One Night in Paris: A Photo Essay
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I was in Paris for a 4-day jaunt that was work-related but on the last night found myself free from any appointments. The bright lights everywhere beckoned as they illuminated the streets, monuments and buildings which make the city live up to its vaunted reputation as “The City of Lights”.
It was an opportunity not to be missed so I took out the camera and with tripod in hand, I decided to shoot night scenes as far as my wandering feet could take me. It wasn’t really a stroll in the park being both cold and windy in late December, plus the fact that leather shoes and cobblestone pavement don’t actually make for a pleasant walk. But then I decided I had to make a go for it.
Starting from the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank to Notre Dame Cathedral skirting the Seine, I made my way through Ile de la Cite to the Marais and the Louvre, crossed the Pont Alexander down to Esplanade des Invalides before turning right to the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero. Then straight to the Arc de Triomphe, past the 2 km. long Champs Elysees with its brightly-lit Christmas Market stalls, onward to Tuileries Garden and Place Vendome before ending at the L’Opera where, thankfully, the hotel I was staying was close by.
Yes, it was tiring. I almost slipped several times on the wet embankment due to a sudden heavy drizzle, the Nikon fell down from the unbalanced tripod (luckily I caught it!), and my feet were pretty sore the next day but, by golly, I had a great time!
Here then are the photos that justified it all…..
Soaring high into the blue hour sky the Eiffel Tower never ceases to awe you no matter how many times you’ve seen it. I think it’s the seemingly fragile, lace-like steel girders that makes one wonder how such an unbearable lightness of being could stand upright defying the pull of gravity. It comes into its own at night when it lights up and its twin beacons, seen for miles around, start scanning the dark sky like a lighthouse guiding tourists to come to its four pylons standing over a wide esplanade.
Standing right in front of the Trocadero with synthetic Christmas trees laden with fake snow in the background and waiting for passengers, the carousel remained still for some time with no riders. I was having some crepes with hot chocolate to ward off the winter cold and decided to have a go at it. But first I told the operator to start it up so I could take nice pictures of its prancing horses in all their brightly-lit glory. He willingly obliged and I got this whirling shot.
Arguably the best bridge spanning the Seine, this bridge links Les Invalides with the Champs Elysees. Built in the late 1800s and named after Russian Tsar Alexandre III to commemorate the Franco-Russian alliance, it is an exuberant representation of Art Noveau with its nymphs and cherubs standing watch at the center overlooking the boats that pass underneath.
Considered the world’s most beautiful avenue, the whole 2.4km. length of the Champs Elysees is spectacularly lit up during Christmastime. With 450 trees sparkling on both sides, it truly is a sight to behold! Plus you have the annual Christmas market with its clusters of stalls offering decorations side-by-side with holiday treats like wines, sausages, cakes and all sorts of delectable desserts; you won’t think of any better place to be in Paris!
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
By the busy roundabout where 12 of the city’s major streets radiate from, the Arc de Triomphe stands alone and well-lit at night surrounded by the never-ending traffic that moves around it nonstop. Standing 50 meters high, it is a symbol of France’s military victories in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars with the names of the generals engraved on the outer surface along with the various friezes that decorate the monument.
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
The Our Lady of Paris Cathedral is on the Ile de la Cite, a small island in the middle of the Seine. Famous for its gargoyles and chimeras on the roof, it was one of the first churches that used flying buttresses to support its massive walls when it was built in the 12th century. It is one of the main focal points that tourists have to tick off their bucket list while visiting Paris.
This military school was founded by Louis XV to train young cadets who came from poor families for the royal army and Napoleon was one of its more illustrious graduates. He made it his headquarters when he became Emperor of the Republic.
DOME DES INVALIDES
Les Invalides is a huge complex of buildings composed of several museums and this cathedral built in French Baroque style whose dome is modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Below this elegant dome lies the tomb of Napoleon.
This is the world’s most visited museum and one of the largest with over 350,000 objects to exhibit from prehistoric art to classical sculptures to Renaissance paintings. It was formerly a fortress in the 12th century then turned into a museum to display the nation’s collection of masterpieces. The latest renovation of the Louvre was done in the 1980s where glass pyramids with reflecting pools were built in the courtyard to serve as entrances to the lower level. Though controversial at first, they have become a big hit and are obviously great for night photography.
Thousands of prisoners during the French Revolution were incarcerated here before their execution with the most illustrious one being Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI. The Conciergerie used to be a royal palace before Charles V moved to the Louvre leaving it to serve as a Palace of Justice and part of it a prison. It still serves the same purpose today as courts of law (minus the prison) and there is a beautiful Gothic church in the courtyard, the Sainte-Chapelle, with stunning stained glass windows.