’15 Sep: Paris! week 2 w/Ingalill and W&D

W/Lill: Mont Saint Michel and Chartres (Road Trip!), Champs Elysees (etc) and the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Montmartre; w/Windy: church tour; w/Windy and Darnelle: a fine outing with Tony. Also W&D enjoyed pedi-cab tours and shopping!

Welcome to my second…

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.

They were doing a…

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…

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…

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 Paris-Walking-Tours.com: “Here, in…

From Paris-Walking-Tours.com: “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:…

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.”

And wow, lookie here,…

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!

Ingalill was supposed to…

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.

Lill arrived safe and…

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…

The second flight of…

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!)

…The Moulin Rouge lit…

…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…

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!

For the second time…

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.

Ingalill plays beach volleyball…

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.

Then the next thing…

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!

We went home for…

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.

On the horizon you…

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.

From the NY Times:…

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 big entrance under…

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…

…and here, no people….

…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 view of the…

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?!

…and around the Arc…

…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.

amended from Wiki: “Previously…

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.”

wiki: “However, its popularity…

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…

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.

We had to leave…

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!

We felt so lucky…

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…

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…

…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.

We drove back along…

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…

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.

It’s the last day…

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.

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