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Things to do in Paris City: walking last Route of Princess Diana
Tragic Death of Princess Diana
I was a huge Princess Diana fan. With the new movie of Princess Diana's last two years currently being shot, many people are remembering her again. If you were born in my generation, you will also remember the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on 31 August 1997. She died in one of my favourite cities in the world, Paris France in a car accident in the Pont de L'Alma road tunnel. Her death stunned the world because it was so totally unexpected. When I considered what to do during my time in Paris city, I decided to walk the same route as the final journey of Princess Diana in the early hours of 31 August 1997. I did this in tribute of her loving memory. My estimated 2,5 km walk started at the Ritz Hotel at 15 Place Vendôme and ended at the Pont de L'Alma tunnel. It was a clear, beautiful day. Each step was in remembrance of this beautiful woman who died so tragically and still so young.
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From Place Vendôme to Place de la Concorde
The Place Vendôme is a beautiful place in Paris and home to many of the world's top jewelers' brands. It is a square located to the north of the Tuileries Gardens and east of the Madeleine church in the first arrondissement of Paris. It is also home to the famous, luxurous Ritz hotel where Diana and Dodi Fayed, her lover at the time, left in a Mercedes, driven by Henri Paul, the Ritz' acting head of security and escorted by the bodyguard, Trevor Rees, in the early morning of 31 August 1997 on their way to Dodi's apartment near the Arc de Triomphe. They left at the back exit of the hotel due to the paparazzi waiting at the hotel's entrance. I could therefore not be 100 percent sure what their exact route was because the driver tried to escape the paparazzi and had to rely on media reports.
I spent time at the Place Vendôme to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings and the glitz of the many jewelry stores. It was exciting to see the stores of Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Chaumet and Bulgari, amongst others. While watching luxury vehicles dropping hotel guests at the entrance of the Ritz hotel, I thought of Princess Diana and her life that ended so abruptly.
From the Place Vendôme I walked to the Place de la Concorde, a big public square in Paris. This square is one of the main attractions in Paris since one has a full view of the Avenue de Champs-Elysees leading to the omnipresent Arc de Triomphe. The square is surrounded by historic buildings such as the Palais Bourbon (across the Seine and now the Assemblee Nationale) and the Madeleine church. There are also two beautiful fountains on the square and eight statues that represent eight main French cities. The 3300 year old obelist of Luxor is one of the beacons of this magnificent square. Did Princess Diana also notice the splendour of this square on her final journey?
Flamme de la Liberte Sculpture
I spent a year in Paris as an au pair and since then visited here several times. I can never get enough of this lively city. As I started walking to the Pont de l'Alma, I was thinking of Princess Diana and her final days which she spent with Dodi Al Fayed. During these days she was in the news almost daily. She seemed happy at the time or was she really? When I reached the Pont de'Alma I visited the Flamme de la Liberte sculpture where admirers leave flowers, poems and messages to the late Diana at its bottom. This sculpture, which has become an unofficial Princess Diana place of pilgrimage, is actually a symbol of Franco-American friendship.
While looking at the Alma tunnel I could not help but wonder what went through Princess Diana's mind just before the collision. Will we ever know what really caused this tragic accident? After so many years after the death of Diana, this mystery still intrigues so many people and conspiracy theories abound.
I visited this site again in June 2012, and although there are fewer flowers than before, the number of tourists wandering around here is an indication of Diana's continued memory.
I walked this route in Paris city
My journey started at the Place Vendome, Paris France
My journey ended at the Pont de l'Alma where Princess Diana was involved in a fatal car accident.
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