All photos taken on July 3, 1984.
Another morning in Paris, another superior Continental Breakfast.
Today, we were joining up with John and Dean for some real travel adventures. We hopped on the Metro to the train station for the short train ride to Versailles.
The Palace of Versailles is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Paris, France. The palace is owned by the French Republic and has since 1995 been managed, under the direction of the French Ministry of Culture, by the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles. 15,000,000 people visit the Palace, Park, or Gardens of Versailles every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
Louis XIII built a simple hunting lodge on the site of the Palace of Versailles in 1623 and replaced it with a small château in 1631–34. Louis XIV expanded the château into a palace in several phases from 1661 to 1715. It was a favorite residence for both kings, and in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of his court and government to Versailles, making the palace the de facto capital of France. This state of affairs was continued by Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, who primarily made interior alterations to the palace, but in 1789 the royal family and capital of France returned to Paris. For the rest of the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles was largely abandoned and emptied of its contents, and the population of the surrounding city plummeted.
Napoleon Bonaparte, following his takeover of France, used Versailles as a summer residence from 1810 to 1814, but did not restore it. When the French Monarchy was restored, it remained in Paris and it was not until the 1830s that meaningful repairs were made to the palace. A museum of French history was installed within it, replacing the apartments of the southern wing.
The palace and park were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 for its importance as the center of power, art, and science in France during the 17th and 18th centuries. The French Ministry of Culture has placed the palace, its gardens, and some of its subsidiary structures on its list of culturally significant monuments.
Arriving at Versailles, we were told that the government workers had called a snap one-day strike, so we would not be able to get into the Palace. Our friends from America, hearing that I knew some French suggested that I tell the attendant that they were teachers to see if that had any impact on the situation.
I spoke my piece, the attendant rolled his eyes and returned a very firm “Non” and that was that. We would have to be satisfied with simply wandering the grounds. The exterior and grounds were beautiful and we would not get inside, until we returned to Paris in 2007.
Our saunter around the grounds over, we retraced our route to Paris. Our next tour stop was at Notre Dame Cathedrale.
Notre-Dame de Paris referred to simply as Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité (island in the Seine River), in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Several of its attributes set it apart from the earlier Romanesque style, particularly its pioneering use of the rib vault and flying buttress, its enormous and colourful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration. Notre Dame also stands out for its musical components, notably its three pipe organs (one of which is historic) and its immense church bells.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and was largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the centuries that followed. In the 1790s, during the French Revolution, Notre-Dame suffered extensive desecration; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. In the 19th century, the coronation of Napoleon I and the funerals of many of the French Republic’s presidents took place at the cathedral.
The 1831 publication of Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) inspired popular interest in the cathedral, which led to a major restoration project between 1844 and 1864, supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. During World War II, after the Allies’ 1944 victory in Europe, the liberation of Paris was celebrated in Notre-Dame with the singing of the Magnificat. Beginning in 1963, the cathedral’s façade was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime. Another cleaning and restoration project was carried out between 1991 and 2000.
The cathedral is one of the most widely recognized symbols of the city of Paris and the French nation. In 1805, it was awarded the honorary status of a minor basilica.
Approximately 12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually, making it the most visited monument in Paris. On 15 April 2019, while Notre-Dame was undergoing renovation and restoration, its roof caught fire and burned for about 15 hours. The cathedral sustained serious damage as a result. Work is under way to have it restored by Spring 2024.
After our tour of Notre Dame, we managed a lunch in the area: ham & cheese crepe, tomato and cheese crepe, salami on baguette, cheese pie and crepe Grand Marnier. We must have been hungry.
We then hopped on the Metro, travelling to Montmartre, for a tour of Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in Paris, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. It is a popular landmark, and the second-most visited monument in Paris. Sacré-Cœur Basilica has maintained a perpetual adoration of the Holy Eucharist since 1885. The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. The basilica was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.
Our last tour for the day was a cruise down the Seine River on Les Bateaux Mouche.
Bateaux Mouches are open excursion boats that provide visitors to Paris, with a view of the city from along the river Seine. They also operate on Parisian canals such as Canal Saint-Martin which is partially subterranean.
The term is a registered trademark of the Compagnie des Bateaux Mouches, the most widely known operator of the boats in Paris, founded by Jean Bruel (1917–2003); however, the phrase, because of the success of the company, is used generically to refer to all such boats operating on the river within the city. Bateaux Mouches translates literally as “fly boats” (“fly” meaning the insect); however, the name arose because they were originally manufactured in boatyards situated in the Mouche area of Lyon.
These boats are popular tourist attractions in Paris. They started with steamers at an Exhibition in 1867. Many seat several hundred people, often with an open upper deck and an enclosed lower deck; some have sliding canopies that can close to protect the open deck in inclement weather. Most boat tours include a live or recorded commentary on the sights along the river. A typical cruise lasts about one hour. Many companies offer lunch and dinner cruises as well. Most boats are equipped with lights to illuminate landmarks in the evening. The Steamers stopped running in the slow down of the Great Depression.
Our touring day over, we were happy to head back to the party that we had helped arrange for the Cosmos 5161 dissidents. Our fun was accompanied by bread, cold cuts, cheese, cakes and drinks and we all celebrated our time together. As much as I have dissed Cosmos during these posts, we did meet some really fine people. We kept in touch with many of them for years (our friends from Thailand, New Zealand and South Africa).
We went to sleep contented with our month long adventure. Patty was starting to feel better.