I visited France in April 1992 as a tourist. My wife and I took the Cosmos bus tour of Europe. We had multiple visas to visit France as our itinerary required entry twice. On 16th April 1992 I left Florence in Italy and entered France and stayed at Hotel Arcade. On 17th April I visited Monte Carlo and returned in night to Nice. On 18th April I took the famous Napoleon route of estimated 500kms to reach Paris .

When we reached Paris it was afternoon. We were to stay for three days only in Paris. But for the next three days Louvre Museum was to be closed due to holidays. I always wanted to see Louvre or at least Mona Lisa. As time was short we left our luggage at the hotel counter and took a tube guide printed in French and learnt about the nearest tube station. During my student days I had learnt French but had forgotten much due to disuse. But I could read and understand headlines in newspapers and signboards. We ran to the nearest tube station and bought the tickets and boarded the tube. We reached the station at Louvre Museum. When we reached the ticket counter I was told that tickets could not be sold, as the Museum time was to be over in an hour. I pleaded with them but of no avail. Then I shouted there. On that a manager came out from his room. I told him my predicament. I told him that I always wanted to see Louvre Museum and particularly Mona Lisa. When we were to stay in Paris for three days only and during the period the Museum would be closed. We came from India and we don’t know whether we will be able to make another trip to France or Paris. He was convinced about my genuine problem. We got tickets and entered the Louvre Museum.  First we saw Mona Lisa, the most famous and costliest painting in the world. It is the portrait in oil on wood panel of a woman with mysterious smile. It was made by Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci, a genius, around 1505. After taking a photograph of the painting and getting myself photographed with the painting we started running from one gallery to another gallery, as the time was very short. But we spent two hours seeing great pieces of art, sculpture, paintings, and pieces of history from all over the world in the Museum, always running. That way I have the satisfaction to visit almost all halls and gallery.

Paris has been the world capital of fashion, art and culture. We were shown all important historical and entertainment places in Paris which is situated on the banks of River Seine. I had read about the French Revolution of 1789 during my student days. It was always exciting to see places like Bastille and other places associated with the French Revolution. There is July column erected in memory of revolution of 1830 at the square at Place de la Bastille where there used to be infamous prison before French Revolution of 1789.

I went to see Versailles Palace near Paris. This palace and place are always attracting whoever read French revolution and European history. The palace used to be residence of kings of France. It was also venue for signing off Treaty of Versailles after World War I. Even today the palace and gardens are magnificent. The palace is now a Museum, which takes you through phases of history since before French revolution.

In Paris the view of Eiffel Tower, icon of Paris and France, is still fascinating though there are many such towers in several important cities of the world. We went up to the highest permissible stage. We saw Paris in daylight and prolonged our stay there. After dusk at the advent of night Paris was illuminated which gave an unearthly charm. I watched River Seinein daylight, at sunset and in the night. The multi coloured neon signs and other displays of Paris were breath taking. I would advise the tourists to see Paris from Eiffel tower both during the day and at night.

We spent evening at Champs Elysees. We saw the monument gate,Arc de Triomphe, like India Gate of New Delhi, an icon of not only Paris but of France as well. It was difficult to cross due to heavy traffic. But there are some subways to cross roads. In bothof visits to France I used to spend time at this place.Moulene Rouge is also located there. Famous Lido and other dance theatres are located here. It is the fashion and glamour centre of not only Paris but referred to everywhere. We saw one dance show of pretty girls of different origins, Europeans, South Americans, Africans and Asians. The make-up was so perfect to distinguish a black girl from white girl. I was told that the semi-nude dance is an art talent in which girls from affluent and prominent families take lead. Besides the beautiful bodies of dancing girls I must say that the costume, rhythm and foot work were all enchanting. Seeing dance at Moulene Rouge is a must in itinerary of any tourist.

I spent a day at Nice. This beautiful beach resort is located on French Riviera. The place is actually nice to see.  The tourists lose themselves in enjoying time here. There is another side beach exclusive for women where topless beauties were enjoying mild sunshine.

I spent a day at Cannes, famous for annual international film festival. When we visited the lovely town no such film festival was on but we saw the cinema halls where films from world over are screened and film celebrities are made. I roamed around the town and relaxed at the park.

I visited Grasse, capital of perfume manufacturing, located near Cannes and Nice. There are several perfume manufacturing industries. I attended demo arranged at one of them where I knew about manufacturing of perfume, eau de toilette and cologne. The raw materials like roots, stems and leaves of trees and plants and large number of flowers are imported from almost all regions of the world including India. They have their own flower growing fields also. Depending upon concentration of essential oils in fragrance, Perfume has highest, Eau de Perfume has less, Eau de Toilette has lesser and Eau de Cologne has least concentration of essential oils. Base is alcohol.

I travelled extensively by busin France. From Nice I took the same route, which was taken by Napoleon Bonaparte to reach Paris in the north. I am an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte who is one of the greatest historical personalities in modern times. The French Revolution made greatest impact in the modern world with slogans- Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The seeds sown by the revolution have grown as plants and trees, which have engulfed the world. The impact is far reaching. By Cosmos tour of West Europe I covered about 6400 kms. Roughly about 3800 miles.

I again visited Paris while returning from Spain. I took an early flight from Madrid to Paris on 9th Feb 2009.My flight AF 1001 was scheduled to depart at 10.20 hrs. As it was 8.25 am only I took coffee latte before boardingtheairplane.

I boarded the plane. The weather was inclement. The plane landed at Paris on time. I took airport bus to drop me at Etoille on payment of Euro 15. I took a taxi to reach my hotel Fiat for Euro 10.

I had some hassle with hotel reception while doing check-in. I did not give fulldetails of my American Express card. Later, after return to India I found some money debited from my account from some unknown country. After due investigation and procedure the amount was credited to my account by the bank.

The weather was inclement. However, I took an umbrella from hotel and went out. I spent entire evening between Arch de Triumph gate Champs Elysees Clemenceau. I saw Lido programme at cost of Euro 60. By midnight I returned to the hotel.

On 10th February 2009  I got ready early. The weather outside was bad. But there was no way out as I had just one day to have sightseeing of Paris. I went to Eiffel Tower and climbed up to the second floor as top floor was closed then. In 1992 I went upto the top floor. It was strong chilling wind and rains. I revived my memories of my visit in 1992.

Then I went to Opera. France gives recognition to its illustrious artists. I also visited the National Academy of Music which has busts of prominent musicians.

I saw the Bank de France but Louvre was closed as it was a Tuesday. I spent some time in Royal Palace. I walked at Champs Elysees in inclement weather and shopped for souvenirs.

Since I had seen extensively Paris earlier I chose to spend time at important tourist points like Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Moulene Rouge and Lido.

I learned that rich Arabs, particularly Egyptians, have bought expensive properties and business in Paris and elsewhere in France. Due to heavy investment of petrodollar the Arabian population is quite influential. This is evident also from the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Even in that scene, a Muslim Arab police officer who was rescuing the hostages was killed by the attackers. This shows that they do play an inclusive role in the government. France had made some Arab countries like Algeria,  its colony.  It helped the Arabian population to migrate easily to France.

On 11th February 2009, I boarded flight AF 148. In the aircraft, I met Naazma Parveen originally from Moradabad but settled in Paris. She narrated her agony of being separated from her former husband who married another girl from his ancestral place. He had his own business and while she had her own. She was going with her daughter to Moradabad to search a bridegroom for her.

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