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After a good night's rest, finally adjusted to the time change, it was time to embark upon the City of Light.  The grand plan for the Paris leg was to spend mornings at the Louvre and afternoons doing other sight-seeing in the city, so off we went.  A subway terminal was not far from the place where yesterday's  mistaken taxi driver abandoned us, but tickets were not to be had there.  Farther down the avenue we found a sale point and armed ourselves with a couple of packets, sufficient for most of the time we would be in Paris.  From there we scoured the wall map to see which of the trains would land us at the Louvre.  In the process of changing trains, James realized he'd left his Museum Pass at the room.  Alas.  Plan B to the rescue.  Where else to go first but to Notre Dame de Paris?

Map of the Metro (it comes without the numbers)

1. Location of our hotel.  2. Notre Dame de Paris.  3. Sacre Coeur basilica. 4.  Champs Elysees and Triumphal Arch.  5. The Eiffel Tower.

Center portal with tympanum showing last judgment stonework

It is an understatement to say that the place was crowded.  Although we did not have to wait in line to enter, there was a queue to walk the aisles.  As in the Chartres cathedral, there were votive candles for sale at a euro apiece or ten euros apiece, depending on the size, but here there were carts of them installed every twenty-five feet or so.  The interior was more cavernous than Chartres, as one might expect from the episcopal seat in the capital city, and the side chapels more numerous and ornate.  With expected arrival of Pope Benedict the following Sunday, the nave was clogged with movable seating and crowd-control barriers.  There was a nominal charge to visit the "Treasury", an extended side chapel that contained a number of artifacts.  Here are some pictures:

Music stand for choral scores

"Monster" monstrance

Rainbow chausuable worn in the 1970's

An example of the stone work on the entrance of Notre Dame
made me homesick for my doggies.

After a pick-up lunch and a stroll in the little park to the south of the cathedral, called Square John XXIII, we caught the Metro again, this time northwestward to Montmartre.  We climbed the considerable hill, made easier by the installation of stairs, but the view from the top was spectacular!  Outside of the basilica of the Sacred Heart there were musicians.  One played the violin to taped accompaniment; a crowd surrounded him, and a couple even danced to one of the tunes.  A second performer, farther down the stairs from the church, stood on a pedestal costumed and maquillaged like a patined copper statue.  When people would put money in the cap, she (?) would dance and pipe a tune, and when it ended, strike a pose and stand stock still.  It seemed the length of the performance depended on how much the passerby put in the hat; sometimes there was merely a moment's movement and nothing else!

Inside the basilica there was quite a different tone from that of Notre Dame.  We were met at the entrance by two gentlemen in uniform, who strongly suggested that the woman ahead of us cover her bare shoulders while in the building, and reminded all visitors that loud speech and photographs were prohibited.  We pilgrims were herded around the central nave and around the choir, and again, as in the previous two churches, but even more so here, the high altar was definitely off limits.  At least here it seemed more for reasons of avoiding desecrating the holy than mere crowd control.

The Piper

The domes of Sacre Coeur

The saunter down the hill was easier than the ascent, and we again caught the Metro, this time to the vaunted Champs Élysées and Napoleon's monument to his ego, L'Arc de Triomphe.  We stopped in a number of establishments, but bought not a thing, finding nothing to our taste.  I was a bit horrified to find two Starbucks along the route, another example of the dilution of French culture.  Woe is me!

A view of Paris from the top of Basilica Hill

Street sign on the Champs-Élysées

L'Arc de Triomphe, now the center of a glorified traffic circle.
An impatient driver blew out his two driver's side tires on the steel curb trying to make a left turn at this intersection just as we passed his car.
The explosion was quite a surprise to many of us!

We could hardly return to the room without having seen La Tour Eiffel, or, as some Parisians have dubbed it, the Giant Asparagus, here seen looking west.

Looking up at the ironwork from the center of the tower, it almost looks like filigree.

A shot of the light show, done once an hour from dusk until 1 a.m.

Charcuterie, fromage, French bread, and onion soup for dinner.  Trés français!

One more return to the Metro and we got back to our room for a night's rest.

Next day:

This page was last edited on November 08, 2010
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