Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Exploring Paris Day 2 part 1 - 07/03/2013

We saw a whole bunch of stuff on our first full day in Paris. So much that I'm breaking it into 4 different posts!

I had some concerns the night before that the noise from the metro would be constantly waking us up all night, but luckily it never did!

Ruston and Jacob met Theresa and I at 9am and we all headed out for some breakfast.  We found a small grocery shop just down the street where they were baking the croissants fresh right there and are constantly pulling new ones out of the ovens.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a fresher croissant that wasn’t Pillsbury.  These were delicious! Plus they had almost a liter of Tropicana premium no concentrate apple juice with a coupon for 1 euro off, making the bottle only 1.35 Euro.  We enjoyed a tasty and cheap breakfast and were read to attack the day.

I always appreciate the well organized Metro lines whenever we're traveling. We're going all over the city today and exclusively using the trains. 

First stop is the OpĂ©ra National de Paris.  Exiting the subway, we could see this huge opera building in front of us, but it looked a lot different than the pictures in the Rick Steves guide. We thought we were in the right place, but not 100%.

We walked a few steps back then got in the middle of the crosswalk in an intersection and could see it much better, so we took photos from there.

We walked up close to it, then around to the side.  There is some remodeling being done to the outside and the parts that are finished at least are looking much better.

Check out the Before on this side.

And the After on the other.

We walked inside to see what we’d get if we paid for a tour, however they said the main auditorium was closed due to rehearsals, so we declined. The Phantom of the Opera is based on this opera house, so the auditorium is a must see if we were to do a tour. Maybe we’ll be back on Saturday when the auditorium is open.

Instead, we circled the building, looking at all the sculptures and adornments.

Time for our next stop. We hopped back on the Metro and started heading towards Notre Dame Cathedral. The Metro stop is on the other side of the river, so we had a nice stroll while we made our way to the church.

Ruston reminded us that the Hunchback of Notre Dame song "Out There" where Quasimodo sings “Out there, strolling by the sand”, is actually “Out there, strolling by the Seine.”  I never really understood that. Now that makes a lot more sense. Ruston continued to sing us various songs from the Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame move until we finally reach it.

We get to the front, and there is a huge structure taking up the whole courtyard. It’s got platforms and ramps and a large sitting section. I wonder why it's here? I really would have preferred the big open courtyard.

We sit and as Ruston called it, bask in the cathedral. Ruston reads to us the history of the cathedral from the Rick Steves guide while we bask.

Oooh. Gargoyles!

The outside looks great, but now it's time to head inside! We find the line and it stretches all the way across the courtyard. We’re not sure how long it’s going to take to get into the cathedral.

We line up and I’m surprised there aren’t more gypsies around?  Last time we were here, I remember the place being full of them. I am seeing a much bigger police presence here than last time though, so maybe that’s keeping it down. Beside the line is a statue of Charlemagne, one of Ruston’s ancestors. 

He gets a family photo in front of him.

The line moves really quick and within 10 minutes or so, we’re ready to enter.

The entire center of the nave is closed for mass.  We get in right around 11:55 and mass is at noon.

We circle around to the various chapels.

We get a pretty good view of the South Rose window. Beautiful.

I’m still curious why these crazy smiling guys are at the very top of ceiling.

We exit the chapel, but Ruston never did find the “Steps of Notre Dame” mentioned in the Alan Menkin song, "The Bells of Notre Dame".  The lyrics go “See there the innocent blood you have spilt on the steps of Notre Dame.” We never could find those steps. It’s all flat here. 

Our museum pass gets us up to the top of the Notre Dame bell towers for free so that's where we'll be going next.

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