Paris in a Day – Cathedrals: Day Two
You can’t do all of Paris in a day, but you can see a few cathedrals.
Of course, this is the most famous cathedral in Paris, but you can’t get inside to visit it due to the 2019 fire. It’s scheduled to reopen in December 2024. So here’s the next best thing.
Yes, it really is that stunning. Just a few blocks from Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité (City Island) in the River Seine, this stained glass “Holy Chapel“ is often missed by tourists but well worth the visit. It was commissioned by King Louis IX to hold his relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Louis was the only French king to be canonized: as Saint Louis.
It has one of the most extensive 13th-century stained glass collections anywhere in the world.
By the way, you’ll be close to The Conciergerie, which, while you won’t have time to visit, is famous for holding almost 3,000 prisoners of the French Revolution during the Reign of Terror, including Marie-Antoinette, her husband King Louis XVI (the only French king to be executed), and Maximilien Robespierre. They were sent to execution by guillotine at Place de la Révolution, which is now known as Place de la Concorde.
It was a court and prison. Now you know why a hotel concierge has a pair of keys on their lapel.
Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of Montmartre (Mount of Mars). From its dome two hundred meters above the Seine, the basilica overlooks the entire city of Paris and its suburbs. It is the second most popular tourist destination in the capital after the Eiffel Tower.
Montmartre (featured in the Gene Kelly film American in Paris) has been an artist community since the Belle Époque, the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Monet, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, and van Gogh lived there.
The church is considered the site associated with the martyrdom of St Denis. The patron saint of Paris was beheaded, but he picked up his head and walked to Montmartre. You can see his headless statue on the left portal in front of Notre Dame.
It affords one of the most comprehensive views of the city with many nearby shops and restaurants. The inside of the church reveals bomb holes from World War II.
Part 1 discussed Paris Museums.
To be concluded with Paris Monuments in part 3.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian