Spring in Paris

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June 3rd 2015
Published: June 3rd 2015
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Bonjour from beautiful Paris! We caught the city bus in Trier to the train station and caught the first available one to Luxembourg to catch our 1:09 TGV train to Paris. We had quite a bit of time to kill waiting in Luxembourg and as we sat just outside of the glassed in area for local tickets we were treated to quite a show! We were both reading when I looked up to the sound of yelling. It was somewhat muffled, but definitely a voice raised a few decibels above normal. I got up to investigate and saw that a rather large and slovenly man was yelling and gesturing wildly to a lovely girl behind the ticket counter. She was very calm, trying to smooth his very obvious ruffled feathers! Everyone in the room had moved away and were evidently embarassed by this man's behaviour. This went on for a couple of minutes when finally a security guard entered. He went up to the man but made no headway, the yelling became louder and his arms began flailing in the air. He then moved to the next ticket booth and proceeded to carry on with his tirade. By this time the guard had called for backup and in short order two more guards arrived, one holding onto the leash of a muzzled German Shepherd cross. As soon as they entered and the dog heard the yelling the dog went crazy. This was followed by the guards yelling at the man. The next thing we knew the three of them were hauling him out to where we sat and as they struggled to get him through the main doors of the station he went berserk! Curtis got up to follow the excitement and found that as they dragged the man out he grabbed onto the bar separating the doors, the dog was unmuzzled and all hell was breaking loose! As they tried to pry him off the bar three police officers appeared on the scene. Two of them wrestled him to the ground and had him handcuffed, hauling him off. Peace settled over the station again.

Our ride on the TGV was comfortable and FAST! Everytime we passed a train the sound had me jumping out of my seat! After flying down the tracks we arrived to Gare du l'Est. We found the Metro and boarded for our stop at Chateau Rouge. Now, never knowing which way I am coming out of a Metro station while looking at Google Earth, I was not surprised to find that I was somewhat confused after we climbed the steps. The area of the Metro Station is in a neighbourhood with a very high African population and I was pretty sure we were the only white people there! As we stood there trying to get our bearings, we decided just to head off and, of course, it was the wrong way! Three police officers eventually turned us in the right direction. We found our Hotel Montmartre, where we had booked a small studio with a kitchenette. After registering, we were taken up to our room. Wow, small was the operative word! Yes, we have kitchen but from the bed I could probably prepare our meals too!! We were quite happy and relieved when the hotel told us that we also had access to the room beside us! It has a couch and a desk so we at least had somewhere to put our backpacks and to eat our meals!!! The only drawback is that it requires its own keycard and there is a door that separates it from the main hall which has no lock on it! Hopefully no one walks in on us.

After unpacking and going to one of the neighbourhood grocery stores, we cooked a quick meal and then walked up a set of side stairs to the beautiful church of Sacre Coeur, a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. It is located at the butte of Montmarte. There were hundreds of people milling around outside. We were able to go in, however mass was going on so we did not get full access to the church. Even so, we were able to admire the beauty of this basilica. We wove our way down the wide stone steps, stepping around the throngs of tourists who were enjoying themselves, buying Heineken beer from locals and taking in the boisterous atmosphere. We continued our walk down busy streets and then made our way back to our hotel, weary from our travels.

Tuesday morning we woke to grey skies 😞. After eating breakfast and armed with our map, we made the long journey down to Saint Chapelle Church and Notre Dame Cathedral. We walked along streets that were lined with bridal and suit shops! Store after store offering a wide selection of men's suits and women's dresses. Soon we came to the street we needed and walked along until we joined the long line waiting to enter Saint Chapelle. A certain number of people were let in at one time and as we watched our watches and moved along we were getting a bit concerned that we would be turned away as they took a break for lunch. Just as we got to the front of the line the barrier was pulled across but we were reassured we were next to go in! As we paid our entrance fee and entered the lower level I am sure Curtis was wondering what all the fuss was about. I had told him how much I loved this church the first time I saw it but forgot that we enter the bottom first and then go up the steps to the main church. I was not disappointed in my memories. As soon as we entered the incredible beauty of the exquisite stained glass windows gave me goosebumps again! This medieval Gothic chapel was begun after 1239. There are 15 huge stained glass windows from that mid 13th century. They fill the nave and apse while a magnificent rose window fills the western wall. These gorgeous works of art are pictoral representations of scenes from the Old and New Testament. Reading the wall from left to right and bottom to top, you are given the gift of viewing several scenes taken from the bible. What is most mesmerizing is the rainbow of colours that fill this beautiful chapel as the sun streams through the coloured glass. After following the windows from one side to the other we left to make our way to Notre Dame.

Coming to this historical cathedral had the same impact on me as it did 7 years ago! The beautiful stonework that adorns the facade and the countless gargoyles that reach out form the heights are truly amazing. We walked through the beautiful interior, admiring the French Gothic style. After our tour of the inside we then joined the long line to climb the towers. Curtis went across and bought us a couple of delicious sandwiches on French bread while we waited. Soon it was our turn and we climbed the 255 steps up the narrow, stone staircase. What a view of Paris we received! The sprawling mass that lay before us is quite overwhelming in its size! We found many well known sights, one being the Eiffel Tower. We climbed another set of rickety wooden stairs to see if there were bats in the belfry or if the Hunchback was there to ring the bells! Next we went up another 147 steps to the next dizzying level. It was very windy up here but the view was worth the climb! Heading back down the spiral staircase of 402 steps I found myself in a bit of spiral and was glad to reach the bottom. We walked across the bridge that is covered with locks, soon to be removed due to the weight they are putting on the bridge! We then walked to a market where I bought a lovely sterling silver ring. We then made our way to the Luxembourg Palace and gardens. In the centre a large pool had small sailboats cutting through the water. Chairs are set out everywhere and people were sprawled about, reading, chatting, or napping! We proceeded onto the Panthéon before heading back to the area of St. Michel where we crossed the Pont Neuf and then boarded the Metro to take us back to our neighbourhood. Going through the station at Chateau Rouge is an adventure for sure. As you go through the exit, dozens of locals are waiting to go through as you open the doors in order to avoid paying for a ticket. Not about to argue, we go about our business. As we exited the station we were met with 8 police officers at the top of the steps who had already arrested someone and had them in handcuffs. Not caring to hang around we walked the 3 blocks to our hotel. One block away from the Metro and it is a whole new world! We cooked dinner and hit the hay in order to prepare for another busy day on Wednesday.

Additional photos below
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4th June 2015

Last night I read to my 4 year old grandson...
the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Today I showed him your pictures of the actual cathedral and the close up of the gargoyles. Now he understands. Thanks!

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