Paris Title Image

He Went to Paris
Looking for answers
To questions that bothered him so.

Nope. No questions from me. Despite liking this Jimmy Buffet song, I never had a real desire to visit Paris. Don't know why, I just never did. Becki and I are more nature people, so visiting big cities has never really been our thing. But, we've always wanted to visit Normandy (Becki loves history), which kinda forced us to spend time in the City of Lights. Turned out we had a good time, saw a lot of things we had read and heard about and walked about a million steps over five days. This was the beginning of our three week trip to France, London and Scotland. It was a great start to the trip.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn't the greatest. We've noticed a trend in our travels. The first time we visit a place it always, and I mean always, seems to rain at least part of the time. Paris was no different. Our first day, we battled deluge after deluge. Fortunately, the weather improved day by day, so by the end of our time in the city, we actually saw some flashes of blue sky. We've never let bad weather stop us from doing things and this trip was no different. Unfortunately, you won't see any photos of spectacular sunrises over the River Seine or sunsets with the Tour Eiffel in the foreground. We did see a lot of sights, visited a few museums and had an all around wonderful time - even if we didn't speak the language. Hope you like the photos. Next up will be Normandy.

Day 1

So, what do you do on your first day in Paris when it's raining? Wander along the River Seine and take in as many sights as you can, of course. We stayed in the Latin Quarter near the Notre Dame-St. Michel Metro station at the Residences de la Arts, a quaint boutique hotel about a half a block from the Seine. The hotel had the tiniest elevator we had ever seen. It couldn't have been more than three feet deep and five feet wide. Needless to say, we always took the stairs. In our infinite wisdom to see the sights, we chose to walk to the Tour Eiffel, about forty-five minutes a way, if we followed the river.

Despite the intermittent rain, sometimes quite heavy, we weren't disappoint in our choice. There is so much beautiful architecture along the Seine. We walked past buildings we had seen in movies and read about in books. We crossed bridges we had read about. And mingled with Parisians. Thousands and thousands of Parisians and tourists. One thing Paris does not need is more people. We found it even more crowded than London, which was pretty damn crowded the last time we were there.

Latin Quarter Riverfront - This is a stretch of the Latin Quarter along the River Seine. Our hotel was down a small alley just off the left of the photo.

Notre Dame of Paris - This is the only view we managed to get of Notre Dame. It is still under reconstruction from the devasting fire in April 2019. We did walk around the cathedral, but it is shrouded behind scaffolding and fencing so I wasn't able to get any real good photos of it. Guess we'll just have to come back another time.

The Conciergerie - The Conciergerie is a former courthouse and prison located across the River Seine from our hotel. It was originally part of the former royal palace, the Palais de la Cite. During the French Revolution, 2780 prisoners, including Marie Antoinette, were imprisoned, tried and sentenced at the Conciergerie.

Our forty-five minute walk turned into a little over an hour and a half since we spent time gawking at everything along the way or hiding under cover when it was raining. The one thing that we were in desperate need of finding as we neared the Tower was la toilette. There is a definite dearth of public toilets in Paris (confirmed by other tourists we talked to at different times). The ones we did find were either locked up tight or out of order. The only other ones we found were inside attractions. Just be forewarned if you visit. Oh, we did find a construction port-a-let across the Seine from the Tour Eiffel. Not the best introduction to Paris :-).

Tour Eiffel - The Tour Eiffel is a wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars constructed in 1887. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Locally nicknamed "La dame de fer" (The Iron Lady), it was constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair.

Fountaines du Trocadero - Directly across the River Seine from the Tour Eiffel is Jardins du Trocadero. This is a park area leading to the Palais de Chaillot. The Fontaines du Trocadero, also known as the Fountains of Warsaw, has twelve fountains creating columns of water 12 metres high, 24 smaller fountains and ten arches of water. Please ignore the water spots in the photo. It was near impossible to keep the lens clean in the constant rain.

Tour Eiffel and Fontaines du Trocadero Water Cannons These water cannons are capable of projecting a jet of water fifty metres towards the Tour Eiffel. Unfortunately, only the smaller fountains were going while we visited. I believe the water cannons are only used for special occasions though it must be impressive to witness.

By the time we had wandered around the Jardin du Trocadero and the Tour Eiffel, we were cold and a bit damp from the rain. While the view from the top of the Tour Eiffel might be nice, we didn't make the trip up (28.3Euro/$30.80 to use the lift to the top). I'm sure you get a fabulous view of the city of Paris from the top but without the Tour Eiffel in the view or photo, it just wouldn't be a picture of Paris. Besides, we seldom make trips to the top of tall towers anyway. Maybe next time.

