Learning to Love the Louvre and the Luxembourg Garden!

With approximately four weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time! Today we talk about Paris, France, where art and nature collide beautifully!

The Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most splendid museums as well as being a prominent historic landmark in Paris. Roughly 35,000 pieces from prehistory all the way up to the 21st century are on exhibit in the museum’s expansive 652,300 square feet! Comfortable walking shoes are a must for anyone who wants to transverse this amazing place! The Louvre also holds the distinction for being the most visited museum in the world and only getting more popular: the past decade has seen the number of visitors annually rise from roughly 8 million to now well over 9 million, with the number expected to continue to rise! Originally the museum opened in 1793 with a scant 537 painting. Throughout the years various kings invested time and resources into expanding the museum as well as a number of donations throughout the years. Some of the most impressive expansions of the collection came during the reign of Napoleon, who through many successful military campaigns managed to acquire a staggering amount of items. Napoleon was also responsible for appointing the museum’s very first director, one Dominique Vivant Denon. These days the collection is divided into eight curatorial divisions: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. By far the most famous piece in the museum, and the most famous painting in the entire world, is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci pictured above. Other famous pieces include “Nike of Samothrace”, a beautiful depiction of the Greek goddess of Victory, and the “Venus de Milo”, an amazing sculpture of the goddess of love that shows the beauty of the female form.

The Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Garden, is located in the 6th administrative district in Paris and was formed in 1612 by the window of King Henry IV of France, Marie de’ Medici, for her new residence the Luxembourg Palace. The park covers over 23 hectares and is known for its gorgeous lawns, flowerbeds, and most famously the Medici Fountain, pictured above, which was built in 1630. The garden also features over one hundred states all across its ground. Among these many statues is a central space where twenty figures of French queens and other famous women stand on pedestals. The garden is one of the more popular spots in the entire city and serves as a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Paris, which can be overwhelming at times for all of its beauty.

Paris is an amazing city, as beautiful as it is interesting, with so much to discover. The Louvre alone could take someone days to explore, much less anything else in this vast city. We love Paris, and it is why we’re so happy to be able to take people there as part of our 7 Day Taste of Europe pre tour as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this great trip, go here.

 

Showing off the Soul of Paris Food!

One of the great things about traveling is the chance to experience different cultures around the world first hand, and there are few better ways to do that then to take a bite of someone’s food. Like music, food is a universal language. We all eat, we enjoy food in vastly different ways, and one person’s supreme meal is another person’s garbage.  I have been doing a lot of research lately when it comes to the highlights of the world, and quite a bit of that time has been devoted to various eateries. Today we go to Paris France, where you can find delicious meat and veggie options for good prices!

 

Balls. I’ll just let you ruminate on that for a second. Has the snickering subsided by now? Fantastic, let’s continue then. Balls has a remarkably simple concept: put food into a vaguely spherical-like blob shape, make it delicious, and then serve it to you. The balls come in five different recipes: beef with persil and onion, chicken with estragon and lemon, lamb with coriander, cumin and pine kernels, pork with fennel and paprika, and finally if eating meat isn’t your desire you can have a veggie option which comes with chick peas. By all accounts every one of the dishes is expertly crafted and delicious, so it is really about choosing what entices you most. On top of the great food their wine menu which is said to be superb as well. The food, while amazing, is simple so it doesn’t take long to prep meaning you won’t be waiting for long for your food, which is always nice. The owners of the establishment are attentive, but not overly so. If you are looking for a little something extra at night the venue doubles as a very trendy bar with all sorts of delicious cocktails and, yes, the meatballs are still available then as well. With a great atmosphere, delicious food, and prompt service Balls is certainly worthy of a venture into.

 

Soul Kitchen, whose name is a lot more boring than the previous restaurant, is a great place to eat in its own right. It is a cafe-restaurant which is run by three spirited and inspired lady chefs. The environment is, in a word, welcoming. It has been described as the type of place you can come in during the morning and have a nice relaxing coffee while reading your newspaper. It isn’t just about the environment, of course, the food is said to be delicious as well. The key to note about this place is, unlike the above restaurant, it is completely vegetarian! The lunch menu is constantly changing with the only thing that remains the same is their commitment to using their homemade recipes that is made using organic local produce. They have a winter squash super which has fried onions in it which has been raved about quite a bit! One of their signature dishes, ‘Granny’s pichade’, is a thick French pizza with pesto and tomatoes and is said to be absolutely fabulous. You can order quite a bit here and it will barely set you back 10 dollars despite the high quality, making this place an absolutely fantastic deal!

One of the fantastic things about a city as grand as Paris is that there is going to be something for nearly everyone. Whether you consider yourself more of a carnivore or you prefer to munch on vegetables, both of these places have a lot to offer without emptying your wallet too much! Of course, places like this are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fantastic city of Paris! Experience it and so much more as part of our 7 day Taste of Europe pre-stay, which leads into our Drag Stars at Sea: European Allstars! For all of the exciting information about this trip, go here.

 

Loving on Landmarks in the City of Love, Paris!

We are very proud to offer trips all around the world, and we are invested in letting others see why we are so passionate about the places we go. The world is a very big place, and within it are numerous sights to see that are unique as they are beautiful, historically significant, or both. Today we are going to go to Paris, France, the city of love sparkles with many jewels to delight!

No discussion of Paris can begin without first touching upon the ever iconic Eiffel Tower. Named after its engineer, Gustave Eiffel, the tower was constructed in 1889 as the entrance arch to that year’s World’s Fair. Originally meant to be taken down, the tower endured the strong initial criticism of many French artists to become an enduring symbol for the city. One of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world, millions of people ascend the roughly 81 story tall tower every year and recently it saw its 250 millionth visitor! At the time of its construction it was the world’s tallest manmade structure, not being surpassed until over forty years later. The tower has three levels which are open to the public, with the first two being restaurants for visitors to enjoy the view. The third level is an observatory platform that is over 900 feet off the ground, which marks it as the highest accessible such platform to the public in the whole of the European Union.

 

The Arc de Triomphe is a well-regarded landmark and a stunningly beautiful symbol of French patriotism. The Arc was built to honor those who fought and died for France in the Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars. The names of all French generals as well as their victories are etched onto the surface of the structure. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, built to honor those who were lost in World War I and then later the Second World War, lies beneath its vault. The monument stands over 50 meters in height and is 45 meters wide, which marked it as the tallest triumphal arch in existence for nearly twenty years before a larger one was built in Mexico City. The Arc quickly became a rallying point to the French military, with troops celebrating in the vicinity of it after successful military campaigns as well as for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. The monument is thought to be the linchpin of Paris’ famous Axe historique, a series of buildings and thoroughfares that showcase French history in an inspirational manner.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral, or simply Notre-Dame, is a historic Catholic cathedral in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. It is widely held to be one of the greatest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most revered church buildings in the entire world. The cathedral takes on the role as the Archdiocese of Paris, which makes it the official chair of the archbishop of Paris. The treasury inside is noteworthy for housing some of the most important relics in Catholicism, including the Crown of Thorns and one of the Holy Nails. The building suffered major desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious symbolism was harmed or destroyed, which was mended partially by an extensive restoration in 1845 and a further restoration that began in 1991.

There are, of course, many other historically significant and amazing landmarks to see in the vast city of Paris, too many to ever cover in a single article. From amazing feats of art, to a stunning display of French militaristic patriotism, to a monolith of religious awe there are a lot of treats to be seen in the famed city of love. You can be there soon with our Taste of Europe pre tour that is part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the exciting information on this trip, go here.