Medieval Paris

Paris grew from the Roman village of Lutetia which grew up where an island (now the Île de la Cité) made bridging the Seine easy. It was a natural trading route, and the remains of Lutetia can be found on the island, right in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. The Fourth Arondissement includes not only most of the two islands, but also the right bank areas around city hall and the Marais, the oldest part of Paris.

The coat of arms of the city harken back to her origins as a river port. They show a ship and the motto "Fluctuat nec Mergitur," meaning "She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink." This could also refer to her ability to roll with the punches and keep on going. Waves of invaders have come and gone (Huns, Franks, Norsemen, English, Huguenots, Catholics, Germans, more Germans, French, Americans, tourists, ...) but Paris remains one of the worlds most enchanting cities. She has earned the honors she proudly displays: The Cross of the Liberation, the Legion of Honor, and the Croix de Guerre 1914-1918.

Fourth arondissement

Notre Dame de Paris

Begun in 1163, the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris is a remarkable example of gothic architecture. Its tall, square towers are distinctive, and the apse was one of the first structures to use flying buttresses. After the revolution in 1789, the Church was seen as an ally of the monarchy in keeping the people subjugated. Notre Dame, along with many other churches, was desecrated and many of its ornamentations were damaged. The cathedral fell on hard times.

In 1845 a restoration was started under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. It is not clear just how much was a restoration, and how much was making it conform to Viollet-le-Duc's idea of what gothic ought to be. He added the central spire and a lot of gargoyles. Authentic or not, along with the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame has become a symbol of Paris.


Lines are shorter on a rainy day!
The lines in the pavement show the foundations of the old city.

The death and assumption of the Virgin. The eleven apostles all look alike to me

The treasury has many reliquaries.

Reliquary of the Crown of Thorns

Restored carvings

The south rose window

Chapel of Saint Joseph

Flying buttresses

"Fountain of the Virgin" in the Square Jean XXIII

Saint Gervais

Leaving the garden behind Notre Dame, we crossed a short bridge to the smaller island: the Île Saint Louis. This brought us to the café Le Flore en l'Île which has a stand selling Berthillion ice cream cones, some of the best in France. We then crossed to the right bank and up a small street which brought us to the back door of the church of St-Gervais-et-St-Protais. There has been a church on this site since the fourth century. The current building dates from 1494.


Le Flore en l'Île

 St-Gervais-et-St-Protais. the front door

Nuns from the adjacent convent were worshipping as we passed through

The church is famous as the musical home of the Couperin family.

"Truly I tell you: Today you will be with me in paradise" Luke 23:32-43

Outside we found a parking place and recharging outlet for electric cars.

Tour St Jacques

The Tour St Jacques (Saint James Tower) is what's left of the Saint James Church. This was the starting point for the pilgrimage on Santiago de Compostella. Jacques is French fir James, while Iago is Spanish for James. It's all the same name.

The tower is on the right bank near the Châtelet and Sarah Bernhardt theaters. It is on the rue de Rivoli, the famous shopping street featuring Hermès, Louis Vuiton, and the rest of the fashionable crowd. It deteriorates into T-shirt vendors and tourist traps as it gets to Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.