The Marais

notre dame front

Today we explored the Ile de la Cite, where Notre Dame is located, and the 3rd and 4th arrondissements which make up The Marais.

The Cathedrale de Notre-Dame is known as the heart of Paris and was built in the 12th century.  It was almost demolished but Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame revived interested in the Gothic church and resulted in the building being restored.  They have built a massive structure in front of the church to sit on, similar to stadium seating, so you can take a break and view the church leisurely.  You have to arrive early to get the shortest lines for going into the church, although many say the outside is more beautiful.

Rear view of Notre-Dame

The guidebook was definitely wrong about the Hotel de Ville, you cannot enter the building at all (we walked all the way around).  For the winter there is an ice skating rink next to it, which was popular for the kids.  There was a small art exhibition (free admission) located at the rear of the building, but it was mostly written displays and we don’t speak French, so we moved through really quickly!

Then we walked down Rue Francois Miron to see no. 11 and no.13 two half-timbered houses built in the 1300s  that are still standing from the Middle Ages.  It is so amazing how buildings like these are saved here, it is part of what makes walking around so interesting.

no.11- The house with the sign of the reaper
no.13- The house with the sign of the sheep

By mistake we happened upon Rue des Rosiers which is a famous Jewish street for falafels.  You have to be patient and wait, but it was worth it!

Waiting for falafels…

Then we made our way to Places des Vosges which was the first public square in Paris.  Henry IV had his courtiers build homes in the square, but they had to use brick, which was uncommon in Paris at the time and still is today.  The square has changed names many times but is best known as the home of Victor Hugo from 1832-1848 at no.6, which is where he lived when he wrote Les miserables.

Enjoying Place des Vosges

We finished our day up with a friend from Pinehurst that happened to be in Paris for New Year’s as well!  Jennie put together a first class French dinner for us in her hotel room.  Good food, good wine, good conversation and making that human connection,  is what life is all about.  How wonderful that we were able to enjoy a friend and that wonderful feeling of connecting with another person, in such an unfamiliar city.  Just a foretaste of the year to come.  Cheers everyone!

Cheers!

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