Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame…

Bonjour!


After we finished visiting the Eiffel tower we decided to head on to Notre Dame, but not before making plans to return to the tower at night!


We boarded a bus that carried us away to the Ile de la Cite.  We arrived at the Pont Neuf on the Rue de Harlay!   


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As we came around the corner the sun hit the face of Notre Dame and made it glow.


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We entered the church to discover that the light was perfect for taking pictures of the stained glass…


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 Notre Dame was built between 1163 and 1345.


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 The windows date from the 13th century to the 20th century.


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This is one of the rose windows of the Notre Dame.  Both Rose windows are mostly original glass and are rare because of this.


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In 1939 it was feared that German shells would damage the building and the windows as had happened in so many of the cathedrals spread throughout France.  So the windows were removed and stored on September 11, 1939 to keep them safe. 


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They were restored to the building at the end of the war.


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 As we walked out of the cathedral the sun was just setting over Paris.  We decided to climb to the top of the bell towers of Notre Dame and drink in the view.  So we paid out entrance fees and set out to climb.  It’s a staggering 400 steps to the top so by the time you hit bottom again you’ve walked 800 stairs.  It was quite a hike…


About halfway up the towers we came out onto the landing of the Chimera gallery or Gargoyle gallery.  This is the most famous gargoyle, called the stryga, and seems to gaze out at the city.


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 The view was breathtaking, we were so grateful for the clear day which allowed us to see for miles!


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 The gargoyles were quite a sight to behold.  You hear about them all your life but to see them in person? It’s a bit surreal!


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We got some spectacular views of the city.


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 The legend states that gargoyles were used to scare off evil spirits.  But most of them are scary enough on their own!


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 Looking back along the nave of the church you see the spire of the transept crossing, built by Viollet-le-Duc to replace the smaller one that was ripped off during the French Revolution.


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As the sun began to set we decided to head up to the very top of the south tower.


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And what a story that makes!


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I must take a moment to apologize to my mother.  I’m about to tell the world a deep dark secret… it’s not my fault you know… I’m a writer at heart and you did do it in front of me…


So I’m sorry but here we go.


We started up the little staircase leading to the top of the south tower and I won’t lie I had my doubts.  This staircase was so narrow and winding that two people would not fit side by side on the stairs and so tightly wound and steep that the inside of each stair was only about three inches before it dropped to the next step… let’s just go with it was small.  I’m a bit claustrophobic so it gave me a flutter but, hey we had come this far and paid our entrance fees and we just knew that the view from the top would be worth it!


About halfway up this winding staircase we met with the unthinkable… an entire tour group coming down.  We had almost all of our tour group behind us coming up so we couldn’t simply turn around and go back down.  We all came to an abrupt halt.. stuck in a funnel of brick and mortar with no clue how to proceed.  


Ryan and I were at the top of our group with mom and dad close behind…  all of the sudden I heard my mom start to breath hard… I would have looked back so that I could tell you just how panicked her face looked but even though she was only two people behind me the stairs wound so tight that she was behind the bend.  She then started chanting with increasing volume, “I have to go down, I have to go DOWN, I HAVE TO GO DOWN!!!”  Luckily my dad was behind her and kept her from turning and bowling every one over in her attempt to flee… can you just see that?  The stairs crammed full of people tumbling down, having to wait for the paramedics to come remove the bodies of the fallen and us stuck somewhere right in the middle?  I think mom and I both would have just keeled over dead from the stress of that!


Up until this point we had been trying to explain to the people above us that we had to get past them because there were people behind us too… (which is not easy with about 12 different languages crammed into that tower) but when they heard the panic in my mother’s voice the way cleared rather quickly!


In any case we finally made it to the top and turned to see the damage.  My mother was in a full blown panic attack.  Dilated eyes, flushed face, hyperventilation and all!  My dad saw that deer in the headlights look in her eyes and decided (very wisely might I add) to go ahead and take her down in the hopes that they would get all the way out without meeting another group.  He told me later that he was sure that if he didn’t get her out of there and back on solid ground she would not be okay for the rest of our trip, if not the rest of her life, and there were a lot of other things we wanted to do that might require going into small spaces…


So while dad was heroically manhandling my mother back to solid ground Ryan and I took some time to watch the sunset from the top of the bell tower of Notre Dame.  We took pictures so that my parents could see the sunset they missed. 


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 The bridges of Paris at sunset…


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 The last moments of sunset… 


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 Simply beautiful… 


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 We ducked back out onto the Chimera gallery to catch the last glimmer of sunlight on the way down.


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 On the trek down we stopped to rest at a landing once the stairs had opened up a bit since it was, after all, a very many stairs!


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 At last we came out of the tower to find my mom and dad waiting and my mom recovered!


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 We turned to see the sun setting on the building…


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We had been such a very long way up!


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After we had rested and caught our breath we walked around to the back of Notre Dame to take a few pictures of the flying buttresses.


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 And of each other of course!


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 We walked off of the Ile de la Cite at dusk…


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We stopped on the bridge to take a few pictures…


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 And to drink in the sights…


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 The palace at dusk…


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 The Ile de la Cite… you can just see the top of the spire and the bell towers of the cathedral…


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 The Hotel de Ville…


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 The Place du Chatelet…


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We found the bus stop for our line and headed back to the hotel.  We got back to the hotel, had some dinner, and dressed a little warmer before heading back out to see Paris at night!


But that will have to wait for another day!


Au Revoir!


Courtney

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12 thoughts on “Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame…

  1. Your pictures are just beautiful!  I can completely imagine the staircase thing happening.  Mark and I have traveled around enough and been up into enough towers to know…they never have alot of space!  EEk!  I’m glad your mom is ok though.  That had to be very difficult for her. 
    Your trip is just spectacular!  I love the previous photos of the Eifel Tower.  Soooo… beautiful!
    RYC:  you always have such comforting words.  I know somewhere in my head I’m doing a good job… sometimes I just feel like I should be doing more… and then think ‘HOW can I do more!  This is exauhsting enough as it is!’  And then I feel selfish and guilty … and well, the cycle just continues. Sometimes I wonder if I would have felt differently if I would have had kids in my 20’s… when I wasn’ so set in my ways!  LOL  But I was SO not ready to have kids then….and wasn’t in a place in my life where kids would have been a good decision.  Thanks for the kind words.  I will keep giving it to God in prayer and I know He will help me through this….but friends like you certainly help!!
    Hmmm…that cheeseburger sounds yummy.  I’m going to have to get out the map and see exactly where you are and figure out if some of our travel plans will take us that way! 

  2. I’m so happy that you guys are getting to have all of these adventures! (And a wee bit jealous…. ;)) Just don’t go to England. Because that’s where I want to go desperately and if you go, I might just have to jump on a plane and come visit so that you have to take me! 😉

  3. ROFL   That was the one I was waiting for. Although your mom tells a slightly different story…Still and all, hilarious. And yes, she’s fine, with the added bonus of a great story to tell! LOL  Awesome pics girlie. Love you and miss you
    .P.S. You dads next, right?

  4. I have to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your posts and looking at your beautiful pictures of Paris! What an awesome opportunity you’ve had over there. WHat kind of camera do you use? Your pictures are postcard-quality! Hope all is well with you and your hubby’s deployment goes safely.

  5. I love the way you tell stories!! Notre Dame….I did a HUGE report on this particular cathedral….and a HUGE “model-size” replica of it….months and months of work. It was so nice seeing some actual pictures from someone who visited….because no matter how much textbooks talk about places….from a tourist’s eye’s it’s always a little different. Not in a bad way, of course. Thanks for sharing! *Hugs*

  6. Sorry your Mom had to suffer a panic attack.  Paris is beautiful and there is a picture of my Aunt Joan in front of Notre Dame.  She got married when she was in the service over in Germany and honeymooned in Paris.

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