A rainy morning in Paris – Time to meet the Lord and the King

We start this post from where we left the Chartres one. After a splendid day at Chartres we were headed back to Paris. The weather was not ideal, it was drizzling away to glory, it was cold. Thankfully it wasn’t windy to add to our misery.

It was our last day in Paris and France and we weren’t going to let a drizzle get in between us and sightseeing. As I have repeatedly said, 2 full days are not enough to see Paris, so we had to pick what we wanted to see the most and try to fit it in a day.

Our train from Chartres arrived at Gare Montparnasse and we took a metro right across Paris to reach Montmartre and the  Sacre Coeur Basilica. Though it is a relatively new Church the Basilica is a must visit place in Paris. You need to climb a lot of stairs to get to the top of the hill top that the basilica sits on. The other option is taking a funicular ( type of lift/train) to the top that reduces some steps and costs one metro ticket. Budget travellers that we are, we soldiered up the stairs and gave the funicular a miss.

As you reach the top of the stairs you see the huge white onion domed structure that is the Sacre Coeur Basilica. It looks very old but in reality is only 100 years old.

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The Sacre Coeur Basilica

We were dying to get out of the rain and cold and quickly hurried inside. The interior of the Basilica is dominated by a huge beautifully lit Mosaic of Christ exposing his sacred heart ( Sacre Coeur!!)

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The huge Dome under which is the Mosaic that gives the Church its name

After going around the church and looking at the plaque showing how bombs from World war 2 narrowly missed the Basilica and the customary Joan of Arc section we went out. The drizzle was lesser now and I was thankful as I really didn’t want to check the weatherproofing of my Nikon Slr.

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The Joan of Arc glass work – showing her story from soldier to witch to saint

As we walked around the  Basilica and into the heart of Montmartre. Next on the agenda was a relatively low key church whose claim to fame is being one of the oldest churches of Paris, the Church of St Pierre de Montmartre founded in 1147, but it also has pillars from a much older Roman temple that stood here earlier.

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The Oldest Church in Paris – You can see the distinctly older roman pillars at the far end

Somehow the smaller churches have more soul about them than the huge tourist filled cathedrals. As you can see we were among the very few people in this church. We sat on the pews for a while and left the church. It was fitting that this was the last church we visited in Paris.

We then walked through the Place du Tertre which was relatively empty. Usually this place is supposed to be filled with artists who will do your sketch for a fee. The rains and the cold meant fewer tourists and hence fewer artists. There are a lot of Chinese made souvenir shops here and the better half did that  essential part of any trip, buying a few souvenirs for family. Till then my nose drew my to an excellent bakery where I bought some great macaroons to eat along the way.

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Place du Tertre with both Churches in the Background

Montmartre is also famous for its cabarets and especially Moulin Rouge ( Of the movie fame). But it was still morning and that is not my idea of fun so we gave it a pass and descended from the hill to take the metro back to our hotel. Remember we were carrying around our day pack from Chartres and my back was begging for mercy.

It was still 11 am and Paris hotels have a check in time of 2 pm or there a bouts. My plan was to just freshen up at the common toilet at the hotel and leave the check in for later. Surprisingly the hotel gave us our room at 11 am. Maybe it was because it wasn’t peak season. This time it was a room without a view, which turned out to be much larger than our previous room with a view.

We quickly got ready and left for the closest monument , the Invalides dome which houses the tomb of Napoleon and the army museum. We had seen the dome from outside for two days now and finally it was time to go in and meet the Emperor.

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Invalides Dome

The entry is included in the museum pass ( You see how useful that pass is!!) and we stepped in after a security check by soldiers with automatic weapons!! The dome is a magnificent structure from outside and within and a worthy final resting place for Napoleon. Remember, he died in exile of a teeny island and his remains were transported here 20 years after he died.

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The interior of the grand Invalides dome

Inside are the resting spots for Napoleons brothers, son and the Great WW I hero Marshal Ferdinand Foch. The crypt downstairs holds the main attraction, Napoleons huge tomb guarded by angels all around.( For such a small sized man!!) It is surrounded by plaques of his war victories and statues of the man himself. All very grand and royal.

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Napoleon’s Tomb

After reading about the man’s exploits and marvelling at the architecture we left the emperor’s presence. We just didn’t have time for the army museum and its on my list of things to see next time in Paris.

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Napoleon I in all his glory

This part of Paris is chock a block with monuments and museums and next on the list was the Rodin museum with its magnificent bronze statues and beautiful gardens. But that is topic for another post , another day.

The last morning in Paris even though not ideal weather wise, had been one to remember. As had been every part of our trip so far.

Till my next post,

Au Revoir!!

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