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HI I'M RICK STEVES BACK WITH
MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE.
THIS TIME, WE'RE EXPLORING THE WONDERS OF PARIS,
MAGNIFICENT AND, THANKS TO MONSIEUR EIFFEL, RIVETING.
TO ME PARIS IS THE CAPITAL
OF EUROPE.
IT'S THE CITY I CAN RETURN TO MORE THAN ANY OTHER,
WITH GRAND MONUMENTS THAT NEED NO INTRODUCTION,
AND IT HIDES A LIFETIME OF CULTURAL DELIGHTS.
EVERYTHING IN THIS EPISODE IS WITHIN EASY REACH
BY FOOT OR METRO.
WE'LL SEE SOME ICONS OF THIS GREAT CITY,
THE INDUSTRIAL-AGE IRON OF THE EIFFEL TOWER
AND THE MEDIEVAL STONEWORK OF NOTRE DAME.
THEN WE'LL SEE STARK REALISM AND DREAMY IMPRESSIONISM
IN THE ORSAY GALLERY.
ESCARGOT.
WE'LL JOIN A FRIEND DINING ON FRENCH FAVORITES.
SO YOU STAB IT?
YES.
AFTER LURKING WITH BONES IN THE CATACOMBS,
WE'LL SEE HOW THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
HELPED CREATE THIS GRAND CITY.
THE SEINE RIVER SPLITS THE CITY
INTO THE RIGHT BANK AND THE LEFT BANK.
ITS TWO ISLANDS MARK
THE CENTER OF THE OLD TOWN.
MOST OF THE ESSENTIAL SIGHTS
LIE NEAR THE NOTRE DAME,
BETWEEN THE EIFFEL TOWER,
THE LATIN QUARTER
AND MONTMARTRE,
THE CITY'S HIGHEST POINT.
THE EIFFEL TOWER WAS BUILT IN 1889 TO CELEBRATE
THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
AND TO SHOW OFF AT A WORLD'S FAIR.
IT WAS A MUSCULAR SYMBOL OF THE INDUSTRIAL AGE.
TO A GENERATION HOOKED ON TECHNOLOGY,
IT WAS THE MARVEL OF ITS DAY,
TRUMPETING PROGRESS AND MAN'S INGENUITY.
THIS 900-FOOT-TALL TOWER HAS THREE OBSERVATION LEVELS.
THE HIGHER YOU GO, THE MORE YOU PAY.
FOR ME, THE MIDDLE LEVEL IS PLENTY HIGH.
THOUSANDS OF IRON BARS AND MILLIONS OF RIVETS,
ALL ASSEMBLED IN JUST OVER TWO YEARS.
TODAY, IT STANDS TALL, AN EXCLAMATION POINT,
SYMBOLIZING THE PROUD, INDEPENDENT SPIRIT
OF THE FRENCH.
THE TROCADERO SQUARE, ACROSS THE RIVER,
IS THE PLACE TO VIEW THE TOWER
AND TO CHECK OUT A COLORFUL SCENE.
PARISIANS OWN THEIR CITY.
IN FACT, TWICE A WEEK STREETS ARE CLOSED
AND THOUSANDS TURN OUT TO ROLL THROUGH THEIR CITY
IN AN EXUBERANT CELEBRATION OF LIFE.
PARIS WAS BORN CENTURIES BEFORE CHRIST,
RIGHT HERE ON THE ILE de la CITE,
AN ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEINE RIVER.
THE ROMANS CONQUERED THE LOCAL FISHING TRIBE AND SET UP CAMP.
TODAY, THE NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL MARKS THE PLACE
WHERE A ROMAN TEMPLE ONCE STOOD.
THE CITY'S FIRST BISHOP, ST. DENNIS,
HOLDS HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS.
WHEN CHRISTIANITY BEGAN MAKING CONVERTS HERE,
THE PAGAN ROMANS BEHEADED HIM.
BUT, ACCORDING TO LEGEND, DENNIS JUST PICKED UP HIS HEAD
AND KEPT ON GOING.
INSPIRED BY THIS MIRACLE, CHRISTIANITY FLOURISHED
AND THE TEMPLE WAS REPLACED BY A CHURCH.
IMAGINE THE FAITH OF THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THIS,
BREAKING GROUND IN 1163 ON A BUILDING
WHICH WOULDN'T BE FINISHED FOR 200 YEARS.
GOTHIC ARCHITECTS INCORPORATED THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY:
FLYING BUTTRESSES TO SUPPORT THE HEAVY ROOFTOP.
ITS GHOULISH GARGOYLES MULTI-TASK:
THEY SERVE AS FANCY RAINSPOUTS
AND SCARE AWAY THE EVIL SPIRITS.
THE CHURCH IS DEDICATED TO OUR LADY, OR NOTRE DAME.
MARY CRADLES THE BABY JESUS;
THE ROSE WINDOW PROVIDES A MAJESTIC HALO.
THE VIRGIN MARY WAS HIGHLY REVERED
THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE AGES.
THE FAITHFUL PETITIONED HER IN TIMES OF TROUBLE
FOR BOTH COMFORT AND, THROUGH HER INTERVENTION, GOD'S MERCY.
AS WORSHIPPERS HEADED FOR MASS,
THEY'D WALK UNDER A RELIEF OF JUDGMENT DAY.
CHRIST SITS ON HIS THRONE.
THE TRUMPET SOUNDS.
ALL ARE JUDGED:
PEASANTS, KNIGHTS, NOBLES, ROYALS, EVEN BISHOPS.
AN ANGEL WEIGHS CUTE LITTLE SOULS
WHILE CHEATING DEMONS YANK ON THE SCALES.
THE SAVED STAND HAPPILY AT CHRIST'S RIGHT HAND...
...THE DAMNED, A SORRY CHAIN GANG, ARE ON HIS LEFT.
CARVINGS LIKE THAT,
AND LIKE THIS SCENE OF EVE TEMPTING ADAM WITH AN APPLE,
REMIND US THAT THIS ART WAS MORE THAN DECORATION.
THESE IMAGES REINFORCED
THE STORIES PEOPLE LEARNED IN CHURCH.
WHILE THE CHURCH IS DEDICATED TO MARY,
THE REST OF PARIS SEEMS DEDICATED TO REGULAR PARISIANS.
THE OLD CENTER, WITH ITS TWO ISLANDS
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEINE, RETAINS A CHARMING ELEGANCE.
THE ILE de la CITE IS LADEN WITH HISTORIC SIGHTS.
BUT THE LITTLE ILE ST. LOUIS,
CONNECTED BY A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE,
IS LADEN ONLY WITH THE DELIGHTS OF GOOD LIVING.
ARNAUD.
OH, RICK.
ça va.
ça va bien.
I'M RENDEZVOUSING WITH MY PARISIAN FRIEND
AND FELLOW TOUR GUIDE, ARNAUD SERVIGNAT.
GREAT ISLAND.
YEAH, THIS IS ILE ST. LOUIS, RICK.
I LOVE THIS PLACE.
YOU KNOW, ALL AROUND IN THIS REALLY UNIFORM ARCHITECTURE,
EVERYTHING DATING FROM THE 17th CENTURY,
AND THE BEAUTIFUL APARTMENTS --
VERY EXPENSIVE, THE MOST EXPENSIVE IN TOWN --
AND I WISH I COULD HAVE AN APARTMENT HERE,
IF I COULD AFFORD IT.
THIS IS VERY TRENDY TO LIVE HERE?
OH, MY GOD, WONDERFUL.
AND ALL ALONG THE STREETS YOU'VE GOT SOME GALLERIES,
QUAINT LITTLE BOUTIQUES AND RESTAURANTS,
AND JUST DOWN THE STREET THERE IS A PLACE, BERTHILLON,
WHERE YOU HAVE THE BEST SORBETS IN PARIS.
REALLY?
YEAH.
YES, THE ISLAND IS CHARMING,
BUT THE WHOLE CITY OF PARIS IS CHARMING.
IN FACT, IT FACES THE RIVER SEINE,
AND THE RIVER SEINE HAS BEEN CALLED BY PARISIANS,
"THE MIRROR OF THE CITY."
IT'S A GREAT PEOPLE ZONE.
YEAH, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE STROLLING.
YEAH.
WANDERING AROUND.
FESTIVALS HERE?
YES, INDEED.
ON THE BASTILLE DAY WE HAVE A BIG PARTY HERE,
BIG DANCING ORGANIZED.
DANCING.
DANCING ALL AROUND THE PLACE.
AND TODAY IT'S JUST SO RELAXED.
SO WHAT IS THE FRENCH WORD FOR THESE LITTLE STALLS?
Bouquinistes, WE CALL THEM.
IT COMES FROM THE NAME bouquin, WHICH IS OLD FRENCH.
OKAY, SO OLD BOOKS IN OLD FRENCH.
OLD BOOKS, YES.
AND THEY SELL PRINTS, YOU KNOW.
AND IT GOES BACK A LONG TIME?
OH, BACK TO THE 1600s, YES, INDEED.
THERE WERE, YOU KNOW, VERY WILD VENDORS
WHICH WERE ALL ALONG THE RIVER SEINE LIKE THAT.
AND THEY HAD TO BE REGULATED IN THE 19th CENTURY
BECAUSE THEY WERE SO WILD.
IT'S JUST A CLASSIC PARISIAN SCENE.
IT HAS, YOU KNOW, KIND OF A BOHEMIAN LIFE-STYLE.
I'M TAKING ARNAUD TO LUNCH.
AGAINST HIS ADVICE,
I'M EATING ALL THE PARISIAN CUISINE CLICHéS IN ONE MEAL.
THIS IS A kir, YOU KNOW, A GOOD CIVILIZED WAY TO START A MEAL.
SO IT'S AN APERITIF?
MM-HMM.
TELL ME ABOUT THE APERITIF.
APERITIF IS TO OPEN YOUR APPETITE.
ESCARGOT.
ESCARGOT.
OH, RICK, LOOK AT THAT.
IT LOOKS NICE.
Merci.
Soupe al'Oignon.
SO THIS IS THE FIRST COURSE?
YES, THIS IS THE ENTRéE.
AND ACTUALLY, YOU GUYS CALL THE ENTRéE THE MAIN COURSE,
WHEN THE ENTRéE IS THE STARTER IN FRANCE.
THAT MAKES SENSE, ACTUALLY.
OKAY, I HAVE MY ESCARGOT.
AND I JUST USE THIS?
Alors, YES.
SO YOU STAB IT?
YES.
THEN YOU TWIST IT OUT.
IT COMES OUT EVENTUALLY.
VERY CHEWY, YOU WILL SEE.
OH, THAT'S GOOD.
GOOD, HUH?
GARLIC, PARSLEY.
A LOT OF TOURISTS DON'T WANT THE ESCARGOT, BUT I LOVE IT.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE ONION SOUP?
AH, THE ONION SOUP IS SOMETHING YOU EAT MORE IN THE WINTERTIME
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IT WAS TO WARM UP THE EMPLOYEES
OF THE CENTRAL MARKET DURING THE NIGHTTIME.
I EAT ONION SOUP ALL YEAR.
I KNOW, YOU GUYS, AMERICANS, ARE EATING EVERYTHING
ALL YEAR ROUND.
[ laughter ]
Merci, I THINK.
THIS IS ACTUALLY THE MAIN COURSE,
plate principal IN FRENCH.
Plate principal.
Plate principal.
OKAY, THE PRINCIPAL PLATE.
ABSOLUTELY, YES.
OKAY, STEAK TARTARE.
STEAK TARTARE, YES.
VERY FAMOUS.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS MADE OF?
NO.
IT'S FRESH RAW BEEF.
THIS IS RAW BEEF?
RAW BEEF.
VERY FRESH.
THE SPICE COMES FROM THE WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE,
THE KETCHUP, THE MUSTARD, THE TABASCO, SALT, PEPPER
AND THE YOLK OF AN EGG,
AND THEN YOU JUST MIX IT ALL TOGETHER WITH THE BEEF.
DO YOU LIKE IT?
YES, I LOVE IT.
YOU'VE INTRODUCED ME TO SOMETHING NEW.
THIS ONE IS SO GOOD.
I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.
I'M EATING RAW BEEF AND IT TASTES GOOD.
IT IS GOOD, HUH?
WOW!
ESPECIALLY WITH SOME RED WINE.
M-HMM.
SO WE ARE, YOU KNOW, HAVING NOW THE CHEESE COURSE,
WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT.
YOU DON'T END UP A MEAL WITHOUT SOME CHEESE.
AND BASICALLY, YOU KNOW, YOU ORDER CHEESE TO FINISH THE WINE,
AND THEN YOU ORDER MORE WINE TO FINISH THE CHEESE.
IT'S A NICE CYCLE.
OH, IT'S A VICIOUS CIRCLE.
A VICIOUS CYCLE.
AH, THIS IS DESSERT TIME, RICK.
YOU'RE HAVING crème brûlée,
AND I HAVE CHOCOLATE.
THIS IS SACRED, YOU KNOW, FOR LUNCHTIME
TO STOP AT LEAST AN HOUR.
WE DON'T WORK.
LOOK AT THESE PEOPLE; THEY'VE BEEN HERE FOREVER.
YES, IT'S SACRED.
ENJOY.
OKAY.
SO THE COFFEE ALWAYS COMES AFTER ALL OF THE FOOD?
