Monuments and Cathedrals, Ooh La La!

Friday, October 18, 2013 Road Junkies 0 Comments

What a day of visiting iconic Parisian locations!  We began the day at the Arc du Triomphe (pictured above), the monument ordered by Napoleon to glorify the Army of France.  A couple of beautiful cathedrals later, we ended the day at the Eiffel Tower. 
Our day started a bit later as we decided to avoid the rush hour trains after yesterday's mishap. First stop was the iconic Arc du Triomphe, Napoleon's monument to his army's victories in battle.
We were huffing and puffing a bit by the time we climbed the 284 steps up the winding staircase to the mezzanine at the top of the arch. What could have been a great view was obscured by fog so we ditched our plan to go to the Eiffel Tower next and headed for another Parisian landmark.
Notre Dame
Norte Dame cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is celebrating its 850th anniversary this year. Almost destroyed in the French Revolution, the church was slated for demolition until Victor Hugo's Hunchback novel generated renewed support.
Smoke from thousands of votive candles in Notre Dame have created a coat of soot on its ceiling.
Reliquary containing the leg bone of St. Vincent the Martyr of of Saragossa
The treasury of Notre Dame contains numerous gold and silver religious objects. Its reliquary includes the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails, which are displayed only occasionally, but not today.
Lighting and massive fabric swags ennoble the Pietà at Notre Dame's high altar.
Notre Dame's famous gargoyles drain rain water away from the building.
A view of the spire and east side of the cathedral shows the flying buttresses (arched exterior supports). Notre Dame was one of the first buildings to incorporate this type of design.
A retreat away from the maddening tourist crowds
From Notre Dame, we walked just a few yards around the corner, away from the tourist-jammed cafés across the street from the cathedral, and found a delicious lunch in a quiet salon de thé (like a coffee shop). Thanks again, Trip Advisor!
After lunch, we headed over to another renowned Parisian church.  Sainte-Chapelle was built between 1242 and 1248 on the orders of King Louis IX to house the purported crown of thorns worn by Christ. The king paid more for the crown than the cost of building this chapel at his palace on Ile de la Cité in the Seine.
The chapel's 40-ft rose window illustrates the Apocalypse of St John.  Sainte-Chapelle is in the fifth year of a major restoration project that involves removing every piece of glass for cleaning and repair.
From Sainte-Chapelle, we crossed the Seine River and caught an RER train for Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower.  This morning's fog was nothing but a memory by the time we arrived at the Eiffel Tower a little after 4:30. We stood in line, had our bags checked, stood in another line, bought our tickets for an elevator ride to the top, then stood in yet another line for a security scan.
View from the Eiffel Tower viewing platform 
Even though Ms Magnolia had some trepidation about riding the elevator to the top of the 1,063 ft tower, she decided she had to go big or go home and conquered her fear.  In an incredible stroke of luck, we were on the tower as the sun set and the moon rose.  And we watched in awe as the City of Light illuminated itself.
Dusk settling over Paris
Rose window at Sainte-Chapelle
When we left, the tower was beautifully lit in her nighttime attire.
Tomorrow we'll begin exploring some of the legendary French art collections in Paris.

Visiting the Arc du Triomphe