Paris part II: Graffiti market trucks, going to church and a dead rock star
If you want to catch up and read part I first, you can do it here.
Spray-painted market trucks
After we switched hostel (Yes, I didn’t mention this in the first part and I don’t feel the need to get into this) we were located near the Belleville metro station. We decided to walk to Pere La Chaise, since it was basically on the same street, although the street name changes every block. On Boulevard de Belleville there was apparently a big market, the Marché de Belleville, with all kinds of exotic food, clothing, rugs and what not, but the thing that I noticed was that there were a lot of trucks sided along the market stands that were covered with graffiti. Apparently this is a thing in Paris, but it doesn’t seem to be a marketing thing and it isn’t clear whether or not the owners commissioned it. – continued below ⇓
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My dad is a big Doors fan so I kind of grew up with their music and of course the voice of Jim Morrison. As a kid I didn’t like my dad’s music, but after I started playing guitar I my taste in music slowly started gravitating towards the tunes my old man played all the time. When I grew older I became a big Doors fan myself so when I planned my trip to Paris I had to say hi to Jim at Père-Lachaise cemetery. After a nice walk and a cup of coffee to go, we reached our destination. – continued below ⇓
It felt kind of weird though, a graveyard as a tourist attraction. You know that people are buried there, but I experienced it more like a walk in the park or something. I didn’t have a feeling that we were surrounded by death. You don’t feel that way, when you see all those other people stepping over graves and making photographs and stuff too. At last we found Jim’s gravestone, just like the handful of people already there. I stood there behind the fence for a couple of minutes thinking and then I left, still not feeling anything in particular.
Tip: Only go if you’re a big fan or admirer of Jim Morrison or someone else who’s buried there. Or when you actually have a relative or friend who’s buried there, but that’s a different story. – continued below ⇓
This is it, Jim Morrison grave. Whether he was really burried there is still disputed | Photo: Maic Oudejans
There are few things in life that get me more exciting than seeing a beautiful building. Paris of course has plenty and some of them are churches. We visited three of them: The Notre Dame, The Sainte-Chapelle and Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.
The Notre Dame
The Notre Dame is almost mandatory when you’re visiting Paris for the first time (or second time, when you went to Disneyland as a kid). We decided to only see the ground floor hall, with the nave, the transept, the choir and the altar, because it is free and we had limited time before we had to go to The Louvre. But it was as impressive as advertised, the early gothic exterior with all the decorations and the towers, the high arching ceiling, the stained glass artwork and just the sheer size it all. You should definitely pay a visit if you can.
Tip: Don’t be fooled by the long line of people outside waiting to get in. It’s worth it and you’ll be inside a lot faster than you would think. – continued below ⇓
On the left you see the nave of the Notre Dame with it’s ceiling from the front. The right one is a side shot | Photo: Maic Oudejans
Conciergerie and the Sainte-chapelle
Is there stained-glass in the world that’s more impressive than that in the Sainte-Chapelle? Probably not and that’s why we went there. The church is located on Ile de la cite and is part of the Palais de la cite, which was the residence of the Kings of France from the sixth century until the 14th century. Besides the Sainte-Chapelle, the building houses the former Conciergerie, and the Palais de la Justice, which is still being used to this day. You can see the lawyers who are trying to keep criminals out of jail on the steps right in front of the building. It’s a great sight.
We went to the Conciergerie, first, because we bought combo-tickets for both and the Sainte-Chapelle wasn’t open yet. We regretted it soon after. The Conciergerie was the place where Marie Antoinette was being held captive during the French Revolution. Besides a couple of prison cells and a medieval hall with a nice ceiling there wasn’t much to see. One floor was being closed for restorations though, so maybe that would have been interesting, but the French never tell you beforehand that it’s closed, do they?
They don’t, but the Sainte-Chapelle made up for it though. Check it out.
Tip: Just buy a ticket for the Sainte-Chapelle only. Although you’re inclined to go to the ticket office of the conciergerie which only sells tickets for either the conciergerie or the conciergerie and the Sainte-Chapelle, there’s another ticket office on the other side of the gate of the Palais de la Justice which has tickets for the Sainte-Chapelle only. – continued below ⇓
The Saint-Étienne-du-Mont was a big surprise to us. We actually planned to go to the Pantheon, but decided last minute no to go in. We walk around the Pantheon and then this gorgeous church popped up. It’s as beautiful from the outside as it is on the inside. I love the little narrow tower on the front of the building as well as the twisting white stone steps on the inside. The Saint-Étienne-du-Mont contains the shrine of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris and was a pretty big deal back in the day. Nowadays it’s kind of overlooked (I guess) because of the Notre Dame and the Sainte-Chapelle, but it’s worth a visit if you’re on the neighbourhood (to see the Pantheon for example).
Tip: Just go there, it’s free. And walk all the way to the back. There’s another room there that has a stained glass artwork of the Arch of Noah with a unicorn in it. Pretty neat.