AFTER THE DESSERT, ALWAYS.
WHAT IF YOU ASK FOR YOUR COFFEE WITH THE MEAL?
THEY WOULD SAY, "YES, SURE,"
BUT IT WOULD COME AFTER THE MEAL.
THEY DON'T WANT TO BE RUDE.
OKAY.
WHAT A MEAL.
EXCELLENT, WASN'T IT?
I'M HEADING FOR THE ORSAY GALLERY.
OH, GO AHEAD.
I'M FINISHING MY COGNAC.
AU REVOIR.
BYE-BYE, RICK.
GETTING AROUND PARIS IS EASY ON THE METRO.
THE ORIGINAL STATIONS WERE ART NOUVEAU.
THIS NEW ONE CELEBRATES THE SYSTEM'S 100th BIRTHDAY.
AND THE LATEST GENERATION SHOWS EUROPE'S COMMITMENT
TO EVER-MORE-EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSIT.
THE TRAIN IS COMPLETELY AUTOMATED,
ALLOWING PASSENGERS TO WATCH THE TUNNEL COMING AT THEM.
FASTER THAN A TAXI CAN TAKE US,
WE HURTLE BENEATH THE CITY TO OUR NEXT STOP.
THE ORSAY GALLERY, FAMOUS FOR ITS MUCH-LOVED COLLECTION
OF IMPRESSIONIST MASTERPIECES, FILLS AN OLD TRAIN STATION.
THE BUILDING ITSELF IS MAGNIFICENT.
TRAIN TRACKS USED TO GO RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE.
THE ART OF THE ORSAY TAKES YOU FROM 1848 TO 1914.
THIS IS THE TIME WHEN THE OLD WORLD MEETS THE MODERN WORLD.
IT'S CONSERVATIVE AND REVOLUTIONARY, SIDE BY SIDE.
BEFORE THE IMPRESSIONISTS,
19th-CENTURY ARTISTS PAINTED IDEALIZED BEAUTY.
THIS WAS CONSERVATIVE ART,
POPULAR THROUGHOUT THE 1800s BECAUSE IT WAS...
SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL.
CABANEL'S BIRTH OF VENUS IS THE QUINTESSENCE OF BEAUTY.
THE LOVE QUEEN RECLINES SEDUCTIVELY,
JUST BORN FROM THE FOAM OF A WAVE.
AT THE TIME, SEX WAS CONSIDERED DIRTY
AND COULD BE EXALTED ONLY IN A MORE PURE AND DIVINE FORM.
BUT WHILE MAINSTREAM ARTISTS CRANKED OUT
THESE IDEAL BEAUTIES, A REVOLUTIONARY NEW BREED
OF ARTIST WAS PAINTING A HARSHER REALITY.
CROSS THE TRACKS AND YOU FIND THE REALISTS.
IN THE PAINTER'S STUDIO, GUSTAVE COURBET TAKES US
BEHIND THE SCENE AT THE PAINTING OF A GODDESS.
THE MODEL, NOT A GODDESS BUT A REAL WOMAN,
TAKES A BREAK FROM POSING TO WATCH COURBET AT WORK.
ORDINARY PEOPLE MILL ABOUT.
THE LITTLE BOY SEEMS TO ADMIRE THE ARTIST,
ALREADY NOTORIOUS FOR HIS NONCONFORMITY.
NO ONE WOULD SHOW COURBET'S WORK,
SO HE PUT ON HIS OWN ART SHOW.
HE BUILT A LITTLE SHACK IN THE CENTER OF TOWN
AND HUNG HIS PAINTINGS, BASICALLY THUMBING HIS NOSE
AT THE SHOCKED PUBLIC AND HIS CONSVATIVE CRITICS.
EDOUARD MANET RUBBED REALISM IN THE PUBLIC'S FACE,
AND THEY HATED IT.
MANET'S NUDE DOESN'T GLOSS OVER ANYTHING.
THE POSE IS CLASSIC, BUT THE SHARP OUTLINES AND HARSH COLORS
ARE NEW AND SHOCKING.
HER HAND IS A CLAMP;
HER STARE, DEFIANT.
IGNORING THE FLOWERS HER SERVANT BRINGS
FROM HER LAST CUSTOMER,
THIS PROSTITUTE LOOKS OUT AS IF TO SAY,
"NEXT."
IT'S AROUND 1880, AND MANET AND HIS RAT PACK
OF CONSERVATIVELY DRESSED RADICALS GATHERED IN PARIS,
PUSHING THE CREATIVE ENVELOPE.
