DAY 2 Paris: We Score a Touchdown At Our Lady of Paris
**Becauseitzthere is typically a hiking and outdoor adventure blog. But from time to time we will feature other sorts of travel and leisure on these pages. In other words…fu fu travel. And it don’t get no more fu than Paris.**
Day Two was perhaps our favorite day in Paris. We had in mind to visit the third chapel named after a famous football team that we had encountered on this trip to France. This one was somewhat bigger than the others.
Just as we walked into the square, the bells began to toll.
Our itinerary included a tour of the towers of the Cathedral…which most tourists do not attempt, probably because one must climb 387 steps up a narrow, spiral stone staircase. There is no elevator…self-serve only.
But after eleven days of the Alps, heck, what was one mere stone tower to us?
The tour ascends the North of the Cathedrals two towers, stopping along the way in – what else – a gift shop.
Eventually you reach a high balcony where they are fine views if the city, which might have been a lot finer in the days before they were caged in wire for safety’s sake.
There are also remarkable views of the Cathedral’s spire, both towers and some of the grotesque gargoyles that adorn the church’s elaborate rain gutters.
We stopped in for a view of a pair of the Cathedral’s ten large bells, which are impressive. Standing in this belfry is rather ominous, especially because there is a tour guide sitting in a sound proof booth wearing ear protecting headphones. You would NOT want to be here when these things start to go off.
After stopping to see the bells the tour continues to the South Tower, eventually going all the way to the top. Here, the view is truly impressive…in fact, Brian thought this to be the highlight of the entire Paris section of the trip. From here Paris appears splendid, somehow better than from the Eiffel Tower…and the feeling of exposure is great.
Despite the fact that 12 million people visit the cathedral a year — making it THE single biggest tourist attraction in THE single biggest tourist destination on the planet – the tour did not feel very crowded. It was the only place we went where we felt there was actually some room to move around without standing in the way of someone else’s continual parade of selfies.
After the tour we descended the endless spiral of the staircase and joined the endless procession of people winding through the Cathedrals front doors. NOW we felt part of the twelve millions.
Inside was more like a football game than a church. The simple lack of respect showed by many of the tourists was staggering…many weren’t Christians I am sure but, for gosh sake, it’s a house of SOMEBODY’s God, regardless of what you think. Show a little respect and put away the damned phone for five seconds.
It should be pointed out that while the racket and commercialism in the cathedral today are disconcerting, they are not without historical precedent. In fact, during the middle ages the church might have been even MORE packed and louder still, complete with legions of homeless sleeping in the naves and merchants selling wares in the aisles. Notre Dame was probably never a peaceful place during the daytime. I sure would like to come back and see it when the crowds are gone.
After touring the cathedral we walked around Paris’s endless maze of narrow streets before returning to the neighborhood of our hotel to do – what else? – sit in a café and enjoy the evening.
We had two more busy days ahead of us.
Next Up: Day 3…We Finally Reach the Sommet!