Category Archives: Travel Tips

The Grand Tour: No Longer Just for Rich Men

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you are anything like us, then you love to travel. As part of our travels, we love to learn about where we are going.

What should we see? Why should we go this tour instead of that? Where should we eat? How do we get around?

Today we embark on the most lavish journey (maybe ever) as we set out on The Grand Tour!

Map of 18th Century Grand Tour (typical route shown in blue).

Before we begin, without knowing a thing about this tour you should probably be able to guess that it is something special since “Grand” is in the name. The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper class, young European men of means, or those of more humble origin who could find a sponsor.

Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1640–1702), painted in classical dress in Rome by Carlo Maratti.

The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard travel itinerary. Seen as an educational rite of passage, this trip was primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry.

Similar trips were made by wealthy young men of Protestant Northern European nations, and from the latter half of the 18th Century, by some South and North Americans. The tradition declined with the lapse of neoclassical enthusiasm and after rail and steamship travel made the journeys much easier.

The primary value of The Grand Tour lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music.

Cicerone on The Grand Tour

A Grand Tour could last from several months to several years, mostly depending on how much money you had. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a Cicerone (knowledgeable guide or tutor).

The Grand Tour had more than superficial cultural importance. E. P. Thompson stated, “ruling-class control in the 18th Century was located primarily in a cultural hegemony, and only secondarily in an expression of economic or physical (military) power.”

The most common itinerary of The Grand Tour shifted across generations in the cities it embraced, but the British tourist usually began in DoverEngland and crossed the English Channel to Ostend, in the Netherlands / Belgium, or to Calais or Le Havre in France. From there the tourist, usually accompanied by a bear-leader (tutor) and, if wealthy enough, a troop of servants could rent or acquire a coach (which could be resold in any city or disassembled and packed across the Alps, as in Giacomo Casanova‘s travels, who resold it on completion), or opt to make the trip by boat as far as the Alps, either travelling up the Seine to Paris, or up the Rhine to Basel.

The Louvre in Paris was a definite stop for anyone on The Grand Tour.

Upon hiring a French-speaking guide, as French was the dominant language of the elite in Europe during the 17th and 18th Centuries, the tourist and his entourage would travel to Paris. There the traveler might undertake lessons in Frenchdancingfencing, and riding.

The appeal of Paris lay in the sophisticated language and manners of French high society, including courtly behavior and fashion. This served the purpose of preparing the young man for a leadership position at home, often in government or diplomacy.

From Paris he would typically go to urban Switzerland for a while, often to Geneva (the cradle of the Protestant Reformation) or Lausanne. From there the traveler would endure a difficult crossing over the Alps into northern Italy (such as at the Great St Bernard Pass).

This would include dismantling the carriage and luggage. If one was wealthy enough, one might be carried over the hard terrain by servants.

Venice and the Grand Canal

Once in Italy, the tourist would visit Turin (and, less often, Milan), then might spend a few months in Florence, where there was a considerable Anglo-Italian society accessible to travelling Englishmen “of quality” and where the Tribuna of the Uffizi gallery brought together in one space the monuments of High Renaissance paintings and Roman sculptures that would inspire picture galleries adorned with antiquities at home. Side trips would be taken to Pisa, then move on to PaduaBologna, and Venice since the British viewed it as the “locus of decadent Italianate allure” making Venice an epitome and cultural setpiece of the Grand Tour.

The interior of the Pantheon in the 18th Century, painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini.

From Venice the traveler went to Rome to study the ruins of Ancient Rome, and the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture of Rome’s Early Christian, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Some travelers also visited Naples to study music, and (after the mid-18th Century) to appreciate the recently discovered archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and perhaps (for the adventurous) an ascent of Mount Vesuvius.

Later in the period the more adventurous, especially if provided with a yacht, might attempt Sicily (the site of Greek ruins), Malta or even Greece itself (though still under Turkish rule). But Naples, or later the further south Paestum, was the usual last stop.

Portrait of 18th Century Vienna

From here the traveler again traversed the Alps heading north through to the German-speaking parts of Europe. The traveler might stop first in Innsbruck before visiting ViennaDresdenBerlin, and Potsdam, with perhaps some study time at the universities in Munich or Heidelberg.

From Germany, travelers then visited Holland and Flanders with more gallery-going and art appreciation. Once they got their fill, the travelers would return back across the Channel to England.

Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his Grand Tour with his physician Dr John Moore and the latter’s son John (view of Geneva is in the distance), by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.

The Grand Tour was neither a scholar’s pilgrimage nor a religious one, though a pleasurable stay in Venice and a cautious residence in Rome were essential. Catholic Grand Tourists followed the same routes as Protestant Whigs.

Since the 17th Century, a tour to such places was also considered essential for budding young artists to understand proper painting and sculpture techniques. The trappings of The Grand Tour (valets, coachmen, a bear-leader, and perhaps a cook) were usually beyond their reach though.

The advent of popular guides did much to popularize such trips, and following the artists themselves, the elite considered travel to such centers as necessary rites of passage. For gentlemen, some works of art were essential to demonstrate the breadth and polish they had received from their tour.

In Rome, antiquarians like Thomas Jenkins provided access to private collections of antiquities, enough antiquities proved to be for sale that the English market raised the price of such things. Purchasing coins and medals, which formed more portable souvenirs, proved to be a respected gentleman’s guide to ancient history.

Pompeo Batoni made a career of painting English milordi posed with graceful ease among Roman antiquities. Rome for many centuries had been the goal of pilgrims, especially during Jubilee when they visited the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome.

The title page of Coryat’s Crudities, printed in 1611.

In Britain, an early influence on The Grand Tour was Thomas Coryat‘s travel book Coryat’s Crudities (1611), which was published during the Twelve Years’ Truce. However, it was the far more extensive tour through Italy as far as Naples undertaken by the ‘Collector’ Earl of Arundel with his wife and children in 1613–14 that established the most significant precedent.

This is partly because he asked Inigo Jones, not yet established as an architect but already known as a ‘great traveler’ and masque designer, to act as his Cicerone. Larger numbers of tourists began their tours after the Peace of Münster in 1648.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of the term ‘The Grand Tour’ (perhaps its introduction to English) was by Richard Lassels, an expatriate Roman Catholic priest, in his book The Voyage of Italy, which was published posthumously in 1670. Lassels’s introduction listed 4 areas in which travel furnished “an accomplished, consummate Traveler”: the intellectual, the social, the ethical, and the political.

Contrast between Roman ruins and modern peasants of the Roman Campagna, by Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem (1661, Mauritshuis).

The idea of travelling for the sake of curiosity and learning was a developing idea in the 17th Century. With John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), it was argued, and widely accepted, that knowledge comes entirely from the external senses, that what one knows comes from the physical stimuli to which one has been exposed.

Thus, one could use the environment, taking from it all that is offered, requiring a change of place. Travel, therefore, was necessary for one to develop the mind and expand knowledge of the world.

