La Tour

Been browsing through the fascinating Retronaut website quite a bit recently, all sorts of images from yesteryear, be it old catalogue ads, Max Sennett’s 1920s bathing beauties, old footage from the 1890s and more, well worth bookmarking and browsing through. This is one that caught my eye, some fabulous photos documenting the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

 

 

There’s something fascinating about seeing some great landmark construction in its early stages – I remember thumbing through a book I used to sell in my old bookstore which was a photographic history of the mighty Forth Rail Bridge (not dissimilar to La Tour Eiffel if you stood it up, I suppose, both huge Victorian era steel structures, immensely strong yet elegant, both still perfect over a century later, both now indelibly marked onto their respective nation’s psyche and identity).

 

Seeing just foundations at an area you know well but not yet with its primary landmark, then seeing pics of a partial structure, incomplete yet with enough there for you to recognise as it slowly takes shape into the iconic structure we know today…

 

And here are some shots of La Tour I took myself over a century later:

Eiffel Tower from Parc du Champs 4

Eiffel Tower from Parc due Champs

Eiffel Tower 2

Look at the sheer size of the legs close up – if you click on it to go to my Flickr page you can look at the larger version for details, you can make out the staircase inside the legs, a staircase I was walking up ten minutes after taking this photo. Sure, we took the lift from the first floor to the top, but for the first section we walked up through all that metalwork, it’s the best way to experience La Tour if you go.

Eiffel Tower

Looking right up inside the tower:

Eiffel Tower 4

And here’s a short video I shot standing directly underneath the tower:

Some of the huge wheels which wind the lift cables:

Eiffel Tower lift wheels

Looking down at how tiny the people look below – and this is just from the first level, not the top!

Eiffel Tower looking down from first level

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower, the City of Light spread out hundreds of feet below:

Eiffel Tower looking to Place de Varsovie and Jardins de Trocadero 2

And looking towards the Champs Elysee, you can see the Arc du Triomphe clearly here, shot from hundreds of feet in the air above my beloved Paris:

Eiffel Tower looking to Arc de Triomphe

And there is old Gustav Eiffel himself – well a waxwork anyway, in a cabin with his blueprints for La Tour on the very top of his magnificent tower:

Eiffel Tower waxworks

And here’s another short video, this time from the top, looking across the Parc de Champs du Mars, past the Ecole Militaire towards Montparnasse and the (rather ugly) modern towerblock of the Montparnasse Tower (one of the few large modern buildings in the historic area of the city centre – after this blot they stuck mostly to putting the modern skyscrapers outside the historic area in La Defense):

“Made it, Ma, top of the world!”

Je suis Napoleon!

God, I miss Paris, I so want to go back and walk her streets and explore her many boulevards, galleries, bookstores, museums, bars…

La Tour Eiffel – the view from the top

Still processing pictures and some video from the brilliant Paris trip; there’s about 300-odd pictures up on the Woolamaloo Flickr already (there you can click on the ‘all sizes’ button to see the full size versions, handy for detail on some of the aerial shots of the city) and I still have a number to sort and upload. Today though I uploaded some video clips I shot from the top of the Eiffel Tower. We walked up the first two levels – you can take stairs or the lift up the legs, so we opted to walk up just because hey, we can say we did! Final segment is by lift only and they run up the main central spire of the tower. The views, as you can imagine, are amazing – the whole of the City of Light spread out below you. The first one, looking north, is more than a little windy!

When we got to the west facing side we noticed a football match going on at a sports ground below – from this height it looked like a Subutteo game! Talk about grandstand seating…

Out of the wind on the south facing side looking down into the Parc des Champs and the Ecole Militaire with the Montparnasse Tower in the distance (an ugly modern building which most Parisians hate, but apparently gives great views of the Eiffel Tower from the top of it and if you are in it you don’t see the ugliness of the modern tower, which is very out of keeping with the rest of its area), then pan round towards the Latin Quarter and Les Jardins de Luxembourg (which our hotel was next to) and the Pantheon (which has more than a passing resemblance to the front of St Paul’s):

And of course a quick view looking Eastwards along the Seine towards Les Invalides and further in the distance Notre Dame:

Spring time in Paris

Just back from the most fantastic long weekend in the City of Light, a place I’ve known in literature, art, photography and cinema for years but never actually been to. Standing on the Pont Neuf, the location for Les Amants de Pont Neuf, the French film where I first saw (and fell in love with) Juliette Binoche gave me such a rush (just the first of many French film actresses I’ve fallen in love with, French cinema has a habit of producing the most engaging leading ladies, from Catherine Deneuve to Audrey Tautou). Turning round as I walked along the Seine past all the little green lock-ups of the bouquinistes selling rare and second hand books, art prints and bande dessinee right there in the open air I can see the towers of Notre Dame, the edge of the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre and then suddenly a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. And for some reason it isn’t until you finally see the Tower that you really, really feel like your are in Paris. And its a wonderful feeling. You’re in Paris, its spring time and the sun is out and suddenly life is good…

More to come on Paris soon, I’m still kind of processing it all; late yesterday night I saw my last glimpse of the city from the air as we took off, the whole of Paris sparkling in the night and there was the Eiffel Tower, seen from the plane as we soared up into the night above France, glowing in the Parisian skyline, the great searchlight rotating on the top. An hour and a half later (and some nice red wine, merci Air France) descending through some clouds which clear to show the dark, night-time waters of the Forth and on the left Edinburgh lit up in the night and the Castle from the air, seemingly floating with the dark Castle Rock invisible from our height at night, only the floodlit battlements visible. I flew over the Eiffel Tower and Edinburgh Castle all lit up in the darkness within an hour and a half or so, even the simple act of the flight home was brilliant.

Two of the most beautiful cities in the world and I’m lucky enough that one of them is my home… More later and pics and vid to come, but I’ve only just started working on those and realised I took more than 2 gigs of images… Well, wouldn’t you? And now I’m trying to get out of the habit of saying ‘bonjour’, ‘merci’ and ‘au revoir’ in any shop or bar I walk into… Missing Paris already…