Wednesday, June 12, 2013

{European Travels} Paris Day 2

Yesterday was, you guessed it, Paris: Day 1

I have no idea if anyone is actually reading these posts, but they have been really fun to write and are helping me document our wonderful European adventure. 
If you are reading these, thanks for hanging around and suffering through my wordy-descriptions and blurry, poorly edited photos. 
And on that note...

We woke up fairly early in hopes of beating the crowds to Notre Dame, but after a relaxing cafe breakfast, it looked like thousands of others had the same idea. 

Apparently, the French love their holidays as today was yet another national holiday, Accession Day, which is a religious holiday celebrating Christ ascending to heaven. Notre Dame was packed full of worshipers and a beautiful service was being held. It was amazing hearing the acoustics of the cathedral- this is what it was built for. 

After seeing inside Notre Dame (free, but it costs to climb the towers) we stayed on the east island and went to the St. Chapel Church. This site was covered by the Museum Pass, letting us walk past the long line and right into the church. Suckers. 
I guess we didn't expect much from this seemingly dreary church, but it was a stunning site. The 15 separate panels of stained glass, with more that 1,100 different bible stories, cover all four walls. The lighting and affect it gave off was breath taking. Pictures (especially my pictures) do not do it justice. Gothic architecture in all its glory.
The church was built in 1248 for King Louis IX to house the supposed Crown of Thorns, which now are housed in the Notre Dame Treasury. Opposite the altar is the Rose Window, which is 200 years newer than the rest.

Next door to St. Chapel was the Conciegre, a famous prison where over 2,500 victims were sent to the guillotine, including France's last queen, Marie-Antoinette.
Inside the prison
Walking around the island, which is surprisingly quiet despite all the surrounding tourist attractions.

By late afternoon our bellies were starting to rumble. We went to the recommended Rue Cler, a pedestrian only street full of quaint local shops for every French goodie you could want: cheese, bread, wine, pastries, chocolate, fruit, meats, etc. Sadly, as it was a holiday, many of these shops were closed, but we managed to get a bottle of wine, a freshly made sandwich, fruit, and macaroons for a picnic on Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. So romantic!

After a bite and a nap in the sun we decided to revisit the Arc de Triomphe so we could climb the arch and take in some of the best views of Paris. This was also covered by the Museum Pass, and by now I loved walking past everyone in line. Seriously people, do your research!
Looking East, down Champs-Elysees to the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre, which we visited yesterday.
 I love this thing the more I see it.

After seeing Paris from one of the best spots in the city, we went home to do a load of laundry. Our goal was to do laundry every few days, which meant we had fewer clothes to pack and less luggage to carry. Win-Win.

 Come back tomorrow to read about my favorite day in Paris!

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