As a young man at the outset of his account of a repeating The Grand Tour, historian Edward Gibbon remarked, “According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman.” Consciously adapted for intellectual self-improvement, Gibbon was “revisiting the Continent on a larger and more liberal plan”.

William Beckford’s Grand Tour through Europe (shown in red).

Most Grand Tourists did not pause more than briefly in libraries. On the eve of the Romantic era in which he played a significant part in introducing, William Beckford wrote a vivid account of his Grand Tour that made Gibbon’s unadventurous Italian tour look distinctly conventional.

The typical 18th Century sentiment was that of the studious observer travelling through foreign lands reporting his findings on human nature for those unfortunate enough to have stayed home. Recounting one’s observations to society at large to increase its welfare was considered an obligation.

British Army Officer William Gordon in front of the Roman Colosseum, by Pompeo Batoni (1765-66).

The Grand Tour flourished in this mindset for it offered a liberal education, and the opportunity to acquire things otherwise unavailable at home, thus lending an air of accomplishment and prestige to the traveler. Grand Tourists would return with crates full of books, works of art, scientific instruments, and cultural artifacts to be displayed in libraries, cabinets, gardens, drawing rooms, and galleries built for that purpose.

The trappings of The Grand Tour, especially portraits of the traveler painted in iconic continental settings, became the obligatory emblems of worldliness, gravitas and influence. Artists who especially thrived on Grand Tourists included Carlo Maratti, who was first patronized by John Evelyn as early as 1645, Pompeo Batoni, and the vedutisti such as CanalettoPannini and Guardi.

Pannini’s gallery of Roman antiques

The less well-off could return with an album of Piranesi etchings. Not everyone was made of money, and most of these trips happened before postcards and souvenirs were created.

After the arrival of steam-powered transportation (around 1825) The Grand Tour custom continued, but it was of a qualitative difference (cheaper to undertake, safer, easier, open to anyone). During much of the 19th Century, most educated young men of privilege undertook The Grand Tour which now included Germany and Switzerland in a more broadly defined circuit.

A Room with a View book cover

Later, it became fashionable for young women as well. A trip to Italy, with a spinster aunt as chaperon, was part of the upper-class woman’s education, as in E. M. Forster‘s novel A Room with a View.

It is important to see the contribution of anthropology to the study of The Grand Tour. An anthropologist argues that The Grand Tour emerged in England and was rapidly adopted by other Northern countries because its cultural roots came from Norse Mythology.

Among Indo-Arian mythologies, Norse culture is the only one where its major god, Odin, travels long distances to learn the customs and habits of humans. The ruler of Asgaard was accustomed to undertake his adventures in the form of animals.

Odin has been described as an ongoing wanderer whose hunger of adventure and risk has no limits. Operating under many disguises and using false identities, Odin is said to symbolize how pain is a necessary step to access unlimited knowledge, and this is the main value that The Grand Tour emulates.

The Grand Tour – Volume 1 by Thomas Nugent (1 January 1749).

Published personal accounts of The Grand Tour provide illuminating detail and a first-hand perspective of the experience. Examining some accounts offered by authors in their own lifetimes, they should be approached as travel literature rather than unvarnished accounts.

Examples of such literature come from Joseph Addison, William Beckford (whose Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents was a published account of his letters back home in 1780, embellished with stream-of-consciousness associations), William Coxe, Elizabeth CravenJohn Moore (tutor to successive dukes of Hamilton), Samuel Jackson PrattTobias SmollettPhilip Thicknesse, and Arthur YoungLord Byron‘s letters to his mother with the accounts of his travels have also been published.

Ida Saxton on The Grand Tour (before she became First Lady to US President McKinley).

Inventor Sir Francis Ronalds’ journals and sketches of his 1818–20 tour to Europe and the Near East have been published on the web. The letters written by sisters Mary and Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio in 1869 while on a 6-month tour offer insight into The Grand Tour tradition from an American perspective.

In 1998, the BBC produced an art history series Sister Wendy’s Grand Tour presented by Carmelite nun Sister Wendy. Presumably an art history series, the journey takes her from Madrid to Saint Petersburg with stop-offs to see the great masterpieces.

In 2005, British art historian Brian Sewell followed in the footsteps of the Grand Tourists for a 10-part television series Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour. Produced by UK’s Channel Five, Sewell travelled by car and confined his attention solely to Italy stopping in Rome, Florence, Naples, Pompeii, Turin, Milan, Cremona, Siena, Bologna, Vicenza, Paestum, Urbino, Tivoli and concluding at a Venetian masked ball.

Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour poster

In 2008, The New York Times described The Grand Tour in this way:

Three hundred years ago, wealthy young Englishmen began taking a post-Oxbridge trek through France and Italy in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization. With nearly unlimited funds, aristocratic connections and months (or years) to roam, they commissioned paintings, perfected their language skills and mingled with the upper crust of the Continent.

Cover of serial Vol. 4 of Dickens’ Little Dorrit (March 1856).

In 2009, The Grand Tour featured prominently in a BBC/PBS miniseries based on Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. Set mainly in Venice, it portrayed The Grand Tour as a rite of passage.

Kevin McCloud presented Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour on Channel 4 in 2009, with McCloud retracing the tours of British architects. The 2016 Amazon motoring program The Grand Tour is named after the traditional Grand Tour, and refers to the show being set in a different location worldwide each week.

The legacy of The Grand Tour lives on to the modern day and is still evident in works of travel and literature. From its aristocratic origins and the permutations of sentimental and romantic travel to the age of tourism and globalization, The Grand Tour still influences the destinations tourists choose and shapes the ideas of culture and sophistication that surround the act of travel.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, maybe even inspiring you on a Grand Tour of your own. Be sure to stop by again soon for we never know where we’ll end up.

17th Century painting of the Arch of Constantine with the Colosseum in the background (Rome, Italy).

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Bignamini, Ilaria; Hornsby, Clare. Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth Century Rome. Yale University Press, 2010.

Bohls, Elizabeth; Duncan, Ian. Travel Writing 1700–1830 : An Anthology. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-284051-7

Buzard, James. “The Grand Tour and after (1660–1840)”. The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, 2002. ISBN 0-521-78140-X.

Chaney, Edward. The Evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural Relations since the Renaissance. Routledge, 2000. ISBN 0-7146-4474-9.

Chaney, Edward. The Evolution of English Collecting. Yale University Press, 2003.

Chaney, Edward; Wilks, Timothy. The Jacobean Grand Tour: Early Stuart Travellers in Europe. I.B. Tauris, 2014. ISBN 978 1 78076 783 3.

Colletta, Lisa. The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015. ISBN 978 1 61147 797 9.

Fussell, Paul. “The Eighteenth Century and the Grand Tour”. The Norton Book of Travel, 1987. ISBN 0-393-02481-4.

Gross, Matt. “Lessons From the Frugal Grand Tour.” New York Times, 5 September 2008.

