Eglise du Dome Church
Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
This was our first day on our own, with the departure of our son's family for Korea. It's always sad to be away from grandchildren when you've gotten used to having them around. But, this was vacation, so we soldiered on, albeit with slightly empty hearts.
We decided to take a bus tour, as it would be the best way to see the most sites in the least amount of time. We went online and bought tickets, which we printed out at the computer in the hotel lobby. Taking the train in, we debarked at the station nearest the Notre Dame Cathedral. According to the map we had, it should have only been a block to where we could pick up the GO-GO (Get On, Get Off) bus. Easier said than done. It took the better part of an hour to locate the stop. It didn't help that neither the website or the flyer off the website showed what signs to look for. After chasing those yellow busses up and down the streets, criss-crossing the Seine several times, we finally found the proper signage. After a few minutes, the bus came by. We presented our vouchers to the driver, who gave us back our tickets, a very informational flyer, and--lo and behold--a map of all the stops. It would have been nice if that had been on the website.
We were issued earphones, those rock-hard earbuds that simply don't fit my ears. The plug-ins were against the outer wall of the bus, which meant the cord (never long enough) had to stretch across my seat-mate, an elderly lady who regarded me with barely concealed contempt. An American, of course.
Once settled on the upper deck, I was able to sit back and enjoy the city as it rolled past. The heavy traffic meant that the bus was going slow enough to make picture-taking a fairly easy task. The day was picture perfect, the sky a clear and beautiful blue and the sun pleasantly warm. As much as I enjoyed the ride, the earphones made it difficult to understand much of what was being said. Still, Paris is a beautiful thing to behold, even if you don't know what you're looking at.
Aboard the bus. Finally
The Pont Neuf, or "New Bridge," was started in 1578 and finally finished in 1607. It was started because the Pont Notre Dame bridge was overloaded with traffic. It was originally designed to have houses built on it, although none ever were.
One of the ways you brag about how rich and powerful your nation is, is to put gold on everything you build. This is one of several perched on columns near the river.
A smaller Arc de Triomphe, near the Louvre.
Another wing of the Louvre. You simply can't get the whole thing in one picture.
Pont Neuf, again.
I couldn't identify this church, only to decide that it was very old.
We got off the bus close to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a place we both were looking forward to seeing. It was a very impressive structure, even more amazing to realize that it was built largely by skilled human hands with no power tools, and was still standing after some 800 years.
There are simply no words to properly describe the beauty, the sanctity,
and the peace of this Cathedral.
Along the sides are these small chapels, each commemorating a Saint.
Mass was being celebrated while we were there.
The sound of the organ and the voices raised in worship
was incredibly beautiful.
Here, I came face-to-face with the fundamental difference between American
and European culture. We think of a 50-year-old building as antiquated.
There, it's still an infant.
The next stop announced, or at least the one I could halfway hear, was the Eglise du Dome Church. If that was not enough to get my attention, the phrase "tomb of Napoleon" did. We had to run the gauntlet of some grim soldiers of the French Army who were guarding the place, but once past them, we went first to the visitors center to buy tickets. We then crossed over to the church. There were several tombs inside, some of Napoleon's son's, and some famous Generals from French history.
As in all these places, the artwork on the ceilings was breath-taking.
Foch, the French Marshal from World War I.
And Napoleon himself.
Once back on the bus, we rode around a bit more before getting off on Ste. Germaine. According to the guidebook, this was an area where we could find a good place to eat. After wandering a bit, we decided on a place called Quartier General. We found a table on the sidewalk (nobody eats inside in Paris), although we had to move once when we realized we were downwind from some smokers. Allergies, you know. The food was good, the service friendly, and it was a good way to spend the evening of our 37th wedding anniversary.