We took the Metro back to Notre-Dame-St. Michel for lunch and a quick trip back to the hotel to dry off and warm up some (temperature was in the low to mid 50s while we were out). Once we were rested up, there were other sights we needed to see.

Rather than walk the entire way, we decided to take the Metro from the Chatelet station (across the Seine from our hotel) to the Arc du Triomph. Apparently, we went in the wrong entrance. I have never walked so far in an underground metro station than I did at Chatelet; had to easily be a quarter of a mile. The Chatelet station served seven different lines of the Metro, plus one line of the RER train. Definitely a busy station. One more observation about the Paris Metro. If you don't like stairs, do not use the Metro. Every station we used had what seemed like miles of stairs. We have never walked up and down so may stairs in our life as we did during our four days in Paris. Sore knees were an everyday occurrence. We eventually found the right line and reemerged into the overcast skies with the Arc in front of us.

Arc de Triomphe - The Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Elysees at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l'Etoile. The Etoile or "star" of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues. And no one uses turn signals or horns. It was both amazing and terrifying to watch the traffic circle the monument. I wish I could have taken a photo from above since that would highlight the twelve (twelve!!) avenues that dump into the circle. Never seen anything like it. BTW, we stood on the sidewalk for an eternity waiting for the moment when traffic slowed enough so I could get the image without any cars in it. Becki hates it when I do that.

Arc de Triomphe - Taken from across the Champs-Elysees from the above photo.

From the Arc de Triomphe, we wandered down the two kilometre long Avenue des Champs-Elysees until we reached the Place de la Concorde. The Champs-Elysees is known for its theaters and luxury, high-end shops (e.g., Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Renault (yes a car dealership) and Bulgari to name a few). It also has stores normal fold shop at: Nike, Foot Locker, Five Guys, and even a K-Mart (located just off the Avenue). The name is French for the Elysian fields, the place for dead heroes in Greek Mythology. It has been described as the "most beautiful avenue in the whole world" but I'm skeptical of that designation.

Luxor Obelisk - With the Arc de Triomphe at the Northeastern end of the Champs- Elysees, the Place de la Concorde is at the Southwestern end. In the center of this plaza is one of the Luxor Obelisks. These are a pair of Egyptian obelisks, over 3000 years old, that were carved to stand on either side of the Luxor Temple during the reign of Ramesses II. The right-hand (western) stone was moved to Paris in the 1830s, while the left-hand (eastern) obelisk remains in its location in Egypt. The obelisk is 23 metres high (75 feet) and is topped with a gold capstone.

From the Place de la Concorde, we would have walked through the Jardin des Tuileries, an expansive 17th century formal garden that is filled with statues. Unfortunately, the skies opened up while we were admiring the obelisk (that and my feet were tired from all the walking and climbing stairs we had done all day. So we took the Metro back to Chatelet, ready to call it a day. Exiting the Metro station found us in a small park, Square de la Tour Saint Jacques. The rain had lessened some, so we spent some time here before heading in for the night.

Tour Saint Jacques - This 52 metre (171 feet) high Gothic tower that was built as part of the Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (Saint James of the Butchers) between 1509 and 1523 during the reign of King Francis I. The church was demolished in 1797 during the French Revolution, leaving only the tower.

Fontaine du Palmier - Also known as the Fontaine de la Victoire, this fountain is located in the Place du Chatelet adjacent to the Tour Saint Jacques. It was design to provide fresh drinking water to the population of the neighborhood and to commemorate the victories of Napolean Bonaparte. It is the largest fountain built during Napolean's reign still in existence.

Day 2

Day 2 and the rain continued. Which would be OK since we were going to spend the first part of the day underground. We took the RER-A train to the center of Paris to a small building that housed the entrance to the Catacombes de Paris. We had read about the catacombs in numerous books and, even those it was a bit macabre, we wanted to see waht the fuss was all about.

The Catacombes de Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the bones of more than six million people. They were created as part of the effort to eliminate the city's overflowing cemeteries. The first bones were interred in 1786, when nightly processions of covered wagons transferred remains from most of Paris's cemeteries to an existing mine labyrinth outside the city. The Catacombs occupy over approximately 8 square KM. Only a 1.5 KM of walkway is currently open to the public.

