Saturday, April 12, 2008

La defense, and starting to follow the pilgrims

This morning I decided to do a tourist thing I have never done, and go and see the La Defense Arch. First new thing I learned was about the 'real' metro rush hour, something I seem to have miraculously missed before. To say it was sardines would be an understatement! I asked someone if it was this bad every morning.... ''mostly" was the reply.
Was it worth going all that way? Maybe. French flair was somehow evident in the skyscrapers, as they were all different sizes and shapes, and you got to see all the juxtaposition clearly as there was a big open space in the middle. But...don't bother spending nine euro to go up in the lift to see the 'vue panoramique'. You only get to see a fraction of the view... it is not all around... and it was so incredibly polluted.
However, back in town I got to meet my friend Monique for lunch. And then I began following where pilgrims have gone before, and somehow it was quite special.
First I walked to the Tour St Jacques. The top two thirds of this has now been beautifully restored and looked glorious standing out in the sunshine this afternoon. I sat in the nearby garden looking at it, and contemplated how many pilgrims had gone before. It almost seemed like at that moment I began my pilgrimage proper.
Next I visited Notre Dame, beautiful and inspiring as ever, but of course full with tourists. I have been there before and on this occasion didn't stay long. I headed across the bridge and began to follow the Rue St Jacques. My first stop was at St Severin Church, where the stained glass was very impressive. I continued walking up the hill, past the Sorbonne, until eventually I came to the church of St Jacques Haut Pas. Inside was an old statue of St Jacques, and also an old wooden carved plaque. I did the tourist thing here and took photos.
I wandered as far as Port Royal, and saw a bit of yet another area of Paris worth exploring. Ah well, there is always next time!!
So today, my pilgrimage 'started' in Paris, and now tomorrow I do the un-pilgrim thing and take the train to Le Puy en Velay. (Shame it leaves at 7am!)

PS Forgot to mention - I got sunburned!!!!!! I thought this shouldn't happen in April, especially when it snowed here last week!!!! But I won't moan too much: it is bound to be wetter and colder in Le Puy!!


  1. Sounds like you have your pilgrimage off to a fine start Kiwi. Bon courage!

  2. Thanks maalie. That is exactly what a few French will say before I leave Le Puy I am sure!

  3. It feels like we are sliding towards winter here now daylight savings has ended. Hope spring starts to do the same thing for your walk. I have another terms work confirmed for T.2 (.6) and am looking forward to the holidays. 1 week to go! HBPS

  4. Greetings from Lorenzo's computer!

  5. you MUST go and visit Shakesperes books!! Opposite the Notre dame on the other bank.....