Archive - Experience France RSS Feed

The Eiffel Tower: Beacon of the City of Light

Travel to Paris

It was on this day, December 15, that Alexandre Gustave Eiffel came into the world. Born in 1832, “The Magician of Iron” would ultimately be responsible for designing some of the most iconic structures ever made, including his pièce de résistance, La Tour Eiffel.

Raised in Dijon, Eiffel left his home in eastern France for Paris in 1852 when he began his studies at Ecole Centrale de Paris. The young engineer graduated in 1855 and was commissioned to take charge of the construction of Pont de Bordeaux, a railway bridge, in 1857 at the age of 26. He moved on to help build locks for the Panama Canal, and eventually took charge of the wrought iron, Maria Pia Bridge in Porto, Portugal.

It was here, in his construction of the Maria Pia, that Eiffel honed his flair for iron works. Latently innovative, the Maria Pia’s span was the largest of all of the world’s arch bridges at the time and the design proved to be inexpensive and efficient, as well as visually compelling.

Tours in Paris

Shortly after completing work in Portugal, Eiffel was selected among a group of over 700 applicants to raise a monument in Paris for the Exposition Universelle of 1889, a world’s fair organized to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Construction went relatively smoothly, and little controversy arose until after the tower’s completion.

Today the Eiffel Tower is celebrated as the most prominent feature in Paris’ skyline, however in its early years, the tower was rather unpopular. Many Parisians felt that the modern edifice took away from Paris’ natural beauty. In fact, even 20 years into its lifespan the French government considered removing the Eiffel Tower when its initial lease expired in 1909. Surprisingly, it was not the Eiffel Tower’s aesthetics that solidified its place in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. Rather the tower’s function in telegraph messaging was too important for it to be removed.

Wine TourEventually, the Eiffel Tower garnered popular support, and Gustave Eiffel’s name continues to live on in the form of the 1000 foot lattice tower, in Paris’ central west district. Experience the “City of Light” from a classic vantage on an extension in Paris on any one of VBT’s Biking Tours in France. Have you visited the Eiffel Tower? Do you find the tower to add or detract from Paris’ beauty?

Beaujolais Nouveau

French Bike TourIf red wine is best enjoyed aged, and always served at room temperature, then Beaujolais Nouveau is the ultimate exception to the rules, and a highly celebrated exception at that! At one minute past midnight, on the third Thursday of November, the wine world erupts in a frenzy to distribute, serve and ultimately enjoy a taste of the new vintage.

Amazingly, Beaujolais Nouveau’s life cycle lasts only a matter of weeks. Harvested in October, Gamay grapes from the Beaujolais region of France are quickly pressed, fermented, bottled, and ready for consumption no more than 8 weeks after the grapes were picked. The wine’s very young age makes it quite flavorful and highly influenced by a range of fruit notes. Additionally, each vintage’s palate is markedly varied, which only adds to the excitement about its release.

Now an international celebration, the Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon had humble beginnings and started out as a sort of local harvest celebration in Beaujolais and Lyon. The newest wine of the year, le vin d’annee, would be bottled and shared with local cafes, and served to only those living in the surrounding communities. The tradition began to catch on and spread to other regions of France. Eventually, the French government stepped in to regulate the release of le vin d’annee, first in the 1930’s and again in 1951, marking the official beginning of Beaujolais Nouveau. By the 1970’s vintners noticed the natural excitement sparked by the wine’s release, and decided to further promote the celebration through a race to Paris with the newest bottles of wine. The event was a clear success, and the tradition continued to expand, well beyond French borders.

Today, nations around the world celebrate the young, lightly chilled, purple wine in grand fashion. Every year millions of bottles are purchased and enjoyed in late November as the world joins in celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau.

For an in-depth exploration of one of the world’s most complex wine regions, consider our Burgundy Biking Tour and experience the variety of tastes, and local landscapes of historic French Vineyards, as well as the birthplace of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration! Are you celebrating this year’s vintage?

Page 4 of 4«1234