When Louis IX (Saint Louis) ordered the Sainte Chapelle to receive the relics of the crucifixion he had acquired (crown of spines, fragments of the Holy Cross), he chose to include the church in the Palais de la Cité to mark the link between sovereignty and religion.
The "Chapelle basse" was used by the commoners for the parochial worship, while the relics were kept in the "Chapelle haute", reserved to the king and his close relatives.
What strikes, when entering the chapelle basse, is the colour, the deep red and blue so often seen faded in other places are here their full splendor. And the Chapelle haute, nearly wall free, is an amazing vessel of light
The Revolution heavily damaged it. The external decorations were destroyed, along with the towers. Restorations were done in the 2nd half of the 19th century and again after storm damages in 1999.
The place is no longer used as a place of worship but often as a concert hall and, several times a year, religious ceremonies are organized there by the lawyers, for instance for Saint Yves' (their patron) day.
Caution : The Sainte Chapelle, being IN the Palais de Justice, the access queue can be long due to an airport type security check. It may go fast but when i was waiting, a lady managed to block the queue 5 good minutes, keeping the metal detector beeping. After she had removed her belt, watch, empty her pockets, the gendarmes had her removing her ankle chains, necklaces, armbands, earrings – for each item, the device beeped and she kept mumbling ‘gold, gold’ and the gendarme “no Ma’m gold doesn’t beep that loud’. At the end she passed; when they gave her the bucket where her belongings were stored, she dumped it in front of her husband(?)’s feet and began yelling (I didn’t understand everything but obviously accused him of giving her fake jewelery (the gendarmes where coughing, sneezing, and the other visitors laughing like mad).
Maybe not an absolute must see, but a good place to go when the queues are too long for the Sainte-Chapelle (it's just a couple of meters from there and i quite never have seen any noticeable queuing (a good place to buy your museum pass) - this certainly comes from the level diffrence in the security check.
The Conciergerie began its existence as a part of the royal palace in the 9th century (the oldest parts remaining today are from the 12th century).
When the kings, at the end of the 14th century, left the building to live in the Louvre, they maintained a janitor : the 'Concierge' in charge , thus the name.
From this time, the place was used as a barrack for the men in arms (the gendarmes), the huge salle des gens d'armes is now often used for temporary exhibitions (for instance during 1st semester 2006 : photos of the Seine from 1900 on).
The place is famous for having been the jail of the royal family (among numerous charged people) during the Revolution: you can see Marie-Antoinette's cell, the 'Chapelle des Girondins' where the prisonners used to hear their last mass and the 'Cellule de la toilette' where they left their last belongings and had their hair cut before going to the guillotine.
The Conciergeries is open every day from 9:30 to 18:00.
Despite what its name may suggest, the Pont Neuf (the new bridge) is the eldest bridge in Paris.
Built between 1578 and 1604 (ordered by Henri III, finished under Henri IV whose statue stands upon the bridge's platform), linking the Ile de la Cite to both the right and the left bank of the Seine, it was the first one where no house building was allowed.
It has long been (until the 1789 revolution) a favourite area for popular open air attractions, like comedia del arte and juggling.
Some minor renovations had to be done in the past (some 'spare' and discarded pieces can be seen in the musee Carnavalet), but the old bridge remains in such a good state that the french expression 'Se porter comme le Pont Neuf' is still a synonym for beeing incredibly healthy (if not very young).
As long as history is recorded, the place where Notre Dame de Paris stands has been a place of devotion : pagan first, christian later.
The construction of the now existing cathedral stretched between the 12th and the 14 th centuries.
After the 1789 revolution, except for Napoleon's coronation in 1802, the Cathedral had been a bit neglected and was badly in need of some renovation when - in 1831 - Victor Hugo published his novel "Notre Dame de Paris". This rekindled the interest for medieval buildings among parisians and government officials, making fund raising posible. A vast restoration program was decided and begun in 1845 (architect Viollet-le-Duc) lasting more than 20 years, The spire and the sacristy were added at this time.
From 1991 on further important renovations were done, and in spring 2006, the scaffoldings were at least removed. For how long ? the pollution and the high frequentation always induces some new renovating need.
Accounted as the most striking examples of the style known as Ile-de-France Gothic, Notre-Dame is one of the most visited monuments in Europe.
In summer, the number of tourists -dumped here busload after busload - sometimes becomes overwhelming. But, if you are able to ignore the noise and movement, you can appreciate the special nature of what is still a sanctuary, to admire the stunning architecture, the light filtering through the stained glasses, to pray or meditate, or, on a sunday afternoon, to listen to a (free) organ concert.
To continue the visit (both from outside and inside) clic here
(Just my prayer here : Visitors, PLEASE respect Notre Dame as a church, don't turn it into a circus, a flashlight test or a phone booth).
The tours of Notre Dame, are the tours to the tower, from here you can enjoy great views of Paris.
You can also see all the gargles, and imagine yourself as Quasimodo, ok if you prefer you can be Esmeralda lol. Check on warnings to see the new version of Quasimodo lol
This is the cell of Marie Antoinette whose cell is preserve and made a chapel, you can see how in the second room the guards where checking her all the time, making sure that she did not escape. In the second room they were playing card the guards until the time to take her to the guillotine
During the tour you can see the cells of many of the people that where waiting for the guillotine, of course Robespierre’s is there and it is mentioned many times.
This one is an example. Depending on how much money you had you could have a better room, only for you, or shared with beds, and the ones with no money well …. You can imagine how they were lol
At Saint Chapel again but on the top floor, where the stained glasses are, also you can see statues of saints (not sure now, I think they were saints, but maybe they were kings lol.
Anyway here you can also see the stained glasses at the back. Just a beauty!
this is the arch of the entrance door to Saint Chapel. A typical example of the gothic archers.
A critic…. Why there are so many souvenirs shops on the national monuments and churches? It was incredible, and all had the same stuff…
Anyway at the end there is an area with wall painted and decorated with the symbols of the royalty (flower of lis)
I loved the entrance iron doors with the golden parts.
Here was also where the revolutionary tribunal made their decisions.
Security access, and also this is the entrance to Saint Chapel.
And now serious, Don’t you imagine how it was in the old times? Or maybe I have read too much lol of that times….
We were amazed of their stained glasses, we could not stop enjoying them, even we nearly forgot to take photos lol
To enter is valid the Paris Museum Card and it is sited inside the Justice Palace.
At the ground floor you will find the habitual souvenir shop that you will find everywhere and at the right take the steps to visit the Chapel.
We visited several times from outside at day time and also at night time
As you may know I love Gothic and specially its cathedrals (Burgos, Leon, Toledo in Spain...) we missed Reims due to lack of time, but hope to come back
This is the palace of Justice from the XIV century, it has an impressive history.
The tour consist in visiting around the cells where many famous people spend their last days and minutes before going to the guillotine deserves …..
The Salle des Gardes and the Salle des Gens d'Armes even if the look desolated make you come back in time and feel how it could be on that dates. Just impressive!
Some of the most famous prisoners were Marie Antoinette (whose cell is preserve and made a chapel) Danton, Desmoulins o Robespierre
It is included in the Paris Museum pass.
Gives a good view of the city, although not the best. Still the best reason to climb the hundreds of stairs is to see the many gargoyles. It's also been made famous as the home of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame. (More pictures in the travelogue)
This is the best known church in Paris. It is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. It is also the site where many of France's kings and queens were married. Tours are provided to the crypts and belltowers for a fee.