May 24, 2014 chartreusian

multi-generational trip to Paris

 

IMG_7660On the way to Normandy – Jonah and I met up with my Dad for a quick 2 day multi-generational trip to Paris.  Actually, it felt a bit like I was in some lame movie –  when we made plans to meet in front of Notre Dame.  Dad was pretty much landing at Charles de Gaulle in the morning about an hour before Jonah and I were leaving Grenoble – some 600km away. Thanks to the TGV we arrived at Gare de Lyon, took the metro, and got to Notre Dame about an hour after him.

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We got two-day tickets for the Batobus – a hop-on/hop-off boat that rolls up and down the river Seine.  Highly recommended. We used it before when we were in Paris with Susan’s mom when Alma was just a baby – and I think it’s one of the best ways to get around the city. Especially if you have limited time -and are dealing with kids, tired people, jet-lag etc. You get from one place to another on a leisurely cruise- rather than trying not to lose kids transferring from one metro to another in a crowded station with the warm-damp air that smells of human urine blowing on you.  (don’t get me wrong – I love the Paris Metro – but it’s not a place I’d want to lose a kid.)

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We had about a day and a half – so it was a bit of a whirl-wind tour.

We actually hit up quite a bit in those hours.IMG_3058IMG_3061

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La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre

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One cool thing that we’ve never done in Paris is the tour of the Catacombs.

 

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Much of the limestone that was used in the construction of many of the buildings in Paris in the 16th century and on, came from a collection of mines – most of which were just outside the city.  Also, many of the cemeteries had been established – some as early on as the 5th century, but some of the remaining ones in the 12th. The city continued to grow which lead to two issues- the cemeteries were full, and the city grew out on top of these abandoned, forgotten about horizontal mine shafts.

 

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By the 1780’s there were occurrences of mass-graveyard walls collapsing in some parts of the city, and buildings collapsing into the ground in others.  Two birds – one stone. The city set up a department to explore, map, and secure the mines.  Then – they decided to use a few sections as a massive underground mausoleum.

1857 map of Catecombs

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The section that is part of the visit is 130 steps down – and about 2km along – some 20m under the streets of Paris.

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The whole thing is rather surreal.

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We saw Sainte-Capelle – the small church on the Isle de la Cité  which was built as King Luis IX private chapel in the early 1200’s.

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The church has  some of the most extreme and well kept examples of high-gothic architecture and stained glass anywhere.

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Notre Dame

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We swung past the Louvre (just to look at the building and gardens), wandered past Centre Pompidou, the Palais Garnier, and so much other stuff that I lost track.  Considering my Dad was just coming off 9 hours of jet lag – I’d say we hit the ground running.

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