Updated: Oct 30, 2019
A visit to Paris would not be complete without a trip to the splendid cathedral of Notre Dame - prominently positioned upon the Îsle de la Cité, surrounded by the Seine, and visible from much of Paris.
Part of the charm of the trip is having to cross the Seine in order to reach the site. Truly the center of Paris!
This celebrated cathedral has an incredible history with its construction having spanned hundreds of years. Each century of building, by artisans and craftsmen, incorporated several different periods of architectural styles into the final outcome. Parts of the original structure were worked into newer additions and so forth, creating something unique.
detail of stained glass window - western facade
I held a great anticipation of experiencing this place; eager to see the built wonder. And you know what? It was wonderful - it was beautiful - and - it was enormous! You have to crane your neck in order to see the top of the bell towers. There is a great satisfaction in finally experiencing something, in person, that you may have heard about for years. Yet another iconic edifice in France.
exterior view of main entrance to Notre Dame - western facade
along the Seine - three French ducks and a river boat
As much as I was amazed with seeing Notre Dame, these resting ducks captured my attention. They were napping between the cathedral and the Seine but they were definitely captivating in a sweet, simple way. A contrast between the majestic and the uncomplicated.
Notre Dame on Îsle de la Cité - from the River Seine
Notre Dame from the south (left bank) - a stunning cathedral
Not to be missed, we next visited Sainte-Chapelle. This delightful chapel was built by King Louis lX within the royal palace courtyard. The chapel was created for the royal monarch - as a treasure box of sorts - to house Christian relics, according to the chapel website. Centuries later, following the French Revolution, the surrounding palace became a prison. Strange to think of this magnificent chapel being surrounded by a prison - la Conciergerie.
red entry door of Sainte-Chapelle
magnificent stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle
I entered this space with no real expectaion only to discover that it was spectacular! The amount of light that enters the royal chapel is exceptional. The colorful jewel-tone light play is simply joyful and lively. Each section of stained glass tells a different pictorial story from the Bible.
scaffolding near the western rose window
Scaffolding is ever present in and around these ancient buildings, which are perpetually being restored. Throughout Paris we saw monument after monument being attentively cared for. I am grateful and impressed that the French culture is dedicated to preserving these irreplaceable gems. Because of this great care, visitors from all over the world can appreciate a long history of culture, art, and architecture.
a carved statue and stained glass window on the lower level of Sainte-Chapelle
column detail at Sainte-Chapelle
tile floor detail at Sainte-Chapelle
Talk about color! The flooring at Sainte-Chapelle is bright and intricate. It has survived centuries of abrasion. I am surprised they let us walk on it! This is just one pattern. Many more are waiting to be discovered...
detail of stone carving - exterior wall of Sainte-Chapelle
I loved this carving at the entrance of Sainte-Chapelle. There is something so crisp and perfect about it. Amazing that it was carved by an artisan - simply beautiful!
a detail on the entry door
I have mentioned before that I am a lover of details. How I loved the iron work on the big red door!
stone carving at Sainte-Chapelle
For me, the light and colorful brightness of Sainte-Chapelle is so beguiling. It is far lesser known than Notre Dame and yet its unique charm cannot be dismissed. It may never be as famous as Notre Dame, but it is a rare jewel in its own fashion.
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Next week I will be switching gears from travel in Paris to a Seattle teen girl's bedroom make-over. See you later!
Photo credits: Notre Dame photos taken by Justin Hill; Sainte-Chapelle photos taken by Valerie Hill