Feb. 14, 2012 at 11:51amParis

The City of Light

Valentine’s Day always brings thoughts of Paris for me … really the most romantic city on planet Earth.  

So I was excited to see that Rick Steves' Europe this week is set in Paris – “Highlights of Paris: Eiffel and Monet to Crème Brulee.”


The program airs on Friday evening at 7:30p.m. on KSPS in Spokane. Steves has written about and done many videos about Paris but this one is a particular favorite. It focuses on the Eiffel Tower, the history of this charming city and its famous artists… with a short foray into French cuisine.

Notre Dame Cathedral which stands for “our lady” or Mary, is one of the first stops on Steves' itinerary after the Eiffel Tower. The church broke ground in 1163 on a building that wouldn’t be finished for 200 years. He points out the latest technology of the time- flying buttresses to support the heavy rooftop and the frightening gargoyles which do double duty …scaring away evil spirits while serving as elegant rain spouts.

Several years ago Notre Dame was high on my list of places to visit and I have many photos of the Church and the magnificent architecture.

Steves visits a café to partake of several Parisian cuisine clichés in one meal. In several courses he has escargot, stake tartare, cheeses with wine and crème brulee for dessert, finished off with a cognac. Sounds delightful yes?

The Orsay Gallery is next up featuring art created by iconic mastersfrom1848 to 1914. The tour takes us from the work of Edouard Manet, one of the realists, to the birth of Impressionism and Claude Monet.

The rest of the itinerary takes us to Montmartre, the Parisian hill where the dramatic neo-Byzantine Sacre Coeur Church is located, to the catacombs of Paris – the “empire of death” – which holds the anonymous bones of 6 million permanent Parisians. Skulls and artistically arranged bones line former limestone quarries deep under the streets.

The City of Light has always been a gathering place for intellectual heroes and heroines, free thinkers with bold new ideas and famous French philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau who ushered in the Age of Enlightenment.

The program compacts so many sights and literally centuries of fascinating historical information it’s amazing that it’s only 30 minutes long. I feel as though I’ve had a whirlwind tour of one of my very favorite cities.

Au revoir.

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