le Coq, Kléber, Pâtisserie Carette and Le Malakov. This is the only terrace with a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. It is also the first in the shade when the sun goes down, you can't have everything I suppose. The Café du Trocadéro was featured in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. This is also the best spot to have a drink while you wait for the nightly Eiffel Tower light show. This got good reviews on TripAdvisor, 70% recommendation.
As I stated in my last post, I am doing a series on restaurants in the Trocadéro. Really, Pâtisserie Carette belongs in a category of its own or perhaps with Angelina (see my post). For more than 80 years this cafe of tea and sweets has held center court in the famous Place du Trocadéro and now it has opened a second outlet in the Place Des Vosges. Carette was founded in 1927, established by Jean Carette and quickly became a Parisian favorite. Ten years ago, under the direction of Chef Frédéric Tessier, the decor and menu were “refreshed”. In addition to the macarons and other sweets, they have finger tea sandwiches and a good selection of teas. The menu is heavy on salads and sandwiches. I went there yesterday morning for brunch and today for lunch. TripAdvisor gives Carette #296 of 9,069 restaurants in Paris, one of the highest scores I have seen, I think mostly for the location.
A little reference to one of my favorite French poets, Arthur Rimbaud and his greatest work, Après Le Déluge (see my post). If you have not heard, Northern Europe had a major snowstorm a couple of days ago. On Tuesday the Eurostar trains had to be suspended as severe weather in Northern France and Belgium forced operators to close sections of the railway. The snow caused major disruption in Paris, with authorities urging the seven million daily public transport users to stay at home. Several major roads around the capital remained shut. We got in Monday and I thought it would be fun to show some pictures.