Last year, Hubby and I took a 17 day trip to Europe. After an inauspicious beginning, our time at the Vatican, and then in Italy, in Sorrento with day trips to the Isle of Capri, the Amalfi Coast and several days in Florence and then on to Paris and Normandy was all very nice.
Hubby and I were talking last week, and we realized we had made this trip a year ago! Now, first and foremost, I always want to use Ann’s Entitled Life as my online diary. That (rude) awakening that our trip was last year ago has pushed me to share some of the remaining stories and experiences of our time in Europe.
We actually went to Europe for a family function in Normandy. Since Hubby’s mother was in impetus for this trip and she has family in Paris as well as the French countryside and French Rivera, we knew we would be spending some time in the city of Paris.
Now, I will state up front that I don’t care for Paris. At all. And I never have. I just do not see the allure. Hubby loves the place, especially Montmartre. So, he rented us an apartment for our time in Paris in Montmartre, a block from the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. You can read more about this lovely church at its wiki page.
While our apartment was at the backside steps, we never went in. There is a reason for that:
Many, many years ago I took a trip to Paris. What I remembered and liked best was the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris (aka as Notre Dame), and the Musée du Louvre (aka the Louvre). I told Hubby those were the two sites I wanted to see this trip, and anything else was up to him.
Well, Hubby likes walking around, shopping the local stalls, investigating the restaurants, etc. He’s not a big sightseer, so he was happy to let me have my way.
Now the weather when we were in Paris was terrible. After the gorgeous Italian weather we experienced, the rainy-damp-42-60-degree (more or less) weather in Paris was not especially welcome. While we did have two or three at least semi-decent weather days, for the most part our time was not conducive to long walks. We, of course, made do, and went out anyway, just not to as many things as most others would probably have gone to.
The trip to Notre Dame was on a fairly nice, but rather cool day. We got there and there were mobs of people, the line was quite long, but it moved quickly.
When I was at Notre Dame in the late ’70s, there were no line ropes, the floors were stone, no rugs covered any of the floors. There were no chairs or pews. If you followed mass, you stood or knelt on the stones. There were certainly no displays of the building and renovations of Note Dame, there were no “squeeze a coin, get a pressed image of Notre Dame” machines, there was no gift shop…. in the church, open while mass was taking place!!
Notre Dame had changed, and not for the better.
After speaking with hubby’s family, it turns out the same had happened to Sacré-Cœur. It was “renovated” as a tourist destination. So, we skipped the inside.
We did, however, take the little white train through Montmartre, up the back way to Sacré-Cœur and walked around the outdoor art festival (that Hubby said is always there). It was very quaint, but I didn’t see how we could get anything home, so we didn’t buy.
We also took a boat tour on the River Seine boat tour. We got very lucky. That was our nicest day in Paris. The photos were lovely too! I must have taken a hundred pictures of the various statues, buildings, monuments and boat traffic on the River Seine.
Our of our 9 days in France, we had to take out three days to travel to Normandy. These listed tourist stops were basically all the sightseeing we did this trip in France.
I must say that I found the people of Paris very friendly. I had a secret weapon though! It definitely helped that Hubby speaks and reads French, and because of that, the French quickly spoke English with us whenever they knew English!
Now on to the photos!
This first group are of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris (aka as Notre Dame).
While standing in line to get in, we could admire all the artwork build into the building. When you consider Notre Dame began construction in 1163, this is a true marvel. Notre Dame wasn’t completed until 1345.
Due to the sheer mass of people, it was impossible for me to get an unobstructed photograph (I could have with filters and slower stops, but I ain’t that good… or dedicated … to the art of photography).
Statues abound. Of course the low lighting and “no flash” policy don’t allow for super awesome photographs.
Everything was cordoned off including the baptismal font. I don’t recall that when I was there last.
Next up was out trip on the little white train:
We picked-up the train across from the Moulin Rouge.
This is the side street entrance.
We went up and down the streets of Montmartre, getting off at the summit of the butte Montmartre. Those are the views of the city from the butte.
This is my “through the fence” photo of the Eiffel Tower from the far right side of the butte.
This is the front of Sacré-Cœur. I actually took this photo the day we got to our apartment as it is only two blocks from where we stayed.
And this is the “back” side. I am not actually 100% sure which is actually considered the front, and which entrance is considered the back.
This is the outdoor art sale where we got off the train at the top of the hill.
Next up, the boat tour on the River Seine:
Some of the boats offer lunch and dinner cruises and in-port dining.
“Real” barge and boat traffic transverses the Seine.
There are a lot of staircases that lead down to a walkway. Clearly it is a gathering spot.
I am sure there is a fascinating story here.
Backside of Notre Dame.
Neither one of us wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower this trip. Been there, done that. And I am pretty sure there was a strike going on at that time anyway. Still, I am glad I was able to see it from the water. That was new to me.
So that is it for the touristy stops in Paris for us this last trip. I have no idea when or if we will get back. There are so many other places I want to go (once Max is no longer with us), and back to Paris isn’t high on my list (although I am sure it is high on Hubby’s list).
If you are traveling to Europe (or anywhere really) for two weeks (or less), you might be interested in this post: Packing for Europe Using Only a Carry On Bag.
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