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Our Engagement in Paris - March 2006

March 14th was my 40th birthday, and I was in Paris for meetings, so Christi flew over to celebrate it with me in the city of light.

On the morning of my birthday we climbed up the steps of Montmartre to Sacre Coeur. Sacre Coeur is a beautiful old church on the highest point in Paris (Montmartre). When we got to the top we sat on the steps of Sacre Coeur looking back over Paris. I told Christi I'd written a little birthday poem, and I started reciting it as we sat next to each other on the steps. Partway through the poem she started realizing that it was more of a love poem than a birthday poem, and halfway through the fourth stanza I said the line "with a ring that binds our lives" and it hit her what I was actually doing. The fifth stanza starts with "I ask for your hand on bended knee" and as I said that line, I dropped to one knee in front of her on the steps and proposed. I'd traced the outline of Sacre Coeur into a copper sheet and mounted it on a card where I included a copy of the poem I'd written to propose, so she could have a copy with a card to remember the day.

I was so psyched that I was able to surprise her. We'd been looking at rings and talking about getting engaged, but we hadn't picked a ring yet so she had no idea I'd propose. We'd found the ring that we were going to get for me, so I got a smaller matching one for her so I could surprise her, and then when we picked a ring she could move it to her other hand. She's decided to keep it on her left hand and we found a ring that looks great paired with it.


Photos

Assemblee National

The night I arrived I headed out to do some exploring and take some night shots. This building was just down the street from the hotel and looked beautiful at night.

Colbert

Unfortunately not Stephen Colbert, but nonetheless a cool statue at night

Eiffel Tower

At night the Eiffel Tower sparkles with thousands of flashing lights. It is the most amazing sight

Pont Alexandre III

The couple is framed perfectly as they wait to cross the street at the Pont Alexandre III bridge

Les Invalides

Originally a hospital for soldiers it also houses military history museums now. Check out the light traces caused by passing cars in the lower third

Short Exposure

Here's a cool shot of a barge on the Seine with the Eiffel Tower behind it. It's a short exposure, so check it out in comparison to the next shot that I took with a long exposure

Long Exposure

See how the water flattens out and the lights get a cool starburst shape

Searchlight

The searchlight on the top of the Eiffel tower is really cool

Seine Scene

The Eiffel tower shining over the Seine

Another Tower Shot

Another picture of the searchlight on the tower

Sign on the Street

An interesting little sign taped on the street. I think it might be offering babysitting

Toy Store

I loved all the Tintin stuff in this store. However they were tremendously expensive

Patissier Boulanger

A little bakery I went to on my way to the airport to meet Christi

Poissonnerie

As I was eating breakfast I watched them open up the fish market across the street

The Thinker

We went to the Rodin Museum and the Thinker was framed nicely against the dome of Les Invalides in the distance

The Burghers of Calais

This was a far out Rodin sculpture remembering the officials of a city that gave the keys to the city and their lives for the safety of the city. The expressions on their faces were heart wrenching

Ducks Appreciating Art

I'm not sure if the ducks appreciated the art, or just that it gave them a convenient place to hang out

Rodin Museum

Looking across the grounds at the Rodin Museum

Markies!

I couldn't pass up a picture of the dog biscuits that appeared to be named after me

Grand Palais

The beautiful glass ceiling of the Grand Palais across the Seine at night

Boy and Lion

This cool statue was by the bridge near Les Invalides

The Tower

This tower shot gets the base as well. It's incredible how big it is

Behind the Trees

The tower looks cool behind the lit up trees

Pont d'Iena

Looking across Pont d'Iena at the tower

Horse by Tower

A cool statue with the tower lit up behind it

Looking Up

You can see the bright white flashing lights that make it sparkle at night. They're not always on, but go come on at intervals during the night

Looking Upriver

Standing on the Eiffel Tower looking upriver

On the Tower

Christi and I standing on the Eiffel Tower

The Structure

The light and dark contrast on the tower girders is really cool

Scary Stuffed Critters

Walking through side streets we saw this shop window with lots of scary stuffed critters

Chipmunk

This stuffed chipmunk reminded me of the stuffed squirrel army the janitor on "Scrubs" created