Hornsby, Clare. “The Impact of Italy: The Grand Tour and Beyond”. British School at Rome, 2000.

Stephens, Richard. A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739–1816). Paul Mellon Centre, 2016. doi:10.17658/towne.

Trease, Geoffrey. The Grand Tour. Yale University Press, 1991.

Witon, Andrew; Bignamini, Ilaria. Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth-Century. Tate Gallery Exhibition Catalogue, 1997.

Tips for Traveling Europe as an American

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Since we have not been able to travel almost at all due to the birth of our son just over a year ago, we’ve been yearning to go somewhere. Before learning my wife was pregnant, we had planned a Christmas trip to Paris.

Due to this desire to travel to Europe again, we thought it best to at least share some tips for other Americans looking to journey abroad. With that, today we bring to you 3 different videos for traveling to Europe from 3 unique perspectives.

The 1st video is from a younger American presently living in Europe (Germany). Kristen from TIPSY YAK will now bring you How to Travel Europe as an American.

After watching Kristen, if you didn’t want to grab a drink and pack a bag then you may just want to stop here.

Next up is our personal favorite guide to Europe, both major tourist spots and cool sites/places to eat off the beaten path. This wealth of information is Rick Steves of the PBS Rick Steves’ Europe.

He has spent many years traveling and sharing his various experiences in travel books, on TV and online. Today he will share European Travel Skills: Packing Light.

Finally, we have Jess (another American living overseas – this time LondonEngland) who seems to split the age difference. As for advice, we think her 8 Mistakes Not to Make When Planning a Europe Trip really are worthwhile.

You can see more of Jess at Love and London. We think her mindset is very helpful.

We hope these videos have sparked something inside you. Whether you do end up traveling to Europe, or somewhere else entirely, we wish you the best of travels.

If you do happen to visit Europe, please let us know. We’d love to share your experience and let others know Do’s and Dont’s that you found to happen.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

First Time In Paris? We Haven’t Been Yet Either

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It was about 2 years to the day that my wife and I had planned out the trip of a lifetime to Paris. We had planned to spend Christmas and New Years in Paris, France not Paris, TX.

It was to be an adventure since neither of us had ever been before. But that trip never happened for not too long after we found out that we were going to have a child, and that the due date of the baby was to be 2 weeks before our vacation.

Trip over.

Since we haven’t yet traveled overseas due to the arrival of our son on 29 November 2015, today we revisit our plan for traveling to Paris!

Eiffel Tower New Years
Fireworks above the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve.

When we began the planning, after securing our airfare and hotel accommodations, we were about a year away from the trip. Questions were coming hard and fast.

What are we interested in seeing? How do we want to travel? Do we want to get plane tickets own their own, or bundle them together with the hotel?

Do we want to stay in one location the entire trip, or move about? Are we traveling on a budget? The questions can go on and on.

NotreDameDeParis
Notre Dame de Paris

The first question, sites we want to see, was fairly easy to answer. We want to see it all!

 

Seriously though, Jenn and I want to get the best from our first Paris experience. We are tourists and we want to see the major tourist locations: Notre Dame de Paris, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, and The Eiffel Tower.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

These are just obvious. However, we were not against becoming part of the “City of Lights” and strolling off of the tourist path.

To make lasting memories, the plan will be to experience as much as we possibly can. Hopefully this can also be accomplished in the most cost efficient means available.

To do so, the next most important decision is the location in which to stay. This is where some speed bumps will arise.

arrondissements-paris
Arrondissements of Paris

Paris is a very large city. As most cities of a similar size, like London or New York, the city is broken up into smaller districts.

The Parisians call their smaller areas Arrondissement (neighborhoods). They are divided up into 20 of these municipal areas.

If you imagine a spiral, how it starts in the center and continues to loop clockwise around from there, this is how the Arrondissements are formed.

The River Seine divides Paris almost in half, thus creating a Right (North) Bank and a Left (South) Bank. The Right Bank contains the following Arrondissements: 1-4, 8-12, and 16-20 while the Left Bank contains Arrondissements: 5-7 and 13-15.

Louvre
The Louvre

One would think that it would not be so challenging to choose which Arrondissements to stay in due to the breakdown. Well that is not the case.

Each neighborhood has its own feel and its own charm. Plus there is at least 1 attraction in each neighborhood that visitors want to see.

From sites that I have gone through, it appears all of the districts are safe. If you have yet to visit “The City of Love” then here are brief descriptions of each.

1st Arrondissement

PalaisRoyalParisColonnes
The Colonnes de Buren in the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais-Royal.

The least populated, but most expensive, of the 20 Arrondissements is right in the center of Paris. What’s here? The Louvre Museum, Palais-Royal, Tuileries Garden, Forum des Halles, Bourse du Commerce, and the upscale Place Vendôme.

The Palais-Royal is opposite the Louvre. The larger inner courtyard, the Cour d’Honneur, has since 1986 contained Daniel Buren‘s site-specific art piece Les Deux Plateaux, known as Les Colonnes de Buren.

2nd Arrondissement

The Paris Bourse

Primarily a business district, the 2nd, aka the smallest Arrondissement, is also home to a number of historic shopping arcades. What’s here? The Paris Bourse, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, lots of cafés and delivery trucks.

The Paris Bourse  is the historical Paris stock exchange, known as Euronext Paris from 2000 onward. The Bibliothèque nationale de France is the National Library of France, and is the national repository of all that is published in France.

3rd Arrondissement

The main entrance of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), or National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts.

Another small Arrondissement, the 3rd contains the northern part of the historic Marais district. What’s here? The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum.

The Place des Vosges, originally Place Royale, is the oldest planned square in Paris and one of the finest in the city. It is located in the Marais district of Paris, and was a fashionable and expensive square during the 17th and 18th Centuries.

The Musée Picasso is an art gallery located in the Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny, dedicated to the work of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.  The Carnavalet Museum is dedicated to the history of the city, and occupies 2 neighboring mansions: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau.

4th Arrondissement

Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges

The 4th is the oldest part of Paris. With designer boutiques and fancy cuisine, lots of hipsters have taken to this area.

What’s here? Notre-Dame, the Place des Vosges, City Hall and the Gothic Tour St-Jacques. To contrast all the historic buildings is the modern Centre Georges Pompidou.

Notre-Dame de Paris, or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world.

5th Arrondissement

Arènes de Lutèce, the most important remains from the Gallo-Roman era in Paris.

The 5th, or Latin Quarter, holds the renowned Sorbonne University. The school brings a more youthful crowd.

What’s here? The Panthéon, the Val-de-Grâce, the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, the Cluny Museum, Jardin des Plantesand the Roman-era Arènes de Lutèce and Thermes de Cluny.

