September 13

Welcome to my second week in PARIS!

It's a rainy Sunday and Darnelle decided to stay in. Windy and I went on a church tour to hear some organ music.

First stop, right down the street, Eglise St-Germain-des-Pres, the oldest church in Paris, begun in 542 with the present church built on the site of the original from the 11th century, and heavily restored in the 19th.
From Eyewitness Travel: "The interior of the church is an interesting mix of architectural styles, with some 6th century marble columns, Gothic vaulting, and Romanesque arches."

This is a side chapel accessible behind closed doors.
They were doing a baptism, that's the baby's little head coming up between the two boys. The parents cried, happy tears I'm sure that their child was now safe from, what? I'm not sure of the position of this particular church. But they were happy.
We left St-Germain after the collection and hurried off to the next church, also right in our neighborhood, in hopes of catching some organ music there too.

It's St-Sulpice with the murals by Eugene Delacroix.

From Lonely Planet: "What draws most people to the church is not its striking Italianate façade with two rows of superimposed columns, Couter-Reformation-influenced neoclassical décor or even the frescoes by Delecroix, but its setting for a murderous scene in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code."
First opened in 1869 and after a long history of developments, the building had to close in 2005 due to modern safety requirements: the grand department store, La Samaritaine. Wiki says: "In 2010 it was finally announced that a Japanese firm had been chosen to redesign the building as a combination hotel/apartments/offices, with a small retail component."

Much of the building was still behind scaffolding and construction cranes blocked traffic but it looks like it'll be a beauty when it's done.
From "Here, in front of St. Eustache in Place René Cassin, is sitting a giant, seventy ton sculpture of a head resting on a hand and made of sandstone.

"It is called, "l'Ecoute" ("Listen"), created by Henri de Miller and placed there in 1986. With its location directly in front of the 13th century cathedral of St. Eustache, "l'Ecoute" presents a striking contrast between old and new, one of the defining characteristics of Paris."
St-Eustache, from Lonely Planet: "...snuggling up to the city's old marketplace, now the soulless Forum des Halles, is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris. Majestic, architecturally magnificent, and musically outstanding, St-Eustache has made souls soar for centuries."
We were on our way to see L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, walking along Rue des Petits Champs when we became distracted by...
...ack! the Palais Garnier, the Opéra national de Paris! So we decided to go there.
When there is not a performance you have to enter through a small side door and pay 11 euros to walk around the main floor.
It was Lavish.
And wow, lookie here, Chagall painted the ceiling inside the theater! I was Not expecting this! It was wonderful!

From Architectural Digest: "Russian-born artist Marc Chagall once said that "the dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world." And it is difficult to conceal one’s wonder beneath Chagall’s magnificent ceiling in Paris’s Opéra Garnier, a masterwork that was unveiled on this day in 1964.

"...When French Minister of Culture André Malraux announced the commission for the project in 1960, many were outraged by the prospect of a modernist painter—and a foreign-born one, at that—taking his brush to the ceilings of Charles Garnier’s neo-Baroque masterpiece. But Chagall’s passion for the project won out."

With scenes from fourteen operas, Everybody loves it now!
The Grand Foyer. Windy read somewhere that even Parisians of the time thought 'Yikes. Too Much Gold'.
Part of the Grand Staircase.
Unlike Versailles that kept the dark silver-backed mirrors here we have sparkly new ones.
Heading home through a residential side street, an example of a very nice place to live.
Ingalill was supposed to be here! but No! Air France cancelled the flight because the truck driver who was supposed to drag the plane away from the gate instead broke the landing gear.

No parts, no more planes, cancelled flight. She's due to be here tomorrow. Safe Flight Ingalill!

It was raining all day yesterday so we didn't do much, did some laundry, grocery shopping, had a deeelicious restaurant meal, caught up on my pictures, it was lovely.
September 14

Lill arrived safe and sound in the afternoon and after a quiet few minutes we gathered ourselves for a trip up to Sacre-Coeur and for a buzz around Montmartre and a Moulin Rouge Photo-Op.

We emerged from the Metro to a few sprinkles and decided it was a good time for a snack and it was because...
...then came This.
Fortunately it stopped, pheww. The weather has been extremely changeable so we've been flexible and it helps to always know where you are in relation to a metro station.

Every new place I eat in is my new favorite place.
There she is. We took the funicular up a few blocks to save the vertical climb.
The second flight of stairs and the grand entrance to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur.