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris - This warning is over the entrance to the Catacombs: Stop! This is the empire of the dead. To get to this spot, you walked down 131 steps in a spiral staircase. The rest of the walk is almost perfectly flat. At the end, you ascend 112 steps up another spiral staircase.

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris

Paris Catacombs Catacombes de Paris

Paris Catacombs - Barrel of Passion Catacombes de Paris Barrel of Passion

After exiting the Catacomb, 1.5 KM from where we entered, we decided to walk the 3KM back to the St. Michel-Notre Dame area for lunch and to warm up and dry off. Cold, rainy weather does a number of warm-weather Floridians. On the way back we passed by Le Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens), but they were closed for some private function. We did make a short side-trip to the Pantheon which is adjacent to eh Universite Paris-Sorbonne.

Paris Pantheon Paris Pantheon - Built between 1758 and 1790 at the direction of King Louis XV. It was originally intended to be a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, Paris's patron saint. By the time the church was completed, the French Revolution had started. In 1791, teh National Constiuent Assembly voted to transform the church into a mausoleum for the remains of distinguised French Citizesn. Entombed in the Pantheon are Voltaire, Victor Hugo Marie Curie (in a lead-line sarcophagus) and Alexandre Dumas.

Church of Saint Etienne-du-Mont Church of Saint Etienne-du-Mont - This church replaced the one built in 1222 to serve the Colleg of Sorbonne. It was constructed in 1492, absorbing a near-by Abbey of Saint Genevieve. It contains the shrine of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.

Church of Saint Etienne-du-Mont Organ Church of Saint Etienne-du-Mont Organ - First installed in 1636. It was damanged by fire in 1760 and rebuilt by Cliquot. It is the oldest and best preserved original organ in Paris. It is topped by a sculpture of Christ surrounded by angels playing the kinnor, an ancient Hebrew version of the lyre.

After a delicious lunch at Loulou Paris (an Australian restaurent - go figure), we wandered around the St. Michel area until it was time for our timed entry to the Saint Chapelle Chapel. Everything seems to have timed entries now, though it doesn't seem to affect the size of the crowds. I think the quantity of tourists to this small chapel was mainly due to the fact that Notre Dame was closed. But it was on our to-do list even before we left. Unfortunately, as with everywhere we went in Paris, it was extremely crowded. Almost to the point of being claustrophobic. The chapel is located in a small courtyard so it was near impossible to get a good photo of the exterior. But all of the stained glass made it a worthwhile visit.s

Saint Chapelle Chapel Saint Chapelle Chapel - Saint Chapelle is a royal chapel in the Gothic style within the grounds of the Palais de la Cite, the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century. It is on the Ile de la Cite in the middle of the River Seine. Construction began in 1238 and finished in 1248. It has one of the most extensive 13th century stained glass collections anywhere in the world.

Saint Chapelle Chapel Saint Chapelle Chapel - In the chapel's altar are ensconsed 22 religous relics that include the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the Ture Cross. Louis IX (also known as Saint Louis since he was cononized in 1297) worked tirelessly to bring this relics to Paris. He built Saint Chapelle as a monument worthy of this treasure.

Saint Chapelle Chapel Saint Chapelle Chapel - This shows most of the 15 stained glass windows of the chapel. Each window is 15M higfh in the nave and 13M high in the nave. The windows are composed of 113 scenes of the Old and New Testament telling the history of the world (according to the bible) until the arrival of the relics in Paris. I wanted this photo to show the entire chapel area but I also didn't want people in the image. Since there had to be at least a hundred people there with us in that small space, I had to angle to phot up. Not what I wanted to capture, but I still like the image.

Saint Chapelle Chapel Rose Window Saint Chapelle Chapel - This is the end of the chapel opposite the altar. The Rose Window here depicts scenes of tha Apocalypse as described in the Bible.

Day 3

What would a trip to Paris be without a daytrip to the country and the Chateau de Versailles? Versailles is located 19KM (12 miles) west of Paris, so we hopped on the RER-C Train for the journey. Louis XIV expanded a small hunting lodging built by Louis XIII beginning in 1661. In 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of his court and government to Versailles. In 1789 the capitol of France returned to Paris. For the rest of the French Revolution, the palace remained abandoned. Napolean I used Versailles as a summer residence. The palace and associated gardens were desginated a World Heritage Site in 1979.

