July 28 2012
About a block away from Sainte Chapelle was Place St. Michel. My mom and I went and took a picture. Then we headed to Notre Dame. I was really excited about finally seeing it. We walked along the Seine and people watched as we walked. When we finally turned the corner and saw it I was struck by how beautiful Notre Dame really was. We waited on a line to get in. The line to get in moved quickly and I spent the time on line just staring at the building.
Once inside we walked all around. It was very dark so the pictures I took didn’t really come out well. It was peaceful and if we weren’t in a rush to see all of Paris in two days then I would have sat and took it all in. While walking around I kept looking for the line to go into the tower. Since we couldn’t find it we finally stopped and asked someone. They told us the line was outside by the side of the building.
We went outside and saw that the line was huge! It was an entire block long. I didn’t know what to do. I really wanted to go up into the tower, but I hadn’t planned on spending a lot of time on line. I hoped the line would only be 30 minutes so I waited. My mom left me to walk around a bit. She came back 30 minutes later and I was still on line. She took everything but my camera and museum pass from me. I’m so glad she did! After another 30 minutes I was let in. You stop at a gift shop first to buy tickets. The guard saw my museum pass in my hand and let me go straight up! I got a 10 minute jump on the rest of the group. I’m glad I did because climbing those stairs were not easy. I was out of breath. When I finally got to the top I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The view was incredible! I could have looked at it all day. I loved the gargoyles. They had so much personality. One of them was in Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney movie). I visited the bell tower and wasn’t too fond of the small wooden staircase. After that I thought we were headed back down, but I was wrong. Time to climb even higher! The view from the very top was fantastic. The space was tight and I was looking forward to being on solid ground again. The climb down seemed to take forever since it was now 3 levels at once. It made a lot of us dizzy. However, I am so glad I did it. The wait was worth it. It was probably my favorite part of the trip.
I met up with my mom and we started our walk to the Pantheon. Along the way we passed a lot of great stores and bakeries. We stopped in one because they had souvenirs at a decent price. I had over 20 people to buy for so I stocked up. Traffic was crazy and it was fun to watch the activities of the city as we walked. We passed a Hippy thrift store, but unfortunately they were closed. We turned a corner and looked left and there was the Pantheon. It looked like it belonged in Washington DC. We stopped at the top of the steps and sat at the base of the columns. We pulled out the remaining food from breakfast and ate. We had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower from our position.
Time for the museum pass again. We walked around inside. The inside was filled with tributes to the French Revolution and the enlightenment thinkers. The pendulum was cool to watch. We went downstairs into the crypt and saw the tombs of the enlightenment thinkers. I have spent so much time learning about these figures and teaching them. It was strange to see them before me. We used the ladies room and then it was time to head to another site related to the French Revolution.
As we walked to the metro we passed a wedding party. The area near the metro seemed quaint, almost as if it didn’t belong in a city. The metro went outdoors and my inner 5 yr old was excited. I loved seeing the different neighborhoods as we passed by. We got off at the stop for the Bastille. I had read that a piece of the old Bastille still exists in the metro station and there is a line in the station showing where the Bastille was. We easily found it and I was so excited by it. None of the other tourists realized what it was. We exited the train and immediately saw the Place de la Bastille. There isn’t much to see. I liked the subway portion better. It is worth going to if you are a history person and just want to say you were at the site. Otherwise, you can skip it. On a different note, I had spent the last day and half looking for the famous Paris metro art nouveau signs. I finally found them around the Bastille! They were great. My mom loved them as well.