Thursday, January 28, 2016

France 2015 - Day 10 - Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur

We took the hop on hop off up to Montmartre to check out the Sacré-Cœur Basilica

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. 

A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighbourhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. (Wikipedia

Paris Skyline

After looking around we took a ride in a tourist train back down

A garden on the Butte

Street Scenes

Sometime that day we went past the National Academy of Music 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

France 2015 - Day 10 - The Catacombs

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the remains of about six million people.

The Paris Catacombs have their origins in the limestone quarries situated on the outskirts of the city. This natural resource has been in use since the time of the Romans, and provided construction material for the city’s buildings, as well as contributed to the city’s growth and expansion. It was only after during the second half of the 18th century, however, that the former limestone mines (now under the city as it expanded over the centuries) were transformed into burial places.

The ossuary was founded when city officials were faced with two simultaneous problems: a series of cave-ins starting in 1774 and overflowing cemeteries, particularly Saint Innocents.

This gave rise to improper burials, open graves, and unearthed corpses. Quite naturally, people living close to such places began complaining about the strong stench of decomposing flesh and the spread of diseases from the cemeteries.

Nightly processions of bones from 1786 to 1788 transferred remains from cemeteries to the re-enforced tunnels, and more remains were added in later years. 

The underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis since 1874 with surface access from a building at Place Denfert-Rochereau.

(From Wikipedia and

Going Down

Steps down to a well 

And another well

Signs of the wall tell you what street is above you

This notes that an aqueduct is near (or was where we were standing ) 

Some Carving in the limestone


The tunnels are about 7-8 feet tall.

Each collection has a sign tells you the section of the cemetery (or the cemetery itself) and when those remains where moved to their current locations in the Catacombs

Only the major bones were stacked or arranged neatly, the rest were thrown over the back of the wall formed by the major bones

The green is mould from water dripping on the remains

There is one section that contains remains of those killed during the French Revolution (not sure if this is it) You can see bullet holes in some of the skulls 

Beyond begin the halls and caverns of walls of carefully arranged bones. Some of the arrangements are almost artistic in nature, such as a heart-shaped outline in one wall formed with skulls embedded in surrounding tibias; another is a round room whose central pillar is also a carefully created "keg" bone arrangement. Along the way one would find other "monuments" created in the years before catacomb renovations, such as a source-gathering fountain baptised "La Samaritaine" because of later-added engravings. There are also rusty gates blocking passages leading to other "unvisitable" parts of the catacombs – many of these are either un-renovated or were too un-navigable for regular tours.

It's not often you get to photograph remains like this so I've tried some arty shots

Although the Paris Catacombs are still open to the general public today, access is limited to only a small fraction of the network. It has been illegal since 1955 to enter the other parts of the catacombs.

Nevertheless, during the 1970s and 80s, the catacombs have been explored illegally by Parisian urban explorers known as Cataphiles. Some of the spaces have even been restored and turned into creative spaces. One of these underground caverns, for instance, was transformed into a secret amphitheatre, complete with a giant cinema screen, projection equipment, a couple of films and seats. The neighbouring area was revamped into a fully-stocked bar and a restaurant, perhaps where the patrons of the amphitheatre could get a snack or a meal.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

France 2015 - Day 9 - Sightseeing

As this was our third visit to Paris we elected to skip the usual spots and just do the Hop On Hop Off bus. 

It wasn't the best day but as we were tired it was a good way to spend the day sitting down and seeing some of the places we'd not seen before.

First off was a look at my next car.

Arc de Triomphe

The  back of Rodin's best known work The Thinker.

Les Invalides, commonly known as Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids), or also as Hôtel des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dôme des Invalides, a large church with the burial site for some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Seine looking towards the rear of Notre-Dame de Paris

Gardens near the Louvre

Musée du Louvre  - The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine 

French Parliament

On of the many bridges over the Seine. Many of these are adorned with padlocks which couples have placed there and thrown the keys into the river. 

French National Library. They built 4 L shaped buildings around a square

Wavy Bridge near the library

Madeleine Church; more formally, L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine;  is a Roman Catholic church occupying a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The Madeleine Church was designed in its present form as a temple to the glory of Napoleon's army.

The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. Measuring 8.64 hectares (21.3 acres) in area, it is the largest square in the French capital. It is located in the city's eighth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées.

The Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation, 

Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the 19th century. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. In the 1990s, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.

The obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The self-declared Khedive of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, offered the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1829. It arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833. Three years later, on 25 October 1836, King Louis Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde.

 Champs-Élysées looking from the Place de la Concorde up to the Arc de Triomphe

And we finished off the evening with a show at the Moulin Rouge