The Historic Paris Walk Continues
Day 2: Paris (Cont’d)
As mentioned in Part 1 of the Historic Paris Walk, if you’re really in the mood to immerse yourself in the tour, put in your earbuds and follow along with the free Rick Steves Audio Tour and Maps just as we did.
St. Severin was next on our stop with Flamboyant Gothic architecture. I thought the flame-like stone detail over the exterior of the stained glass was really unique (and cool looking). On the inside, some of the stained glass was painted to achieve such realistic faces. The more abstract, colorful stained glass also caught my eye – I love the autumn colors! One side room was also really interesting to me. It was sort of oval in shape, so the walls were curved with a lip in a few places. The ceiling was also curved and domed and – well, I’m not an architect, so I don’t know the terminology, but check out the photos!
Courtyard and Metropolitain Metro Stop
I love the painted shadows of the trees on the buildings surrounding this courtyard. In the third photo here you can see the Metropolitain Metro Stop behind the row of parked motorcycles. It’s one of the original subway entrances and is preserved as art!
Really beautiful architecture for a prison. Marie-Antoinette had a cell here.
Coming to a Close
We even caught a movie in production towards the end of our Historic Paris Walk. Before the sun went down, we snapped a picture in front of the Seine River and headed to dinner. Afterward we strolled through the Latin Quarter which was officially part of the walk, but didn’t have a chance to do it before hunger set in. As it turns out, it’s quite lively at night! One particular establishment (with bras hanging from the chandelier) advertised, “Sexy Bar for Crazy Night!” We took one more lap by the Notre-Dame, having transformed under the night sky as well.
Notes from the Travel Log – Tues 8.30.11
Slept in til 9:30am. Jet lag. Cafe and “croissant” at cafe near Notre-Dame. Historic Paris Walk. Notre-Dame exterior & interior. Park to right side. Tower climb for another time. Book stores along Seine… etc. Conciergerie. Saint Michel Chapel for another day. Dinner at fondue place. Notre-Dame at night! Crazy Facebook lady movie. Up late planning for next day at Versailles and rest of week.
Day 2: Paris
Being so jet lagged and still getting used to the time change, it was hard to wake up at a decent hour, but we had a plan. Today we were going to do Rick Steves’ Historic Paris Walk. This hits about 15 points of interest over a three-mile walk, beginning at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Before beginning our day, we had a laugh ordering croissants at the cafe.
The Historic Paris Walk Begins
If you’re really in the mood to immerse yourself in the tour, put in your earbuds and follow along with the free Rick Steves Audio Tour and Maps just as we did.
The walk officially began at Point Zero – the very center of France, just outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral. We admired the architecture and listened to a brief history lesson (via the RS audio tour) while waiting in the queue. Some of the gargoyles hanging over the edge of the cathedral serve as rain spouts, gushing out water from their mouths. As we approached the entrance I was wow-ed by the lovely detail on the enormous cathedral door. The kids nearby were laughing and shouting as they played with a giant bubble maker, but once inside everything fell to a respectful whisper. The Gothic arches of the ceiling aren’t just beautiful, they serve to push the weight out – to the flying buttresses on the outside of the walls – instead of down. However, it’s the original rose window of stained glass that really steals the show.
This is a memorial to the French victims of the Nazi concentration camps. It’s sunken into the earth, so once you descend into the structure you can only see the walls and sky, giving a feeling of imprisonment and isolation. Inside the memorial room, a lighted crystal shines for each French citizen who died. The message above the door reads, “Forgive, but never forget.”
As we walked over the bridge to the Left Bank, we noticed the railing fence covered in padlocks! Apparently lovers will initial a lock and secure it to the fencing as a symbol of their love and devotion. I’ve never seen this in the US, but we spotted it in a few other places as we traveled through Europe. We continued our stroll along the Left Bank where secondhand booksellers and other merchants displayed their goods in green stalls along the Seine River with the Notre-Dame at their backs. The bohemian Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and the skinniest house in Paris (two windows wide) were other points of interest on our walk.
Continue reading about our History Paris Walk in Part 2.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Rick Steves (and our friends who recommended Rick Steves – you know who you are). With such little time to plan this travel dream suddenly becoming reality and no definite focus, we consulted our friends who had toured Europe just two summers prior. Besides getting some great first-hand travel advice, we learned of the Rick Steves travel books. The books have suggested schedules of how to plan your time depending on how many days you can visit a particular destination and a three-point rating scale for sights: “don’t miss”, “try hard to see”, and “worthwhile if you can make it”. This was invaluable for our flexible schedule and limited knowledge on certain destinations – being able to accurately pencil in destinations on the calendar. Besides the plethora of information he provides on a specific destination, he also offers great travel advice in general. We learned a LOT of great travel techniques from the Rick Steves books, particularly “Europe Through the Back Door” for getting a crash course right before the trip. If you’re thinking about traveling to Europe, I highly suggest picking up some of his books. I could go on and on about how much I love his books, but I’ll leave it at that for now and will probably touch on more specifics in future posts.
Outside the Notre-Dame on Day 2 of our trip, with the Rick Steves Paris travel book in hand.