Paris Day 5: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité…Dignité?

Today, we visited the hidden gem that is Sainte-Chapelle.  The ‘holy chapel’ is often overlooked by most tourists though it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Notre Dame Cathedral. One interesting fact about this chapel is that it used to store Christ’s Crown of Thorns brought by King Louis IX of France during the 13th century. But apparently, it’s not there anymore. The exterior of the chapel looks really boring but when I got inside, holy mother of God (you see what I did there?) I can’t believe my eyes. The stained glass windows are absolutely amazing. Definitely the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The question is, how the hell did people back then build that? Aliens. 
Morning bike parade

Must be boring inside...

If you're thinking that's wallpaper, you're wrong. That's hand painted centuries ago.

Half of the stained glass windows were being renovated

Where is Christ's crown of thorns?

No words

Next stop, Musee d’ Orsay! Not another museum...  Now, now, calm down arts aficionados.  Before you call your curator mother, I want you to know that I just visited the Louvre the other day so I still got a bit of “hangover”. Maybe I just needed some time off. 

Musee d’ Orsay used to be a train station but eventually turned into a museum. Inside I saw paintings that I never thought I would see in real life.  I saw works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne and of course, Van Gogh. It actually felt weird seeing those paintings in person. Exactly a year ago, my arts professor showed pictures of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings for us to study. While I was analyzing them, the thought of seeing the actual paintings in Paris never really crossed my mind. And now a year later, I’m staring in front of them while I chew Haribos. I know eating is not allowed in museums blah, blah, blah.  But if you haven’t realized yet, eating Haribos while inside a museum is a thing of ours. No one can take away our Haribos away from us. Not even Van Gogh. 

Be ready for long queues

While we were queuing, a horse parade passed by

I want this one

Personally, I find this better than the Louvre

We came out of the museum really hungry so we all decided to eat. We were craving for rice (Filipino staple food) so we looked for a Chinese restaurant. Luckily, we bumped in to a Filipina OFW and she offered to bring us to Lao Tseu Chinese Restaurant. Lao Tseu is packed inside when we got there so we ate al fresco. Besides why would you eat inside when the sun is gloriously shinning? It was very Parisian actually. We sat outside, went people watching and enjoyed our meal. Our table is right next to the chestnut tree lined Saint-Germain Boulevard. Everytime the spring wind blows through the tall chestnut trees, hundreds of tiny white flowers shower the busy road. It was like a movie scene.  We really enjoyed it. Until one by one, we started coughing. We all couldn’t breathe.  We were chocking on pollen. We couldn’t drink our water because it’s full of those goddamned flowers! That explains why everybody ate inside. 

I used to play Geo Challenge a lot. It’s a geography game on Facebook where in you have to guess the different countries’ flags, geographical shape and identify and place tourist attractions on a world map as quickly and accurately as possible. In case you didn’t know, I am a geography buff. When I was a kid, I always asked my mom to bring me to National Bookstore so I could browse through the latest World Atlas and World Almanac for Kids. My interest with geography is the reason why I love traveling. Back to my story, the Sacre Coeur Basilica is one of the tourist attractions I had a hard time placing on the map in Geo Challenge. I didn’t know about it until we visited it today. 

Coeur mean heart in English. So if you're wondering what Le Coeur de France mean, it means The Heart of France. You're welcome.

After lunch, we took the metro to Montmatre where Sacre Coeur is located. It started to drizzle as we exit the metro station of Anvers. The droplets were so cold that it freaked out my sister. She said, “parang yelo naman yung ulan dito” (why is the rain here cold as ice). I saw a white thing on her black coat and I touched it. It was indeed ice! Another bucket list item ticked off.

Sacre Coeur Basilica or Basilica of the Sacred Heart is on top of a hill in the trendy area of Montmartre. It’s a marvelous piece of architecture. Its white color contrasts the clear blue sky on the background. My mom told us to ask for a wish when visiting churches we’ve never been before so my sisters and I knelt on our knees, ask for wishes and prayed. My concentration was broken by a weird low buzzing sound. Apparently, the man beside us, a beggar, was snoring. With his hands clasped and all, he really looked like he was praying. But the snoring gave it away.

We used the funicular to get to the top

Sacre Coeur is made using travertine stones. When it rains, the stones react to water and secrete calcite, which acts as a bleacher.

Byzantine architecture

The view on top of the hill

One of the best views in Paris

Before we went back to our hotel, my sisters and I bought food for our planned sunset “picnic/party” by the river Seine later that night. The day before this, we witnessed how Parisians hang out and chill at the riverbanks and we thought it would be a good idea to experience it as well. Most of the people we saw yesterday brought wines, cheese, and chips so we also brought wines, cheese and chips. We were really excited on our way to the river.  You know that feeling when you were about to enter Disneyland? That’s how I felt as I walked with my two sisters while I carried the plastic bag full of our picnic stuff. I remember feeling cool ‘cause how many people can claim that they’ve partied along the river Seine? Exactly. 

The scene yesterday by the Seine

However, when we got there the place was deserted. The riverbanks are empty with people. No people partying. No people chilling. Nada. All we saw were few suspicious looking men doing transactions under the trees. Suddenly, everything becomes cold and scary. It’s like being invited to a party that never existed. You know in the movies where the loser was given the wrong address so he can’t join the cool kids’ party? Yeah, that’s us.  So we walked back at the hotel with our heads bowed down. Hey, what’s that on the floor? Our dignity.

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