Today was our last day in Paris and our last full day in continental Europe. Basically today it was very clear just how close we are to the end of our trip!
Our main sight for this morning was a repeat from our first trip here: we returned to the church of St. Chapelle. For all of the basic information on the church please refer to “I hope no one steals my lipgloss…” After traveling around Europe for 4 months and walking through what seems like a million variations of religious buildings, this is definitely still Kristin’s favorite church. It’s close to the top of Justine’s, but she’s just not as good at ranking them…too indecisive.
The church on round two did not disappoint. When we got upstairs, the stained glass was as marvelous as ever. So much color and detail…we’ve heard a rumor that the second floor is at least 80% glass! Unlike last time, we were there very early and weren’t faced with enormous crowds. The room housed only a few people so you could get a fuller view of things and appreciate the building as a church and not just a gorgeous building.
When we left the chapel we finished up some last minute purchases and walked around the historic core of the city one more time. It seems we will never get used to the site of Notre Dame standing out in the centre of Paris. This time we also walked past the Hôtel de Ville or City Hall. They were in the process of setting up a skating rink in front. We imagine it will be a magical site when it’s done, but right now it just looks likes a North Pole construction site.
For a quick lunch we visited the Champs Élysées Christmas market for a final time. Today we had some delicious French Onion soup. We watched them scoop it out of the giant pot and top it off with plenty of cheese and chunks of bread. Delicious!
Our afternoon activity was a Sandeman’s walking tour, although it unfortunately was not free. We had wandered through the Montmartre area on our previous Paris stop and had considered it one of the most interesting parts of the city. It’s a bit younger & trendier…fitting as it was the scene of Paris’ bohemian age. Being as it seemed full of stories we would want to hear, a walking tour of the area was welcomed.
Like first of all: The hill of Montmartre got it’s name from the execution of St. Denis (remember him from yesterday??). He was decapitated on this hill and it became known as the ‘Hill of the Martyrs’ or ‘Mont Martre’ en Francais. We heard this story while standing in a park that is supposedly on the spot of the Saint’s murder. The park was very familiar to us as we had once ate a baguette, cheese & meat supper here…and wondered what the possibly Italian tour guide was telling her group who stopped basically on top of us while we were eating.
We stopped in front of an apartment building where Vincent van Gough and his brother once lived. Van Gough lived that troubled artists life. He never really had a career, stayed with his more successful brother, failed at numerous employment opportunities and eventually ended up in a mental institute. However, during his stay with his brother he decided to become a painter and painted numerous canvases. Following the death of van Gough, his brother sold these paintings and van Gough became the famous Vincent van Gough we know today.
The tour highlighted the two windmills on the hill of Montmartre. The hill used to be far from the centre of Paris and was filled with windmills creating the staple food for the people of Paris: crépe. Only one of these windmills remains, the Moulin de la Galette. Today it can still function and is now an expensive restaurant.
The most famous windmill is the Moulin Rouge. This renowned cabaret, on the site where an actual red windmill once stood, was actually built to be the biggest and bestest cabaret in the world. When Paris was preparing for the World Fair in 1889 (and building famous towers) they decided to build a “typical” Paris cabaret that would draw the Fair tourists to the Montmartre area. As opposed to the struggling club people think the Moulin Rouge got it’s start as, it was actually world famous from the moment it opened it’s doors.
Our tour concluded with our complimentary glass of wine at a bar just down from the Moulin Rouge. We had a small group of only 7 for the tour, so when 3 people opted out of the wine it ended up just being our guide (a 24 year old Music/Education student named Adam), us and a 40-ish year old couple from Atlanta. When we finished our glass of wine the Georgians decided the evening shouldn’t be done yet and bought a bottle for the table to share…and then they bought another…and then another… Well, that set the tone for the night and our 2pm tour turned into much longer event than 2.5 hours. What is it with older couples buying us alcohol?
What We Miss:
Being able to go on the internet on our phones at any moment…it’s nice to be so connected!
Love, Luck & let’s tell every embarrassing story or anecdote about Kristin we know…