Our first full day in Paris, we hitched a ride in on the "tour bus" from the hotel into Paris. We lucked out, and the first thing it passed was the Insitution Nationale Des Invalides. It's a military museum that was converted from a military hospital, and is still in use for some vets today. But its the home of the tomb of Napoleon, as well as a HUGE exhibit on France's involvement in every war ever. Lots of guns, costumes, and more guns. Not so hot on that part.
The tomb was pretty sweet though. It was ginormous. Placed in a sub level of the building, the tomb itself is the size of a classroom. All that for such a tiny guy!
We spent most of the morning at that museum, wandering through the room upon endless rooms of war memorabilia. But finally we emerged! We headed toward the Catacombes. I thought I knew what to expect with the catacombes, but what I got was about ten times more intense. We descended the stairs to go six stories underground (no surprise there) and oddly found ourselves walking probably close to a mile around winding hallways no more than 5 feet wide. There were random holes in the walls that were pitch black and RIDICULOUSLY creepy. Finally, we got to the sacred grounds. I thought we would walk into a few rooms with bones in carvings in the walls. Boy was I wrong.
We walked probably close to another full mile, on four/five foot wide sidewalks, lined with bones. Not just random piles of bones, but bones perfectly stacked four/five feet high endlessly. It was probably a good six feet deep to the walls. The skulls and leg bones were in front, and made into crazy designs in the stackings. It never ended. Severely creeped out at first (Tim took way longer to get acclamated than I) by the end of the mile, I was not scared, but definitely ready to leave. It was insane. We thought about the air we were breathing, what it was going into our lungs from that many bones. The ceilings (just above our heads) dripped, making the ground muddy, we commented on the bone juice on the bottoms of our jeans and shoes.
But the craziest part, was in the formations of bones, you could see that some were missing, and I told Tim, "How sick does a person have to be to take bones from here" Well, at the end of the walk, they search your bags, and sure enough, the one guy searching bags at the end, had a rather large pile of bones next to him that he had seized just that morning. Including a full skull. Sick people. What would you do with it? Something tells me thats not something you put on ebay or craigslist. It's also strange to think about how many relatives we each passed in walking through. There were more than thousands of people down there, we had to have passed a distant relative at some point. Strange to think about....
After looking at dead people, we had worked up quite the appetite and stopped into the first place that looked decent. It turned out to be this cute little pizza place that had AMAZING pizza, the size of my head! We each got one, thinking they would be smaller, and geeze were they big!! But the boys ate all of theirs, cause they are boys....go figure.
I told you it was big! But we moved on towards Notre Dame, but on our way, magically came across Sainte Chapelle, one of the churches that I wanted to check out while we were in Paris. Since it was the first Sunday of the month, it was free, but that also means there was a huge line outside. In the FREEZING cold. But we waited, we stomped, we shivered, we moaned. But we waited, and we were glad we did. Its a church inside of a courtyard of another building. The main floor is nothing special, and after waiting so long, I was super scared that that was all there was....and then we went up the side stairs....
It was gorgeous. HUGE windows. Several stories tall, a dozen or so around the building with a rosette in the back. Each one had 100s of smaller paned glass windows that had stained glass in them, each telling a story. There were over one thousand story windows in the church. It was gorgeous. We could have sat up there for much longer if it werent for the fact that there wasnt a square foot of heat in the whole place. Beautiful place though. Even the stonework on the door as you exit was intricate and perfect.
It was getting late in the day, and Notre Dame was just around the corner, so we headed there. This is going to sound crazy, but I really thought it would be bigger! Not necessarily taller, but wider. I don't know, it just wasn't what i expected. But the front entry doors looked really sweet.
Free Sunday meant it was super crowded, but we made our way through, looking all around the church. Unfortunately, we just missed the closing time to go up into the towers, but, we still got to see plenty of the church to fill our desire.
After Notre Dame, it was getting dark, so we hit up some gift shops to kill time before the rest of our evening began!