Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Big Church, Small Church, Big Church and Au Revoir

I wish that I could tell you that we enjoyed seeing inside Notre Dame Cathedral but the truth is that it was so crowded that we just couldn't bring ourselves to go inside. The photo above is from St. Chapelle.

The grand plaza in front of Notre Dame contained hundred of people, most of them trying to get a good photo of the place with all those other people in the way. I'll show you what I was able to capture.

We decided to try St. Chapelle since we had been told that it was lovely with late afternoon light on the copious stained glass panels. It is the Small Church and a jewel of a church, although not tiny by any means, just small in comparison to Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur.

You first enter the downstairs part which has richly painted walls and ceiling.

This beautiful church was build in the 13th century to hold a crown of thorns that King Louis IX believed Christ wore during his crucifixion.  Here is a photo of carved angels holding a crown of thorns.

His symbol and the symbol of his mother are everywhere. The stained-glass windows upstairs have more than 1,000 scenes with biblical stories from the Garden of Eden to the end of the world. If you have the time, you can rent a unit that will tell you about each one! The panels surround you with light and color. The overall impression is of opulence.

One of the interesting things is that this was the King's private chapel and to reach the upper level with all the stained-glass panels, you climb at tight circular stone stairway. The building was damaged during World War II and some bits and pieces of it still need to find their way home, like this gargoyle. 

I particularly liked the carvings near the front of the church 

and the carved pillar near the door into the chapel.

By the time we had finished viewing St. Chapelle I needed to find les toilettes. Even though it is not a place for tourists (a guidebook says 'law courts, not open to visitors'), it seemed to me that the Palais de Justice was a fine place to find a bathroom. I actually stopped a female judge and asked directions. She seemed a bit put off, but politely told me where to turn left and right. Fortunately I know those directions in French and the mission was accomplished. As we left I took a photo of the impressive gates, adorned with gold, that guard the Palais de Justice.

 I assure you that the facilities I used were not nearly as fancy, although very much appreciated.

By this time it was getting late and Thursday evening rush hour had started. We decided to try Uber. Bad idea. We had no history with them and the Ile de la Cite in rush hour is not a place you want to head to. We were lucky, however, that a cab pulled over and we decided to take the cab since the Uber driver never showed (although we were charged for the service anyway). The reason we were lucky is that the driver was Tony, a thoroughly enjoyable Greek fellow with a clean, comfortable car. Not only did he get us back to Montmartre fairly quickly, but he was willing to take us to the airport in two days for a flat fee.

Tony spoke English beautifully and Sweetie enjoyed discussing politics and getting the French perspective (since Tony has lived in Paris for 30 years) on issues that they were both interested in. True to his word, he phoned Friday night to confirm, phoned again a half hour before the appointed time on Saturday and got us to the airport in plenty of time Saturday morning, allowing another half hour during the drive to the airport for Sweetie and Tony to solve the problems of the world. No photo of Tony or the car (what was I thinking??) so you have to use your imagination.

Friday we visited Sacre Coeur (post HERE) and our local weekly market, right downstairs from our apartment.  It was fun walking around Montmartre and almost feeling like it was familiar.

You may want to click on the link above because it was posted on October 8th...a long time ago in my world. The visit to Sacre Coeur and to the harvest Fete was a delight.

Saturday we made sure we had everything packed, made the two trips down the elevator necessary to get us and our luggage to the ground floor, and said goodbye to Paris. I say 'au revoir' because I hope to see Paris again one day.

This is the last travel post for the fall trip to Boston, Ireland and France. I know that I'll revisit these posts when I feel like revisiting one of those places. As I paint some of the scenes in the coming year I'll post them so that you can see my interpretation of the sights of our delightful journey. Thanks for joining me.

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