The day the Notre Dame caught on fire, I felt sickened. Will I ever see the Notre Dame as I saw it before. Mostly likely not. Hopefully, something that can saved.
In September 2018 I last-visited the Notre-Dame. For 2019 my project was to photograph the gargoyles. But then, in 2019, everything changed with the devasting fire. When in Paris in June 2019 I avoided going to the church. But near the end of the week went down to see it. It was an eerie experience. There was a metal wall around the church. You could see in at the various gates that trucks and workers use. In the background the hum of a generator created a steady hummm. The damage is more noticeble as you look up. The windows along the top level have been boarded either for protection or support
Built in the 12th and 14th Centuries the Notre Dame is a very important structure to France. In fact, French roads have distances that are measured from the 0 km that is marked by a square in front of the entrance to the cathedral. Many years since I climbed the tower steps to the roof to see the gargoyles up close. Long line-up now, but do it! The back of the cathedral is stunning with the flying arches that support the structure. Of course, walk through the cathedral which is rather dark and, on a sunny day, have light shine through the stained-glass windows leave an impression you will never forget. In recent years I have arrived first thing in the morning when it opens. No line-up and no admittance fee to enter the main floor.
Taking two years to build, the Paris landmark stands 324 meters, weighing 10,000 tons was built for the 1889 World Fair. It was not liked and was almost taken down in 1909. But left as it was a great for antenna. You can walk the stairs, not for free however, or take one of the elevators that travel up the east, west and north pillars. Go up to the top platform for great views. Metro: Bir-Hakeim - this is on the Line 6 route and it runs above the ground so you get to see the Tower as your approach the station. Or, Trocadéro if using Line 9.RER: Champs de Mars - Tour Eiffel.
This is the world's largest museum. Plan to see a section and enjoy it. If you try to see to much it all just becomes a blur. The Louvre Palace was built in the 12th Century and then rebuilt and expanded many times. Only a portion of the 12th century walls are visible in one area. In 1682 Louise XIV decided to live at the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre became a place to house the royal collection. During the French Revolution it was decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum. It opened to the public in 1793.
The collection expanded under Napoleon, however, when he was defeated at Waterloo, part of the collection was returned to the original owners. The collection grew again in size under Louis XVIII and Charles X.
Many want to see the paintings and sculptures. Two glass-roofed sculpture courts contain the famous Marly horses on the ground floor of Richelieu. The Italian Renaissance pieces are in the Denon wing. The Grand Galerie and Salle de la Joconde have the Mona Lisa. Great ready for an unbelievable crowd of people.
The museum is closed on Tuesdays. You can buy advance tickets from the Louvre's website.
Metro: Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre station
After a few days of galleries and museums the only gallery I want to see is the Galleries Lafayette department store. It is listed in some sources as the second most visited monument in Paris! It is located on Boulevard Haussmann, just up from the Opera House. While there are Galeries Lafayette stores in major cities across France, the Paris store is the most spectacular. There are separate buildings with for example, mens wear is in a building all its own.
The main building has the impressive dome all in impressive art-nouveau style. Designed by Ferdinand Chanut and built by master glass-maker Jacques Gruber. The art-nouveau artists were from the School of Nancy. (Art Nouveau, “New Art”, and noteably found in Paris, Brussels, Vienna, Glasgow and Nancy. The dome has a neo-byzantine style stained glass dome is 43 meters high. An external layer protects the glass from direct contact with external elements. The food floor is also great where we will pick up some fantastic food and then head out for picnic along the river. The restaurant at the top of the store offers very good food. It feels so good to sit, enjoy some wine and classic steak and fries. Nothing gets more French than that for lunch!
Metro: Chaussée d'Antin La Fayette | RER: Auber
The metro signs and a fair amount of the "modern" architecture is art deco - love it - again check out the classic Metro Signs like that at the Chatelet Station. The Métro opened in July 1900 and has expanded to the full network it is today. There are 16 different lines and by using the Métro you will be able to travel to just about everywhere in Paris. Plan your trip, check the name of the final destination on the line as that will tell you what line/platform to look for. Your Métro ticket can be used on a Zone 1 RER train.
