Paris

PrayerWalk Paris — Walk 1 (Sneak Peek)

7 September 2011

Notre Dame, ParisThe Historic Heart of Paris

Ile de la Cité & Ile St. Louis

Summary of Area

It is thought that Paris began around 250 BC as a primitive Celtic fishing village on Ile de la Cité, a little island in the middle of the Seine. Ile St. Louis, the other island in the Seine, is tree-lined and picturesque these days but was a swampy pastureland prior to development efforts in the 17th century. Today, Ile St. Louis houses one of the most exclusive residential neighborhoods of Paris. Enjoy centuries of natural and man-made history as you walk from the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame to King Louis IX’s intimate royal chapel, Sainte-Chapelle.

Key Facts

      • Starting Point: Point Zéro (metro: St. Michel; Cité)
      • Finishing Point: Palais de Justice (metro: Cité)
      • Days to Avoid: None
      • Length of Walk: 1 mile 1/2
      • Time Needed: 3 hours

1. Point Zéro

Point Zéro (also Kilomètre Zéro) is a circular bronze plaque on the ground about 30 yards from the central doorway of Notre-Dame that marks the geographical center of Paris. It is also the spot from which all highway distances in France are measured. The equestrian statue to the right as you face the church is of Charlemagne (“Charles the Great”), known as the first Holy Roman Emperor. Catholicism was the “politically correct” religion of the French people until the Revolution in 1789.

 

2. Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Free admission; church open daily; hours vary depending on day of the week: 8:00 am-6:45 pm weekdays, 8:00 am-7:45 pm weekends. Free English tours available. Visit early in the morning when the cathedral is at its brightest and least crowded. Free organ concert on Sunday afternoons. Website: www.notredamedeparis.fr

It took 170 years to create the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame de Paris, with its flying buttresses, rose windows of stained glass, 295-ft spire, two massive towers and host of gargoyles. The colorful windows were designed to tell Bible stories in pictorial form to an illiterate populace.

Kings and emperors were crowned and blessed in Notre-Dame. It was here in December 1804 that Napoleon took the imperial crown out of the hands of Pope Pius VII and laid it on his own head, as depicted by Jacques-Louis David in his painting Coronation of Napoleon, which now hangs in the Louvre.

Notre-Dame is designed in the shape of a Christian cross, with the altar where the crossbeam intersects. The cathedral can hold up to 10,000 people and often does so when hosting classical music concerts. The South Rose Window depicts Christ in the center, surrounded by virgins, saints, and his twelve apostles while the North Rose Window pictures the Virgin encircled by figures from the Old Testament.

Prayer Points:

  • For the warmth of the Gospel to envelop Parisians who have only known the coldness of an impersonal religion.
  • That a genuine, transforming encounter with Christ would replace ritual and religiosity.
  • That the complete story of Christ would be preached: that the hope of his resurrection might replace the sadness of his death.
  • That the spiritual walls of stone and gates of iron that have separated a “religious” people from their Savior since the Middle Ages would be broken down.

Point to Ponder: Sitting in one of the hundreds of wooden chairs in the nave, feel the coldness of the stone and how far away God seems among the gilt and statuary. This is the god of millions of Parisians: a distant, cold and impersonal deity.

Take a Break: The café directly to your right as you exit the cathedral is a wonderful place to sit and reflect on what you’ve just seen. It’s called Aux Tours de Notre-Dame and though pricey – as are all cafés in Paris – you can enjoy a good cup of coffee and a sweet snack that will help you through the rest of your sightseeing. And you’ll need energy, especially if you plan on climbing to the top of the towers. This side street is a great place to buy postcards, too.

Tip: Candles in Churches. In visiting the many churches of Paris, you may be tempted to buy some candles to burn. Before you do, consider that – though they look pretty – Catholics consider candles an integral part of their sacred ritual of praying to saints and to Mary.

3. Towers of Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Admission: €8 adults, €5 ages 18-26 (must meet certain conditions) and seniors, children under 18 are free. Tower entrance covered by museum pass but no bypass line for pass holders. Open daily 9:30 am-7:30 pm, with seasonal variations. To avoid crowds, arrive before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm.

