Paris and Notre Dame

Aug 03

Paris and Notre Dame

First, I’d like to mention that Ryder and I really appreciate all of the comments we’ve gotten so far from all of our posts! It’s so great to get feedback and support from family and friends while being so far away. So, thank you!

Today was a bit of a slow start on account of our late night last night and loads of travel yesterday. Ryder was up at 8:30am and I slept until 9:30am. We went down to the breakfast at the hotel which consisted of LOTS of food, packed up our bags for the day and headed out of the hotel. We got about a block, then decided it was cold and raining so we should probably go back and put on pants.  Once we were all nice and toasty, we ventured out into the wild streets of Paris!

At first glance, anyone and their mother can tell we are not from around here. I had always thought people exaggerated when describing Parisians, but turns out most of the things we heard are true. Like, for instance, every single Parisian we saw today was dressed well, like what you would see in upper class areas of the East Coast. Not suit and tie nice (though there was LOTS of that), but Sunday stroll after church nice. We, on the other hand, looking like traveling alien vagabonds with our pants that turn into shorts and synthetic t-shirts. The difference is so noticeable that no one mistakes us for knowing how to speak French. Another thing, Parisians have good manners and respond much better when you have good manners in return (thank you Dave for your French lessons, they have helped immensely!!). We always start with a “Bonjour madame/monsieur” followed by “Parlez-vous anglais?” (meaning “Hello mam/sir” & “Do you speak English?”) and usually the conversation goes smoothly after that.

Unfortunately, after my college years of studying European history and art, I came to Paris with a completely un-realistic view of what it would be like. I had imagined manicured lawns, plenty of shrubs in geometric shapes, people strolling down the Champs-Elysées with parasols and bonnets, men on horses… basically Pride and Prejudice with the Louvre thrown in. Sadly, this is entirely not the case (apparently I was born in the wrong era). Though Paris is quite lovely, it is a city and it comes with all things every other city in the world has in common including bad traffic, and lots and lots of people.

We walked down the Champs-Elysées to the closest metro for a ride to Notre Dame. We had to change trains and at the next station realized our connecting train was under repairs (this took us quite some time to figure out) so we walked back up to the street level and caught a bus set up for that line. We got off near Notre Dame and had to walk through the busy streets leading to the Cathedral. We arrived and waited in line to enter. The Cathedral was very beautiful with lots of stained glass and 4 rose windows (my favorite). Unfortunately, I’ve been spoiled by Sagrada Familia and will probably find every other church I visit to be quite underwhelming. We purchased one audio tour and used our head-set splitter (Thank you Dr. Burke for the suggestion!) so we could both enjoy the tour without having to buy two! Yay for saving money! We walked around the Cathedral for awhile and then I went into the Treasury room.

It was quite an interesting experience to view the wealth of this church including 3 relics said to belong to Jesus. They have a piece of the cross to which Jesus was crucified, the crown of thorns laid on his head, and one other piece I couldn’t find information about in English (just checked their website and discovered its one of the nails from the cross). I was able to get a close look at the piece of the cross and the nail, but couldn’t find the crown of thorns. They also had the robe, staff, and pendant from a saint among other historical and resplendent artifacts. I left the treasury, met with Ryder and we continued the tour around the back of the nave. After we’d had our fill, we headed back out to the square in front of the church looking for the path down to the crypts.

The crypts offered an extensive museum surrounding an archeological site of Roman and medieval buildings unearthed from beneath Notre Dame. We spent about an hour looking at the different dig sites and trying to find explanations in English. They had unearthed pottery, jewelry, and other artifacts at the site that shed some light on what the buildings could have been used for. One of the sections turned out to be a Roman bath house with all three chambers clearly marked. After our tour, we went off to eat lunch and found a place not too far that seemed more decently priced than everything else (average price for a dish in Paris is 14 euro), but the service and food turned out to be terrible. It was now 3pm and we thought we might have a enough time to see the Musee d’Orsay. We stopped at a pâtisserie for a real French crepe of nutella and whipped cream, and then headed off down along the Seine river.

On the way, we happend upon the love lock bridge, or it’s real name Pont de l’Archevêché, in Paris. For those of you who don’t know, couples purchase or bring padlocks with them to this bridge which they then lock to the metal fences surrounding the bridge and throw the keys into the Seine while making a wish. Ryder and I purchased a lock and after some searching, found and strapped our true love right next to that of my best friend and her husband! We kissed, made a wish, and threw the keys into the river. It was all mushy and romantic 🙂

Instead of making it the Musee d’Orsay (they were closing in half an hour, not enough time to enjoy it), we ended up skirting the back of the Louvre on our way to a metro stop back to the hotel. Now we are hanging out in the room before we find dinner and go see the Eiffel tower at night!

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