Geoff and I just returned from a very relaxing 5 day trip to Paris. As well as eating all the croissants in Paris (more on that later) we also made a good attempt at covering a lot of Paris on foot, and ended up in a lot of churches.
The Basilica Sacre Coeur was probably my favourite. Despite being such an immense stone building, I felt an incredible sense of lightness as the sun streamed in from the windows at the base of the dome.
The Sacre Coeur is thick with decoration, no surface left unadorned, and the stained glass windows are particularly striking.
It also provides one of best views of Paris – though the Eiffel Tower is only visible from certain spots, given how far west the Tower is located (and Geoff had to climb to see it!)
Of course, it’s home to hundreds of pigeons, but apparently the stone maintains the white gleam naturally (through chemical secretion). While not built from the same white stone, the underside of the portico is really beautiful.
Otherwise, the exterior of Notre Dame is beautiful – intensely carved, heavy and foreboding. The interior is less impressive – the stained glass is dark, and the decoration on the side chapels is certainly fading.
St Etienne (near the Parthenon) was quite plain in comparison – plenty of plain walls, windows paned simply with glass and a distinct lack of gargoyles!
It was particularly lovely to sit on the front steps and soak up the sunshine.