Begun in 1875 and finished in 1914, it was placed in this most bohemian neighborhood as a "symbol of the former struggle between the conservative Catholic old guard and the secular, republican radicals." (LP)

This is the highest point in Paris and the views are wonderful. I'll have to get a picture from Lill since I apparently don't have one. (I kept looking for the Eiffel Tower but couldn't find it!)
You can see in the above picture where he sits.
The central dome and you can see His Sacre-Coeur.
Many of the surrounding walls and arches were equally covered in glimmering mosaics.
We have gorgeous stained glass too and the sun was just setting so it was especially magnificent.
Walking down down winding through the streets of Montmartre.

We stopped for a quick Chinese dinner to quell the hunger storm and to wait for darkness because we didn't want to miss...
...The Moulin Rouge lit up in all her tawdry glory where for 125 euro you too could enjoy 'the finest burlesque show in the world', according to them. You'll spend a lot more to include champagne and a bite to eat.

And you'd better pay that 125 euro very early on or the show you want will be sold out.
Lill needed to get a souvenir for Tony and we couldn't find one anywhere (maybe they had a trademark on the image?) so I asked one of the beefy guards, the one who had been turning away crowds of people begging for tickets, if there might perhaps be a shop available where we could buy something.

'How many of you are there.' 'Just we two small, quiet, respectful yet eager women who would be soo happy to buy a souvenir from the Moulin Rouge.' 'It is forbidden to go in, but OK, follow me.' Lill was soo happy!
September 15

For the second time I abandoned the climb up to the top of Notre Dame due to the lines. Maybe I'll never get to climb to the top. We'll see.

Getting inside was no line at all so that was great. It is a towering physical experience, a masterpiece really.
Lill lighting a candle for her dad.
Me and Cynthia lighting candles at Notre Dame in 1993. They don't do tapers anymore.
And now for such a prestigious spot you have to pay five euros for this light instead of the normal two euros for the little tea lights.
A Cathedral for sure. You have no trouble imagining the power of the Catholic Church once you've moved around here for a while, and the awe that such a place inspires.
Just a tiny piece of all the decorations outside.
Ingalill plays beach volleyball with the boys every Saturday, she walked something like 100 miles in two days for a charity, she bikes and climbs mountains, and man-o-man we walked today.

I'll show you the exact place where I demanded a break and she went on and returned to pick me up a while later.
The Pont Neuf bridge and the Eiffel Tower.
Just a glance, today is not our day at the Louvre. But you can't see this and not take a picture of IM Pei's pyramid.
Then the next thing that happened was that at the regular shopping mall at the Louvre where we went to check on our car for Thursday's journey down to Mont St-Michel, we ran into what I had been hoping to run into - the second IM Pei pyramid in Paris!
It's name is La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid). It's a skylight at the shopping mall, the Carrousel du Louvre.
A side path in the great Place de la Concorde...
...the largest square in Paris, with the Obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe behind.
These are included in the Axe Historique of Paris, la Voie Triomphale...

(from the internet)
...from where you can get a fine view of the Eiffel Tower.
Here's the place along the Champs Elysees, a central road through the Axe Historique where I stopped. You go on Lill, fly like the wind, I'll just wait right here.
A bit of the roof of the Palais Royal.
We went home for a couple of hours and then it was a bit of a mad dash from the house to the place where the Eiffel Tower Skip-The-Line tour group met. Lill went on ahead and I was the last to arrive...not so good for me and a source of merriment for the whole group for the rest of the tour.

I thought we were simply going to be led to the place where you can skip the line but actually this guy stayed with us up to the third level and gave us a very funny and fun walk around the entire floor. After the walk-about we went our separate ways to the elevator that took everyone to the top.
This is the ride to the second floor and we walked to the third, no big deal, just a regular floor.
On the horizon you can see the business district of Paris with all the high-rise buildings. It is actually just outside the city limits since building restrictions inside the city do not allow for high-rises and you'll see why later.
In the distance, Sacre-Coeur, the highest point in Paris.
We had the pleasure of being here at dusk and watching the city go from day to night.
A perfect time.
A view from the top.
From the NY Times: "When the nearly 700-foot Tour Montparnasse was completed in 1973, it was considered such a blight on Paris’s historic skyline that the city instated height restrictions on all future buildings. The office tower, designed by Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marien, is the rare destination from which tourists can view the city unmolested by its own dark, Modernist presence."

Now I want to go there. I think the blue light outlining the building might have been blinking off and on because sometimes it was there and sometimes it wasn't.
THE Eiffel Tower.
And more. And sooo many more on my computer.
September 16

This morning Lill went off to the d'Orsay, and Windy and Darnelle went shopping, and I did pictures.

