• Crowds, Culture, and Cuisine: the Ancient and Modern City

The Catacombs, Saint Chapelle, and Notre Dame

On one of our last free days in Paris, my friends and I used our museum passes to delve twenty-two meters below the city into the catacombs. The most eerie part of our descent below Paris was the countless human skulls and bones lining the walls, all relocated from a huge Parisian graveyard in the 1700s. The limestone deposits in the catacombs date back forty-five million years and have been used in the construction of famous monuments including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. After the tour through the catacombs, we left to see Notre Dame above ground, bringing things full circle. W got to touch and interact with the same stonechat we had encountered earlier in the day beneath Paris.

We climbed the many flights of stairs to the top of one of the bell towers, where I appropriately bought a copy of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the gift shop in preparation for our long plane ride home. The view from the bell tower was amazing--we could see all around the city for miles, including the Eiffel Tower. It was awesome to see the gothic architecture up close with all the spiked spires and flying buttresses. I got some really great photos of the famous gargoyles of Notre Dame as well.

That afternoon we stopped at a small food stand where I got a delicious and ridiculously messy nutella-filled crepe along with a bottle of carbonated orange juice called Orangina. After lunch we stopped by the Saint Chapelle church. It had some of the most beautiful and intricate stained glass windows that I have seen the whole trip (and we've been to some pretty impressive churches). 

Worn out and ready to relax at our hotel, we took the metro back to rest up for another exciting day in Paris.