IT'S TIME FOR THE REVOLUTION OF IMPRESSIONISM TO BEGIN.
IMPRESSIONISM INITIATED THE GREATEST CHANGE IN ART
SINCE THE RENAISSANCE.
NOW, ARTISTS WERE FREE TO DELVE INTO THE WORLD
OF COLORS, LIGHT AND FLEETING IMPRESSIONS.
THEY FEATURED EASYGOING, OPEN-AIR SCENES,
CANDID SPONTANEITY AND, ALWAYS, THE PLAY OF LIGHT.
IMPRESSIONISTS MADE THEIR CANVASES SHIMMER
BY AN INNOVATIVE TECHNIQUE.
RATHER THAN MIXING COLORS TOGETHER ON A PALATE,
THEY APPLIED THE COLORS IN DABS SIDE BY SIDE ON THE CANVAS
AND LET THESE MIX AS THEY TRAVELED TO YOUR EYE.
UP CLOSE, IT DOESN'T WORK;
BUT MOVE BACK, AND voilà!
CLAUDE MONET IS CALLED "THE FATHER OF IMPRESSIONISM."
FOR HIM, THE PHYSICAL SUBJECT WAS NOW ONLY THE RACK
UPON WHICH TO HANG THE LIGHT, SHADOWS AND COLORS.
AUST RENOIR CAUGHT PARISIANS LIVING AND LOVING
IN THE AFTERNOON SUN.
DAPPLED LIGHT WAS HIS SPECIALTY.
IN THIS PAINTING, YOU CAN ALMOST FEEL THE SUN'S WARMTH
AND SMELL THE POWDER ON THE WOMEN'S FACES.
EVEN THE SHADOWS ARE CAUGHT UP IN THE MOOD.
EVERYTHING'S DANCING.
RENOIR PAINTS A WALTZING BLUR TO CAPTURE,
NOT THE PHYSICAL DETAILS, BUT THE INTANGIBLE CHARM
OF A RESTAURANT ON PARIS'S MONTMARTRE.
MONTMARTRE, A PARISIAN HILL CROWNED
BY THE DRAMATIC NEO-BYZANTINE SACRE COEUR CHURCH,
WAS FAMOUS FOR THE AMBIANCE CAPTURED BY THE IMPRESSIONISTS.
A BLOCK AWAY, THE PLACE du TERTRE IS JUMBLED
WITH ARTISTS...AND TOURISTS.
IF YOU REALLY TRY, YOU CAN ALMOST IMAGINE
RENOIR, VAN GOGH AND PICASSO, WHO CAME HERE A CENTURY AGO,
POOR, CAREFREE AND SEEKING INSPIRATION.
BACK THEN, LIFE HERE ON MONTMARTRE
WAS A WORKING-CLASS COMMOTION
OF CAFES, BISTROS AND DANCE HALLS.
PAINTERS CAME HERE FOR THE LOW RENT AND READY joie de vivre.
TO GETWAY FROM ALL THE TOURISTS,
SIMPLY WALK THE BACK STREETS,
WHERE A BIT OF MONTMARTRE'S VILLAGE CHARM SURVIVES.
AH, THE STEPS OF SACRE COEUR.
THIS IS A PLACE WHERE LOCALS AND TRAVELERS ALIKE
CONGREGATE TO MARVEL AT PARIS, OR EACH OTHER.
FROM HERE, THE "CITY OF LIGHT" FANS OUT AT YOUR FEET.
YOUR PARISIAN EXPERIENCE IS A BLEND OF GREAT MUSEUMS,
FINE FOOD AND CHARACTERISTIC NEIGHBORHOODS.
THE LATIN QUARTER IS THE CORE OF THE LEFT BANK,
AS THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE SEINE RIVER IS KNOWN.
THIS HAS LONG BEEN THE CITY'S UNIVERSITY DISTRICT.
IN FACT, THE UNIVERSITY OF PARIS,
A LEADING UNIVERSITY IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE,
WAS FOUNDED HERE IN THE 13th CENTURY.
BACK THEN, THE VERNACULAR LANGUAGES,
LIKE FRENCH AND GERMAN, WERE CRUDE,
GOOD ENOUGH TO HANDLE YOUR BASIC NEEDS.
BUT FOR HIGHER LEARNING, ACADEMICS, LIKE THIS GUY,
SPOKE AND CORRESPONDED IN LATIN.
UNTIL THE 1800s, FROM SICILY TO SWEDEN,
LATIN WAS THE LANGUAGE OF EUROPE'S EDUCATED ELITE.
