Sometime this fall, I found out that Saint-Chapelle (my favorite cathedral in Paris) was holding classical Christmas concerts in the month of December. While I visited Paris six times in my first year here, I haven’t been there in over a year. This seemed like a good excuse to go back. I asked one of my French colleagues if he had ever attended one of these concerts and found out he hasn’t even been to Saint-Chapelle (what?!?!?). I also found out he was willing to lend me his apartment for the weekend. Such a generous offer!
I intended to use this weekend to do some things I haven’t done in Paris yet. My priorities were shopping, seeing the Christmas tree in Galleries Lafayette, the concert (of course), and visiting the Opera House, the Catacombs, and the Picasso Museum. We managed all of that and had some good meals, too.
I went with two friends, and we traveled by train after work on Friday. I will be sad when Paris is no longer a four hour train ride away.
On Saturday morning, we went to brunch at a quirky little spot in Le Marais called Le Loir Dans La Théière. They don’t take reservations, and we heard there could be a line, so we got there before 9:30. There was no need to be worried. We were literally the second ones there. (Note to self: Paris wakes up late on weekends.)
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon strolling. Every time I visit Paris, I feel like I’m on a mission to see so many sites that I never take time to meander. We went into so many beautiful shops! I even found a fabulous purse on sale that I will be sporting on my next adventure! And I found a couple more treasures to wrap up for Christmas!
One of the things I especially love about roaming through the streets of Paris is the architecture…the buildings, the doors, the festive store fronts!
I’ve walked by the Paris Opera House at least once (and likely a couple of times) on a previous visit, but I never considered going inside. However, that changed when a friend recently posted photos from his visit of the interior. It looked gorgeous. After going inside, though, I have to warn you that pictures don’t do it justice. It’s THAT beautiful!!! I think my chin was on the floor most of our visit, because I was so shocked!
The design of the auditorium is unique. It’s meant to see and be seen. It is also home to a remarkable ceiling that was created by Marc Chagall! (After visiting the Chagall museum in Nice, I recognized this as his work!) Look closely and you’ll notice the Eiffel Tower, the Opera House, and l’Arc de Triomphe. I absolutely LOVED it!!
We thought that would be our beautiful thing of the day. Little did we know what we had to look forward to in Galleries Lafayette. It’s beautiful on a typical day, but with Christmas decorations?! It was over. the. top!!!
I forgot that night time would take away from Saint-Chapelle. Without light shining through the stained glass windows, you don’t quite get the same effect. However, it was still an incredible setting for a performance. Even though it was FREEZING! No heat in the 1200’s means no heat today. We remained bundled up for the entirety of the performance. We heard Pachabel’s Canon and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. All performed beautifully!
A couple of days before I left for Paris, a friend told me he was coming to Vevey unexpectedly for a meeting. He lived here last year, and I saw him again in Mexico City in September. When he told me about Vevey, I told him I would be in Paris for the weekend, but we could meet up one or two nights during the week in Vevey. A day later, he sent a second note telling me that the agency changed the plans. Instead of meeting in Vevey, they were meeting in Paris, which meant we could hang out during the weekend! I love that life is full of these kind of surprises!
He met us for dinner after the concert at Benedict. He is very recently engaged, so we got to hear all about the proposal! It’s a great story!!
On Sunday morning, two of us met up with our friend again at the Catacombs. When I was in middle school, I read a book that took place in the Catacombs of Paris, and I’ve been curious about them ever since.
We walked down 160-170 stairs, which took us below the Metro lines and sewers. To the former limestone quarries from the 12th century. Here is where they mined the limestone to build things like Notre Dame.
In the mid- to late-1700’s, the cemeteries in Paris were literally overflowing. This was causing all kinds of disease and other disgusting problems. At a similar time, they re-discovered these abandoned quarries and thoroughly mapped the passageways. The passageways were marked with carvings in the wall as well as with a black line on the ceiling marking the way – Hansel & Gretel-style.
We came across a replica carving of a British prison where one of the miners spent five years. Ironically, he died when the mine collapsed as he was trying to create a staircase for the public to come down and see his work.
When mass craves were overflowing and literally bursting at the seams in the late 1700’s, they made the decision to transfer bodies to what is now the Catacombs. This happened over a number of years, but when all was said and done, there are 6 million people buried in the Catacombs!! The bones are now displayed along the walls creating a path. We walked for quite some time, and there were always a “wall” of femurs and skulls on either side of us!
Let’s just say that I spent a lot of time thinking about death while walking through that labyrinth. Whew! I was glad to get back to the land of the living!
We had brunch at Le Wood, shopped a bit more, and visited the Picasso Museum (which was not my favorite, I have to say) before catching our train back to Switzerland.
When my friend and I realized that we would get to meet up in Paris this weekend, he closed our email exchange by saying, “Paris is always a good idea.” I couldn’t agree more.