Basilique du Sacre-Coeur and the bracelet guys

Before, in a previous post, I mentioned about the guys who stand on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur and try to give you tread bracelets. I have had them approach me two times, the second time one of them grabbed my arm. Both times I said very sternly ‘Non’ and kept walking.  Well, I have been doing some further research on them, turns out this IS a scam, as i thought. They target single women or couples and thread the cotton around your hand then demand payment.  They may seem frindly at first but that changes when they demand money.  Here is a link written a few years ago, but still very relevant http://www.outandaboutinparis.com/2011/06/bracelet-guys-near-sacre-coeur.html My advice is the same as appears in this article…walk with purpose and don’t stop, ignore them and they will leave you alone. Don’t let them put a damper on your Paris trip, Paris is a beautiful place and I believe safe (I will test that next Tuesday when I need to get a flight to the UK to see my sick dad, so will need to walk to Gare de Nord at 5:15am then back to my studio, when I return to Paris, at night).







The Louvre

Well yesterday was the day for a trip to the Louvre.  Now before you go, go onto their website and download their app which has guided tours on, well worth it. I turned up at the Louvre at about 10am and the queues were HUGE, hundreads of people. Fortunately I had researched which entrance to go to and so headed across the courtyard and to the outside of the Louvre block to an entrance called the Porte des Lions, it does seem a bit of a distance from the pyramid but you know when you have found it because it has two lion statues outside.  When i finally found it there were only 15 people waiting…wow, yep myself and anyone that turned up there questioned whether this was the entrance to the Louvre and yep it was…wooohooo score!!! (As my son would say lol)

So, after security checks and buying my ticket I raced to the Mona Lisa (to try and beat the crowds) and it worked…I had access right up to her. It’s funny but even the narrator on the Louvre app says they don’t know why she is so famous, the painting style is typical of that era. Anyhow, she is behind protective glass and is a lot smaller than I thought., but worth going to see to check it off my list lol. 





From there I went towards the Roman and Greek statues section, this is where Venus of Milo is.  Amazing sculptures. Come and join me as I walk around the Louvre (spent over 5 hrs there and still didn’t see it all).





From there i went to Napoleon’s chambers…so much extravegance, but amazing:





Here is a selection of other pics I took…enjoy 🙂



At Napoleon’s coronation.

Marais and the Trip Advisor self tour

Marais is an old part of Paris with medieval and Renaissance buildings in it and it is still laid out like it was back then.  Now the interesting thing is this: Marais doesnt appear on many lists of places to visit while in Paris and to be honest…that is CRAZY!! I spent today following a self tour on the Trip Adviser app (gives you directions to some of the main highlights of the area) and I spent a lot of the time doing an awful lot of WOW!!! This is really a beautiful area with fascinating places to explore. I walked around the gardens of Sens Mansion which was built around the 16th century (and as you know I am doing this trip on the cheap so the fact this was free was a bonus) it has an amazing garden. If you can find the entrance to the building (yep i couldnt lol) then you can go in because this is a public library.


I then wandered around the Saint-Paul Village which was filled with cute shops.  The village is divided into a number of squares (all given a different colour) so make sure you go to each.  Eventually I got back onto the tour and headed for Sully Mansion (Hotel de Sully) on the Rue Saint Antoine. This is a 17th century building which used to be luxury private mansions when this area used to be habited by the aristocrats.  Now it is the offices for the National Monuments, so you can’t go in it but again you can wander around and trust me it is sooo worth the wander:



As you carry on walking on the tour you will find yourself in these archways which surround a garden.  This garden is the oldest planned square in Paris.  Further down you will come across Victor Hugo’s mansion (which you can look around).  Now an interesting reflection…you dont see street people much in Paris and yet under these archways was a large mattress with a guy asleep on it, it struck me the contrast …beautiful ornate buildings with the oldest square in front of him and yet here was an example of the poor of Paris.

The oldest planned square in Paris

From here i walked to 23 Rue de Sevigne to go to Carnavalet Museum (Musee Carnavalet) can i just say at the start here…WOW!!! This is a museum worth going to (and it’s free!!!) it is an extensive museum spread over two old hotels dating back to 1500s. It has  rooms decorated in the design of the times, art, history, jewellery and paintings over the entire room (yep entire…including the roof) I loved it and can’t recommend it enough.