AND PARISIANS CALLED THIS UNIVERSITY DISTRICT
"THE LATIN QUARTER" BECAUSE THAT'S THE LANGUAGE THEY HEARD
ON THE STREETS.
TODAY, ANY REMNANT OF THAT LATIN IS BURIED
BY A TOURISTY TABOULI OF ETHNIC RESTAURANTS.
STILL, IT REMAINS A GREAT PLACE TO GET A FEEL
FOR THE TANGLED CITY, BEFORE THE NARROW LANES
WERE REPLACED BY WIDE, MODERN BOULEVARDS IN THE 19th CENTURY.
THE SCHOLARLY AND ARTSY PEOPLE OF THIS QUARTER
BREWED UP A NEW RAGE, PARIS'S CAFE SCENE.
BY THE TIME OF THE REVOLUTION, THE CITY'S COUNTLESS CAFES
WERE THE HAUNT OF POLITICIANS AND PHILOSOPHERS,
WHO PLOTTED A BETTER FUTURE AS THEY SIPPED THEIR COFFEE.
AND THE CAFE SOCIETY REALLY TOOK OFF IN THE EARLY 1900s
AS THE WORLD'S LITERARY AND ARTISTIC AVANT-GARDE
CONVERGED ON PARIS.
IN NOW-FAMOUS CAFES ALONG BOULEVARD ST.GERMAIN
AND BOULEVARD ST. MICHEL, FREE THINKERS LIKE HEMMINGWAY,
LENIN AND JEAN PAUL SARTRE ENJOYED THE CREATIVE FREEDOM
THESE HANGOUTS ENGENDERED.
WITH ITS CAFE AND UNIVERSITY SCENE,
PARIS HAD LONG BEEN A LAUNCH PAD FOR BOLD NEW IDEAS.
IN THE 18th CENTURY, GROUND-BREAKING POLITICAL
AND SOCIAL THINKING BY FRENCH PHILOSOPHERS
LIKE VOLTAIRE AND ROUSSEAU USHERED IN
"THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT."
LATER, THIS ENLIGHTENMENT PROVIDED THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
WITH A PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS,
AND IT GAVE THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
MANY OF ITS BASIC PRINCIPLES.
PARIS HONORS ITS INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL HEROES
WITH TOMBS AND MEMORIALS IN ITS NEO-CLASSICAL PANTHEON.
IT LOOKS LIKE AN ANCIENT TEMPLE,
BUT IT'S ONLY ABOUT 250 YEARS OLD,
FROM THE TIME OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT.
DURING THE ENLIGHTENMENT
AND THE AGE OF REVOLUTION WHICH FOLLOWED,
EVERYTHING WAS SUBJECTED TO WHAT WAS CALLED
"THE TEST OF REASON."
IF IT WASN'T LOGICAL, IT WAS TOSSED OUT.
NOTHING WAS SACRED.
THE VERY NOTION OF ROYALTY WAS CHALLENGED
AND CHURCHES WERE TURNED INTO TEMPLES OF REASON.
EVEN THE USE OF CITY LAND FOR CEMETERIES, AS YOU LEARN
AT THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS, WAS REJECTED.
THE SIGN READS, "HALT! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF DEATH."
IT KICKS OFF A ONE-MILE HIKE YOU WON'T SOON FORGET.
THE ANONYMOUS BONES OF SIX MILLION PERMANENT PARISIANS
LINE FORMER LIMESTONE QUARRIES DEEP UNDER THE STREETS.
IN 1785, PARIS DECIDED TO MAKE ITS CONGESTED CITY
MORE SPACIOUS AND SANITARY BY EMPTYING THE CEMETERIES,
WHICH TRADITIONALLY SURROUNDED CHURCHES,
INTO THIS LABYRINTHINE OSSUARY.
FOR DECADES, PRIESTS LED CEREMONIAL PROCESSIONS
OF BLACK-VEILED, BONE-LADEN CARTS INTO THE QUARRIES,
WHERE THE BONES WERE CAREFULLY AND ARTISTICALLY STACKED
AS MUCH AS 80 FEET DEEP.
EACH TRANSFER WAS FINISHED WITH A PLAQUE IDENTIFYING
FROM WHICH CHURCH THE BONES CAME
AND THE DATE THEY ARRIVED.
WHILE THERE IS HISTORY IN DEM BONES, THE CARNAVALET MUSEUM,
FILLING A LAVISH OLD ARISTOCRATIC MANSION,
IS THE BEST PLACE TO SORT THROUGH THE STORY OF PARIS.
PRE-REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE HAD A GOVERNMENT
BY, FOR AND OF THE WEALTHY.
