As part of my birthday celebrations and presents, I was treated to a weekend in Liverpool with my sister. She’d bought me tickets to see Steps at the Echo Arena which was absolutely incredible, as well as a huge nostalgia trip!
We did also get the chance to wander along the waterfront and potter around the Museum of Liverpool for an hour or so. Liverpool is such a fantastic city, and it’s brilliant for shopping too. I may have spent one or two pounds in John Lewis!
To finish up this tour of the Île de la Cité, we headed to the Notre-Dame, one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. The first stone of this spectacular structure was laid way back in 1163 by either Bishop Maurice de Sully, or Pope Alexander III, no one really knows. It was built to replace the existing Parisian cathedral, Saint-Etienne. Bishop Maurice de Sully had it torn down as it wasn’t ‘worthy’ of the city, and so he began works on Notre-Dame. Well that’s the story anyway. Archaeological excavations suggest there was a huge structure there before construction began on the cathedral as we see it now.
We’re on the home straight now in this series on the Île de la Cité with this fourth part about the Palais de Justice. First things first though. The Palais de Justice is really two things. It can refer to the Palais de la Cité complex, which includes the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle. But it can also refer to the overground buildings containing the courtrooms. In this post I’ll focus more on the activities in the overground buildings, but there’s a little bit of a mix.
Here we are again, back on the Île de la Cité, and into one of the most colourful churches on Earth. Like the Conciergerie, Sainte Chapelle is part of the Palais de la Cité complex which sits in the heart of the island.
Part 2 of my Île de la Cité ventures took me to the Conciergerie, has been at times a prison, a royal residence, and is now a museum and functioning courts. This, along with Sainte Chapelle, are the last remnants of the oldest royal palace in France, which is pretty awesome. Before starting this properly, this one will be more of a history lesson than photographical exhibition, so you have been warned!
A few weeks ago, my friend, Connie, and I spent an entire day on the Île de la Cité to take in all that it has to offer, which is a surprising amount for such a small piece of land. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting about and uploading my photos from this trip, in a sort of series, I suppose! Some of them may be heavier on the stories behind the locations, but today we’ll start more visual with the Marché aux Fleurs!
Home to thousands of plant species, the Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden in France, and forms one eleventh of the ‘Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle’ (No prizes for guessing it’s English translation). It’s also right over the road from the Grand Mosque of Paris so it’s easy to combine a trip to both places in the same afternoon.
There is no prettier site, I think, than Paris when the sun is setting, and this time I witnessed it from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc itself is smack-bang in the middle of the Etoile roundabout, and at the end of the world famous Champs-Élysées.
Set all the way out on the eastern side of Paris, the Château de Vincennes was used as a royal residence since the 12th century. Given its historical significance in France, I couldn’t say no to going – so my dear friend, Connie (who has featured on other posts, and also has her own blog) and I took a little trip to check it out!
Construction began on the keep at the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War, and was finally completed circa 1370 under Charles V. The protective walls and nine towers were also built around this time, surrounding the keep and the manor.
An extra protective measure surrounding the castle is the moat, which was, at one time, filled with water.
Also on the site, and the first place Connie and I went into, was Sainte-Chapelle. It was modelled on the church of the same name on the Île de la Cité in the middle of Paris, and was founded by Charles V in 1379. At the moment however, the exterior, and part of the interior, is covered in a ridiculous amount of scaffolding. Fantastic. I did try to get a few shots without the steel monstrosity, but it was harder than expected.
One part of the church that wasn’t touched by scaffolding (on the inside at least) was the rose window above the entrance. There were so many great colours in it, and fortunately there’s a staircase that takes you up onto a balcony directly below said window, allowing for dramatic angles to be captured.
Unfortunately, works are scheduled to continue throughout the next year, and probably beyond given the apparent lack of activity on the site when we were there. So, to conclude, there is little chance of a quick update sans scaffolding.
Either way, Connie and I then meandered our way over to the keep, which is probably the main attraction on the site.
Through some of the troubled periods in the 16th and 17th centuries, the monarchs of France would take refuge behind the walls of the castle. Louis XIV also added to the castle before moving permanently to his palace in Versailles, which meant that Vincennes lost its ‘royal residence’ status.
The square tower in the centre of the ‘keep complex’ has six floors, which all have the same layout, and stands at 50m tall.
Around the square tower, you’ll find a terrace which was used by the kings to walk around the keep and view the site, and further afield. Now, the city of Paris has developed and the landscapes are a far cry from those of the past.
Inside the keep, in one of the turret rooms, there was a small chapel, which was used solely by the king. The walls have been so well preserved, there is still some paintwork visible.
But what I really loved though, were the views through the windows in the treasury room. The glass was slightly stained in a variety of colours which provided great natural filters for the view outside.
After our trip to the castle, we wandered through the town of Vincennes, which is well worth a trip if you’re at a loss of things to do in Paris (which probably won’t happen!) It’s a great place, with open spaces, and right on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes. The forest (bois) is huge, and is home to many different attractions. On a sunny, Summer day I’ll have to return and take in the greenery.
In 1969, the train line from Bastille to Vincennes was closed down, but the path taken by the line still exists, and is now the Coulée Verte. It’s a 4.7km trail which runs from the old station in Bastille (now the Opéra) to the Bois de Vincennes further east. The route is lined with a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers, which look fantastic now the spring is in full flow.