On our Way

Here we are on the train to Versailles

Excess

The Excess of Versailles made it pretty clear why the French Revolution happened. The attitude shown by this statue alone would have made me go postal

Ceiling

Check out how ornate the ceiling is! Every room was this opulent

Hall of Mirrors

If you look closely at the end of this hallway you can see that the wall is made of mirrors

Us in the Hall of Mirrors

Here we are in a self-portrait in the hall of mirrors

Equality

Not exactly a depiction of equality

Awful Happy

Apparently these two soldiers were so happy after winning the battle they got a little carried away <seen next shot for closeup>

Closeup

Here's a closeup of the two soldiers celebrating

Suger

This hall of statues was really cool. This guy's name cracked me up

Funny Sign

Considering how little French I know, I shouldn't be mocking their English, but I can't help it

Crypt

This crypt was incredible

The Gardens

The gardens of Versailles were incredible. I'd love to see them in the late spring or summer sometime

Latona Fountain

The fountain represents the story of Latona who stands at the top with her children Apollo and Diana. The frogs and people in stages of turning into frogs are the villagers who insulted her and were turned that way by Zeus

Mock Roman Ruins

Versailles didn't have any Roman ruins on the grounds, so they built their own

Nice Coats!

There was a lot of fur wearing going on. We had to get this shot so Christi did a fake pose in front of them so I could get the picture

Christi's Pose

Christi doing her fake pose so I could take the picture of the scary women in their furs

Bird in the Pond

I got some great shots of birds feeding on bread tossed by a family on the shore

Boats

You could rent boats and row around the lake, but with my recent back surgery it didn't seem like a good idea, and there was no way I was going to let Christi row me around the lake

Old Glass

The old glass in this window looking out at the gardens had some great bubbles in it

A Question

So they've got the technology figured out to use a magnifying glass to start a fire, but they still haven't figured out how to keep their tops on

Metro Scenes

I was fascinated by shooting time lapse shots of Metro trains

More Metro

Another motion shot

Concorde

I love the lettered and numbered tiles in the Concorde station

More Motion

I like how you can see the rails under the train on this shot

Chatelet

A train coming at me in Chatelet

Reflection

That same train after it's passed and you can see the reflections of the people waiting

Ghost

This is one of my best shots keeping everything crisp except the train

Graffiti

I like this one as the train disappears down the tunnel

Rue Du Bac

A cool shot in the Rue Du Bac station

More Rue Du Bac

This one really gets the transparency of the train

Concorde Again

Another shot of the Concorde station

Tower from the Street

A daytime shot of the Tower from the street as we walked toward it

Soldier Under the Tower

There was a lot of security around the tower

US Go Home

I can understand the sentiment scrawled on a pipe on the side of a building

Maggots?

I'll pass on eating here

Fluffy and Scary

Interesting sculpture of Fluffy guy and scary Skeleton Guy

Pont Des Arts

Standing on the Pont Des Arts looking up the Seine. You can see the Graind Palais in the distance

Ile de la Cite

Christi in front of the Ile de la Cite which is the island that Notre Dame is located on

High Water

The tip of Ile de la Cite with a young couple on it shows how high the water was. It was so high the dinner barges were unable to run

Fire Dog

It's cool how much the French love their dogs. Here's a fireboat with a cool fire dog on it

Yummy Crepes

This place had some outstanding Crepes

Christi in Frame

This cool old window frame was in a courtyard and made a great frame for a picture of Christi

Street Scene

I love this street scene in the Marais district

Orthodox Jew

The Marais district houses the Jewish Quarter and there were some cool looking guys on the street

Christi on the Street

A cute shot of Christi as we walked through the Marais

Le Doggy

Apparently his neck was getting cold

Arc de Triomphe

Dominating the view pretty much anywhere on the Champs Elysees the Arch is an awesome sight

On the Arc

You can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and it makes for some incredible views of the city

Sacre Coeur

A view of Sacre Coeur in the distance from the top of the Arc

Closer

A zoomed in shot of Sacre Coeur. It's a bit grainy, but I got some good ones close up

Christi on the Arc

Christi standing on top of the Arc de Triomphe

Photo Shoot

The were doing a photo shoot in front of the Arc de Triomphe, and I thought it really pointed out how important lighting is in photos. Look how everyone looks gray except the model who they're lighting