After spending hours at the museum I set back out on my walk and ended up walking past a number of other great buildings and also the Jewish quarters of Paris (called ‘Pletzl’). In this area you can visit Picasso’s Museum, Musee Cognacq-Jay (another collection of arts), the Hunting and Nature Museum (yep those of you who know me know i wouldn’t go in there, but the write up says it is fun), Museum of French History (National Archives in Hotel de Soubise), and finally the Hotel de Ville (government buildings since 1300s, though only buildings from 1800s are standing here now).  



Well at the end of it I was tired, had a great time and really want you to go to Marais if you go to Paris.  Also, I highly recommend the Trip Adviser app for the self tours.  Hope you have a great day 🙂

Moulin Rouge, Montmartre graveyard, Montmartre vineyard

So, to get to the graveyard you walk up the main street past the Moulin Rouge…well I was kinda expecting the following pretty scene (but in daylight):

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but instead this is the scene:

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IMG_7767Ok, I’m going to be honest here and say…it looks tacky, the signage is getting old and faded, the windmill doesnt look that good either. I have to admit I was a bit surprised and really let down, my expectations of it were from paintings and photos I had seen around, but it isnt anything special. Also note the very long queues outside of it (see pics) and there were many people taking pictures of it.

I moved on, not far from there is the turning to head to the Montmartre cemetary. Now, don’t do what i did and get to the end of the road and head up the stairs instead of entering the cemetery at the base of the stairs. This is the only entrance at the moment, the other one at the other end of the cemetery was blocked off.

The list of names of ‘famous’ people buried there was long, and the cemetery has laminated maps you can take around with you, just at the entrance on the left past the building (before the map on the sign). This is REALLY helpful because this cemetery is packed with graves, and it would be like playing ‘Where’s Wally’ if you tried to find certain graves without that handy map. The oldest grave i found was from the 1700’s. It was a peaceful place to spend some time (one guy was even asleep on a bench in there…well ummm I think he was asleep 😳).

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I headed to the Montmartre vineyard after this, it turns out that the vineyard is right by the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. The walk to the vineyard from the graveyard was really pleasant (here are some pics of the streets I walked through

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It didn’t take me long to get to the vineyard from the graveyard (approx 15 mins) with a steep climb up a hill. The vineyard is on a small block of land on the corner of two residential roads, it is filled with grapevines, but is a very small vineyard. I personally wouldn’t go there again.

IMG_7772 from there I walked back up to the Basilique and then back down towards my studio. Again, as like last Sunday, there was a large number of police and army around the base of the Basilique.

Notre-Dame

‘It was the bells that made me do it’…honestly😳 lol ok that phrase has probably been used to death but it does go through your head as you walk towards this beautiful church.

My trip:

I got out of Cite train station and was lost…no signs to direct me to Notre-Dame, so i turned right and wow!!! I was faced with the Palace of Justice (the place Marie Antoinette stayed and was executed) this is a very beautiful building. I kept walking in that direction and turned right in front of the palace.

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Turning right took me across the River Seine (look down the river and you can see the Eiffel Tower) towards the Place de la Bastille, this is the place where the famous Bastille prison used to be (the place that was stormed in 1789 in the French Revolution). There isnt a lot there now, a column at the junction of roads, but worth going to.

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Behind the Place de la Bastille you can see the gargoyles on top of the Tour Saint-Jacques. There once used to be a gothic church here, but all that is left is this detailed tower. It is 52m tall and was built around the 16th century.

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After walking around this tower and it’s garden, i decided that it was time to actually look at google maps and get directions to Notre-Dame. Turns out that had i turned left at the train station i would have bumped into Notre-Dame around the corner 😳 ahhh well lol, the walk was good exercise.

Notre-Dame is widely known for it’s gargoyles and the film The Hunchback of Notre-Dame but it has a lot to it other than that. This church is a functioning church, so please abide by the signs that say ‘silence’ when you go in, there will either be people praying in there and/or a service happening. When i arrived the queue to get in went as far back as the road, but i didnt have anywhere else to go so thought i would join it and wait (and also, as a Brit, queuing is one of the things we do SOOO well lol). To my surprise i was in the church within 15 mins (the queue moves along very quickly), note: it is free to enter the church. Once in you are inside you are faced with a magnificently built church with wonderful stained glass windows and archways. There is a walkway around the inside edge of the church taking you past paintings, prayer points, statues of saints, sculptures etc. While there a service started so i got to hear the organ and choir playing…very beautiful.

