Our third and last week was spent enjoying Paris by seeing the sights we hadn’t checked off our list, revisiting our favorite cafes and food places for the fifth and sixth times, and eating as many chocolate croissants and crepes as we possibly could. We had to make this week count, right?
We were surprised one day when we decided to check out the area of the 5eme district when we exited the metro. We walked out into a full blown “Magic: The Gathering” trading expo! Right on the street! One of those times when you realize that certain things don’t just exist in America. After we picked up some on-the-go crepes, we headed over to see the Pantheon.
The 5eme district includes the Latin Quarter, the traditionally student area, and includes most of the faculties for the university of La Sorbonne. On the Pantheon from Wikipedia, “It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens”. Some people interred there include Voltaire, Victor Hugo (author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame), Emile Zola and Pierre and Marie Curie.
We wandered for a while, exploring this area and really getting to like it. One of the most famous roads in this area is Rue Mouffetard which often is at market, with fresh food sellers.
This area has a lot of charm. The younger studenty vibe, the mom and pop food shops and cafes; lots and lots of flower shops don’t hurt either. This actually became one of our favorite neighborhoods as it was much quieter than most the rest of Paris but still had interesting streets salt and peppered throughout the neighborhood. There was a good energy and it also has the classic Paris look and feel that you picture when you imagine the city.
The next day we tried our luck at visiting l’Eglise de Sainte-Chapelle. This church is not as famous as Notre Dame but I would say it is the second most visited church in Paris after it. It is actually located inside the Palais du Justice, the city courts. I’d never been before because I was always scared off by the lines, but we decided that it was time to make it happen.
We did wait in line for about 40 minutes, but we were entertained by a mime of sorts, who was dressed in all black, with a scary flesh colored mask over his head who made sport of all the people passing by. His stature was so small, and his dress so plain that he mysteriously would blend in with everyone walking by. He even got me when we were walking up to the line. Eric and I were walking along, but not holding hands, and someone grabbed my hand to hold it. Thinking it was Eric I looked over to see this hideous mask staring back at me! I shrieked and jumped! And then everyone waiting in line laughed. I realized after a few moments that it was a joke and he was doing it to everyone, but oh what a fright he gave me at first! Then we spent the rest of the time waiting in line watching him do the same to others. At least it made the time pass. Frustratingly, we realized the reason why the line was so long was simply because there were only 2 guards running ancient metal detectors who had to check everyone going into the Palais du Justice and courts as well tourists visiting Sainte-Chapelle. Once we passed these there was no line. Oh well, the inside of the church was worth it.
You enter on the ground floor to a normal looking church with beautiful cobalt blue and gold frescoes on the ceiling and walls with fleur-de-lys all over.
Then you climb the stairs to the top floor where the pièce de résistance awaits. The stained glass windows. Essentially, the entire church, from half way up the wall to the high, high ceiling is comprised of stained glass windows.
You can see the sun pass in and out of the clouds by how much light is filtering through the windows which creates a beautiful, almost aquarium like effect. The windows are all very intricate depicting most of the bible stories.
After Sainte-Chapelle we spent the rest of the day drawing the Notre Dame and walking along the Seine.
The next day we took a tour of the Opera Garnier in downtown Paris. This is one of my favorite things to do and I enjoy it every time, even though I had already taken this tour twice before this. The Opera Garnier is the famous Opera where “The Phantom fo the Opera” takes place. The building is amazing architecturally and the inside is full of interesting nooks and crannies. Our guide was fantastic. Always take this tour with a guide, it is completely worth it. Only a few dollars more and you get tons of information.
Eric and I also spent a lovely day at the Musée Rodin. This museum is located in Rodin’s former residence and one of the best parts about it, since it’s mostly a sculpture museum, is that a majority of the works are outside in his garden. The museum is much less expensive than the other more popular museums, and you can spend time just strolling around the garden viewing the works and relaxing in the middle of rose bushes. We saw his major works like the Gates of Hell and the Thinker.
We picnicked there and rounded off our afternoon by sketching. Even though it was a chilly fall day, the changing colors of the leaves in the trees and the fresh air were too much of a draw to go inside.
On Halloween we celebrated by climbing up the Eiffel Tower, by the stairs! Woohoo! It was to see the city from such a different point of view, and point our all the sights from way up high. We could even look down at the fog and light blocking our view from the base of the Tower. It was amazing to try and fathom how high you are, and how much light the tower emits. If you can’t celebrate Halloween, then going up the Eiffel Tower instead ain’t half bad, right?
On our last day I finally took Eric inside the Notre Dame, just because it seemed silly that we had lived so close to it for 3 weeks and had never been inside.
After we strolled through we walked over to the Louvre to see if we could revisit it and maybe do some museum sketching. We walked over only to realize that the Louvre was closed that day! Oh well. We walked through the Jardin des Tuileries and took some last Fall photographs of the park.
Afterwards, we walked around the area of Opera to find a cafe. After finding something suitable, we spent our remaining hours in Paris sipping cafe au lait’s and sketching. Low key as it was, it was the perfect way to end our time there. Doing what we love in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Forever my home away from home, and now Eric’s too.
In french there are many ways to say goodbye. The strongest and most final being “Adieu”, which literally translated is “At God”, meaning when we’re both facing God is when I’ll see you again. There’s “Au revoir”, meaning when I see you again. There’s “A tout a l’heure” -I’ll see you quite soon, at the hour of meeting, usually abbreviated as “A tout!”. And, there is “à bientôt”, meaning, I’ll see you soon. This is how I will say goodbye to Paris this time. Not with finality, but neither with the certainty of when I will see my city again-just with the intonation of hope that it will be sooner, rather than later, when I’m back in my little Parisian oasis. Although Paris and I have had our differences in the past, this city is magical-no matter how cliché it sounds. It casts a spell over those who love it and will always hold a reserved place in their heart. Simply, it is too beautiful to ever forget or let go of. I don’t know when I’ll see it again, but I leave the city this time with nothing but love in my heart and look forward to when I will see it again, au revoir.