Take Your Pick
Normandy, France
D-Day Invasion
D-Day Invasion - On the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day), 150,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Their mission was to establish a stronghold in Normandy and then liberate France and the rest of Europe from Nazi control. The invasion was a coalition of U.S., Canadian, British and French forces that became the largest amphibious invasion to ever take place. Five beaches were targeted during the attack, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. Today the beaches and beautiful surrounding countryside mask the horror of the fighting where over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. Nearly 10,000 of the U.S. soldiers that died as a result of the battle are buried in the 172-acre American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach.
Paris, France
Visit the Mona Lisa
Louvre Museum - The Louvre is an enormous repository of art that houses over 35,000 objects in its 650,000 square foot exhibit area. To see everything takes a long weekend at least. Some works of art that are not to be missed include the "Venus de Milo", the "Mona Lisa", "Liberty Leading People", "The Wedding at Cana" and my personal favorite "The Raft of the Medusa". The Louvre was opened on August 10, 1793 and is now visited by nearly 10 million people a year. As much as the works of art inside the building, the building itself is a masterpiece. Starting with the glass pyramid entrance designed by I.M. Pei to the structure which was originally the Louvre Palace - a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II.
Paris, France
Notre Dame
Notre Dame - Certainly one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, the Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece built in the heart of the city. Construction occurred between 1163 and 1345 and the result was a monumental cathedral with towers over 200 feet tall and has a spectacular window facing north that is over 40 feet in diameter. Other stained glass windows, statues of kings and several gargoyles grace the structure. Functionally, Notre Dame is the Archdiocese of Paris, and is the parish that contains the official chair of the archbishop of Paris.
Paris, France
The Symbol of France
Eiffel Tower - Built for the 1889 World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower (named after its designer Gustave Eiffel) was the grand entrance for the "Universal Exposition of the Products of Industry". Before, and for a time after the World's Fair, the tower was considered by some an eye-sore. And after the 20 year lease on the property it stands was up, the iron lattice tower was nearly torn down. The only things that saved it, was that it served as a great radio tower. Today the 1,063 feet tall structure is a global icon that is a symbol of France (often a romantic one). Around 7 million people ascend the Eiffel Tower every year and in 2010 the 250 millionth visitor made it to the top.
Paris, France
Lock Bridge
Love Locks - The Pont des Arts Bridge has been attracting lovers since its construction in 1804. And since 2008, tourists have taken to attaching padlocks (love locks) with their first names written or engraved on them to the railing or the grate on the side of the bridge, then throwing the key into the Seine river below, as a romantic gesture. The tradition, although romantic, has accumulated almost a million locks and has added thousands of pounds to the bridge. Including one for Jessica and me. So in late 2014 the mayor decided to ban the ritual and is searching for another outlet for amorous couples to show their affection. My guess is the locks will start showing up some place else.
Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe - Located at the western end of the Champs-Elysees is the monumental Arc de Triomphe. Built between 1806 and 1836, the Arc honors those who fought for France, primarily during the Napoleonic Wars. Along the inside of the arc are the names of the generals and the wars they fought in. Beneath the arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and an eternal flame. The arc itself stands 162 feet tall and offers a wonderful view of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees. Around the arc is about 8 or 10 lanes of traffic circling on a roundabout. Not knowing that there are underground tunnels that lead to the structure I bolted across the road. Don't do that!! Take the tunnels and live to tell about it.