Didem Doğan

Walking the Seine, from Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame

There are many ways to enjoy the river Seine, take the ferry from Eiffel Tower bank or take the night boat departing from Ice St Louis or walk along it by crossing the bridges from right bank to the left. On a sunny day like this we walk from Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, the two symbolic places of the City of Light.

The end of 19th century, centre of arts and culture, a city where all the writers and painters and artists choose to live, did Paris really need this tower, made of steel, this huge, heavy construction? Artists and intellectuals signed a declaration and shouted against the construction of it. The name father was a stubborn person though. Gustave Eiffel had rather a contrary opinion; he declared that the tower would be ‘the symbol of technology and science”, the celebration of the 100 years of the French Revolution at the International Exposition in 1889, apparently unaware of the two world wars that were waiting at the door at the beginning of the twentieth century. He personally contributed to finance the construction, so the people of Paris witnessed, day by day, how an innocent drawing on a yellow paper became real and climbed to the sky. The anthropologists would argue that it was the continuation of the phallic symbol of human monoliths, such as the other examples in various civilisations.

What is nice about Paris is that you find everything the same anytime you visit the city, thus you find also the most avantgarde and new works of art. For example right across the Eiffel Tower on the right bank is the Palais de Tokyo, the space for contemporary art where you will come across the most interesting exhibitions. Following Palais de Tokyo we continue by the river and reach the Alexander III Bridge which seems more glorious than the others. Further down on the left bank is the Orsay Museum, previously a train station converted into a museum and has become one of world’s most important museums. As we continue and cross to the right bank we pass by the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens. We then arrive to two islands in the middle of the river, Ile St Louis and Ice de la Cite. The finest example of French Gothic architecture form the twelfth century, Notre Dame stands on Ile St Louis under city’s lights in its most elegant face.