The Arènes de Lutèce was a Roman amphitheater that could once seat 15,000 people and was used to present gladiatorial combats. The Thermes de Cluny are a Roman Bath complex built by the influential guild of boatmen of 3rd Century Roman Paris (Lutetia), as the consoles on which the barrel ribs rest are carved in the shape of ships’ prows.

6th Arrondissement

Church of Saint-Sulpice
Church of Saint-Sulpice

The iconic 6th is what Paris’s Left Bank is all about. It is popular with locals and visitors alike, which makes it a popular place to stay.

What’s here? The Jardin du Luxembourg, the Odéon Theatre, the Church of Saint-Sulpice, and the 11th Century Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

The Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe is 1 of France’s 6 national theatres. Saint-Sulpice is a Roman Catholic church, only slightly smaller than Notre-Dame, and is dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious.

7th Arrondissement

Les Invalides
Les Invalides

The 7th is filled with government institutions and major landmarks. This is also quite an upscale Arrondissement.

Being expensive overall, if money is any concern of yours then this is not the place to stay. What’s here? The Eiffel Tower, the Invalides (with Napoleon‘s Tomb), the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Palais Bourbon, and the UNESCO Headquarters.

Les Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose.

8th Arrondissement

Élysée Palace
Élysée Palace

Another Arrondissement loaded with tourist attractions. The 8th is like Oprah-rich.

This is where fashion meets Sex and the City finale. What’s here? The Champs-Élysées (probably the world’s most famous boulevard), the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, the Élysée Palace, Madeleine church, and Monceau Park.

The Place de la Concorde is the major public squares in Paris, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. The Élysée Palace has been the official residence of the President of France since 1848.

9th Arrondissement

Église de la Sainte-Trinité

A multifaceted Arrondissement, the 9th holds prestigious boulevards in the south and not so prestigious red light district (Pigalle area) in the north. The Rue Saint-Denis is where senior citizen prostitutes can be found.

What’s here? The former Opéra Garnier, the Galeries Lafayette, and Sainte-Trinité.

The Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket French department store chain, with its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann. The Église de la Sainte-Trinité is a Roman Catholic church of the Second Empire period, built as part of the beautification and reorganization of Paris under Baron Haussmann.

10th Arrondissement

Facade of the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

The 10th is noted as being very “down to earth”. It is spread out too, so it is no wonder that both of Paris’s main railway stations (the Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord) are found in the 10th.

What’s here? Canal Saint-Martin and Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

The Canal Saint-Martin is a 2.8 mile long canal connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine, and runs underground between Bastille (Paris Métro) and République (Paris Métro). The Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul is a church dedicated to Saint Vincent de Paul.

11th Arrondissement

Church of Saint-Ambroise
Church of Saint-Ambroise

A very low profile Arrondissement, known around the city as the Oberkampf, the 11th is mostly residential. This Right Bank district is better known for its nightlife than its landmarks, so it may feel a little too “festive” for a first time visitor to Paris.

What’s here? The Cirque d’Hive and the Church of Saint-Ambroise.

The Cirque d’Hiver (Winter Circus) has been a prominent venue for circuses, exhibitions of dressage, musical concerts, and other events, including exhibitions of Turkish wrestling and even fashion shows. The church of Saint-Ambroise was named after its neighborhood, the quartier Saint-Ambroise.

12th Arrondissement

Bastille Opera House
Bastille Opera House

The 12th is large and mostly residential, but it is affordable and safe with access to major metro lines. What’s here? The Bastille Opera House, AccorHotels Arena, along with the Vincennes.

The Opéra Bastille (Bastille Opera House) is a modern opera house and the main facility of the Paris National Opera, France’s principal opera company. Vincennes is a commune in the Val-de-Marne department in the eastern suburbs of Paris, famous for its castle, the Château de Vincennes, and its park, the Bois de Vincennes.

13th Arrondissement

The Mazarin entrance to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital.

Largely residential, the 13th is more out of the way from the typical tourist sites. It is home to the city’s largest Chinatown, while Butte-aux-Cailles (Quail Hill) boasts a stretch of restaurants, cafés and bars.

What’s here? The Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrièrel.

Today the Butte-aux-Cailles area assembles a young, trendy and festive Parisian population in its many small bars and restaurants. The Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital is a celebrated teaching hospital of Sorbonne University, and is 1 of Europe’s largest hospitals.

14th Arrondissement

Catacombes_de_Paris
Catacombs of Paris

Not considered a lively Arrondissement, the 14th does have its own sleepy charm and quiet streets. What’s here? The Paris Catacombs, Place Denfert-Rochereau, and the Observatoire de Paris (how the 14th Arrondissement got its name).

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the remains of more than 6 million people in a small part of the ancient Mines of Paris tunnel network. The Paris Observatory is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and 1 of the largest astronomical centers in the world.

15th Arrondissement

Tour Maine Montparnasse
Tour Maine Montparnasse

As a hit-or-miss district, the 15th is the largest of the 20 Arrondissements in Paris (both in size and population). Filled mostly with concrete 1970s high-rises, the 15th is not very lively unless you go to where it borders the 7th.

What’s here? Tour Maine Montparnasse and the Parc André Citroën.

Maine-Montparnasse Tower, also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 689 ft office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Parc André Citroën is a 35 acres public park located on the Left Bank of the river Seine.

16th Arrondissement

Palais de Chaillot
Palais de Chaillot

The 16th has the reputation of being the richest, with lots of Americans living here with their families. It is also viewed as being very safe, but more quiet and residential.

What’s here? The Palais de Chaillot, the Musée Guimet, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Musée Marmottan.

The Palais de Chaillot was also the initial headquarters of NATO, and the buildings now house a number of museums. Musée Marmottan Monet is a museum featuring a collection of over 300 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Paul Signac and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

17th Arrondissement

Pétanque, the outdoor bowling-game, as played in Batignolles.

This is a diverse Arrondissement outside the center of Paris most visited by tourists. The 17th is home to up-and-coming Batignolles area that houses many established French artists and writers.

What’s here? The Batignolles Cemetery, the Square des Batignolles, and the Palais des Congrès.

Batignolles was an independent village outside Paris until 1860, when the Emperor Napoleon III annexed it to the capital. The Palais des congrès de Paris is a concert venue, convention center and shopping mall.

18th Arrondissement

Moulin Rouge
The famous Moulin Rouge

Home of the famous Moulin Rouge, the 18th is like a vintage postcard of Paris. The once bohemian, and still village-like, district is often inundated with tourists.

That being said, avoid any hotel or hostel that is off of the Barbès-Rochechouart or Château Rouge metro stop. This is not the best district for wondering around the desolate side streets at night.

What’s here? Sacré-Coeur Basilica and the Place du Tertre.

Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

19th Arrondissement

Panoramic view of the island within the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

Another large Arrondissement, the 19th is a bit out of the way for Paris newcomers. The markets here are interesting to do as a day trip. Come night fall in Belleville, an area bordering the 19th and 20th Arrondissements, there is a large community of young prostitutes.