You can buy tickets one at a time from a attendant (where available) or a machine. Also, a package of 10, a carnet (car-nay) is another means of reducing the overall cost. It is better to have tickets always on you as some of the stations will not have attendants. The RER is the Regional Express Network, there are five lines (A to E) and they run from central Paris to much of the Ile-de-France. The trains are faster as there are typically less stations. There are fare zones.
Visit the Sacré-Coeur to see the stunning church and the view of Paris from the hilltop. In the early evening the lights of Paris are beautiful. You won't be the only person there. Basilica of the Sacred Heart was started in 1875 and completed in 1914. The three arches of the main portico has statues of Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX. The bell is one of the heaviest in the world and weights 19 tons. The church is a shinning white structure but inside, it is rather dark. No photography in the church. The apse mosaic is the largest in the world. Climb to the dome for fantastic views. The church is open 6 am to 11 pm, the Dome and the crypt close at 6 pm.
Metro: Anvers or Abbesses Funicular: from Abbesses station for the price of one Métro ticket.
Maybe on your first visit to Paris you may not get up to walk along the Canal Saint-Martin, but on your second, third and ongoing visits here is one of the quite and scenic moments in Paris. Napolean I, in 1802, directed the Canal to be built and it was paid for by a new tax on wine - now in France, that would raise a lot of money! It was an important route, but by the 1960s traffic along the canal was very little It almost was filled in and became a road but luckily it was saved. There are sections of the canal, from Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille where the canal is now covered. I am not sure what I was expecting when I head out to see the canal the first time. It is right in the city, running along some very busy streets. On Sundays, two streets running parallel to the canal, Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, become pedestrian and cyclist only.
Metro: Lines 4 & 7: Gare de L'Est Lines 3, 5, 8, 9 & 11: République Line 11: Goncourt Line 5: Jacques-Bonsergen
Panthéon means every god, and while this was originally a church dedicated to S. Genevieve and held her relics, there have been numerous changes and now the Panthéon is a mausoleum holding the remains and distinguished people of France.
I don't know why it took a number of visits to Paris before I toured the inside of the Arc de Triomphe. Well worth it. From the top you look out and see the twelves roads that radiate from the traffic circle. Most of the roads are named after one of Napoleon's battles.
Napoleon has it build in 1806 and it was completed some 30 years later. The structure is covered with reliefs and sculptures that depict scenes of Napoleon's battles.
A plan for my 2020 visit to Paris. The Petite Ceinture is a former railway line which once encircled Paris. The lines has not bee used since around 1934. Today parts are parks, walkways, or just place one should not be! In 2007, a section was opened to walkers between the Porte d’Auteuil and the Gare de la Muette. In 2013, a part of the Petite Ceinture in the 15th arrondissement opened to the public, between the Place Balard and the Rue Olivier de Serres. The last section opened to the public in 2015 is located in the 13th arrondissement. Access is at 60 Rue Damesme and runs from the Charles Trenet garden to the Moulin de la Pointe garden. In November 2018, a new sections was opened in the 20th arrondissement, accessed by 11 Rue de la Mare.
La Défense is a major business district, three kilometres west of the city limits of Paris. This is Europe's largest purpose-built business district, covering 560 hectares, with 72 glass and steel buildings (of which 19 are completed skyscrapers), 180,000 daily workers, and 3,500,000 square metres of office space. The cente piece is the Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"). Impressive architecture. It is a photographer's centre. Les Quatre Temps, a large shopping mall in La Défense, has 220 stores, 48 restaurants and a 24-screen movie theatre.
For 2020 I will continue with my photoshoots of grand railways stations in European cities. Paris of course has to be in that grouping. Gare d'Austerlitz for trains that travel to central France, Toulouse and the Pyrenees. Gare de l'Est for trains to eastern France, Germany and Switzerland. Gare de Lyon trains to souteastern France - this station handles 90,000,000 passengers a year. Gare de Lyon for trains to southweastern France and the Gare du Nord with trains to northern France.
There are endless sights to see in Paris. Bring good walking shoes and just enjoy the city.