Paris – Exploring the Ile de la Cite

Palais de Justice

Next we explored the area that used to be the Palais de la Cite ( palace of the city ). Now it is the legal precent .  The main places of interest to visit are Sainte Chapelle with it’s fabulous interior and Le Conciergerie not the place you wanted to be sent to when it was in its prime.  The entry fee for both was covered by our Museum Pass and ok there were no queues this particular morning, but if there had been, we would have walked straight pass them!

Sainte Chapelle 

The Sainte Chapelle or ‘Holy Chapel’ sits in the courtyard of what use to be the royal palace on the Île de la Cité not far from Notre Dame.  Built by Louis IX it housed his collection of holy relics which included the Crown of Thorns.

The most famous features of this little church are the magnificent stain glass windows and as luck would have it, its most impressive Rose Window was blocked for renovation.  The walls were all decorated in rich colours outlined with a brilliant gold and a white marble statue of Louis  had pride of place within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Conciergerie

You could say that the Conciergerie was the waiting room for those headed for the guillotine.  Hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were held here before they faced execution.  Now it serves as a museum.

When you first enter you proceed down to the Hall of the Guards. It had various functions, it was used as a dining room for the 2000 staff members who worked in the Palace, it was also used for royal banquets and judicial proceedings.

With its vaulted ceilings and beautifully lit pillars it reminded so much of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul but without the water… all that was missing was Medusa.   What the…!!!   just as we walked down the very end of hall what did I spy?  Yep Medusa herself..

Walk deeper into the building you come across the prison cells.  Just like the Titanic, the cells were class orientated.  No upgrade fairies here, you got what you paid for.  For a free ride you got a cell lined with straw and a bucket which you shared with everyone else. Pay a little and you get a bed, a little more and you could snag yourself a single cell.  Now as you can imagine the commanders of the prison made a lot of money, as depending how quickly prisoners were executed, the

weekly turnover was pretty high.

Just like all good ships there is always the Royal Suite, and one of  the Conciergeries most famous guests was non other than Queen Marie Antoinette.  The actual cell where she was held has been turned into a small chapel, but they have created a replica of what her cell would have been like.  You enter and see her sitting. Just outside her cell you see a guard watching her every move, she was never left alone. She was never given any privacy what so ever. Here she remained during her trial and up until her execution.

 

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Paris – Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

The next morning we met up with Ron and Vicki and our first stop was to see the magnificent Notre Dame. The heavens were looking a little grey but we were being positive.

It was early and the square in front of the cathedral was empty so we thought we would take this opportunity to visit inside while is wasn’t crowded.  Just like in a museum we walked around and marvelled at the beautiful stain glass and sculptures that decorated the windows and crypts within the church.U

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once back outside we stopped at a café just opposite so we could still take in her grandness… No matter from which angle you look at Notre Dame, she is beautiful. As we sat and chatted, we looked over to see the crowds gathering…. not in a line … just amassing…. “hmm don’t remember tape being put up yesterday for crowd control…. didn’t think that the police where wearing helmets and bullet proof jackets “. Then BANG!!!! …. “What was that?,  Oh and Garry where did you leave our backpack”….

We soon realised that the Bomb Disposal Unit had just set off a controlled explosion. The church then reopened with the all clear…. “but Garry where is that back pack?, yum I can smell toasted sandwiches” …. no only joking it was not our bag…  but we assumed someone’s lunch had just been barbequed.

 

 

 

 

The many views of Notre Dame

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One of the best things we did was purchase a Paris Museum Pass.  We picked up our 6 day pass from the tourist booth at Gare de Nord as soon as we got off the train. It becomes valid the first time you use it and in our case it meant that for the next six days we could visit over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris. But what really made it worthwhile was that you could jump the queue at many places including the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe.

 

Later on during our stay we returned to Notre Dame. The museum pass gave free entry up the tower. No queue jumping here, we had to line up with everyone else.  You enter the Church tower from the side entrance and once you climb the 422 steps you are rewarded with wonderful panoramic views of Paris.  Out on the balconies you come face to face with the many gargoyles that protect the church. Here you  can admire the copper statues of the apostles that have turned green in time and adorn the base of the spire.

To the left Montparnasse, to the right Sacre Coeur and straight in front the iconic Eiffel Tower, from here if feels like all of Paris is at your finger tips.

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