Paris. Day 1.

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We had an 8AM start today. We have a lot to stack in. Of course this was the one morning I started slowly, so I raced into the restaurant with 3 minutes to spare. The breakfast of champions! I ate it in the lobby while the group got organised.

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This looks like a horrible name for a café in English, but in French ‘magot’ is a little money bag. This was one of the places where the artistic people used to congregate, before rising property prices forced the artists to move further out.

 

 

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This is our last full day on the Insight tour and most people are leaving Paris tomorrow to either go on to other legs of their holidays or to go home, so this was an important day for a lot of people. Notre Dame was first on the list.

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There was a service taking place as we walked in. As soon as we came into the church the most beautiful soprano voice started singing. It was like it’d been planned. It was glorious walking around such a beautiful space with that sound.

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There she is.

 

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This statue of the Virgin Mary was going to be taken out and paraded around the town later today.

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This is a shot from the back of the altar.

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This was hiding under one of the Rose Windows. I completely missed it and it wasn’t until we were nearly out of the cathedral that Heather whispered to me, “Did you see Joan of Arc?” When I look anguished she grabbed me and we raced back through the crowd to the other side of the church. Here she is. 🙂

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One of the rose windows. These are the earliest stained glass windows in the place. They replaced the others a while back (a few centuries ago) when fashions changed, but the size and shape of these windows meant that it was too expensive to mess with them.

 

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Look at the date. It’s pretty old.

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Here’s the relic that I said I’d show you. (In yesterday’s post.) It’s the crown of thorns from Christ’s head. Our guide said that it used to be brought out only at Easter, but now it’s exhibited every day. See how you can see the outline in the red box?

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Once we’d completed a circuit of the church we headed outside.Isn’t the door beautiful?

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Our guide was telling us the stories of some of the carvings. It’d be worth going back and getting someone to walk you around and tell you about all the carvings. It was really interesting.

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This little detail is from a series depicting the virtues and faults, so the illiterate people of the time could see how to avoid hell and to get into heaven. The bottom guy is cowardly and is frightened by a rabbit. The guy directly above him is a brave knight, doing his duty for King and country.

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Here is an angel standing next to a demon. The people behind the angel are going to heaven. They already have their celestial crowns on and are gazing adoringly upwards.

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The people bound for hell are tied up in chains and are being dragged away. There are all different sorts of people in the row… some are rich, some poor… it all goes to show that it doesn’t matter about your station in life while you’re on earth; all that matters is where you’ll go after you die.

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I liked this little detail of the bronze angels on the roof.

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See the lines of bricks along the old cobblestones? This was where the original street was. It led directly to the door of the cathedral and the way was lined with shops and small churches and little homes.

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Here’s point zero. If you stand here your steps will lead you to come back to Paris. I thought I’d better make sure that I keep travelling.

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After this we had 15 minutes free time. Over here, just after the red and brown awning, is the smallest street in Paris. I had to see it. It was either that or look at flying buttresses (again.) I’m buttressed out, I think.

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Found it!

 

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Then it was a short stroll back to the coach. I had to walk along this street, through a park and then back to the bus. It was 9:30 in the morning and the street was so quiet. I could hear the birds chirping.

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Then I got excited. Look what was on the street!!! This was one of the spots I wanted to see. It was shut, but there were a few interesting looking books in the window, s o I took some photos to remind me to look them up once I was back home.

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I walked through the pretty little park and found the others walking along the street outside. Then it was back in the bus and on to the Eiffel Tower.

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We jumped out of the coach and took some photos of this. I’ll have to come back a some stage next week.

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Then before I knew it, we were here. It’s quite large when you’re standing underneath it.

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I loved the angle of the metal leg.

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Look at the delicate tracery of the decorations. It was gorgeous.

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Look up!

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Recognise the gilded dome? At eleven o’clock from the dome you can make out Notre Dame. We went up to the second level and walked around.

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See the hill? That’s Montmartre, where we’d be going next for lunch.

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Here’s part of the mechanism for the lifts. We took the lift up, though I decided that as I’m rapidly putting on weight, I’d better go down the 400+ steps.

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I was really pleased I’d decided to use the steps, as you can see so much detail about how the tower was constructed. I love all of the geometric lines.

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See the little square boxes? These are the lights for the light show we saw last night.