Then in the afternoon I went with Lill across the Pont des Arts for more pictures of the fence of locks...
...and more... see The Louvre. It was a grey day but most to the point, it was an afternoon of a Wednesday and the Louvre is open late.

Look, No Crowds. It was mind-boggling. Our minds were blown. We just walked in.
The IM Pei pyramid...I know, been there done that...
...and more brides.

Tony told us that Asian brides bring their bride dresses on their European honeymoons and take their pictures everywhere. We have seen a great number of brides!
The big entrance under the pyramid. EMPTY. It's 5:30 on Wednesday and the museum doesn't close until 9:30. If you can be here for more than five hours you are a better museum-goer than I!

Except for the three big Everyone Goes Here objects - Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo which were pretty mobbed...
...the place was ours. It was so open this kid could race through the halls.
Lill says First Thing, Her. There she is. Lill got to the front no problem.

Here's Winged Victory, crowded around the floor but not so bad that we couldn't walk right up...
...and here, no people.

The thing is, even with no people, and I can't even fathom how it would be on a crowded day, the place is SO massive it was quite the trick to find anything in particular. I know they have at least one huge Hieronymus Bosch painting but after 30 minutes of trying to find it I gave up.
Another bride. They're just so pretty and happy and photogenic.
Another view of the main plaza.

See that red boxcar like thing. That's the gift shop. Remember when everyone was up in such a steam over the pyramid and now it's a highlight-landmark-treasure? Well let me say what's with that gift shop?!
Lovin' those juxtopositions.
Goodbye Louvre, we'll see you again another time!
Lill and I went to my fish restaurant, the one I enjoyed so thoroughly last time I was there, L'Atlas Paris.
September 17

We've rented a car(!) and are off down the Champs Elysees...
...and around the Arc de Triomphe. Lill was lovin' it, back in a stick-shift car, driving down the Champs Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe. Happy Lill.

The car had a gps which we had to pay extra to use - almost as much as the car itself, but it was entirely worth it.
After about four hours on the road, through corn fields, and farm lands, we could see there in the distance, Mont Saint Michel.
Photo photo!
The star attraction is the 11th century Romanesque Abbaye du Mont St-Michel that tops the mount.
amended from Wiki: "Previously connected to the mainland by a tidal causeway then converted into a raised causeway in 1879. On 16 June 2006, the French prime minister announced plans to build a hydraulic dam, using the waters of the river and the tides to help remove the accumulated silt, and to make Mont Saint-Michel an island again.

"On 22 July 2014 the new bridge by architect Dietmar Feichtinger was opened to the public. The light bridge allows the waters to flow freely around the island and improves the efficiency of the now operational dam."
It used to be that the area surrounding the Abbey would flood every day with the tides isolating anyone still there. Due to this defensive position the Abbey remained unconquered.
Except for a touch of red in one location all the glass looked like this in an amazing array of patterns. These are only four, there were others.
wiki: "However, its popularity and prestige as a center of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation, and by the time of the French Revolution there were scarcely any monks in residence. The abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican regime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by 1836, influential figures—including Victor Hugo—had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure.

"The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared an historic monument in 1874. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979."

This reminds me - the place where we're staying in Paris was built in 1790, one year after the start of the French Revolution with many original features in tact.
Word had it that there were at least 400 steps to the top and since I managed quite ok I am feeling more confident that I can do the 300 up Notre Dame.

I did climb the 777 steps to Mt Popa in Myanmar so I wasn't really all that worried anyway. I figured I'd get there eventually.
For fun.
They had tour groups out on the muddy flats for some very cool photo-ops...
...and here they are splashing on to shore.
Sea birds.
The village is built along the lines of the medieval social structure, or so I read - the church on top, royalty and government next down the hill, and outside the walls you would find the shops, fishermen, etc.
Plenty touristic for sure, but fun.
We had to leave Mont Saint Michel so we could make the three hour drive to Chartres where we spent the night so that we would have a quick hour in the morning to visit the cathedral there.

It was a gorgeous drive on small roads through a dozen ancient stone villages that seemed completely intact. Unfortunately we just didn't have time to stop - next time!
September 18

We left our bargain motel early to drive the couple of miles into the old-town of Chartres. Rounding a bend, bam, there she was, the UNESCO World Heritage Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres.
It seemed you could see the cathedral from every street. It's peeking out in the middle of this picture.
We felt so lucky to find a parking place within walking distance of the cathedral.

