Day 5: Sainte-Chapelle

Our second goal on Ile de la Cite on Wednesday morning was Sainte-Chapelle, a few blocks to the west of Notre Dame.  It’s a chapel that was built inside a palace, for the private use of Louis IX, rather than a public place of worship; the palace is now the Palais de Justice (Paris hall of justice) and the chapel has been a national historic monument for 150 years.  It’s worth visiting for the stained glass; the building is almost more stained glass than stone.

Here’s a photo from outside the gates of the Palais de Justice, in which you can see the roof and spire (topped by a rooster) of chapel rising above the rest of the complex.

The interior of the chapel has been photographed better by others, but I tried to capture some of the stained glass, and the feel of the place.

Not having taken advantage of any of my camera’s high-dynamic range features, I wasn’t really able to capture both the stained glass’s beauty and that of the painted and gilded walls in any single photo.  Here are a couple that don’t show the stained glass as well, but give a feeling for the rest of the room.

My favorite photos from the chapel are the ones I took of the details.  A funny half-dragon by the door:

… the castles carved into the wall:

… angels on the door latch:

… and the colorful stained glass light on the floor.

And of course – I’m sure you knew this was coming – here’s a photo of us.  Now you know we were really there!

Of course, we’re a little pinkish in this photo, but that’s just the stained glass.  No sunburns for us – sunblock every day!

The chapel photographed above is actually the upper chapel – there’s another smaller one downstairs, through which you enter and exit, with much smaller but equally pretty stained glass and walls.  It’s very similar to the upper chapel, but on a much smaller scale, and evidently was originally used as the parish church for all the palace residents.

After exiting the chapel, and admiring the grounds and gates of the Palais de Justice for a while …

… we headed back across the river toward our afternoon stop: the Louvre museum!

I was starving, and beginning to wish I’d eaten John’s entire croissant au beurre instead of just one bite – or better yet, two, or three, or even better still – brought a whole bag with me   for continual sustenance.  Having not had that foresight, though, I was more than ready for lunch.  John patiently put up with some moaning, and graciously offered to let me eat his mittens if I wanted, as he led me around the east and north sides of the Louvre to the absolute furthest-away entrance shown on our map.  We kept passing other entrances that looked pretty darn good to me.

“I bet there’s food in this way, why don’t we go in here?” I ask, as John becomes victim to the warping powers of my wide-angle lens.

“Really?  You don’t want to go in here?  I think it’s the fastest path to lunch….  How about this one?”

“Oh, you say it’s not actually a real entrance?  Because I think there’s a high potential for food behind that door….  Let’s just try the handle.”

But John got his way, and we kept walking and walking (and walking) as I came perilously close to wasting completely away.

Thankfully for me, or maybe for John, or let’s just say for both of us, he was right.  When we finally arrived at the Louvre-carousel entrance and took a short escalator ride downstairs, we emerged into a giant food court – a beautiful sight at that moment.  There actually were too many options to pick from on empty stomachs, so instead of browsing the offerings, we headed straight for the nearest counter where I ordered a pita sandwich filled with provolone and arugula.  It was amazingly delicious, and I would place it on my top-5 foods in Paris list, except that I know it probably tasted that good just because I was so hungry.  But at the moment it didn’t matter – lunch was satisfying, and afterward we were refreshed and revived for an afternoon of power-viewing art and history.

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