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Then the bus ride to Montmartre. The Arc de Triomphe in the distance! We drove past it last night… it’s much fatter than I thought it would be.IMG_5208

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The coach dropped us off in the street below and we started walking up the hill towards the funicular. This was a quiet little square along the way.

 

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When we got to the funicular the line was HUGE. After 5 minutes of waiting and getting nowhere some people decided to stay down from the hill and just potter around below. But the rest of us decided we’d tackle the stairs. After all, you can’t go to Montmartre and not see the artists and the Sacre Coeur. And how steep could the steps be, really?

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Bloody hell! We all nearly had heart attacks by the time we got to the top. I deserved my first French crêpe… a Grand Marnier one at a little café our guide recommended. It was GORGEOUS!

 

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Krystina noticed how the café decorated the dining room. In Oxford they had signatures, in Montmartre they had currency.

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Here’s a shot of the marketplace where the artists congregate. I was keen to buy something, but there was nothing there that really sang to me.

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Here’s the only vantage point where you can see the Eiffel Tower from Montmartre. I love the symmetry to my day. 🙂

 

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Behind the church there’s another space where artists roam around and draw portraits. I watched for a while, then decided that I’d regret it if I didn’t get one done. My time was running short so I asked a guy if he could draw my portrait in 5 minutes. We haggled on the price and then it was done. It’s all rolled up now, because it was done with pastels and I’m scared it might smudge. I like it, mostly because every time I look at it I’ll remember this amazing place. Loved it.

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This was also a bit exciting. All the way around Europe people have been telling us to beware of gypsies, pickpockets and thieves. One of the scams we were warned about is when girls come and ask you to sign a petition. They spread the petition over your bag and then they rifle through it while you’re distracted.

I actually had one of them come up and ask me to sign. I was so rapt! I shook my head and said, “Non madame” in a dismissive voice and raced back to the others to tell them.

 

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Sacre Coeur.  This was a VERY busy place.

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It’s quite beautiful, but there were so many people being herded through that it felt like we were sushi on a conveyer belt. We were let in by one door, we all moved around the church in a slow but steady pace, then we were let out by another door. A service was being held, so we were meant to be quiet but some people still talked. I didn’t get the same spiritual feel here as I’ve had in other churches around the place.

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I liked the sea of candles.

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Look up!

 

 

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We passed by this on the way back to the hotel. People come here to get their cat fix.

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Along the way the coach dropped four of us off because Heather wanted to go to Angelina’s for a hot chocolate. The day had warmed up a bit but it was still cool enough to make that sound like an attractive proposition.  Here we are walking along the street, just about to go into the doors.

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I didn’t think to get a photo with me in it. Here’s Mal, Heather and Krystina, waiting to place our order. This was at 2:30 or so on a Saturday afternoon and the place was absolutely packed. We were queuing to get in for about 15 minutes. My advice? Go early.

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It was divine. SO delicious. All of my walking down the tower and up the hill at Montmartre was completely undone. And I didn’t care a jot.

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They also have a take-away part. I enquired about getting a snack for Scott for when he arrives tomorrow, but she said unless it was put in the fridge it wouldn’t last. I don’t want to give my Parisian guide food poisoning, so I gave it a miss.

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I snapped this as we were running for a taxi. Joan d’Arc in the middle of the street. How amazing is this? I’m getting to love this place.

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Here’s a shot for Ryan19, assuming he’s reading this blog. A huge diamante skull. Apparently you can get anything in the shops in Paris. 🙂

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On our last night in Paris we went to a cabaret. Thankfully we didn’t go to the Moulin Rouge, as I’ve had a couple of friends who’ve been and they didn’t think much of it. This one was just up the street and was called the Nouvelle Eve. It was a great night. The dinner was delicious and the show was a fast-paced mix of vaudeville and dancing, with enough boobies flashed to keep the guys very happy.

The show went on for nearly 2 hours, which was far longer than I expected.

At the end of the night we said our goodbyes at the hotel and all went our separate ways. Tomorrow I go and find the apartment that Scott and I have hired for the week and the next leg of my adventure continues… my week in Paris!

 

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2 Responses to Paris. Day 1.

  1. Lucinda Sans says:

    Oh wow. What a full day. A day full of marvels.

  2. Kristie says:

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wonderful trip with all of us. Thank you, thank you!

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