What’s here? The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Parc de la Villette.

The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a public park occupying 61 acres, was opened by Emperor Napoleon III. The Parc de la Villette is another public park which houses 1 of the largest concentration of cultural venues in Paris, including the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry, Europe’s largest science museum), 3 major concert venues, and the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris.

20th Arrondissement

Père Lachaise Cemetery

The final, and mostly residential, Arrondissement is cosmopolitan and has no real attractions. The 20th still gets its fair share of tourists.

What’s here? The Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city (110 acres) and is notable for being the original garden cemetery, as well as the original municipal cemetery.

So now Jenn and I know what we are up against. With some information on our side, finding a place to stay will not seem so daunting.

The key to collecting information on traveling is to get different views. One website may not like a past experience and may downplay what happens to be true.

I found using a more “hip” site and a more “informative” site helped balance things. With the boy now, I’ll probably have to go check out a “family friendly” site.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, and maybe were even inspired to check out Paris for yourself. Whenever our own trip gets set up again, we shall be certain to keep you updated.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

A New Look At A Wonderful Experience

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Due to my new schedule jam-packed full of time consuming activities, I sadly no longer have as much available time on my hands to provide new content here on a daily basis.

However, in order to keep providing daily content I have decided to venture back into RAE’s past. As I sort through our own history here, why not take another look at something previously published to see if we missed anything?

Having said that, today’s journey comes to us from 4 December 2014 when we experienced the greatest person to ever happen to travel. That person was Rick Steves.

There are many people, both living and passed, that I admire for different reasons. I have previously mentioned how I look to Julius Caesar for all he was able to accomplish while having seizures, since I too live with a similar condition.

My Grandma Precious is who I thank for getting me interested in studying history. And I would be lying to myself if I did not mention that I respect former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy for his athletic ability and hard work ethic.

Last night, due to my very loving wife, I was able to meet the man who inspired me to create this website. He also gave me the idea that possibly traveling and teaching others about culture and history could be an actual career.

This man is Richard “Rick” Steves of the PBS show Rick Steves’ Europe.

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He was giving a presentation in Downtown Austin at the historic Paramount Theatre about his experiences, travel tips, tours, paramount-theatre-austin-texabooks, and anything else one could wonder about when traveling abroad. The evening was a complete delight.

Rick was quite engaging. He was exactly as I imagined him to be from seeing him on his shows. Rick was upbeat, entertaining, and packed full of information.

During his talk there were slides shown on the theatre’s large screen to provide visuals. This was a perfect accompaniment while he Rick Steves Ticketshared, of what I am sure in only a fraction of, the many stories he has.

After the intermission, Rick also had a brief Q and A session. With the theatre being 2 levels, I thought for sure only those closest to the stage would be noticed.

Wrong. Rick made it a point to make sure even those in the balcony, like Jenn and I, had some questions answered.

He came on promptly at 8 o’clock, as scheduled, and the time flew bye. In the lobby there was not only his latest book, Europe Through the Back Door 2015, but he also had a couple of free handouts.

Everything there would provide great information and tips from the veteran traveler, like Rick, to those wondering if traveling was right for them.

With my head spinning from all of the new things I learned, upon the conclusion of his talk Rick said he would meet anyone in the lobby for autographs and pictures. Having done many of these signing sessions before, Rick’s approach was very “European”.

Instead of sitting behind a table, Rick stood in the middle of the room and just rotated in a 360-degree motion. Once a person got an autograph he or she stepped away, Rick kept turning, and a new person filled the void.

Rick Steves Stuff

What a cool thing to do!

Rick Steves was so friendly and enjoyable, I would make sure to see him whenever he returns to Austin. My advice is take the time and see him if he ever comes anywhere near where you live, for it is definitely worth the time and money.

If I had to briefly sum up everything from what Rick shared it would be that a bit of planning and some basic information will make any trip easier and a lot more enjoyable. You may even save some money on the front end so you have more to spend on a special meal or shopping while on your trip.

I feel even more excited and inspired to keep working now. Thanks to my spectacular wife, Jenn, for the ticket and lovely surprise. And another “Thank You” obviously goes to Rick Steves for the lessons.

I appreciate you reading this. Hopefully you’ve been inspired to watch Rick’s show on PBS, get his books, or just travel more in general.

No matter what, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Have your own Aeneid: Follow in the Footsteps of Aeneas

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As I continue my teaching certification courses, we will continue to occasionally bring you revisited articles. This time we hope to add something that may have been forgotten, or experience something new with you.

Having said that, it’s time to make your own adventure. Today it’s time to have your own Aeneid!

Aeneid Map
The journey of Aeneas as he travels from Troy to Lavinium.

Of the many authors of Latin poetry, Publius Vergilius Maro (aka Vergil or Virgil) is the greatest of them all. Maybe you disagree.

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A 3rd-century Tunisian mosaic of Virgil seated between Clio and Melpomene (from Hadrumetum [Sousse]).
Is it because he was the court poet for Augustus? Is it because Virgil has become the benchmark for Augustan Literature? Or is it simply because Virgil was born on October 15th just like me somebody else I know?

A strong case can be made for all of these. However, I think he is tops for his writing of The Aeneid.

Virgil has been said to write in the same style as Classic Greek poet, Homer. In fact The Aeneid is said to be the Roman combination of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Aeneid is about our hero, Aeneas, and his journey from the burning and sacked city of Troy to establish a new home for his people in Latium, Italy. The twist? Italy was the home of those people that initially founded Troy.

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What remains today of the Walls of Troy.

Our journey begins in Ancient Troy, in what has become modern day Turkey. The now legendary Trojan Horse was brought inside the city walls allowing Achilles, Ulysses, and other Greeks bring the mighty city to the ground.

Since his present home is being destroyed, and his goddess mother Venus has instructed him to gather the remaining Trojans, Aeneas and his people trek across country to find safety in Antandros, which is still in Turkey. Due to its location on the coast, near the Gulf of Adramyttium, this is where Aeneas chooses to build his fleet before setting off for Italy.

Since this is an epic poem, and nothing is ever direct in ancient adventures, Aeneas and his fleet leave Antandros and sail North into the Aegean Sea where they make landfall in Thrace. The location is not exactly known but it’s believed to be the no-longer-existing Aenos which would be located still in Turkey, near the Greek border.

Here in Thrace the remains of fellow Trojan, Polydorus, are found. All Aeneas wants to do at this point is build a wall and establish a city. Not too much to ask for, right?

While clearing the land in Thrace to create the wall, the plants that are uprooted spout blood and begin speaking to Aeneas. It’s Polydorus not crazy at all to have a dead person speak as a plant explaining what happened to him and to venture on.

VLUU L100 / Samsung L100
General view of Delos

More expelled Trojans are found as the group finally leaves Turkey and lands in Delos, Greece. Known as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos was home to a sacred oracle.

Aeneas believes this is the place they have been searching for only to have Apollo say it’s not quite right for them. The sails are then set again.

