The Louvre pyramid

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and also the most visited.

It contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art and averages 15,000 visitors per day.

The most instantly recognisable part for many people is the pyramid, a controversial addition made in 1989.

The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum and it has become a landmark of the city of Paris.

It’s a large glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei that is surrounded by three smaller pyramids.

The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it were created because of problems with the Louvre’s original main entrance, which could no longer handle the enormous number of visitors on an everyday basis.

Even though it is now one of Paris’s key tourist attractions, the pyramid’s original design inspired a lot of heated debate.

Many people were unhappy with the modern design sitting slap bang in the middle of the classic French Renaissance style of the original museum.

Other concerns included the pyramid being an unsuitable symbol of death from ancient Egypt.

But thankfully all the concerns were put aside and we are now left with the iconic structure for all to enjoy.

Galeries Lafayette Xmas

Galeries Lafayette is one of the most popular, chic and distinguished shopping centres in Paris. 

You can browse this temple to consumerism under a stunning 100 year-old steel and glass Coupole.

The Galeries Lafayette offers its visitors a splendid glass Coupole, rising to a height of 43 meters, which can be seen from across the city.

This majestic Art Nouveau steel and glass Coupole became the iconic symbol of the mall

And when is the biggest, best time for shopping? Christmas of course and this mecca to all things shiny does not disappoint.

Galeries Lafayette has a suspended Christmas tree every year, the first of which was hung from the dome in 1976. It’s a gorgeous spectacle to behold!

The department store has been open since 1912 . The architect Georges Chedanne to head up the first major renovations which were completed in 1907.

Ferdinand Chanut, Georges Chedanne’s apprentice, designed the store’s stunning 43-meter high Neo Byzantine dome.

In 1932, the store was renovated with an Art Déco style by an architect named Pierre Patou.

It’s well worth a tour around to just soak in the glorious, shiny magnificence of its xmas spectacle.

Pieces of Paris

Just a few snaps from around the streets of Paris as we head towards the Pompidou Centre.

Street art plays a huge part in the street scene of the French capital as do numerous cafes and bars.

The Pompidou Centre was opened in 1977 and caused a bit of a stir at the time due to its ‘inside-out’ design.

It was the first building in architectural history to be done this way with its structural system, mechanical systems, and circulation exposed on the exterior of the building.

Initially, all of the functional structural elements of the building were colour-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and circulation elements and devices for safety (e.g., fire extinguishers) are red.

Below the husband is either contemplating the complex architecture or he’s hungry . . . .

Notre Dame

Last year we were lucky enough to visit the iconic Notre Dame cathedral before it was gutted by fire in 2019.

Notre Dame – meaning Our Lady of Paris – is a medieval Catholic Cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.

It is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

The fire that engulfed this noble in April 2019 was a tragedy both in terms of lost history and lost architecture.

On 15 April 2019 the cathedral caught fire, destroying the spire and the oak frame and lead roof,

The cathedral’s construction was begun in 1160 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and was largely complete by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries.

In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.

The cathedral is famous for its beautiful stained glass and ornate rose windows.

Below is the North rose window including lower 18 vertical windows and another jewel bright window showcasing the amazingly detailed glass.

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Arc De Triomphe

We’re ticking off the landmarks at a rate of knots on a wet and windy Parisian day.

Next up is the majestic Arc De Triomphe – after the Eiffel Tower it is one of the most iconic of all the Paris sights.

It stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, (formerly named Place de l’Étoile( — the étoile or “star” of the juncture is formed by its 12 radiating avenues.

The Arc de Triomphe was started in 15 August 1806 and inaugurated in 1836 by French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire.

The Unknown Soldier was buried at the base of the arch in 1921.

The torch was designed by architect Henri Favier and is a circular bronze shield at the centre has a cannon muzzle which radiates a frieze of swords.

On 11 November 1923, surrounded by a multitude of former soldiers, the flame was lit for the first time. Since that moment, the flame has never been extinguished.

A daily ritual pays tribute to the Great Dead and each evening, at 6.30pm the flame is rekindled.

Bastia

Our overnight stop is in the town of Bastia. A bit battered and run down but with artwork and colour on each street.

Bastia was the principal capital of Genoese Corsica, and it became French only in the late 1760s.

Artwork and street scribbles adorn many of the walls around the city centre.

Many of the buildings look somewhat precarious, if not downright unsafe!

There are more Baroque churches in this city than any other on Corsica.

The most noticeable one is the twin towers of the St Jean Baptiste cathedral which stands prominently above the bustling quayside.

The Vieux Port – Old Port – is the busiest part of the town with many tall, gently decaying, buildings housing restaurants and cafes.

Corte

Heading onwards through the winding mountain roads of Corsica we’re heading for the heart of this enchanting island.

Our destination is the curious town of Corte. Once the capital of Corsica during the reign of Pasquale Paoli.

Corte is set in geographical centre of the island and was but governed by Pascal Paoli, the father of the Corsican independence movement, after he stormed the Citadel in 1755. Hence it is still known as the spiritual capital of the island.

Enchanting coloured shops and restaurants line the winding streets of Corte as you head to the central attraction – the citadel, imposing set on a rocky outcrop with a commanding view of the whole town.

The citadel’s oldest portion – the château known as the Nid d’Aigle, meaning ‘Eagle’s Nest’ – was built at the highest point in 1419.

Little towns

Corsica is full of delightful little towns, each with their own unique characters and quirks.

We spent a day floating about visiting them en-route to our next destination.

Here’s the hubby at Algajola. It has a 16th century fort on the seafront and a long sandy beach.

Algajola is small with its older buildings clustered around its 16th century castle. Next to this is a citadel built in the same stone with a protruding circular watch tower.

Next on the road trip is the beach at St Florent. The town itself is small with a maze of narrow streets and passages.

Plus there’s a lively waterfront with a row of restaurants.

Like many of the Corsican towns Saint Florent has a Genoise citadel, built in the 15th century. It’s a sturdy round monument that looks out across the gulf below.

Mountain villages

We’re off to explore the hill villages of Corsica’s Haute-Balagne on this little road trip.

Tiny villages cling to the hillside along the winding roads that meander throughout the lush greens of the Corsican countryside.

Sant’Antonino is the oldest inhabited village on Corsica and the pastel hued houses cling together along the winding alleyways and back streets.

Buildings tumble down the slopes while you can discover colourful corners around every bend.

Ajaccio art

Sunny Ajaccio’s old streets are lined with beautiful, mellowed, old buildings. Muted shades of ocha and cream have been faded by decades of sun.

As well as attractive architecture you can also find a wealth of detailed wall art too. Whether it is an ornate Stormtrooper or a weathered woman.

A pretty door in faded baby blue provides the perfect backdrop to display local produce while the combination of brick red and air force blue makes an eye-catching sight.

The husband is once again dispatched as a photo prop (he loves it really!) while the iconic Corsican symbol can be found everywhere.

The eyecatching symbol is called ‘La Testa di Moru’ – the Moor’s head.

It originates in the Kingdom of Aragon and has also been used in neighbouring Sardinia since the Aragonese conquest in 1297.