Viewing the Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame

The Crown of Thorns, inside its protective case

Gargoyles. The rose window. Victor Hugo’s hunchback. Flying buttresses. These are just a few of the countless reasons why Parisians and visitors to the City of Light visit and fall in love with Notre Dame de Paris, the stunning gothic cathedral that often is included with the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe as iconic symbols of Paris. But for Catholics, indeed for all Christians, the church also is host to one of the most important relics in all of Christendom—the Crown of Thorns, allegedly worn by Jesus during his crucifixion. And visitors to the cathedral can see this most holy of artifacts all day on Good Friday. Continue Reading →

A Visit to the Home of the Man Who Saved Notre Dame

Maison de Victor Hugo 4

A great—and free!—way to spend a delightful and informative hour or two while in the City of Light is to visit the one-time home of one of the most famous of all Parisians: artist, poet and author Victor Hugo. Hugo lived in a 17th century mansion overlooking the gorgeous Place des Vosges in the Marais for 16 years, from 1832 to 1848. In fact, it was at his second-floor apartment in this very house that Hugo penned one of his most famous works, the novel Les Miserables. But perhaps his most significant work is the novel Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame), a book that is credited with saving Notre Dame Cathedral from possible demolition. Continue Reading →

Saint-Michel Fountain: Well Worth a Short Detour

Fontaine Saint-Michel 2

Just a stone’s throw from the Sainte Chapelle church is one of Paris’s most glorious “monumental” fountains that is surprisingly not as popular among tourists as other sights in the area—the Fontaine Saint-Michel. Although many guidebooks include the fountain in their sight-seeing recommendations, it usually doesn’t fall on traveler’s “must-see” lists for the City of Light, particularly for first-time visitors. And that’s a shame, because a less-than-five-minute stroll from either Sainte-Chapelle or equality popular Notre Dame puts you directly on the charming Place de Saint-Michel, which is dominated by the gorgeous (and extremely photogenic) fountain at its southern end. Continue Reading →

Notre Dame de Paris: Simply Breathtaking

Notre Dame 1

There are many beautiful churches in Paris, and I may even be persuaded to admit that Sainte Chapelle and Saint Eustache are more grand and glorious, but nothing beats Notre Dame’s position along the Seine on the gorgeous Ile de la Cite. From the gargoyles to the massive stained-glass windows to the iconic towers and flying buttresses, Notre Dame is a complete delight. Continue Reading →