Now it’s out into the Mediterranean Sea and the Island of Crete. It’s basically the same story for Aeneas et al on this Greek island.

1280px-Festos1(js)
Archaeological site of Phaistos in Crete.

They think the location is the one for them. Construction gets underway, but then one of the gods tells them to get moving so they do.

As they hug the Greek coast, Aeneas and the fleet are driven to Strophados. This tiny set of twin islands again seems a perfect fit.

Aeneas then encountered the Harpies and found Strophados to be their dwelling place. The Harpies kept stealing all of the Trojan’s food and made life even more difficult for these ex-patriots.

I don’t think Aeneas to be wrong for leaving these female monsters that had the bodies of a bird with the head and face of a human.

After fleeing from the Harpies, Actium is the next place for landfall and to see if this is the right spot. This again is not the right place so the group sets sail. As they head North

Butrint,_Albania
Roman Theater in Butrint, Albania (aka Buthrotum).

the fleet halts at Buthrotum in ancient Northwestern Greece, but the location is now modern Albania.

Aeneas was happy to find Buthrotum the home of Helenus, another son of King Priam of Troy. Unlike his brother Polydorus who was killed after escaping Troy, Helenus was a survivor.

This could be due to the fact that Helenus was a seer. It was Helenus who told Aeneas this was not the place for him and to carry on. Helenus had a vision that Aeneas would go on to found Rome, so they kept moving.

Castrum Minervae
Castro, Apulia (aka Castrum Minervae)

Crossing the Ionian Sea, Aeneas and company make their first landing on Italy at Castrum Minervae. Knowing this is not the place they carry on.

Upon rounding Italy’s boot, the fleet arrives the ancient town of Aetna on Trinacria, or modern day Sicily. This is also the Land of Cyclops.

So the group shoves off hugging the island’s coastline. It is during this time that Anchises, the father of Aeneas, passes away.

They end up at on the western coast at Drepanon. Just like at every other stop before, Aeneas and clan find that as they prepare to end their journey it is not the right spot. So they pack on up and head back out to see once again.

Ruines_de_Carthage
Ruins of Carthage

The vengeful Juno takes advantage of this and blows the Aeneas’s fleet off course, yet again. They now land in Carthage and are greeted by Queen Dido.

It is here with Dido that Aeneas, just as Ulysses did on his travels, gets halted. The Carthaginians welcome in their Trojan guests and want Aeneas to be their king (a familiar scene so far in the story).

During a mystical evening alone, Dido and Aeneas are thought to have relations, thus causing Dido to believe Aeneas is now her king too. This is when the messenger god Mercury, sent via Jupiter, reminds Aeneas he is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail on to Italy and found Rome.

Again landing on the western coast of Sicily, Aenea’s throws funeral games honoring the anniversary of his father’s death. While only the men are partaking in the games some women, under the spell of Juno, burn some of the boats so the men can no longer travel.

The plan is to have Aeneas never reach Italy. This plan does not work and those that can sail on head out.

Cumae_Cave_of_the_Sibyl_AvL
Entrance to the Cave of the Sibyl on Cumae.

The fleet lands next at Cumae, where Aeneas is told he must venture into the underworld for guidance.

In the underworld, Aeneas meets his father once again. They discuss the prophetic future that is Rome and how Aeneas is to achieve it.

Upon returning to the land of the living, Aeneas knows what he must do. His people follow him once again to sea.

They then stop briefly at Caeita. It is here that Aeneas buries his wet-nurse prior to pressing on for his final destination.

Aeneas and his Trojans land in Latium. It is here that Aeneas falls in love with and courts Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus and Queen Amata.

Juno once again meddles with the happiness of Aeneas and his people by tricking the Latium Queen into starting trouble for the Trojans. The hatred for Aeneas get Turnus of the Rutuli people to battle The Trojans.

Since the story is meant to be a positive outcome for the survivors of Troy (Spoiler Alert) they are victorious in this outcome. Aeneas goes on to found Lavinium. The prophecy is now complete.

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Gate into the interior of the settlement of the frazione of Pratica di Mare, a medieval walled village at the site of the center of ancient Lavinium.

Although he did not found Rome himself, it Aeneas’s Lavinium was the center of the Latin League. It was from here that the people of Rome sprang, thus linking the the royal house of Troy to the newer Roman Republic.

Travel by land, sea or air and you too can now have your own Aeneid. Tutus Itinerarium (safe travels) and Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Cairns, Francis. Virgil’s Augustan Epic. Cambridge, 1989.

Fratantuono, Lee. Madness Unchained: A Reading of Virgil’s Aeneid. Lexington Books, 2007.

Gransden, Karl. Virgil: The Aeneid (Landmarks of World Literature (Revival)). ISBN 0-521-83213-6.

Gransden, Karl. Virgil’s Iliad. Cambridge, 1984.

Hardie, Philip R. Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’: Cosmos and Imperium. ISBN 0-19-814036-3.

Heinze, Richard. Virgil’s Epic Technique. University of California Press, 1993. ISBN 0-520-06444-5.

Jenkyns, Richard. Virgil’s Experience. Oxford, 1998.

Johnson, W.R. Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil’s Aeneid. University of California Press, 1979. ISBN 0-520-03848-7.

Maronis, P. Vergili. Opera. Oxford University Press, 1969. ISBN 978-0-19-814653-7.

Otis, BrooksVirgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry. Oxford, 1964.

Quinn, Kenneth. Virgil’s Aeneid: A Critical Description. London, 1968.

Virgil; Ahl, Frederick (trans.). The Aeneid. Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-283206-1.

Don’t Wait to Visit Rome

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As I take my teaching certification courses, I am revisiting previous articles. Maybe there’s something new to be added, or maybe there’s some information that I missed.

In any event, it’s time to take another look at what you can do in one of Europe’s grandest cities. Join us again, or maybe even the 1st time, as we take another look at Don’t Wait in The Eternal City!

Sunset on the Tiber

When my wife and I visited Rome, aka The Eternal City, on our honeymoon there was just so much to see and do we did not know really where to start. We had searched for places online, received ideas from family friends having already been there, television shows, etc.

That was a great jumping off point. However, we still felt there was so much to do and see while not having so much time.

Peak of the Roman Empire (AD 117).

Knowing a bit before hand really proved quite helpful when we discovered the heart of what was the Imperium Rōmānum. The one thing no travel site had mentioned was getting passes for tours.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of waiting. And waiting bothers me even more when there is so much to see and experience.

Newlyweds exploring the Vatican Museums.

Ask my wife or family about how impatient I get when I am excited, and they’ll assure you of my eagerness. We had a finite amount of time and there was an almost endless list of things to enjoy.

Lines and waiting just cannot factor in to this.

When one thinks of Rome, the Colosseum immediately comes to mind. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre (Amphitheatrum Flavium), this amazing arena has starred in several movies as well as have modern sporting venues attempt to copy its style.