AND AS THE RICH GOT RICHER AND RICHER,
PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN FABULOUS MANSIONS LIKE THIS
BECAME BLIND TO THE GROWING GAP BETWEEN THE HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS
IN THEIR COUNTRY.
LOUIS THE 14th, A.K.A. "THE SUN KING," WAS THE ULTIMATE KING
BACK WHEN PEOPLE ACCEPTED THE NOTION
THAT A FEW WERE BORN TO RULE AND BE RICH
WHILE MOST WERE BORN TO BE RULED AND TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.
ROOM AFTER ROOM SHOWS THE OPULENCE OF THE UPPER CLASSES
IN THE AGE LEADING UP TO THE REVOLUTION.
LOUIS THE 14th, WHO ENJOYED THE LUXURY BUT ANTICIPATED TROUBLE,
SAID, "Après moi, le deluge; AFTER ME, THE FLOOD."
THE HEART OF THE MUSEUM FEATURES THAT deluge,
WHICH HIT WHEN THIS MAN, LOUIS THE 16th, WAS KING.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION WAS KICKED OFF
WITH THE STORMING OF THE BASTILLE PRISON.
SUPPORTING THE ANGRY MASSES,
THE LIBERAL WING OF THE GOVERNMENT
TOOK MATTERS INTO ITS OWN HANDS,
DECLARING IT WOULDN'T QUIT
UNTIL THE PEOPLE HAD A CONSTITUTION.
IT WAS Vive la Nation,
liberté, egalité, AND fraternité,
UNTIL THE PEOPLE LITERALLY BEHEADED THE KING AND QUEEN.
THE PLACE de la REVOLUTION, OR REVOLUTION SQUARE.
IT WAS HERE THAT THE NEWFANGLED GUILLOTINE,
CONSIDERED A HUMANE FORM OF EXECUTION IN ITS DAY,
WAS SET UP.
AND IT WAS HERE THAT MARIE ANTOINETTE, LOUIS THE 16th
AND OVER 2,000 OTHERS WERE MADE A FOOT SHORTER AT THE TOP.
ACCORDING TO THIS PAINTING,
IT TOOK THREE TO RUN THE GUILLOTINE:
ONE TO MANAGE THE BLADE,
ONE TO CATCH THE BLOOD
AND ONE TO HOLD THE HEAD --
IN THIS CASE, OF MARIE ANTOINETTE --
UP TO THE CROWD.
TODAY, PARIS'S VAST REVOLUTION SQUARE IS CALLED
PLACE de la CONCORDE, PLACE OF HARMONY.
THE GUILLOTINE IS LONG GONE
AND ITS CENTERPIECE IS AN EGYPTIAN OBELISK
THE KING AND QUEEN WERE BEHEADED
BY A STARK AND EGALITARIAN GOVERNMENT.
BUT THE FRENCH LOVE OF FINE LIVING COULDN'T BE KEPT DOWN.
THE 19th CENTURY WAS A BOOM TIME FOR PARIS.
THE ENTIRE CITY WAS BEAUTIFIED
WITH GRAND NEW BOULEVARDS AND FANCY ARCHITECTURE.
IT WAS AN EXUBERANT AGE OF MONEY.
IF YOU HAD IT, YOU FLAUNTED IT.
FROM THE PLACE de la CONCORDE, THE CHAMPS ELYSéES --
ONCE A ROYAL CARRIAGEWAY, NOW EUROPE'S GRANDEST BOULEVARD --
LEADS TO THE ARC de TRIOMPHE.
THE ARCH WAS DEDICATED TO THE VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE
AND THEIR REPUBLIC, THE TRIUMPH OF FRENCH NATIONALISM.
A GLIMPSE OF THE DECADENCE OF PARIS'S BEAUTIFUL AGE,
OR belle époque, IS ENJOYED ALONG THE CHAMPS ELYSéES.
PARIS'S OLD OPERA HOUSE,
THE GRAND PALACE OF THIS GILDED AGE, WAS FINISHED IN 1875.
THE REAL SHOW WAS BEFORE AND AFTER,
WHEN THE ELITE OF PARIS, OUT TO SEE AND BE SEEN,
STRUTTED THEIR ELEGANT STUFF IN THE EXTRAVAGANT LOBBIES.
THINK OF THE GRAND MARBLE STAIRWAY AS A THEATER ITSELF,
FILLED WITH PARIS'S BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.
THE ACTUAL THEATER IS A PALACE OF PLUSH AND ORNATE SEATING.
