Paris: Day 1

My final term in Switzerland has just begun- only 10 weeks to go! I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown! The spring holidays were really fantastic. I got to do a lot of traveling! I’m going to start with a couple of blogs about my time in Paris. This was over the end of the first week/beginning of the second week of out two week holiday. At the start of the first week I was on another really cool trip, one which I’ll talk about later [not very chronologically accurate of me, but then again, PARIS!!!].

Thursday, 10th of April

So I took the train from Zurich to Paris at nine thirty on Thursday morning, and arrived at one thirty. There I met up with Ruth, a friend from England and my [luckily French speaking!] travel companion. We went straight to the hotel, dumped the luggage, and went straight to Notre Dame. On the way we walked across one of the city’s many padlock bridges. Fun fact- every now and again the authorities have to give the bridges a ‘haircut’, as it were, because obviously the weight of so many little bits of metal isn’t really helping the bridges stay up. So there’s quite a big chance that if you put a padlock on a bridge in Paris it’ll end up in a governmental garbage dump. Eternal love!

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

I saw quite a few combination locks on that bridge- just in case things don't work out!

I saw quite a few combination locks on that bridge- just in case things don’t work out!

 

Anyway, Notre Dame. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there was quite a long queue, so we decided to go to the Sainte Chapelle first. This gothic chapel, right in the heart of Paris and right next to the Notre Dame, was commissioned by King Louis IX to house his collection of ‘Passions Relics’, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_of_Thorns

The Sainte Chapelle has famous and beautiful stained glass windows, telling stories from the Old and New Testaments. When we were there around a quarter of the windows were behind scaffolding and canvas, being restored, but the ones we could see were amazing- I was very grateful for such a sunny day! There was also a video explaining the restoration work, which was quite interesting. We agreed that neither of us would have the nerve to handle such old/precious sheets of glass!

 

The roof of the lower Chapel.

The roof of the lower Chapel.

The lower chapel- we saw a lot of blue, red, gold and fleur-de-lys.

The lower chapel- we saw a lot of blue, red, gold and fleur-de-lys.

The incredible stained glass windows.

The incredible stained glass windows.

Telling stories from the Bible. There were also many themes of kingship and royalty woven throughout- just to please old Louis IX!

Telling stories from the Bible. There were also many themes of kingship and royalty woven throughout- just to please old Louis IX!

After that we went back outside and to the Notre Dame, where we decided to queue up. After only about ten minutes [not so bad!] we managed to get inside. There’s not much that I could say about it that you couldn’t find out from Google, but I was interested to learn that Victor Hugo’s book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, basically saved the cathedral. It was crumbling and old and nearly in ruins, and people were debating whether or not to get rid of it and build something else in it’s place. And then fans of Victor Hugo’s book started to visit the cathedral in such numbers that eventually the authorities decided to do it up a bit [this was in 1845].

While we were leaving, somebody started to play the organ, and a service started. I have to say, there was a lot of incense used, but it was lovely.

These robes were part of an exhibition in a chamber off the side of the main cathedral. Displaying relics, jewels, clothes both ancient and modern.

These robes were part of an exhibition in a chamber off the side of the main cathedral. Displaying relics, jewels, clothes both ancient and modern.

Rose window.

Rose window.

IMG_4561

JOAN OF ARC yessss!

JOAN OF ARC yessss!

And then, just as the sun was starting to edge towards the horizon, we walked to the Musee d’Orsay, specifically to see an Impressionist exhibition that was currently on.

One of my favorite books as a kid was the ‘Katie’ series, [ http://www.amazon.com/Katie-Meets-Impressionists-James-Mayhew/dp/0439935083 ] and specifically this book where she visits an art gallery, and ends up jumping into all these Impressionist paintings and just hanging out with the people in them. Seeing a lot of these paintings in the flesh, as it were, was amazing. I didn’t realize how strongly a lot of them were imprinted on my memory, whether from that book or from where I’d seen them of posters and postcards and calendars. It was amazing to just wander through as the sun sunk lower outside. The strangely shaped bean bag couches at the end were a relief though! We collapsed onto them just as a lady announced over the loudspeaker that the museum was closing very soon, and everybody was slowly ushered out.

One exhibition hall.

One exhibition hall.

Musee d'Orsay used to be a train station, and this clock is a rather lovely reminder of that.

Musee d’Orsay used to be a train station, and this clock is a rather lovely reminder of that.

At some point we walked through a lovely flower market- on every day except for Sunday, upon which foresaid day there is an animal market :/

At some point we walked through a lovely flower market- on every day except for Sunday, upon which foresaid day there is an animal market :/

If you want to know what my brain looks like, it looks mostly like this flower market.

If you want to know what my brain looks like, it looks mostly like this flower market.

That night we ended up eating at an Italian restaurant, inappropriately enough, but it was good enough! And then we got the first and only early night of our holiday, because the next day- we went to Versailles!

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