A few weekends ago, I took to the streets of historical Paris again, but this time I was exploring Paris in the Middle Ages with a friend. We set off quite late in the afternoon, so when we got to some of our destinations, they were sometimes closed. It didn’t stop us from seeing the sights though!
One of the first stops was the Notre Dame on Ile de la Cité, which is the oldest part of Paris. It was built on the site of an existing cathedral (Saint-Etienne) in 1163. I’d never really explored the back of the cathedral before, so I was in awe of the intense early Gothic style and the intricacy of the decoration. It really was striking. The north end of the cathedral used to be surrounded by cloisters, where the clergymen associated with the cathedral lived, which are now nothing more than narrow Medieval streets, but they still retain their charm. Whilst exploring these streets, my friend and I stumbled upon Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole – a little restaurant tucked just off the tourist tat-shop streets.
Also on Ile de la Cité, you’ll find the Marché aux fleurs (it’s not on the tour, but we stopped there anyway). It’s been going since the early 1800s, and you can find a huge variety of flowers and plants. They’ve also added a bird market too!
The next few stops were churches, including Sainte-Chapelle, but we arrived too late and it was already closed! Thankfully Saint-Sevérin was still open and we even arrived mid-service! It is built in the flamboyant Gothic style, which is swiftly becoming my favourite branch of architecture just because of the name alone. We moved further south of the river towards the Sorbonne and the Pantheon. I know I’ve already visited (and blogged) the Panthéon but I cannot get enough of this building! There’s always a new angle to catch, and the light is always spot-on.
We finished our evening with a meal in a little restaurant looking onto the Panthéon and the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. The church is also amazing on the inside. The spiral staircases curled around the columns at the sides were a definite highlight!
I’ll definitely be heading back there soon! Again, the page I found these history walks is historywalksparis.com – please do check it out!