The visit to Versailles is something everyone who visits Paris should do at least once. The interior of the palace has been impeccably restored and gives you a sense of the opulence associated with the Kings of France. It is also widely popular and, as with everywhere in Paris, the crowds are enormous - even with timed entries. It is difficult to capture the interior rooms of the palace in a photo, so I didn't take many. The expansive gardens on the other hand are also well worth the visit. Once you're outside, the crowds don't seem so overwhelming.

Louis XIV Equestrian Statue Louis XIV Equestrian Statue - This statue was commissioned in 1816 for the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The horse was designed by Pierre Cartellier and the King was designed by Louis Petitot so the dimensions between the horse and king are slightly different. The status was place on the Place d'Armes in front of the palace in 1837.

Chateau de Versailles Royal Gate of the Chateau de Versailles - This ornate gate separates the Cour d'Honneur (which is now a huge parking lot for visitors) from the Royal Court of the Palace of Versailles. The original gate was built in 1772 but was destroyed in 1794 during the French Revolutioon. It's most recent reconstruction was completed in 2008.

Chateau de Versailles Chateau de Versailles - This is the view of the Chateau behind the Royal Gate. I would have included more in the photo except the right side of the building was draped in scaffolding (typical of most monuments in the world these days).

Versaille Royal Chapel Versailles Royal Chapel - Construction of the Royal Chapel lasted between 1689 and 1710. It is the fifth and final chapel built at the Palace. Mass was held here everyday of King Louis XIV's reign. It was also used for orchestral performances.

Versaille Royal Chapel Ceiling Versaille Royal Chapel Ceiling - The Royal Chapel ceiling is a perfect example of how almost all of the ceilings in the palace are painted. One could spend their entire visit gazing upward, very seldom seeing the same scene more than once.

Versaille Hall of Mirrors Versailles Hall of Mirrors - The Hall of Mirrors replaced a large terrace overlooking the garden taht was considered too exposed to inclement weather. Its seventeen arches decord with mirrors face seventeen arched windows overlooking the garden.

Versaille Hall of Mirrors Versailles Hall of Mirrors - The Hall of Mirrors was a place for both social events and demonstrating the political might of Louis XIV. The view is looking towards the Hall of Peace which is now considered part of the Queen's Apartment.

Versaille Hall of Battles Versailles Hall of Battles - Much larger than the Hall of Mirrors, teh Gallery of Battles was the first ensemble chosen by Louis-Phillipe for th Museum of the History of France. It presents an important series of historical paintings dedicated "to all the glories of France." The paintings include one of George Washington and Gilbet du Motier, also known as the Marquis de Lafayette, at the Battle of Yorktown.

Versaille Orangery Versailles Orangery - The breadth and pure lines of the Orangery, built on grounds below the Palace, make it one of the great masterpieces of the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. From May to October it is adorned with 1200 boxes containing orange, lemon, pomegranate and oleander trees.

Versaille Garden Bassin du Midi - Le Rhone Garden Bassin du Midi - Located on the first level of the gardens, the Bassin du Midi is surrounded by bronze statues of nymphs. I believe this statue is titled Le Rhone.

Versaille Garden Bassin du Midi - La Saone Versailles Garden Bassin du Midi - La Saone - This sculpture is on the same Bassin du Midi and is titled La Saone.

Versaille Garden - Latona's Fountain Latona's Fountain - This fountain was inspired by the Metamorphoses by Ovide. IOt illustrates the story of Latona, the mother of Apollo and Diana, protecting her children from the insults of the peasants of Lycia and pleading with Jupiter to avenge her.

Versaille Promenade Versailles Royal Way - The Royal Way is the major east-west axis of teh garden and dates back to when the garden was first built. The pathway is lined on both sides by marble statues that are mouldings of the originals which are in the Louvre.

Versaille Colonnade Grove Versailles Colonnade Grove - IN 1685, the Colonnade Grove repalced the Spring Grove built in 1679. A circular peristyle with a diameter of 40 meters is supported by 32 pilasters that act as buttresses for the archades supporting the 32 columns. The pilasters are made of Langeudoc marble, while the columns alternate betweeen deep blue marble, purple breche marble and Langeudoc marble. The sculpture in the middle is The Abduction of Proserpine by Pluto.

Versaille Neptune's Fountain Versailles Neptune's Fountain - This fountain was built between 1679 and 1682 by Le Notre. The fountain is surrounded by marine decorations on the theme of Neptune. The fountain has 99 jets that bring it alive every hour.

Versaille Dragon Fountain Versailles Dragon Fountain - The fountain represents an episode from the legend of Apollo in which the serpent Python was killed by an arrow shot by the young Apollo. The center Dragon is surrounded by dolphins and cupids armed with bows and arrows riding swans. The main water jet reaches a hight of 27 meters and is the tallest among all the fountains in Versailles.

Day 4

For the first time in Paris, we actually saw blue skies!! Of course, today we were going to spend a lot of time inside. Today was Musee du Louvre Day! Our hotel was a fifteen minute walk to the museum so we strolled along the River Seine again, soaking up the architecture. We had a timed entry and a guided tour, so we were set for a day of museum sightseeing. Needless to say, the hordes were at the museum, so even with a timed entrance we had to wait in line.

Musee d`Orsay - The Musee d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.

Louvre Pyramid Musee d'Louvre - The Louvre is home to some of teh most canonical works of Western art, including the Mona Lisa and teh Venus de Milo. The museum is housed in the Palais du Louvre, orginally built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The museum opened to the public on 18 August 1793 with an exhibition of 573 paitings (mostly royal and confiscated church property). Today, the Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays. In 2022, the museum had 7.8 million visitors. We would swear they all came back on the day we chose to visit.

Louise XIV Equestrian Statue Louis XIV Equestrian Statue - Yet another statue of King Louis XIV.

Musee du Louvre Pyramid Musee du Louvre Pyramid - In 1984, I. M. Pei, personally selected by French President Francois Mitterand, proposed a master plan for the museum including and underground entrance accessed through a glass pyramid in the Louvre's central Cour Napoleon. The Pyramid was inaugurated in October 1988, with the underground lobby opening in March 1989. This is the entrance where most visitor enter the museum (after standing in an enormously long line - off to the right of the photo).

We entered through the Richelieu entrance and not the Pyramid entrance, so there weren't quite as many people in line, but it was still crowded. Our wait was cut short when Becki asked one of the museum employees handling the security check if there was la toilette anywhere nearby. There was not (big surprise). Despite the crowds that swarm the museum courtyards, there are no public toilets anywhere on the grounds - except for inside. Without hesitation, he graciously walked us through the line (ahead of a lot of people) and let us take the escalator down to the museum lobby. Who said the French weren't nice?

Louvre Lobby Louvre Lobby - This is the main museum lobby directly underneath the Pyramid. From here, there are entrances to four separate wings. The winds with the Mona Lisa and the Statue of David are always the most crowded.

Our tour was titled "Another Louvre" and it took us to the less visited areas of the museum. I have to admit, while the tour didn't take us to the more famous pieces, the wing we visited was not that crowded, which was a blessing. We were able to wander about and spend time enjoying the exhibits without the pressure of a gazillion people milling about (see the photo of the Mona Lisa below). This tour concentrated on a lot of sculptures, their Egyptian collections and the paintings of Rembrandt. I only took a few photos, so there's not much to share. But at least we can now say that we have visited the Louvre. Next time, we'll go to Musee d'Orsay, which we heard was just as nice, but not as crowded.

Sculpture Marble Sculpture - I normally take a snap of the information plaque for any artwork I photograph, but for some reason I didn't here. So I have absolutely no clue what the name of this statue is. I do know that it was commissioned by Louis XIV, like most of the statues in this Statue Garden.

Four Captives Four Captives - Four Captives (aka Four Defeated Nations) by Martin Van Den Bogaert, 1686. The captives, four larger-than-life bronze figures symbolize teh four nations defeated at the time of the Treaty of Nijmegan in 1679. The figure in the right forefront represents Spain. The one to the left represents the Holy Roman Empire. The two on the back side represent Holland and Brandenburg.

Milo of Croton Milo of Croton - The famous ancient athlete, Milo, was a frequent winner at the Olympic Games. In his old age, he tried to tear apart the split tree trunk of an oak with his bare hands, but one hand remained trapped. In this work by Puget, a lion is beginning to devour the trapped Milo, who is struggling to release his hand. Completed in 1682.

Bronze Hermes (Mercury) Bronze Hermes (Mercury) - Bronze statue of Hermes (Mercury) tightening his sandals. Didn't catch the date of the sculpture, but again in was during the reign of Louis XIV.