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If you want to go up to the lookout (said to be the best view in Paris) then turn right, after coming out of the church, and queue up beside the church (there is a cost to go up to the lookout) i didn’t go up today because it was raining heavily, but i plan to go up in a few days…i’ll post the pics then 🙂

After coming out of Notre-Dame i wandered around and found myself on Rue de Rivoli, heaps of shops (if that is your thing 🙂 )

Well, heading to a graveyeard now lol…will post later

Reflections on ministry – Behind the Curtain part 2

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Is it godly to let people walk on you when you are in ministry?

My reflections here are not to point fingers and whinge, but to open discussion and get people to start thinking about ministry families. My hope is that by opening discussion it will bring out into the light the struggles of ministry life…and by bringing it out into the open it will help people to start talking and help families to stay in ministry for the long haul.

I have just read this very interesting article:

http://www.alifeoverseas.com/im-not-supposed-to-have-needs-lies-we-believe/

Her description of life in ministry was so true of my experiences in it (though don’t get me wrong…i also had many wonderful and God honouring experiences in ministry as well). For example: many times i had people from church walk into my home (without asking) and walk around like it was their home, why? because it belonged to the church. I once found a woman in my son’s bedroom tidying it up…i was horrified (and so was he when he found out) that she was putting his underwear away. I had another criticising where i had placed furniture in the house. At another church i had a member of the parish council ask to come in to check a new oven they had put in, and then he promptly went around the rooms and in my sons room found the heater still on. He had ‘words’ with me about wasting energy…at the next parish council my husband was reprimanded for heaters being left on in a room someone wasn’t in (this was in a house which was bitterly cold in winter) and yet did i tell him or the others to get out and keep their opinions to themselves? No, because there is an expectation within churches that the ministry house is theirs and they have access whenever they want.

Another expectation is that the minister’s wives will be polite/gentle/non complaining etc and can be told how to do things in her own home aka church house, how to run their families, asked to pick up the slack when others can’t do things, expected to run ministries. Those minister’s wives who get angry over the expectations of others are looked down on by some in the church, as if they aren’t as godly as they should be. And yet there are so many expectations on the minister’s wife ie don’t want to do criche/Sunday school on Sunday? Ring the minister’s wife the night before and ask her to do it… you know she will never say no (even if it means she is up all night planning the next day’s lesson) she is expected to just do it and with a smile.

These are just a few examples, not all churches/members are like this and these aren’t always the experiences of all those in ministry but, churches need to really think about how they treat the family of the minister (as well as him) and ministry families need to think about why they allow people to treat them like this. We all need to ask ourselves…how does God want me to behave/respond? We can deal with any situation in a godly manner without ending up being a doormat or being aggressive. God doesn’t want us to be a doormat, nor does he want us to be rude and aggressive. He wants us to deal with each other in a way that is honouring to Him.

Shopping in Paris

If you are a shopper who loves top range gear then Galeries Lafayette is the department store you want to go to. This is where you can buy Gucci etc. when you enter you will notice two things 1) the number of security guards at the door and 2) The beautiful center of the store which has a doomed stained glass roof and decorative balconies (worth going to see this alone, even if you don’t want to buy anything there).

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Another thing to note, while shopping, is the toilets (yep i am going to mention toilets lol) in The main centres you will need to pay to go in (approx 1€). This isn’t unusual in Europe and is also done in the UK (though i remember as a kid when it used to be just a penny, hence the phrase ‘spending a penny’…inflation has a lot to answer for lol).

When you go grocery shopping, don’t forget to take bags with you or you will be charged for bags (even for the thin plastic ones) at the check out. I have got into the habit of always carrying a bag in my small backpack.

Another interesting thing was the cars plugged into electricity as they were parked, not something I have seen in Australia 🙂

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I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I have been using Goggle Translate while here and i cant rave about it enough. Yes you will need wifi to use it but it is a really handy app. It allows you to type a word and it will translate, you can place you phone between yourself and someone and turn the app on and it will translate the conversation from both people, you can take a picture of the text (ie a food label) while out and it will translate the words in the scan/picture. This is definitely an app you need for travelling…love it!!!!