Paris Day 2. The baby was so wrecked from travelling the day before he needed to go back to bed straight after breakfast (why not? I would too if I could get away with it). The baby slept, the kids watched a DVD and the mister sent me out to wander Paris (he's a doll).
I decided to visit the Notre Dame, only a few metro stops away. We were staying in the 11e arrondissement and Bastille was our closest station.
Lonely Planet describes the Bastille as the most famous French site that doesn't exist (it was demolished soon after the Revolution), but here is the monument erected on the spot where it used to be (now a traffic round-about).
I jumped off the metro at the Hôtel de Ville stop.
Then wandered across the Pont D'Arcole to Ile de la Cité.
Pont Notre Dame seen from Pont D'Arcole.
These buildings are a dime a dozen in Paris but I just love 'em.
There was a busker just over the bridge playing the most French sounding accordion I have ever heard. He was fantastic and his music gave me one of those "OMG I'm actually in Paris" moments. I had to take his photo.
There he is, giving me a mouthful for taking his photo without paying him. After a few gestures to tell him that I was indeed going to come over and give him something for his troubles he kindly posed for me.
The joke was on me as I checked my wallet and realised I had no change - I paid 10 euros for these pictures! Ha. He wished me a very hearty Bonnes Fêtes!
One of the great things about travelling in winter (off-peak) is the lack of crowds. Unless it's during the Christmas period at the Notre Dame.
Had to wait 15mins in line, in front of the most thorough tour guide in France.
Too bad he was speaking Russian.
I think every Saint know to Catholicism is represented on the front facade.
I love how the angel below, next to John the Baptist, is holding her hands up as if to say 'Check out John, he can remove his head. Ta Daaaah"
Of course the wait in line was well worth it:
The Notre Dame is one of least decorated churches I have ever visited (remember the cathedral at Lourdes - talk about bling), relying on stained glass windows and it's soaring gothic architecture to impress.
Our Lady, seen on the ceiling (above the altar) in the previous pic.
The interior is actually a lot gloomier than this - I had to let more light into my camera otherwise the photos would've been too murky - which also adds to the ambiance.
The huge organ at the back of the Cathedral.*
I was in love with the chandeliers hanging in the arches.
I may have gone a little crazy taking photos of them. Let's just do a quick montage and get it over with, hey?
There was a huge line for the climb up the bell tower, so I gave it a miss. But I did want to see the famous flying buttresses, so I walked down to the opposite end of the building.
Flying buttresses behind a monument to Mary.
Cheeky gargoyle, one of many interspersed amongst the Saints.
By then the mister had SMSed to say the baby was up and the animals wanted lunch, so it was back to the hotel. We all headed out and had an enormous three-course lunch (snails, duck, crème brûlée, oh my) in the Latin Quarter and then walked around the area a bit.
That evening, we headed out to see the Eiffel Tower. The mister and I visited Paris on our honeymoon all those centuries ago, but only saw the Tower in daylight. I can definitely recommend a night visit - it was magical.
She looked completely different, glowing in the evening fog. The only downside (which I don't remember from our last visit) were all the aggressive hawkers around and underneath the Tower trying to sell junky Eiffel Tower keyrings and roses. They were persistent!
Looking up the Eiffel Tower's skirts
I'm not sure they made much money as they gave away two to the daughter and one to our 6 year old (who were beside themselves with joy). I think my kids must smile too much.
We waited around until the clock struck the hour, to see this:
Every hour, on the hour, the Tower goes crazy with sparkling lights for 5 minutes. Gorgeous!
It was time to call it a night. We took the bus back to Hôtel de Ville, which had its own lights (ice skating ring in foreground).
Then it was a quick metro ride back to Bastille.
I still have a few more photos, showing a more modern side of Paris, will have them up in a couple of days.
Hope your week is going well!
P.S. Thanks for the tips on Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. I had originally thought one was a mall, the other a department store (like going to Myers inside a Westfields mall, for an Australian example) But they are indeed two different department stores.
* I only snickered once writing this line. Yes, I am very juvenile.