ABOVE IT ALL, A DELIGHTFUL CEILING,
PAINTED BY MARC CHAGALL IN THE 1960s,
FROLICS AROUND AN EIGHT-TON CHANDELIER.
NEARBY, THE JACQUEMART-ANDRé MUSEUM
FILLS A 19th-CENTURY MANSION OFFERING THE PUBLIC
A RARE, ARISTOCRATIC OPEN HOUSE.
EDOUARD ANDRé AND HIS WIFE NELIE JACQUEMART
SPENT THEIR LIVES AND FORTUNE
DESIGNING, BUILDING AND DECORATING
THIS INCREDIBLE MANSION.
I'M ENJOYING A TOUR BY ONE OF THE MUSEUM'S FINE GUIDES,
CIARA.
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THEY HAD NO CHILDREN,
THEY HAD A LOT OF MONEY AND THEY USED TO TRAVEL A LOT,
AND THEN THEY'D BRING MANY SOUVENIRS.
SO THESE ARE SOUVENIRS?
EXACTLY.
WHAT'S THIS?
THAT'S THE MUSIC ROOM.
YOU CAN ALMOST IMAGINE THE CLATTER OF JEWELRY
MIXING WITH THE CHAMBER MUSIC
AS EDOUARD AND NELIE THREW A PARTY.
THIS IS THE ITALIAN ROOM.
EXACTLY, BECAUSE THEY TRAVELED IN ITALY.
THEY LOVED ITALIAN ART AND THEY BROUGHT PAINTINGS
OF BELLINI, BOTTICELLI, MANTEGNA, CARAVAGGIO.
AND TIEPOLO, WHOSE FRESCO GRACES THE MANSION'S LOBBY.
AND THIS IS THE BEDROOM.
SO THE MONSIEUR AND MADAME LIVED HERE?
YES, BUT THIS WAS THE ROOM OF MADAME, chambre OF MADAME.
SO THEY HAD TWO DIFFERENT BEDROOMS?
EXACTLY, THAT'S NELIE JACQUEMART.
AND THIS WAS EDOUARD'S BEDROOM,
COMPLETE WITH A DELUXE BATHROOM.
FOR MORE OF THE DECADENCE OF THAT AGE,
CHECK OUT THE RITZY SHOPS.
IT'S RITZY IN THE TRUE SENSE,
SINCE THEY CLUSTER AROUND THE ORIGINAL RITZ HOTEL.
ENJOY THE LUXURY OF THIS NEIGHBORHOOD
BY WINDOW SHOPPING, OR, AS THE FRENCH SAY,
faire du lèche-vitrines, WINDOW LOOKING.
ACTUALLY, TODAY'S PARIS THRIVES WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE.
THE GOOD LIFE FEELS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL,
AND IN THE SPIRIT OF FRANCE'S REVOLUTION,
THE GOVERNMENT TRULY SEEMS TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE.
WHILE THE STUNNING GEORGE POMPIDOU CENTER
HOLDS ONE OF THE WORLD'S TOP MODERN ART COLLECTIONS,
MOST PARISIANS ARE HAPPY JUST TO HANG OUT IN FRONT.
AND APART FROM ALL ITS WORLD-CLASS ATTRACTIONS,
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE CALL THIS CITY SIMPLY HOME.
NEIGHBORHOODS ENJOY FIRST-CLASS PUBLIC TRANSIT,
AND IF A TRAIN LINE'S DECOMMISSIONED,
IT'S PUT TO GOOD USE WITH ITS ARCHES HOUSING COLORFUL SHOPS
AND THE ELEVATED TRACK MADE INTO A LONG, SKINNY PARK.
THE PROMENADE PLANTéE IS POPULAR
FOR JOGGING OR STROLLING
OR JUST A PEACEFUL BREAK FROM THE CITY.
THERE'S A TIME-HONORED FINESSE TO PARISIAN LIFE,
A COMFORTABLE RHYTHM WITH KISSES ON THE CHEEK,
NEIGHBORHOOD STREET MARKETS
AND FAMILIAR FACES AT THE CORNER CAFE.
WHETHER YOU VISIT FOR ITS BLOCKBUSTER MONUMENTS,
ITS CAPTIVATING HISTORY
OR THE SIMPLE DELIGHTS OF A CAFE,
PARIS JUST MIGHT STEAL YOUR HEART.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.
I'M RICK STEVES.
UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP ON TRAVELIN'.
AU REVOIR.
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Highlights of Paris: Eiffel and Monet to Crème Brûlée

8023 Folder Collection
Ashley Chen published on October 15, 2014
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