Thursday, December 14

The beauty of Paris


I've just returned from a three-day business trip to Paris. This is my third time in Paris since January. The channel tunnel makes these visits quick, comfortable and almost effortless. Take today for example. Three and a half hours after I boarded the Eurostar in France, I walked in the door at home in London. The seat beside me on the train was empty making the journey even more comfortable than usual.

While this was another hectic trip, I did find time on Monday evening to wander around Place Charles de Gaulle, home of The Arc de Triomphe. It was pouring with rain. However, rather than spoil my walk, each rain puddle added to the spectacle, reflecting rows of dazzling Christmas lights along the Champs-Elysees boulevard.

I love The Arc de Triomphe. It's always a joy to visit. Your first view of the monument is an experience in itself. You ride the Metro escalator to street level, which is rather dull and drab. As you emerge into the street you're suddenly confronted by the monument itself. The sight is most unexpected.

The arch is more than 51 metres high and almost as wide. Its design was inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome. Unlike its Roman cousin, The Arc de Triomphe is located in a spectacular cobble-stone streetscape, designed to match and enhance its dramatic proportions. It's details like this that make Paris a truly beautiful city.

I also love the architecture of the inner city. It's neo-classical stone buildings line both narrow streets and broad, tree-lined avenues. Each building's height is defined according to the width of the street it faces ensuring the most harmonious line of sight. I particularly like the classic Mansard roof shape (a double-sloped roof line) that makes Paris so memorable. The accompanying oval, “oeil de boeuf” windows that protrude from the sloping roof always remind me where I are.

As I wandered to work this morning I revelled in its urban vista, quietly thankful for the job I have.

UPDATE:

I returned to Paris in April 2007 for yet another business trip. Click here to read this post.

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