From the Arena Floor
View of the Colosseum from the arena floor.

The Colosseum has tours running all the time and from various guides. Going in with a tour group will help you bypass having to wait in line to visit Il Colosseo on your own.

The same goes for viewing the Vatican museums. Immediately around St. Peter’s Square there are lots of tour groups for various needs, all will keep you from having to wait close to 2 hours in line to get in.

St. Peter's Square
View of the Vatican from inside St. Peter’s Square.

From sunrise past sunset there are always other tourists waiting to see all the marvels Roma has to offer. Yes, the tours cost a little more but in the end it was completely worth it.

The Colosseum aka the Flavian Amphitheatre.

At the Colosseum after your tour is done the tour guides want you to go visit and explore on your own. With the Vatican, you could stay with the tour or just use it as a way to skip ahead of those still waiting to get in the door.

In the end though it comes down to how much time and/or money you have. If you care to grab a tour here are a couple of sites to get you started:

Vatican City

Colosseum Tours

Vatican Museums Tours

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. We look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Packing Light & Right with Rick Steves

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you’ve been here before or have followed us on Facebook or Twitter, then you know that we are big fans of Rick Steves. You can even say that it was because of him that the travel portion of this site is even included.

So in honor of Mr. Steves, who is a super nice guy in person by the way, we bring you one of his several videos on traveling.

Today, get ready to Pack Light & Pack Right with Rick Steves!

https://youtu.be/kn65riaKccA

Thanks for stopping by today. We hope you enjoyed the video and learned something new for future travels.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

From Roman Brigantia to Modern Bragança, Portugal

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

We often forget about Roman cities in Portugal since the whole of the Iberian Peninsula was known as Hispania. As we attempt to break that trend, today we explore Roman Brigantia (modern Bragança)!

Roman colonization, which occurred late in the Roman era, resulted in the establishment of private property and movement away from the forests, in addition to organizational changes resulting administrative, material and cultural evolution.

Remnants of the Luso-Roman castro societies are evident in Castro de Sacóias and the Castro de Avelãs. In these excavations, modern archaeologists have discovered funerary remains, coins and implements.

The Castro de Avelãs was an important center on the military road to Astorga, although there are many examples of the Roman presence. The area was dominated by 2 ethnic communities: the Zoelae, with their seat in Castro de Avelãs, and a Lusitanian civitas under the stewardship of the Baniense in the southern part of the district.

During Roman colonization, it was part of Gallaecia and dependent administratively on Astorga, on the Atlantic axis of a Roman highway from Meseta, that controlled the gold, iron and silver trade. 

Located about 5 mi from the city center, the municipal/regional airport (Bragança Airport), has scheduled flights by Aero VIP to Lisbon (LIS) and Vila Real (VRL). Bragança Airport is located north of the city, in the parish of Aveleda, accessible by taxi or bus route.

Sadly, Bragança is 1 of the 2 district capitals (along with Viseu) without a rail service in Portugal. There are 3 main accessways within the municipality: the IP4, IP2 and the N103 motorways.

Notable landmarks in the city include the 12th Century Domus Municipalis (Portugal’s oldest and largest town hall), the Renaissance cathedral, and the old town walls, which are still well preserved and look down on the river and the modern city.

We hope you enjoyed today’s exploration of this hidden gem. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to visit there yourself.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

First Time In Paris?

Previously, Rome Across Europe shared some articles focusing onEiffel Tower New Years travel tips. It was mentioned that my wife and I are going to spend Christmas and New Years in Paris. It will be special since it is in France and not Paris, TX. It will be an adventure since it will also be the first time either of will be in Paris.

Now that we have passed our Arrival and Departure Dates, the searching has begun. We are about a year away from the trip and questions are coming. What are we interested in seeing? How do we want to travel? Do we want to get plane tickets own their own, or bundle them together with the hotel? Do we want to stay in one location the entire trip, or move about? Are we traveling on a budget? The questions can go on and on.

The first question, sites we want to see, is fairly easy to answer. We NotreDameDePariswant to see it all! Seriously though, JennArc de Triomphe and I want to get the best from our first Paris experience. We are tourists and we want to see the major tourist locations: Notre Dame de Paris, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, and The Eiffel Tower. These are just obvious. However, we are not against becoming part of the “City of Lights” and strolling off of the tourist path.

To make these a lasting memory for my wife, I want us to be able to experience as much as we possibly can. I hope to accomplish this, also, in the most cost efficient means available. To do so, the next most important decision is the location in which to stay. This is where some speed bumps will arise.

Paris is a very large city. As most cities of a similar size, like London or New York, the city is broken up into smaller districts. The Parisians call their smaller areas, or neighborhoods, arrondissements-parisArrondissements”, and are divided up into 20 of these municipal areas.

If you imagine a spiral, how it starts in the center and continues to loop clockwise around from there, this is how the arrondissements are formed.

The River Seine divides Paris almost in half, thus creating a Right (North) Bank and a Left (South) Bank. The Right Bank contains the following arrondissements: 1-4, 8-12, and 16-20. The Left Bank thus contains arrondissements: 5-7 and 13-15.

One would think that it would not be so challenging to choose which Louvrearrondissements to stay in due to the breakdown. Well that is not the case. Each neighborhood has its own feel, its own charm. Plus there is at least one attraction in each that visitors want to see.

From sites that I have gone through, it appears all of the districts are safe. If you have yet to visit “The City of Love” then here are brief descriptions of each.

1st Arrondissement: The least populated, but most expensive, of thePalaisRoyalParisColonnes twenty arrondissements is right in the center of Paris. What’s here? The Louvre Museum, Royal Palace, Tuileries Garden, Forum des Halles, Bourse du Commerce, and the upscale Place Vendôme.

2nd Arrondissement: Primarily a business district, the 2nd, aka the smallest arrondissement, is also home to a number of historic shopping arcades. What’s here? The Paris Bourse, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, lots of cafés and delivery trucks.

3rd Arrondissement: Another small arrondissement, the 3rd contains the northern part of the historic Marais district. What’s here? The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum.

4th Arrondissement: The 4th is the oldest part of Paris. With designer Place des Vosgesboutiques and fancy cuisine, lots of hipsters have taken to this area. What’s here? Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place des Vosges, City Hall and the gothic Tour St-Jacques. To contrast all the historic buildings is the modern Centre Georges Pompidou.

5th Arrondissement: The 5th, or Latin Quarter, holds the renowned Sorbonne University. The school brings a more youthful crowd. What’s here? The Panthéon, the Val-de-Grâce, the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, the Cluny Museum, the roman-era Arènes de Lutèce and the Jardin des Plantes.

