12:30 Paris time-
This morning was frantic. My roommates and I were all up later than planned blogging, journaling, showering, etc. I set my alarm clock, but it didn’t work, because we woke up at 9:18. (We were all departing at 9:30!). After quickly getting ready, and grabbing a granola bar, our group went to the cathedral of Notre Dame. This was a very beautiful and special place. We wandered through a flower market, turned the corner, and BAM! there’s this famous church. Not only is the structure special, but the place where it is built. The Romans built a temple to Jupiter on that same spot on the Ile de Cite ages before Christianity had a foothold in France. My favorite part was the stained glass windows, or vitrail. They are beautiful and functional, as well as inspiring. After we finished touring the church, our group gathered by the statue of Charlemagne. One of the girls, Daniella, was accosted by a pigeon! We then went to the museum of the Crypt in Notre-Dame parvis. It is underground. When the land in front of Notre Dame was excavated, ancient foundations were discovered. This museum is about these ruins and the beginnings of Paris. Very interesting.
We then wandered on to the ile de Saint-Louis. (Any Cardinals Fans?) I really liked this neighborhood, which is technically an island in the Seine. It was very quiet and quaint. For lunch, some of the group and I got food from a Boulangerie and ate it on benches overlooking the Seine river. I had a cheesy bread thing with little pieces of salami or ham. It was cheap and good!
Next, we all went (separately) to two museums/historical sites. The first was Saint-Chappelle, a cathedral of High Gothic architecture. This church was built by Saint Louis to house relics he had purchased of the Passion. In fact, the supposed crown of thorns cost three times as much as the building itself! It was constructed between 1242 and 1248. Yes, it is THAT old. (Notre Dame already had its facade at this point in history.) The lower chapel wasn’t that neat, but the view in the upper chapel took my breath away. Over 1,000 scenes are depicted in stained glass. It was truly beautiful. Take a look for yourself- http://www.visitingdc.com/images/sainte-chapelle-paris.jpg. This picture doesn’t nearly do it justice. The second museum was the Conciergerie, an ancient mead hall and prison during the Revolution. No stained glass here…
Hayley and I wanted some peace and quiet, so we went to a park, Le Jardin des Plantes. This was one of my favorite things so far. It was such a lush green space, with thousands of flowers. I even saw some delphinium! I felt like I was in the countryside. We stumbled upon a path that was surrounded with hundreds of different kinds of roses. Yes, HUNDREDS. They were of all varieties, shapes, sizes, colors, and smells. We spent 45 minutes admiring the wonderful roses. We then walked around and grabbed some dinner. For dessert, there was a pastry from the South Tunisian Pastry shop. I asked the owner, an elderly Tunisian man who was also the baker, what his favorite pastry was. I then got that type of pastry. It was gross! I describe it as cornmeal mixed with honey, with a prune ribbon in the center. (Lesson Learned: Old Tunisian Men have strange tastes in their favorite desserts). Hayley’s was delicious though, and I hope to try it again sometime.
Our Friday night was pretty tame, just getting some beverages at the corner cafe. I felt sophisticated and very French. I have noticed that my nose is getting used to all of the cigarette smoke, but it is killing my eyes! I haven’t worn my contacts yet. Oh well, C’est la vie!
Have a wonderful Friday!