Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 2-- Île de la Cité

On the second day of the trip, Katherine and I visited the Île de la Cité.  This is an island in the middle of the Seine River (the main river that runs through Paris). 

We crossed from the Right Bank (where our hotel was located), over Pont Neuf (named New Bridge, but actually the oldest crossing the Seine in Paris),

but I had to stop to take a picture of this love lock along the bridge. 

The island is the home of Notre Dame, which was the first place on our list for this very busy day. 

We started our day by climbing the 400ish stairs to the top of Notre Dame which was totally worth it because we got to see some of the chimerae (gargoyles) up close. 

Very Hunchback of Notre Dame-esque, especially when saw the bells of Notre Dame.

Speaking of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, looking towards the back of the cathedral, with half of the Seine River running along, this spire was added on after the publication of the book revived interest in the cathedral and led to its restoration in the 1800s.  Even prior to this restoration, the cathedral had been added onto throughout the centuries.

"Notre- Dame at Paris is a particularly curious specimen
... Every face, every stone, of the venerable
structure is a page not only of the history of the country,
but also of the history of art and science...This
central mother-church is a sort of chimaera among the
ancient churches of Paris; it has the head of one, the
limbs of another, the trunk of a third, and something of
them all."
~quote from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo
After that work out to get to the top of the tower, we bought  crepes to go from a nearby café and ate brunch in front of the Notre Dame.  This was the best crepe I had the entire trip--Nutella and bananas!   

After a crepe breakfast, we went inside the cathedral. 

(Nave looking towards the alter)
(View inside the choir on the other side of the alter.  Under the cross is a statute of Mary with two French kings kneeling on either side of her)

(Saint Joan of Arc, off to the side of the transept (where the alter is located))

(Carvings around the Nave)

(one of the many ambulatory chapels around back of the Nave)

And of course we saw the famous rose windows:

(North Rose window)

(Close up of North window)

(Close up of South Rose Window)

(West Rose Window, located behind the organ)

Here are a couple of different views of the façade of the church:

(The statutes below the two towers are of the kings of Judah)
(Central entrance, depicting the Last Judgment)
(Mary in West Rose Window)

(To the left of the left entrance, St. Denis holds his head, surrounded by angels.  St. Denis, bishop of Paris, was beheaded by the Romans in 257, but he did not immediately die.  Instead he picked up his head and walked across town, to where a cathedral was later built in his honor--but more on that cathedral another day.)
(Charlemagne statute)

 (Side view of the church and the outside of the South Rose Window)

 (back of the church--you can also see some of the gothic flying buttresses)

After completing our circuit around the cathedral, we walked toward the other end of the island, stopping at the Palais de Justice to see Saint Chappelle.

Saint Chappelle was a royal chapel commissioned by King Louis IX (later St. Louis), consecrated in 1248.  It has one of the largest collections of 13th century stained glass in the world.  As a chapel, it is much smaller than Notre Dame--but in some ways even more awe inspiring.  In the middle ages the cathedrals would have been brightly painted--and Saint Chappelle has been restored to vivid color.

(Sculptures of the apostles line the walls)

(Beautiful rose window)


 The chapel was located in the middle of the Palais de Justice government buildings (once a royal palace),

which also include the Conciergie, a former French Prison.

We headed inside, first passing through the hall of guards, one of the oldest parts of the prison, dating to the middle ages.
The Conciergie also served as the prison of Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution.

From there, we walked back outside and headed towards the River, passing the oldest clock in Paris, dating to 1370, which is located at the north-east corner of the Palais de Justice.

We walked to the edge of the island and sat for a bit to rest in the park and look out at Paris from the middle of the Seine. 


After a bit of a rest, we turned around and walked back towards Notre Dame, passing the flower market (which had not been opened yet when we passed by that morning).  Flower shops are a big deal in Paris, and this flower market was full of beautiful blooms and bushes, and even some fruit trees!