To get to the top of the towers of Notre-Dame, you must climb 387 spiral stone steps that get narrower as you get closer to the top. The reward for such painful labor is a breathtaking view of Paris. The towers are 246 feet high and the main bell, called the “Emmanuel” was last rung in 1944 to celebrate the liberation of France.

Gargoyle Fact: As you look out over Paris, notice the eerie stone creatures that are also gazing down on the city and have been doing so for centuries. These gargoyles are meant to represent souls caught between heaven and earth. Their main practical function, however, is as rain spouts.

Take a Break: Square Jean XXIII, behind the cathedral, is a delightful place to eat a picnic lunch, to read, or to watch people.

4. Ile St. Louis

Charming, enchanting, and picturesque, Ile St. Louis is quintessential Paris. Among the attractions of this quaint little island are the 17th century hôtels, cafés, chic restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques that line its main street, St.-Louis-en-l’Ile. The wealthy and the famous have resided here for centuries. The best way to view this tiny island may be to wander through the streets without any specific trajectory.

Lines at Berthillon can stretch around the block

Tip: There’s a post office here that may be a convenient place to buy stamps for your postcards. Ask for stamps for the United States:“Des timbres pour les Etats-Unis, s’il vous plait”. Show them your postcards so they know what the stamps are for. Try your French but they will probably respond to you in English.

Take a Break: Berthillon, an ice cream parlor on Ile St. Louis, is famous for having the best ice cream in Paris. Their selection includes over 70 varieties. Order a single-scoop (“Un cornet seul”) or a double (“Un cornet double”). Note that eating ice cream in-house is usually more expensive than ordering to go. Berthillon, 29-31 rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 75004; Open Wed-Sun 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Closed Mon, Tue, and August.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

7 September 2011
"Point Zero"

Point Zero in front of Notre Dame

In celebration of this blog’s one-year anniversary, here is a reminder of the site’s reason for being. This post was first published on September 1, 2010.

I looked down at my calloused and blistered feet and thought with a bit of sarcasm, “So these are the beautiful feet of those who bring good news! God has a sense of humor.” I’d just walked and prayed over what seemed like every inch of Paris.

Paris was no stranger to me – it was the land of my birth and childhood. My missionary parents had moved to France from the States before I was born and we’d lived there until I relocated to the U.S. for college. Now I’d returned to France for the summer not just to see old friends and enjoy the food but to spend some time praying over the city I loved so much. My goal was to walk and pray in each of Paris’ cultural and historical districts over a two-week period.

As I walked the streets of Paris, I felt the Lord directing my thoughts and showing me how to pray. I met God in strange places there: I thought I would find Him in the magnificent cathedrals, but He was made a beggar there – a statue with downcast eyes and upturned palms, with a sign asking visitors to spare four euros for the upkeep of the sanctuary. I thought He would be far away from the red light district, but that is where I felt the need for Him most strongly. He is close to the broken-hearted.

This prayerwalking journey was the inspiration behind PrayerWalk Paris, the first in a series of Christian guidebooks that weave a spiritual dimension into the act of sightseeing. Prayerwalking changed the way I see Paris and Parisians, the way I see God, and also the way I see myself. I was hooked. When I “prayerwalked,” I looked like an ordinary person on the outside, but inside I felt like a superhero.

My French Pastry Shop Dream

6 January 2011

Do you have a recurring dream? Many people do. My mother, for example, often dreams that we girls are little again and that she is packing up the house for a move. There are boxes and trunks everywhere. And just when she finishes up with one room she turns around and discovers we’ve come behind her and undone all her packing!

I have my own recurring dream that has puzzled me exceedingly over the years.

One of the highlights of my childhood in France was running down to the corner bakery (patisserie) to buy candy and pastries. My younger sister and I would receive an allowance of 10 francs each for the chores we did: she would save most of hers but I would spend much of mine at the bakery.