We got there before 8, drove around in a confusion of one-way and resident-only streets unknown by the gps, and found our way up to the top by 8:30 when the church opened.
The building is mostly intact from the 1100s. They have a famous relic, "the Sancta Camisa, said to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ's birth", but I hadn't read about the relic (bad tourist!) so we didn't look for it.

A major and extremely controversial restoration project is happening inside...
...although at this moment all the scaffolding is on the inside, with the very rare mostly original stained glass windows all visible.

wiki: "Part of the project involved painting the interior masonry creamy-white, with trompe l’oeil marbling and gilded detailing. The restoration architect in charge of this painting is Frédéric Didier. The goal of the project, which is due for completion in 2017, is to make the cathedral look as it would have done when finished in the 13th century."

People are freaking out about the paint.
More magnificent stained glass.
A side entrance.
We drove back along the river instead of through the Champs Elysees which was smooth and easy with the gps giving us confidence.

Yes that's a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

I took a break this afternoon/evening with Windy and Darnelle while Lill walked back to the Louvre in the rain to catch more photos including some night shots. The pictures looked so good with the reflections in the standing water that I was almost sorry I didn't go with her. Almost. It was wet out there!
On our walk back to the flat. There are collections of locks on every river fence and why some are completely covered and others just beginning, I don't know. All it takes is for one person to put one on with a big enough loop and more get attached to it.
September 19

It's the last day in PARIS for Windy, Darnelle, and Ingalill so I'm trying to join in on both their last day's delights.

I headed off with W&D fairly early this morning, for the girls anyway. I could hardly believe it. They usually start to think about going out around noon but today we were on the street at 10AM.
We took a couple of busses and a walk to get to Tony's place in the 13th arrondissement on the edge of the new Chinatown.
I WANT one of those things in the window.

It's not like a mirror that reflects what it sees back at you but rather in this configuration it gathers up what it sees outside and presents you the whole scene inside so that you can sit on the couch and watch the clouds even though you can't see the clouds from your seat. I NEED one of these things. Maybe several!
from Next.Paris.Fr: "The highest residential structure to be built in the capital since the 1970s, the ‘Home’ project in the new Paris Left Bank neighbourhood was inaugurated this week by the Mayor.

"Offering both social housing units and private residences, the ‘Home’ project is a striking architectural complex culminating at 50m in height, and is the largest development project in the capital since the work of Haussmann."

There's a whole neighborhood of these buildings, many streets and blocks, and Paris, according to Tony, was determined to keep it as mixed as possible by age, income, ethnicity, and use. Awesome.
This is another version of the cat image from my first Street Art tour that the graffiti guy, Eran, was going to save, and here is Le Chat again.
We are so close to that place, Les Frigos, the old refrigerating station, that we walked by and here is a wall I didn't take a picture of before.
All around Paris you can find the old Wallace drinking fountains placed here beginning in the 1870s designed by Charles-Auguste Lebourg and named after the benefactor who financed the project.

This picture doesn't belong here in time but I just took it off Lill's camera.

I put the shot here to lead into this...

...a modern drinking water dispenser, free, where you can get sparkling as well as still water. There are many of these around town too but not as many as the Wallace fountains and clearly not as beautiful. But modern. And you can get fuzzy water!
Our lunch, yum. I had to leave early to make it down to the Eiffel Tower in time to meet Lill for our Seine River Cruise!
Here we are, barging down the Seine on a shiny September day.
The boat was packed but it was such a nice day everyone wanted to be on top. This went on for the whole hour.
As did this.
The back of Notre Dame .. Our Lady. That's why you see The Cathedral of Our Lady in this place and that place. But an unqualified Notre Dame - that's her.
Hangin' out on a sunny day along the banks of the river Sien.
And back to our starting point. We enjoyed ourselves and then we ate two giant scoops of ice cream to top off the experience.
Our last dinner and we decided to all go together to a festive French meal. The unfortunate part is that Darnelle took a spill - she's totally fine - but wasn't up to this outing so I don't think we have a single picture of we four together.
What a festive French meal it was! These were our table-neighbors, a very large group of young French folk I think from the countryside, maybe here for the sporting event?

There was a big festive brass band outside playing all sorts of music (you can catch a little of the tuba in the picture above) and several times the whole table broke into song with arm waving and delight. It was fun!
I have to put this where it belongs - another shot I took with Lill's camera. She was over the moon to find so many of her countrymen right here in Paris, France for a big sporting event that they lost but everyone was having a huge fun time anyway.
I know, I could fiddle around with these pictures for days.
HomeEurope • France • '15 Sep: Paris! week 2 w/Ingalill and W&D

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