Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sainte Chapelle and the Batobus

The lower chapel of Sainte Chapelle is lovely and old, having been built in 1248, but David and I couldn't help but wonder why we'd waited twenty minutes in line to see this place that didn't seem particularly special.  Why was it ranked almost as high on tourist lists as Notre Dame?

Then we climbed the spiral staircase.  When we got to the top, we understood.

 There are no pews, no gilded crosses, no side chambers.  Such items would be unnecessary impediments because  this chapel is dedicated to the glory of stained glass. Glorious color  surrounds you as you turn in awe to see the biblical stories depicted in the panes reaching from floor to soaring ceiling.

I could understand why King Louis IX had this chapel built within easy walking distance of his palace.  It's a place I'd love to see every day, too.
Saint Chapelle had been on David's and I my must-see list, but now it was time for some old favorites.  We wanted to walk in the Latin Quartier on the Left Bank and then see Paris from another favorite vantage point via the Batobus, the boat that plies the Seine River.

 The Shakespeare Bookstore is still there.  I remember reading a New York Times article about a writer who'd recently slept there, appreciating the hospitality of the management but rueful that the accommodation, in a stuffy and cramped back room, was so unpleasant.  I prefer to think about the movie, Before Sunset, when former lovers, Jesse and Celine, reunite after  many years when Jesse gives a book reading at the Shakespeare Bookstore. 
And just like Jesse and Celine, David and I wander the streets before finally getting on the Batobus for a boater's view of Paris.

The view from the Batobus is as close as we're going to get to the Eiffel Tower on this trip.  It's a shame I didn't follow my own advice.  There's a wonderful website where you can buy tickets in advance, but you evidently need to do so more than two weeks in advance.  Don't make our mistake.  Take advantage of this new service (The Tower is NOT included in the Paris Museum Pass.), and get your tickets early.
We end the day at a little cafe on the Right Bank where we have an appetizer, ravioli with an exquisite green sauce, before tackling the Metro at rush hour.

Practicalities -
Be sure to ask for carafe d'eau (ka RAFF dough) if you want a free carafe of water and two glasses. 

No tickets are sold for Saint Chapelle from 1:00 -2:00 (1300-1400 hours).

The Batobus is the marine equivalent of the hop on/hop off tourist bus in many cities.  Tickets are €16 for one full day and you can access as many of the eight stops (for example, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, St. Germain de Pres with the "locks" bridge) as you like.  The price is €18 for two consecutive days.

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