French Patisserie

In 1996, a couple of years after returning to the States, I started dreaming  repeatedly about being in a French pastry shop. I was always looking for my favorite pastry: a puff pastry shaped like an acorn, filled with creme anglaise, covered with green icing and an acorn top of chocolate sprinkles.

But it seemed that whenever I had plenty of change in my pocket, the bakery would be out of my favorite pastry. Conversely, on the days when they did have it, I never had enough money.

As the years passed, the dream went through various iterations. My favorite local patisserie changed hands and finally shut down and I had to frequent other establishments. In one dream, all the chocolate pastries had been removed from the clear glass cases at the front of the store and had been placed under lock and key in a safe behind the counter.

The last time I had the dream, in 2005, part of the bakery had become a vacuum cleaner rental place. I observed with dismay as a vacuum cleaner was lifted over my precious pastry cases to a waiting customer. It was around that time that the baker’s wife confided in me (whispering to me like it was a state secret) that although they had stopped making my favorite pastry, there was one bakery where it could still be found, if I were willing to travel.

That was the last time I had my crazy recurring pastry shop dream.

(And if you have an interpretation, I’d love to hear it!)

Top 10 Paris Sites

17 November 2010

 

-10-

Sainte Chapelle

-9-

Opera Garnier

-8-

Luxembourg Gardens

-7-

Montmartre and Sacre Coeur

-6-

Pantheon

-5-

Orsay Museum

-4-

Louvre Museum

-3-

Arch of Triumph

-2-

Notre Dame

-1-

Eiffel Tower (of course!!)

 

Paris Basics: The French & Their Food

14 September 2010

A Culinary Love Affair

Anticipating a trip to Paris? Some cultures eat to live, others live to eat. Here are some basic things you should know about the French and their relationship with food.

Mealtimes

Mealtimes are quasi-sacred to the French. Schoolchildren have the option of going home for their hour-and-a-half lunch break or eating a multi-course  meal in the school cafeteria. Many mothers (and sometimes dads, too) arrange their schedules so they are at home with their kids at lunch.

Montmartre CafeMeals are served in courses: the first course is the entrée, which Americans would call an appetizer or starter course; the second or main course is called plat de résistance and is usually accompanied by vegetables or other side dishes. The main course is followed by a cheese or yogurt course, then by dessert or fruit. Fresh bread is served with every meal.

While Americans often drink coffee with their meal, French diners drink theirs with, or after, dessert. Here’s another notable dining difference: no ice in beverage glasses! To order ice, just tell the waiter “Avec glaçons, s’il vous plait” (“With ice, please”) with your order.

Free refills are not a French concept. You pay for every drink you order.

Dining OutRestaurant a Montmartre

The concept of proper service in restaurants differs greatly between the U.S. and France. In many restaurants in the United States, the wait staff receives only a crash course before beginning to serve customers. To the French, waiting tables is an art that requires the most rigorous training: professional French waiters must go to school for several years, pass difficult exams, and participate in challenging competitions before entering into full time service.

The French waiter is trained to be as discreet as possible and anticipate diners’ needs in the most unobtrusive manner. The American way of serving usually centers on relationship building (“My name is Megan and I’ll be your server this evening”). To the French, such familiarity can be offensive. The French tend to see the American waiting style as overbearing (“Is everything okay? Can I get you anything?”).

Often in America the wait staff performs duties with a good tip in mind. French servers are salaried and do not expect to be tipped. They are paid to perform their duties then disappear into the background in order to allow patrons to enjoy their dining experience.

There is much to love about Paris—the romance, joie de vivre, art museums, architecture—but each visitor will leave with a unique impression of the City of Light based on individual experience. Knowing as much as you can about Paris before you go will increase your chances for good experiences and pleasant memories. Bon voyage!

One Perfect Day in Paris

3 September 2010

Notre Dame, Paris

If you only have one day in Paris, the first thing to do is to plan a return trip! But if a day is all you have, then get up early, grab a croissant from a local boulangerie and head straight for the Eiffel Tower.

8:30 am Arrive early at the Eiffel Tower and beat the crowds.Then take the train or walk to Pont de l’Alma, and cross the bridge to the other side of the Seine River.

