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France, Paris IV – On a Way to Notre Dame

Published: 18.6.2014
In last week’s article we took a look on greenery in Paris. Today we will visit one of these green oases where the famous Notre Dame cathedral is located.

After a visit to the Luxembourg gardens we had decided to visit the famous Notre Dama. Its beauty has been captured in many movies, however, perhaps the most famous picture of could be find in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame . So we set off along the Saint-Michel boulevard to the Seina. We had no clue what was lying ahead.

Bulvár Saint-Michel

Roman Spa in Paris
After several dozens meters we encountered an interesting building that look as an archeological excavation site. Thanks to guide books we soon found out that it is the remain of roman spa, known by the French as the Cluny Spa. An interesting fact is that a medieval monastery was built on its foundations. Today, the National Medieval Museum is located there. For a while we admired the building, but soon we continued on. The boulevard was very lively, vendors tried to sell their goods to large crowds. There are permanent lines of cars, trying to make their way through the crowds.

pozůstatky římských lázní   pozůstatky římských lázní

Fascinating Subway
As we were approaching the Pont Saint-Michel bridge we stopped for a while. It was in front of one of the many subway entrances. The entrance itself was very interesting. Green iron pillars looked like scary plants and held a board sayin Métropolitain. Above the board there were two orange lamps. As we had learned, subway stations looked like this originally. Later the name was shortened to Métro and after only M. The history of subway in Paris dates back to the 1900. During the World Expo a first line was opened. Then only wooden carriages operated. Since then the subway has expanded to the present 15 lines. More than 4 million people travels by it daily. The subway in Paris has life of its own. Some stations are places where homeless people try to find new home. Another four are today tourist attractions for they has been not in use since the second world war. Of course, there are musicians trying to enrich lifes of travelers with their music. Although we did nto use subway, it was worth seeing it.

historický vstup do metra

An Island Full of Sights
When we crossed the bridge we found ourselves at one of the islands of Paris Île de la Cité. It means the core of the old city. People of Paris call it just Cité. There are many interesting facts about this island. For example, it was settled as the first in Paris. Also Gothic style was born there and there is the oldest bridge in Paris connecting it with the rest of the city, Pont Neuf. But there is much more.

panorama z mostu Pont Saint-Michel

Right on the bridge we made a picture of a panorama including Notre Dame. We however, did not turn right away to the cathedral. We continued straight along the street to the bridge. On the right sight we passed by a large police station. After several meters a golden gate caught our attention. We approached it and we found out one of the most important historical sights in Paris was hidden behind it.

It was Palais de Justice. It is a complex of court buildings with various institutions residing within. In the past, it was the residence of French kings. However, due to fires that struck the island in the past, only two parts of the complex remained until the present, Conciergerie and Sainte Chapelle.

Justiční palác

Conciergerie is a palace that was used by the main palace administrator. Later it operated as a prison. During this dark period, more than 1200 prisoners were kept within, including Maria Antoinetta, a daughter of Maria Theresa. Sainte Chapelle is a Gothic chapel built on demand of Louis IX. It was designed to keep precious relics. Unfortunately, we had not visited any of the palaces for we headed to Notre Dame. What we have learned about it and where we had gone further will be revealed next week.

Text and photo: Oskár Mažgút



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