This was pretty much all we had planned, but, following a suggesting in my Rick Steve's Pocket Paris travel guide, we crossed over passing in front of Notre Dame to see a little bit of the Left Bank of the Seine.

The walk was worth it and took us by two additional churches in the Latin Quarter of Paris (so named because in the Middle Ages this is where the scholars lived--and spoke Latin). 

The first church we saw was Saint Julien le Paurve (St. Julien of the Poor), one of the city's oldest.  Because it was built in the 13th century, it is an example of early gothic style.

The second church, St. Sevérin was an interesting comparison.  This cathedral dated from the late 1400s and was modified through mid-1600s., making it an example of late gothic architecture (flamboyant gothic in France).  This style is called flamboyant because the patterns in the architecture resemble flames. 

(can you see a bit of the pillar shaped like a tree behind the alter?)

See how much brighter St. Severin is from St. Julien's?  Gothic style saw cathedrals opening up to more windows, letting more light in.  St. Julien's, even though there are windows on the sides of the church, has much fewer windows as an early example of Gothic architecture. 
(Just a pretty Stained Glass window)

 When we first crossed over and were in front of St. Julien's, Katherine spotted a little "salon de thé" called the Tea Caddy.  After seeing St. Severin's we headed back to the tearoom.

The inside was adorable, 

but it was such a beautiful day, that we choose to sit outside, where we could have tea (and a Coca Cola Light in Katherine's case, so unsophisticated) with Notre Dame as a background. 
I had a delicious lavender tea and a raisin brioche, appropriate for France, I thought.

After that we realized we had forgot about the other smaller island in the middle of the river, the Ile St. Louis, but I will share that visit another day since we visited the island twice,  We visited yet another cathedral, and I think I've probably shared enough of them for today.

For dinner that night we headed out to the Parc du Champ de Mars under the Eiffel Tower.

We got hotdogs (in baguettes!) for a quick dinner,

Before watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle.

I'm joining these tea parties.  If you are visiting from the Tea parties and would like to read more, here are links to Day 1 and Day 3.
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday


  1. Love the gargoyle photos and the food in front of the landmarks made me smile.

  2. Oh, I didn't know you'd been to Paris! How wonderful! Thank you for sharing all these wonderful pictures. The cathedrals and stained glass are so beautiful. So thankful they weren't destroyed during the war. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. (And I had to laugh about the coke being so unsophisticated! very true!)

  3. Carrie, your photos are just wonderful! I love the Rose windows and of course the sparkling Eiffel Tower. My son has been to France three times {on Math conferences} but twice he was in Paris. He has brought me back two replicas, the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur. I plan to do a French tea one of these weeks and I will share them at that time. Sounds like you are having a fabulous time. Love the blue and white tea ware; so very French! Loved your post and thank you for sharing it with us and joining me for tea.


  4. Ooh la la, Carrie, aren't you the lucky traveler!! Thank you for sharing your fabulous time with us. I enjoyed touring along with you and stopping for a cup of lavender tea and a brioche.

  5. I have always wanted to go see these churches. They look amazing. You are one lucky lady. Have a wonderful week. Blessings, Martha

  6. What a wonderful post! I haven't been to Paris for 8 years, but you visited some of my favorite places! Love Notre Dame and the stained glass. The tea looks wonderful...especialy the Coke...Lol! Thanks for linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea!

  7. This was one of my favorite days of the entire trip! I remember being proud of how we were successful at locating and seeing everything on our list with minimal confusion...even if we were a little inefficient in our route and circled the island a couple of times. :-P

    I am laughing so much over the comments about my Diet Coke. :) I am indeed a philistine, but hey, a girl's gotta get her regular caffeine fix or baaaad things will happen, hahaha. :-P. I'm also excited that the "Food + Landmarks" photo series has started! :) Although the fewer memories of that killer super-mustardy hot dog, the better. :-P


Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you have a wonderful day :)