Paris was one of the earliest destinations the Monkey visited (on a few occasions in 1995 and 1996). In those days, le Singe still demonstrated a bit of naïveté in front of the camera, and he was only beginning to work out his photographic vision. So behold, these early forays into Monkey travel.
It had to happen, didn’t it? The Monkey in front of the Paris’ most recognizable landmark, the Eiffel Tower. The iron tower is also the world’s most popular paid tourist attraction, visited by some 6 million people every year! Constructed from 1887 to 1889, at 300.5 meters it was the world’s tallest structure until 1930, when New York City’s Chrysler Building edged it out. This is an early Monkey shot, from 1995.
The Monkey rests a moment by the River Seine, with the Cathedral of Notre Dame behind him. Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 and by 1330 the works were finished. Since 1991 restoration has been ongoing. This is a shot from the Monkey’s 1996 visit.
The Monkey pays a visit to one of the world’s most renowned art museums, the Louvre in Paris. Begun as a fortress in the 12th Century, in 1528 King François I opted to destroy the fort and start work on a palace on the site. The Louvre served as a royal palace until 1678, when Louis XIV transferred the throne to Versailles. After the revolution, the Louvre was converted to a museum. The controversial Pyramid, one of President Mitterand’s “grands projets,” was designed by a Chinese-American architect, Ieoh Ming Pei, and work began on it in 1985. The Monkey sees the Pyramids, which serve as the new entrances to the museum, as an example of the French willingness to clash the old with the new in architecture. Exciting indeed.
The Monkey stops for a photo in front of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. The Basilica was built to commemorate the French losses in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Construction began in 1875, but wasn’t completed until 1914, when another Franco-Prussian War unfortunately began (otherwise known as the Great War, or World War I). Sitting atop a hill in Montmartre, the Sacred Heart Basilica commands one of Paris’ greatest views.
More architectural fun. Next to the Centre Pompidou—one of the Monkey’s favorite buildings— le Singe encountered this crazy melange of styles.
Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely’s Stravinsky fountains, inspired by some of the composer’s works, clash ostentatiously with the gothic Church of Saint-Merry. The Monkey thinks you might recognize these fountains from the credits of the popular French language instructional TV series French in Action, featuring the gorgeous Mireille (at right).
The Monkey by another of Paris’ famed landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe. Napoleon proposed the idea in 1806 to commemorate revolutionary and imperial war dead, and by 1836 the 50 meter tall arch was completed. Beneath its vault is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and as such it serves as a focal point for memorializing French war dead. The Arc sits in a star-shaped intersection, L’Etoile, at the opposite end of the Champs Elysées from the Place de la Concorde. This is a (not very good) shot from the Monkey’s 1995 trip to Paris.
In 1990, a modern cousin of the Arc de Triomphe was born. Another of Mitterand’s “grand projets”, the Grand Arche de la Défense is 106 meters high and houses government offices. It is the centerpiece of the La Défense area, a few kilometers from central Paris, where modern glazed architecture dominates. The Grand Arche aligns perfectly with the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, and the Place de la Concorde, realizing the goal of a monumental ceremonial passageway through the heart of Paris. Le Singe stopped by in 1995.
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