A drizzly day in Paris is made brighter at Sainte-Chapelle

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Europe » France » Île-de-France » Saint-Ouen
September 13th 2013
Published: September 19th 2013
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Isn't it amazing the inventions of recent years.And now our first experience of an electric toilet.Makes the mind boggle at first thought.For the uniniatiated the toilet worked when the light switch for the room was on and after you had pushed a small button after the business had been done.

The B&B is a lovely ,peaceful haven in a big and busy city.The location off a main road in the inner suburb of St Ouen belies just how quiet it was overnight and even this morning when the people of the suburb go about their business.The bed was comfortable and the room is cosy.

Sylvie and Eric have owned the home for about 15 years and have just the two rooms for the B&B.They have built a beautiful backyard complete with chicken run,lots of greenery and timber decking and had the weather been fine we would have had breakfast outside.

However the weather is against us with drizzly rain off and on and the temperature in the low teens.

The plan today was to get to see some of the sights we missed out on 4 years ago and Gretchen had worked outa route after we got ourselves into the centre by subway.

First up was the Paris Opera House and like so many structures we want to visit it was undergoing renovations on part of the exterior making it a bit of a task to find the entrance to buy tickets.Oddly you buy tickets at the exit to the tour of the theatre but have to go to the opposite side of the building to enter and start the self guided tour.

The Opera House was where Phantom of the Opera was based and it was interesting when you get to the stairs where you enter the auditorium as the memory of the movie and the stage musical came flooding back.From memory the recreation for the movie of the stairs and the surrounds was very lifelike and I don't think the movie was shot in the theatre.

After waiting for a German couple who must have done a hundred poses for photos in the box that we went into to get a look at the inside of the theatre it was finally our turn to get to the front to take our own photos and to admire the ceiling and moulded sculptures in the auditorium.

We had a wander around the rooms where the music scores used for numerous operas are stored along with costumes used over the years.

Back out in the street we looked for somewhere for lunch and decided upon a store that is part of a chain called 'Pauls' where you can buy a baguette and sweet treat and then take it away or lean on a counter and eat it there.As we hadn't seen anywhere to rest in the surrounding streets we opted for indoor eating passing the time watching the continuos stream of people passing through the store.

Gretchen's route for the afternoon took us past Place Vendome and a tall statue of Napolean III,through a park and down to the River Seine and then a stroll along the Left Bank.The light rain came and went as we followed the course of the river crossing a bridge where lovers had left thousands of padlocks,many with message written on them, attached to the railings on the bridge.We were to see more padlocks on other bridges as we strolled along the Left Bank.

Today the vendors who sell newspapers,books,paintings etc from boxes attached to a wall along the footpath were down in usual number if the number of unopened green boxes were anything to go by.We put this down to the weather and now that the summer holidaymakers were back at work.We didn't notice anything that took our attention as much of what was for sale was in French or way too expensive for us.

Looking for the spot that is the centre of Paris in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral proved to be a mission we couldn't achieve as for some reason a large grandstand had been erected facing the world famous cathedral and we think the centre spot was directly underneath.We did take a breather here from our walking and took a seat in the grandstand to watch the antics of people as they came and went into the cathedral.

We moved on to take a look at the Memorial to the Deported(Memorial to Jewish people deported from France during WW2) nearby but didn't actually get to take a look inside as we were put off by a couple of 'officials'that seemed to be giving anyone wanting to go in the third degree.We did contemplate going over just to see what they were telling people but we decided we didn't want any hassle.

We were a bit startled as we sat watching what was going on at the entry to the memorial when three fully kitted out soldiers with their machine guns across their chest walked past slowly in formation looking quite serious.We know that France is regarded as a country that could be the scene of a terrorist incident but we hadn't come quite so close to the security that is obviously around us until now.

It was just a short walk to the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle chapel which was commenced in 1239 and contains the most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world.The stained glass is certainly stunning and most of it has undergone recent restoration and cleaning so that even though it is over 700 years old it is still quite vivid.

The only down side of our visit,aside from the queue in the light rain for 20 minutes or so,was the tour guide who addressed his group of tourists far too loudly for such a special place even though the person on duty in the chapel kept reminding him where he was and to keep his voice down.

The sun re-emerged as we were in the chapel and that made the stained glass stand out even more.

It was dinner time and there dozens of restaurants lining the Left Bank so we chose a quiet looking one and enjoyed a delicious meal before working our way back to the B&B via the subway.

We now just hope that perhaps the weather might at least improve to the point that the light rain goes away to make sightseeing just that much more enjoyable.It had been a brilliant day out with the visit to the Opera House and Sainte-Chapelle as the two definite highlights.

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