Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day 13, continued- A taste of Marais, Ile St. Louis, and a final stop at the Ile de la Cite

Wow, sorry about that delay!  I ended up going to a little get together today and was trying to make cupcakes--but I was having a very bad baking night.  But on to the last bit of my French adventure!

We left off yesterday in Montemarte.  Our tour guide (before we left the group) had recommended that we check out the Marais quarter if we hadn't yet, and recommended a street for us to go to for dinner.  We took the metro from Montemarte to the St. Paul station.  As we came out onto the street from the station, we saw stands selling lily of the valley.

It is a tradition in France to give out a spring of lily of the valley on May Day.  Our tour guide was really sweet--she gave each of us a sprig.

St. Paul's station happens to be named after a nearby cathedral, Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis. Since we were right there, we decided to go ahead on in since (because it was a church) it was open despite the holiday.


This church was built between 1627 and 1641, and has some Italian influences, including in the outside façade.

The dome inside the church also has Italian influences.

Here are a couple of other pictures of the interior:


From here, we walked to the Place des Vosges, built by Henry IV from 1605 to 1612.  This was the first planned square in the city.

(Statue of Louis XIII)
After dinner in a nearby restaurant, we walked down to the Ile St. Louis.  This is the second smaller island in the middle of the Seine River that I skipped in my post about Day 2.  While we were walking down the street, I saw the cutest little salon de the I would have loved to stop at if we had more time.

(cutest collection of random teapots in the window)

The island is the home of the cathedral of St. Louis, another 17th century church (this one slightly later, as it was constructed 1664 to 1675).



We actually visited the church on Day 2, on our last day in Paris we just walked around the island a little bit before stopping and getting an ice cream--the Ile St. Louis is famous for ice cream, so we made sure to get a cone here.

(picture taken on the bridge to the Ile de la Cite, looking back towards the Ile St. Louis)

We had one more major activity planned before we left Paris--a cruise on the Seine River.  As I mentioned in my last post, it was cold and rainy on this day in Paris.  We decided to do a nighttime cruise because it was so nasty and grey looking out during the day.  Unfortunately, it started really raining when we got on the boat, which made picture taking very difficult.  The cold didn't help either.  These were the best of the pictures I took: 

The cruise went from a docket near Pont Nuef (on the Ile de la Cite),

 to the Eiffel Tower, and back down the Seine,


passing the edge of the Ile de la Cite, where Notre Dame is located,

until it reached the edge of the Ile St. Louise, and turned to return to the dock.

Once we were back on the Ile de la Cite, we walked down to take pictures of the Notre Dame at night.

So we ended  our time in Paris by seeing some of its most famous landmarks one last time.

Thank you so much for going on this journey with me!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day 13- Chartres and then on to Paris!

We've come to the last day of my vacation--which makes me a bit sad.  I've been enjoying reliving the trip with you!  I already was starting to forget some of the things from earlier, so it is probably good I went through this exercise and wrote everything down. 

After one last breakfast at our chateau hotel (I definitely could have gone for a couple more days in the Loire Valley),

(One last picture of the chateau, sigh)

we boarded the bus, and headed for Chartres.  Chartres is famous for its Cathedral--Notre Dame de Chartres (Our Lady of Chartres). 

Just a quick bit about the entrance.  This is the Royal Portal, which dates to the 12th century.  An earlier church on this spot burned in 1195, but this part was saved and incorporated into the new church.

The cathedral today was built mostly between 1194 and 1250.  It is considered to be one of the best examples of French gothic style, especially since relatively few changes were made over the centuries (especially compared to other gothic churches).

(a pilgrims labyrinth, located in the nave, before the transept.  In the middle ages, if a person couldn't afford to take a pilgrim, they could come to a church with on of these)

(Form the alter, looking inside the choir)

The cathedral also has much of its original stained glass, most dating from between 1205 and 1280.

(South Rose window, depicting the New Testament)

 (South Rose Window, depicting the Old Testament)

(St. Anne holding the Virgin Mary as a baby in the middle of the South Rose Window)
Here are a couple of close ups of some of the other windows, this time off the nave of the church, that came out:

Four windows remain with Romanesque glass from the 12th century.  This glass survived a fire that destroyed the previous church on this site in 1195.

(The window on the left is 12th century.  You can really see the difference in the blue)

(12th century glass--Notre Dame de la Belle Verrière)

(West Rose Window)
Underneath the West rose window are the other surviving 12th century lancets.  Unfortunately, only one of my close ups came out:

(Tree of Jesse)

The choir screen in this church was very elaborate with gorgeous carvings, dating from 1514. 

(some even depict ordinary people)
The choir depicts the lives of Mary and Jesus.

Another interesting thing to see in this cathedral is the preservation work to clean the inside.  As we turned the corner around the ambulatory, you could really see the difference between the parts cleaned and not.

This was my favorite of the chapels off the ambulatory:
The church has a piece of a veil believed to have been worn by Mary at the birth of Christ:
And just a couple additional pictures of the church:
(statute inside the altar)

The Cathedral was all we saw in Chartres.  We headed back to the bus, and began our return trip to Paris.  A couple hours later we arrived in Paris, and the tour group broke up. 
Katherine and I then headed off our on own for the last couple of spots on our (very long) list.
Our first stop was Montemarte.  We took the metro from the hotel, and then climbed, and climbed,
and climbed to get to the top,
Where Sacre Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart) is located!  This church is a part of the skyline of Paris, so it is very well known, but it is also relatively new--construction began in 1875, and was finished in 1914.  

The Church was completely packed!  I think I forgot to mention until this point, but this was May 1st, and Labor Day in France.  On this national holiday most things were closed--except for the cathedrals, which made this a hot spot for tourists.
Sacre Coeur has gorgeous mosaics throughout:

(Apse Mosaic--one of the largest mosaics in the world.  It depicts Jesus surrounded by some of the saints especially important to France, including Mary, St. Michael, and Joan of Arc.  A personification of France as a woman offers her crown to Jesus as well--I think it is the lady in gold under Mary's hand to the left of the Mosaic)

There was also some very nice statuary:
(ambulatory chapel)

(St. Peter)

(Immaculate heart of Mary)

(St. Margaret Mary I believe, holding a Sacred Heart)
 Finally, a couple interesting stained glass windows depicting the sacred heart and saints associated with it:

(so sad this is slightly blurry, but I am including it anyway because it is a (somewhat) modern take on a rose window)
After leaving the church (and a quick glimpse out at Paris),

(Did I mention it was really cold, foggy, and misty/rainy this day?)
we headed out to see a bit more of Montemarte.
(No, the cold did not stop us from getting ice cream...)

(umm, macaroons and chocolate!)

Because Montemarte is high above the rest of Paris, it used to have lots of windmills (one source I found on the internet said 13).  Today, two remain, collectively called the Moulin de la Galette.
The older of the two was built in 1622.
(Originally named Le Moulin Blute-Fin)
It has had many different uses within the last century--Renoir painted Bal du Moulin de la Galette (Dance at the Galette Windmill) from its time as a ballroom.
(Picture from the internet.  This is actually one of the famous paints at the Orsay that Katherine and I couldn't find)

(Originally called Le Moulin Radet)
After finding the windmills, we walked back up the hill to find a metro stop to start the next part of this day's journey--but more on that tomorrow.  Before I sign off for the night, a couple of additional pictures of Montemarte:

(Such an appropriate find on our last day in Paris!)