6th Arrondissement: The iconic 6th is what Paris’s Left Bank is allChurch of Saint-Sulpice about. It is popular with locals and visitors alike, which makes it a popular place to stay. What’s here? The Jardin du Luxembourg, the Odéon Theatre, the Church of Saint-Sulpice, and the 11th century Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

7th Arrondissement: The 7th is filled with government institutions and Les Invalidesmajor landmarks. This is also quite an upscale arrondissement. Being expensive overall, if money is any concern of yours then this is not the place to stay. What’s here? The Eiffel Tower, the Invalides (with Napoleon‘s Tomb), the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Palais Bourbon, and the UNESCO Headquarters.

8th Arrondissement: Another arrondissement loaded with touristÉlysée Palace attractions. The 8th is like Oprah-rich. This is where fashion meets Sex and the City finale. The Champs-Élysées (probably the world’s most famous boulevard), the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, the Élysée Palace, Madeleine church, and Monceau Park.

9th Arrondissement: A multifaceted arrondissement, the 9th holds prestigious boulevards in the south and not so prestigious red light district (Pigalle area) in the north. The Rue Saint-Denis is where seniour citizen prostitutes can be found. What’s here? The former Opéra Garnier, the Galeries Lafayette, and Sainte-Trinité.

10th Arrondissement: The 10th is noted as being very “down to earth”. It is spread out too so it is no wonder that both of Paris’s main railway stations (the Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord) are found in the 10th. What’s here? Canal Saint-Martin and Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

11th Arrondissement: A very low profile arrondissement, known Church of Saint-Ambroisearound the city as the Oberkampf, the 11th is mostly residential. This Right Bank district is better known for its nightlife than its landmarks, so it may feel a little too “festive” for a first time visitor to Paris. What’s here? The Cirque d’Hive and the Church of Saint-Ambroise.

12th Arrondissement: The 12th is large and mostly residential, but it isBastille Opera House affordable and safe with access to major metro lines. What’s here? The Bastille Opera House, Bercy Stadium and Bercy Park, along with Vincennes Park.

13th Arrondissement: Largely residential, the 13th is more out of the way from the typical tourist sites. It is home to the city’s largest Chinatown, while Buttes aux Cailles boasts a stretch of restaurants, cafés and bars. What’s here? The Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrièrel.

14th Arrondissement: Not considered a lively arrondissement, the Catacombes_de_Paris14th does have its own sleepy charm and quiet streets. What’s here? The Paris Catacombs, Place Denfert-Rochereau, and the Observatoire de Paris (how the 14th arrondissement got its name).

15th Arrondissement: As a hit-or-miss district, the 15th is the largest ofTour Maine Montparnasse the twenty arrondissements in Paris (both in size and population). Filled mostly with concrete 1970s high-rises, the 15th is not very lively unless you go to where it borders the 7th. What’s here? Tour Maine Montparnasse and the Parc André Citroën.

16th Arrondissement: The 16th has the reputation of being the Palais de Chaillotrichest, with lots of Americans living here with their families. It is also viewed as being very safe, but more quiet and residential. What’s here? The Palais de Chaillot, the Musée Guimet, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Musée Marmottan.

17th Arrondissement: This is a diverse arrondissement. The 17th is home to up-and-coming Batignolles area that houses many established French artists and writers. What’s here? The Palais des Congrès (a large convention center).

18th Arrondissement: Home of the famous Moulin Rouge, the 18th is like a vintage postcard of Paris. The once bohemian, and still village-Moulin Rougelike, district is often inundated with tourists. That being said, avoid any hotel or hostel that is off of the Barbès-Rochechouart or Château Rouge metro stop. This is not the best district for wondering around the desolate side streets at night. What’s here? Sacré-Coeur Basilica and the Place du Tertre.

19th Arrondissement: Another large arrondissement, the 19th is a bit out of the way for first time Paris travelers. The markets here are interesting to do as a day trip. Come night fall in Belleville, an area bordering the 19th and 20th arrondissements, there is a large community of young prostitutes. What’s here? The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Parc de la Villette.

20th Arrondissement: The final, and mostly residential, arrondissement is cosmopolitan and has no real attractions. The 20th still gets its fair share of tourists. What’s here? The Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

So now Jenn and I know what we are up against. With some information on our side, finding a place to stay will not seem so daunting. The key to collecting information on traveling is to get different views. One website may not like a past experience and may downplay what happens to be true. I found using a more “hip” site and a more “informative” site helped balance things.

We shall keep you updated as our trip gets set, until then Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

A Wonderful Experience

There are many people, both living and passed, that I admire for different reasons. I have previously mentioned how I look to Julius Caesar for all he was able to accomplish while having seizures, since I too live with a similar condition. My Granda Precious is who I thank for getting me interested in studying history. And I would be lying to myself if I did not mention that I respect former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy for his athletic ability and hard work ethic.

Last night, due to my verying loving wife, I was able to meet the man who inspired me to create this website. He also gave me the idea that possibly traveling and teaching others about culture and history could be an actual career. This man is Richard “Rick” Steves of the PBS show Rick Steves’ Europe.

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He was giving a presentation in Downtown Austin at the historic Paramount Theatre about his experiences, travel tips, tours, paramount-theatre-austin-texabooks, and anything else one could wonder about when traveling abroad. The evening was a complete delight. Rick was quite engaging. He was exactly as I imagined him to be from seeing him on his shows. Rick was upbeat, entertaining, and packed full of information.

During his talk there were slides shown on the theatre’s large screen to provide visuals. This was a perfect accompaniment while he Rick Steves Ticketshared, of what I am sure in only a fraction of, the many stories he has. After the intermission, Rick also had a brief Q and A session. With the theatre being two levels, I thought for sure only those closest to the stage would be noticed. Wrong. Rick made it a point to make sure even those in the balcony, like Jenn and I, had some questions answered.

He came on promptly at 8 o’clock, as scheduled, and the time flew bye. In the lobby there was not only his latest book, Europe Through the Back Door 2015, but he also had a couple of free handouts. Everything there would provide great information and tips from the veteran traveler, like Rick, to those wondering if traveling was right for them.

With my head spinning from all of the new things I learned, upon the conclusion of his talk Rick said he would meet anyone in the lobby for autographs and pictures. Having done many of these signing sessions before, Rick’s approach was very “European”. Instead of sitting behind a table, Rick stood in the middle of the room and just rotated in a 360-degree motion. Once a person got an autograph he or she stepped away, he kept turning, and a new person filled the void.

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What a cool thing to do! Rick Steves was so friendly and enjoyable, I would make sure to see him whenever he returns to Austin. My advice is take the time and see him if he ever comes anywhere near where you live. It is definitely worth the time and money.

If I had to briefly sum up everything from what Rick shared it would be that a bit of planning and some basic information will make any trip easier and a lot more enjoyable. You may even save some money on the front end so you have more to spend on a special meal or shopping while on your trip.

I feel even more excited and inspired to keep working now. Thanks to my spectacular wife, Jenn, for the ticket and lovely surprise. And another “Thank You” obviously goes to Rick Steves for the lessons.

I appreciate you reading this and remember to keep on Rome-ing!