Friday, June 10, 2011

Montemarte

On our 6th day in France, Eric and I hopped on the Metro in the morning after breakfast to head to Montemarte. As soon as we got off the train, the Moulin Rouge greeted us!


It honestly wasn't nearly as impressive in person as I expected it to be, and I'm glad we elected NOT to attend a show there. We ended up having much more fun at the little local places that we popped in to every night.

We roamed around the largest cemetery in Montemarte...
Me looking extra shady and trying to stay in the sun to avoid the chill :)
and then we headed to Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, which is a very small cathedral that sits in the shadow of the ever-famous Sacre Couer. I found this small little cathedral in a guidebook, and it was described as very plain and classic, and incredibly old, in contrast to the Sacre Couer. I decided we must visit it, and it was simply gorgeous in its simplicity. There is something about church pews that I just love, and the soft, natural light pouring into this humble sanctuary was beautiful. I found myself wondering about the hands that touched these worn and loved pews over the years and what they must have prayed for.






After taking some time to roam around inside, we headed up the steep hill to the Sacre Couer. Funny story, Eric had initially said that we should save ourselves the steps and the effort and take the funicular up to the Sacre Couer...and then we rounded the corner, and there it was in all its glory! haha The climb was not nearly as bad as it was made out to be. 


No pictures were allowed inside, and although I always try to obey these policies, I had to snap one quick one before leaving without my flash on. We were lucky enough to be inside during a prayer session that some nuns were hosting, and it was simply beautiful. After they finished, we got up and walked around the inside before heading to the best part of all...the tower tour.  



We walked into the crypt briefly, but since neither of us are Catholic, we really had no idea what anything meant or who any of the people buried there were. The columns and shadows did make for some nice photographs though.




The views from the rooftop were stunning, as you can see. Eric and I both agreed that these were by far the best views of Paris that can be seen. The Eiffel Tower has nothing on the Sacre Couer. The views from Notre Dame come in as a close second.







After we left the Sacre Couer, we had a wonderful lunch of street food: a ham, tomato, and gruyere crepe for me and sausage and frites for Eric. Then we hit up the metro back into Paris to go to Conciergie, a former royal palace and famous prison (ya'll know how much I love prisons), and La Sainte Chappelle, a breathtaking chapel. 


Marie Antoinette was held at Conciergie before she was beheaded. This was a replica of what her cell looked like at the time.
Now, the line for Sainte Chappelle was HOURS long, literally, because of the intense security you have to go through to get inside the chapel. We had bought tickets for both Conciergie and Sainte Chappelle at Conciergie when we went in. So, leaving Eric in line, I decided to try my luck and go ask the cute little man standing at the front if we already had tickets. He smiled and said, no, right this way Madame! So I waved Eric over and we by-passed a 2 hour line, people, to get inside. I was SHOCKED. But you haven't even heard the best part. That line wasn't for tickets. It was to go through security, and THEN you bought your tickets inside if you didn't already have them. So what I'm saying is that there was absolutely no reason for that man to let us skip to the front of the security line just because we already had tickets, but I am SO glad he did! We made it inside in record time, and I am telling you no lie, I GASPED out loud when we walked in to Sainte Chappelle. Breathtaking beauty, literally. We could have stayed inside and stared for hours. 





This is a statue of St. Peter, the oldest statute known in Paris.
The walls are almost entirely made of stained glass and they depict the stories of the bible from Genesis all the way through Revelation around the chapel. I seriously don't know how to describe how beautiful it was to you, but I will never ever forget my first glimpse as I rounded the top of the staircase into the room. The floors were still the original hand-painted tiles, and I liked this particular color combination. 




We sat in the chairs on the side and just stared for ummm, about 45 minutes, and once we picked our jaws up off the ground we headed back out to see the French Palace of Justice, per my request :)Only slightly more stately than our courthouses here...





It seems like we had done a lot already, but Eric and I are early birds when we travel, and we still had plenty of time before going back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We decided to go to the Pantheon - a site that we wanted to see, but wasn't on our must-see list. The building itself was impressive, but we didn't spend much time inside. We were museumed out for the most part at this point. 





The coolest thing there by far was the Foucalt Pendulum in the center, which demonstrates the earth's rotation. I really can't wrap my mind around the science behind it,nor do I care to, but google it if you're interested. We did take a video of the movement to demonstrate. The basic premise is that the pendulum isn't actually moving; we are and the earth is.


video


We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We loved the charm of Montemarte so much, that we decided to go back there on the metro for dinner. 



One of the best things about Europe is that there is always wonderful, outdoor, sidewalk seating that we love. The worst thing? People can smoke out there, even while they eat. It's a culture thing for sure, but really, it's disgusting. I do not want to inhale your second hand chemicals while I eat my dinner. Or any other time for that matter. Eric and I are used to Florida laws which basically disallow smoking in any public place (even outdoor areas), within several hundred feet of the door to any public place, or inside restaurants and even bars. We really love taking advantage of the outdoor dining, but good gracious! Sometimes my hint of asthma (which flares up only when I'm around cigarette smoke...go figure) just cannot handle it. We managed to work our way into an end table at this little restaurant and moved our table away from the smokers and the girls next to us who were dipping and spitting. Classy, but I'll take it over the smoke.

Me trying to breathe clean air at dinner.
 


It turned out to be an incredibly lengthy dinner (because of a somewhat unattentive waiter) but we were in no hurry, and the wine was good. I was just getting up to complain (and I probably should have much earlier but I tried to contain my feisty Americanness) hen our food arrived. And honestly, I must say, the food made up for our annoyance with the delay. After a quick metro ride back into the city, we called it a night!

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