Tip: The third floor views from the Eiffel Tower are impressive but, since you have to pay extra, don’t bother if it’s not a clear day. You’ll see just as much or more from the second floor.

 10:30 am – Take a Seine Cruise on a Bateaux-Mouches. These pleasure-boats operate between 10:00 am and 11:00 pm daily and depart every 30 minutes during the summer high season (less frequent departures in winter). The boat ride lasts about 1hr15. After the boat tour, hop on the metro at Alma Marceau and go one stop to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

12:00 pm – Walk down the Champs-Elysées toward the Arch of Triumph and decide on a good place to eat. Take your time (before eating, you might like to go to the top of the Arch – admission is free with the Paris Museum Pass).

2:30 pm – Take the metro or walk to the Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre stop. From the metro, stay underground and enter through the Carrousel du Louvre entrance, which is usually less crowded than other entrances. Visitors who already have tickets can use a special entrance at the Passage Richelieu between rue de Rivoli and the courtyard.

3:30 pm – At the information desk, look for a pamphlet called “Visitors in a Hurry” that highlights the museum’s star exhibits (or check out the Louvre’s website before you go). Allow at least two hours. After your visit, head over by metro to St-Michel and look for any exit that says “Notre-Dame.”

6:00 pm – Walk through Notre-Dame (ask about guided tours in English). Admission is free, but there are often long lines. When you’ve finished your visit, walk through the plaza in front of the cathedral and hang a left over the Petit Pont to the Latin Quarter.

The Latin Quarter is a great place to buy souvenirs. It has lots of selection and competitive pricing.

7:00 pm – Pick a place that looks inviting among the many restaurants in the Latin Quarter. This area is known for its culinary diversity and selection: you’ll find everything from traditional French cuisine to Greek and Arab food. Enjoy a leisurely meal like the French do, and don’t forget to savor your surroundings. From the Latin Quarter, take the metro to Anvers.

9:00 pm – From the Anvers station, follow the signs to the funiculaire de Montmartre. For a small fee or a metro ticket, this cable car takes you to the top of the Butte de Montmartre for extraordinary views of the City of Light. You’ll recognize several places that you visited during the day. From the Butte de Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur, follow signs to the Place du Tertre.

9:45 pm – The Place du Tertre is the artists’ quarter. Browse around for a painting to take home, if it fits into your budget and your suitcase. Take time out for a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone at one of the quaint (and overpriced) cafés around the square. If you weren’t able to buy souvenirs in the Latin Quarter, you may want to do so here in the Place du Tertre before saying au revoir to Paris and calling it a night. 

Prayerwalking: Becoming a Person of Secret Influence

1 September 2010
"Point Zero"

Point Zero in front of Notre Dame

I looked down at my calloused and blistered feet and thought with a bit of sarcasm, “So these are the beautiful feet of those who bring good news! God has a sense of humor.” I’d just walked and prayed over what seemed like every inch of Paris.

Paris was no stranger to me – it was the land of my birth and childhood. My missionary parents had moved to France from the States before I was born and we’d lived there until I relocated to the U.S. for college. Now I’d returned to France for the summer not just to see old friends and enjoy the food but to spend some time praying over the city I loved so much. My goal was to walk and pray in each of Paris’ cultural and historical districts over a two-week period.

As I walked the streets of Paris, I felt the Lord directing my thoughts and showing me how to pray. I met God in strange places there: I thought I would find Him in the magnificent cathedrals, but He was made a beggar there – a statue with downcast eyes and upturned palms, with a sign asking visitors to spare four euros for the upkeep of the sanctuary. I thought He would be far away from the red light district, but that is where I felt the need for Him most strongly. He is close to the broken-hearted.

This prayerwalking journey was the inspiration behind PrayerWalk Paris, the first in a series of Christian guidebooks that weave a spiritual dimension into the act of sightseeing. Prayerwalking changed the way I see Paris and Parisians, the way I see God, and also the way I see myself. I was hooked. When I “prayerwalked,” I looked like an ordinary person on the outside, but inside I felt like a superhero.