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Paris Travel Photojournal One
Cousin Muriel - Flea Market - Sainte Chapelle - Department Stores

Page 3 of 4

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Sunday morning

Had gone to bed at 9 - wake up at 3 for a half-hour - back to sleep until 9 am. Today is Celia's day off so I prepare breakfast for Muriel and myself. Large coffee made with hot milk drunk out of glass bowls, and a croissant for each of us. Ready to go at 10:30 or so, far later than my previous day's early morning departure. (I was so determined not to miss a moment of Paris daylight that I left at dawn almost every day, causing Muriel to affectionately dub me, "Early Bird".) A grey day again, but not too cold. I'm off to Sainte Chapelle (Holy Chapel), said to have some of the most lovely and finely detailed stained glass windows in France, but especially known for the narrow, lacy framework into which the windows are set. The chapel, consecrated in 1248, was built in less than three years by Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house his collection of holy relics, including what was then believed to be Jesus' crown of thorns. (The relics were moved to nearby Notre Dame after the French Revolution.)

Sainte Chapelle is quite lovely but looks much smaller inside than I expect when looking at it from outside. Part of the effect is caused by the division of the structure into two separate floors, so you walk in expecting expansive stained glass, only to find a small, ground floor chapel, where the common folks worshipped. It's lit only by a few small spotlights, and my first impression is that it's very dark, very dusty, and very old. One wonders how much darker it must have been in its heyday, when it was probably lit by oil lamps. But then you climb the narrow stairs to the magnificent upper gallery, which the king and his courtiers had to themselves, and it's possible to imagine the sun streaming through the stained glass and falling on the brocades and velvets of the French court.

Leaving the chapel, I walk a bit, wanting to visit a department store. They're usually closed on Sunday, but this is the pre-Christmas rush. The classic store, Les Galeries Lafayette, is closed, (I come back another day to take a photo of its famous tree.) But special mechanical Christmas displays are in its windows, a highly-anticipated annual treat for crowds of people.

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Outside the main entrances, roasted-chestnut and sandwich vendors, and a band from South America - electric guitar, hand drum, vocalist, and panpipes. I get a ham on baguette for 16f, and I sit on the steps, taking in the happy crowds, the music, and the chilling wind, eating my late lunch with heavily-gloved hands.

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