Cleaning Up

Looking down the Champs Elysees with a cool street cleaner

French Bulldog

Maybe not by breed, but certainly by location

Cafe Vesuvio

The cafe where we had a snack on the Champs Elysees

Looking Back

Looking up the Champs Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe while dodging cars as I crossed the street

Tight Parking

The parking was brutal in Paris. I can't imagine having a car in this city, although it wouldn't be that critical with their great transit system

Trocadero

Standing on the Trocadero looking across at the Eiffel Tower

Another Angle

Another angle on the Trocadero shot

From the Park

Standing in the park under the Eiffel Tower as evening approaches and the lights come on

Champs Elysees at Night

Looking up the Champs Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe at night

Going to Montmartre

Walking through side streets on our way to Montmartre

Sacre Coeur

Looking up Montmartre at Sacre Coeur

A Closer View

Here's a closer shot of Sacre Coeur from the base

Looking up the Stairs

A beautiful shot of Sacre Coeur as we climbed the stairs

Getting Ready

Christi took this shot as I was trying to be sneaky and make sure the ring I was about to propose with was easy to access

She Said "Yes"

Christi reading the poem in the card after I proposed on the steps of Sacre Coeur

The Card

The front of the card I made for Christi to commemorate our engagement

The Poem

The inside of the card with the Poem I wrote and recited to propose

The Second Card

When Christi got home she found this card waiting on the counter (I had our friend Zak put it out for her). I sketched an image of the Eiffel Tower into a tin sheet for the front of a card thanking her for agreeing to marry me

Gargoyle

We climbed to the top of Sacre Coeur and I got this shot of a Gargoyle

St Pierre De Montmartre

This is the view from the dome of Sacre Coeur looking down at St Pierre and you can get a glimpse of the square beyond it packed with artists

Zoom on the Square

Here's a closer view of the square with all the artists. You can actually see a painting we bought in this shot

Looking Forward

Looking out the front of the dome at the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in the distance

Looking Down

Looking down from the dome at the steps we climbed

Gargoyle

Another cool gargoyle

Wrought Iron

A cool fence along the side of Sacre Coeur

Artist's Square

The cool Artist's square on Montmartre. There's a couple guys on the left looking at one of the paintings we bought

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur beyond the Artist's square

Artist

We bought the little painting in the top center from this artist

Celebrating

Here we are in a cafe in the Artist's Square celebrating our engagement with hot chocolate

More Artists

The artists in the square were really good. It was incredible to watch them work

Working

This is another artist we bought a painting from

Our Painting

This is the artist that did the big painting we bought. It's the second one from the top

Closer View

One last shot as she took the painting down for us

St Pierre

Some beautiful stained glass in St Pierre

Baptismal

Looks like a Baptismal font in St Pierre

St Pierre

A shot down the full length of St Pierre

Side Road

An interesting perspective on a side road on Montmartre

The Vinyard

The last remaining vinyard in Paris is on Montmartre

Small Street

A cool view of Sacre Coeur down a side street

Le Consulat

A neat shot back up toward Sacre Coeur

Brick Street

Another neat street shot

Moulin Rouge

Which apparently just means "red windmill" and seems to have some fun shows based on the posters in the entry way

Christi by the Seine

A cool shot of Chrisit standing by the Seine

Another Shot

Another cool shot of Christi by the Seine

Notre Dame

As we walked toward Notre Dame we heard chanting and drumming behind us and it sounded fun, but we kept on going. It turned out that it was the student protesters that turned Paris upside down over the next few weeks, but we always just missed them

The Service

A service was going on while we were in Notre Dame, but you were still able to walk around

Joan of Arc

A cool statue of Joan of Arc

Impressive

It's hard to believe how large the interior of the Cathedral is

Zoom in

A zoomed in shot of the altar area with the Pieta in the background

Balancing Act

Look at the third guy down from the top. It looks like he's balancing carefully

Flying Buttress

A shot of the back of Notre Dame showing the flying buttresses

Looking Adorable

Christi looking adorable as we head out to dinner for my Birthday

Hotel Basement

I didn't go down to the basement of our hotel until just before I flew out, but it was really cool

Hotel Basement 2

Another shot of the basement