I travelled over to Paris on Thursday afternoon for a working meeting on the Friday, and had some of the Thursday evening to myself before some colleagues arrived for dinner. I walked from Gare du Nord down Rue de Maubeuge to the Hotel Corona on Rue Rodier and checked in and dropped off my rucksack. I had been told that it had snowed heavily in Paris but there was not a trace of it on either the roads or the pavements, which made it easy going as I continued down Rue de Maubeuge in the direction of L’Opera. I had seen a couple of churches indicated on the map and decided to see if they were still open at this time, and my luck was in because both of them were. I came to Rue Lamartine and could see the back of the first church, Notre Dame de Lorette, which looked dark and imposing from the back.
I walked down Rue Bourdaloue by the side of the church, and it looked less dark but even more imposing from the front.
I was very pleased to find it still open so I could marvel at how stunning it was inside, and I took my time walking around, while others were in there praying or just enjoying the calm solitude.
It is a neo-classical church built between 1832 and 1836.
I walked along Rue de Chateaudun in the direction of Saint Lazare RER and soon came to a major junction in the shadow of the Eglise de la Sainte-Trinite, built between 1861 and 1867.
It looks majestic with its 63 metre bell tower topped with a dome, but had scaffolding around the front and I was concerned that I might not be able to go inside. I was very pleased to find that was not the case, and even more pleased when I got inside because if anything it was even more stunning than Notre Dame de Lorette.
I was very quiet walking around because there was a service just starting at the very far end of the church. They still had up their nativity scene, which was a life-size one. I needed to get back to the hotel to meet up with the others and decided it would be quicker to complete a triangle than retrace my steps, so I headed up Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, cut across on Rue Victor Masse, joined Rue Condorcet, and then turned right into Rue Rodier, walking to the cafe at the bottom of the road to meet the others and have a cup of hot chocolate. I had seen Sacre Coeur in the near distance during my walk back and my suggestion to go up there for dinner was accepted by the others.
The hotel receptionist told us that Sacre Coeur was about 10 to 15 minutes away, and was just straight up the road. Fortunately she did not tell the others about the steps. I knew what was ahead of us because I had been there recently while over for another business meeting. We headed up Rue Rodier, crossed Avenue Trudaine and then Boulevard de Rochechouart, before taking Rue de Steinkerque, which brought us to the bottom of the Montmartre funiculaire, an automatic funicular railway which goes up to the steps at the bottome of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. We did not take it, and instead went to the left and took the steps until we reached Place du Tertre, where we enjoyed dinner at La Boheme. i went for the 11 Euro set menu of a green salad, roast chicken and frites, and a banana bread pudding with custard. As I was in France I also had an Orangina. We followed the Rue Saint-Eleuthere round to Rue du Cardinal Dubois and the front of La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre. If the previous two churches I had seen that evening had been imposing from the outside then they were as nothing compared to this.
A commanding structure in a very commanding position at the highest point of the city as it overlooks the whole of Paris. I was so happy to find it was still open because I had not been inside when there during my previous business trip, and so far as I can remember that means the only time I have been inside before now was on a school exchange. There are no words to describe the beauty and the majesty of the interior.
Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914, and it is easy to see why it took so long. We walked back from there to the corner of Rue Saint-Eleuthere for a view of the Tour Eiffel, before descending by steps alongside the funiculaire. We did not quite retrace our steps, taking Rue Turgot and then Rue de Rochechouart before joining Rue de Maubeuge and turning right into Rue Rodier again to reach the hotel.
You can see more of my photos here.