a weekend in paris: notre dame, sainte chapelle & restaurant polidor

On Sunday morning we woke up bright and early and headed to Cathédrale Notre Dame.  We arrived around 9:30 and Sunday mass was going on.  We silently walked around and listened to the organ and singing of the service - it was beautiful and so moving.  The cathedral itself is astounding - it's so huge.  The stained glass was beautiful and I loved seeing the morning light slanting in.  Starting in December Notre Dame will be celebrating it's 850th anniversary...850 years - the first stone was laid in 1163!  That's quite the milestone.

After looking around the interior we went outside and got in line to climb the towers.  It was pretty cold and windy on Sunday, and as chilly as our wait was, we knew it would be even colder up on the towers.  We climbed 387 tight winding steps up to the top of the tower and the sights were beautiful.  We could see Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides...everything.  It was also neat to see the gargoyles guarding the cathedral and the great bell.  It made me think of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

After we climbed down from the tower we found a café and some chocolat chaud to warm up with, then crossed the street to the Palais de la Cité and Sainte Chapelle.  Sainte Chapelle was built between 1226 and 1248 to house the Crown of Thorns, a religious relic from the Passion of Christ.  It's stunningly beautiful - The walls are covered with 15 enormous stained glass windows depicting 1113 scenes that tell stories from the Bible.  The entire chapel was filled with a rosy soft glow as light came in through the windows.  I could have spent all day in there just soaking in the atmosphere.

On our walk back from the island we found the narrowest street in Paris: rue-de-chat-qui-peche

After our morning exploring the Ile de la Cité we walked back to the left bank to find some lunch.  We found our way to Restaurant Polidor, another one that Trev had researched.  The Polidor has been operating since 1845, and has always been a popular neighbourhood café, in fact they claim that Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Paul Verlaine and others were regulars.

The atmosphere was great inside - it had that "comfortable, old, character-filled" feeling.  We were seated at a large communal table and promptly served a basket of delicious, chewy bread.  I ordered a glass wine and set to work on deciphering the menu.

yup, dogs are everywhere in Paris

yup, dogs are everywhere in Paris

Trev and I both decided to order the set-price menu (22 euro for 3 courses).  I decided to order their house specialties: creme de potiron soup (pumpkin), beef bourguignon and tarte au citron.  The pumpkin soup was good - it had a delicate taste and texture, but I think I liked Trev's lentil soup a bit better.  The beef bourguignon was also really good - the beef was tender, there was a nice rosemary flavour and the pasta was well cooked.  I thought it was funny that there was only one little slice of carrot in my bowl.  it was hard to pick which one I had liked better between Polidor's and Chartier's - they each had their merits - Overall experience probably Polidor, but I liked the way the meat had been browned prior to braising at Chartier.  The tarte au citron was heavenly - I love lemon anything.  Oh, it was such a good meal and a good end to a wonderful weekend in Paris.

Waiting for our train back to Amsterdam

Waiting for our train back to Amsterdam