Winged-Bull of the Palace of Sargon II Winged-Bull of the Palace of Sargon II - The Khorsabad courtyard in the Louvre, displays the remains of a gigantic city buillt in the lat 8th centry BC. In the area that is now Iraq, the city was part of the powerful Assyrian Empire ruled by King Sargon. French archaeologists excavated the city in the 19th century. We had the same reaction here as we did in the British Museum. Apparently, in the 19th century, it was perfectly OK for western counties to steel whole walls and structures from the Middle East and Africa. While we appreciate being able to see artifacts like this, I'm not sure we would be too please if Independence Hall was moved from Philadelphia to a museum in Iran.

Saint Matthew and the Angel Saint Matthew and the Angel - There were many Rembrandts on display in the gallery we visited. I thought this one had the most impact (though art is alwasy subjective). He painted this in 1661. It's quite amazing that these types of paintings have been kept intact for over five hundred years. How many of us have something that old from our families? Certainly not me!

After the tour was over, we ventured into the Mona Lisa wing. Along with the thousands of other people there. There was hardly room to walk at times it was so congested. We wandered around a bit, finding the room where the Mona Lisa is displayed, but didn't follow the hordes inside. The museum would be a wonderful place to visit and spend a lot of time if it weren't so damn crowded. I understand the need to let as many people as possible in, but damn, it definitely takes away from being able to enjoy the collections.

Our View of the Mona Lisa Our View of the Mona Lisa - We had good intentions after our tour to take in some of the more popular artifacts in the museum. We started out to find the Mona Lisa. It walking into that wing of the museum to know that we wouldn't last long. Neither Becki nor I like crowds. And the hallways in this wing were beyond crowded. It reminded me of searching out a bathroom at a concert intermission or football game halftime. It was mass chaos everywhere. We found the room with Michaelangelo's painting, peeked in the door and said no thanks. So I took this photo from just inside the room. There had to be close to five hundred people standing in line to get a close look at this. Needless to say, we left soon after this not even bothering to search out the David statue or any of the other more famous artifacts. But at least we can say we've been to the Louvre and seen the famous Mona Lisa.

After a late lunch at a small bistro down one of the side steets near the Louvre, we took the Metro to Monmartre to visit the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. It is on one of the highest hills in the city. There are 222 steps leading from Place Saint-Pierre at street level to the forecourt of the Basilica. We, of course, opted to take the Funicular to the top since we had had our fill of walking up stairs by this time. As with everywhere else in Paris, the forecourt and steps were packed with people, with a serpentine line wrapping around the Basilica for entrance. We chose not to visit the interior, though now I wish we had. And of course, the skies darkened and it began to rain again.

Monmartre has been a place of worship stretching from the Druids in the early single digit centuries, to the Romans with temples dedicated to Mars and Mercury to the Church of Saint Peter built in the mid-12th century. All of the previous temples and churchs were destroyed by fire or revolution. The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur was erected at the end of the 19th century, so it is not very old compared to other churches and chapels in the city.

Basilique du Sacre Coeur Basilique du Sacre Coeur - At the end of 1872, the Archbishop of Paris approved the building of a new church and chose Montmartre as the location. The first stone was laid in 1875 and the Basilica, dedicated to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, was completed, minus the great dome, in 1891. The campanile (or bell tower) and the great dome were completed in 1912 though the Baslica wasn't consecrated until 1919 due to the First World War.

Eglise Saint-Pierre du Montmarte Eglise Saint-Pierre du Montmarte - Eglise Saint-Pierr de Montmartre is a Catholic church that dates back to the 12th century. It is one of the oldest in Paris. It is immediately adjacent to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur.

Basilique du Sacre Coeur Basilique du Sacre Coeur - I took this image from below the Basilica to show a small portion of the crowd that was visiting at the same time we were. I absolutely despise having people in my photos unless I'm using them to show scale of something similar, which is why I didn't really get any good photos of the Basilica. I know everyone has the right to visit just like I do, but damn, do they always have to get in the way of my photos :-)

There is a lot to see in Paris so we only barely scratched the surface. We definitely enjoyed our time in the City of Lights, but I'm not sure we'll be going back any time soon. We've visited several large cities before, but the crowds in Paris were almost too much for us. It reminded us of visiting the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC during the summer, something we've never done since the first time. I don't know what the solution is, or even if a solution is needed, but over-crowding at the world's most intriguing and interesting sights is defintely a problem; at least for us. But, if you don't mind a few of your hundred thousand closest friends following you around on holiday, I recommend a visit to Paris. Next up from our trip will be Normandy.

Here are the links to the other parts of our 2023 trip, listed in the order we visited: