I was sitting on the plane next to a group of guys who celebrated the birthday of one of their own which was quite an auspicious start for my weekend. That it also came with a Bloody Mary and two beers on an empty stomach was just part of the transportation mode. I was ready to fly. Which I did. To Paris.
After the weekend in London that didn’t do much for me I wanted to explore again. Like really walk around and just take everything in. Paris is a city that I have visited already a couple of times and thought I knew well. As it turned out not true at all. So many unknown places for me to see and I am sure I only scratched the surface again.
Saturday morning it was time to explore Saint Chapelle and Notre-Dame. Can you believe I have never seen these two churches? Tbh of the first one I haven’t even heard until my running partner told me to go see it. “The windows are definitely worth it!” she said and how right she was. The little chapel is a jewel with stunning stained glass windows from the 13th century. Do I need to tell you more? With a bit of sunshine it’s probably breathtaking, with the weather at that time it was only awe-inspiring.
The lower level of the chapel was less enticing since down there stalls are set up to sell relics. Okay, maybe not relics but other religious stuff. It could have been relics though. Same thing nowadays.
From Saint-Chapelle it’s not far to Notre-Dame de Paris. Why I have never been there is beyond me, probably I had better things to do while in Paris. This time though I had a theme for the weekend, I wanted to do all kinds of things related to Napoléon. And since he crowned himself in this beautiful church I had to go there.
Construction on the church started in 1160, come to think of it the church will soon (it’s all relative) have its 900 years jubilee. It was finished in 1250 and remodelling started basically right thereafter. The point is though that it took 90 years to build it and 900 years later it’s still standing. What an achievement especially taking these dimensions into account. Look at the people attending mass, they look dwarfed by the height of the arches.
If you think it was time for a break then, you are right. Too many churches make me queasy. I took the metro in the direction of Les Invalides and went in search of a restaurant. At a drafty and not so tasty brasserie I spent my lunch break and plotted my next steps. Keeping up with my weekend motto I was now ready to see Napoléon’s tomb which is housed in the Dôme des Invalides. This part of the dome was really impressive (the rest was closed to the public) and the tomb of Napoleon magnificent. Really the French go all out there.
Around his tomb were mural reliefs which show him as Roman Emperor but there were also lists with his numerous achievements (Code Napoléon anyone?). So why were there also tombs for his brothers Joseph and Jérôme upstairs (not in the same grandeur) when they never did anything on their own but were only along for the ride? I like it though that his son, the King of Rome, (with Marie Louise from Austria) is also buried here.
I found it moving walking through the halls seeing the admiration and worship the French people still have for their Emperor. I mean look at these French tourists walking around the building with Napoléon’s hat. And they were not the only ones, trust me.
I felt I had already achieved a lot on that Saturday doing my Napoléon tour but there was still more to come. Since the ticket into Les Invalides also includes the Musée de l’Armée, of course I had to go in there as well.
There was not enough time left to explore all the details but the overall impression was amazing. The museum is interactive and explains, besides lots of other army history stuff, all the battles of Napoléon in detail. You can take a seat in front of an electronic battlefield and see the troops moving back and forth. Here I could have whiled away hours, but it was already closing time. So off I went to do other touristy things. Yours, Pollybert
PS: If you are wondering where my interest in Napoléon is coming from, read Desirée from Annemarie Selinko.