Paris as seen from the Saint-Jacques Tower

Paris Tour Saint Jacques Eiffel Tower

When in Paris, you may have noticed this ancient, lone tower erected in the center of the city. The Saint-Jacques Tower had long been under renovation and it would intrigue me whenever I passed by. Now the monument is {almost} as new and I had the chance to climb up the 300 steps of its narrow staircase to enjoy a view of Paris that literally took my breath away.

Si vous connaissez Paris, vous aurez sans doute remarqué cette tour ancienne et solitaire érigée au centre de la capitale. La Tour Saint Jacques a longtemps été en rénovation et elle m’intriguait à chaque fois que je passais dans le quartier du Châtelet. A présent que ce monument est {presque} comme neuf, j’ai eu la chance de grimper ses 300 marches pour admirer une vue de Paris qui m’a laissée bouche bée.

Paris Plages Saint Jacques

Paris Tour Saint Jacques

The hour-long visit takes you through the eventful history of the Saint-Jacques Tower. The last remains of a church demolished through the French Revolution, it became a bullet factory and then a meteorological laboratory during the 19th century. Obviously, the best part is getting to the top and enjoying one of the most glorious views of Paris you can get.

La visite d’une heure {très intéressante} nous mène à travers les péripéties de l’histoire de la Tour. Dernier vestige d’une église dédiée aux bouchers détruite à la Révolution Française, le clocher est devenu une fabrique de plomb puis une station de météorologie au 19ème siècle. Evidemment, le meilleur moment est l’arrivée au sommet et les minutes passées à contempler l’une des plus magnifiques vues de Paris.

Paris Eiffel Tower view Tour Saint JacquesLa Conciergerie, Saint-Sulpice, Théâtre du Châtelet and the Eiffel Tower

Notre Dame Paris Saint JacquesNotre-Dame-de-Paris

Les Halles Tour Saint JacquesLes Halles

Tour Saint Jacques gargoyles

Paris Tour Saint Jacques ConciergerieAngel overlooking La Conciergerie, where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned

Paris Sebastopol Sacré Coeur Tour Saint JacquesBoulevard Sébastopol, Les Halles, Le Sacré-Cœur

Paris Pompidou Tour Saint JacquesCentre Georges Pompidou

Paris Hôtel de Ville Tour Saint JacquesHôtel de Ville, Ile Saint-Louis

Tour Saint Jacques gargoyles Les HallesLes Halles

Paris Saint Jacques angelEiffel Tower

Tour Saint Jacques detail view

The Saint-Jacques Tower can only be visited in the summertime on weekends, with bookings available until September 27th this year through Des Mots et Des Arts (10€ for 1-hour visit). Note that this company created by 2 young women also organizes tours throughout Paris all year long.

La Tour Saint-Jacques se visite uniquement les week-ends en été (jusqu’au 27 septembre). Le nombre de places est limité alors mieux vaut réserver via Des Mots et Des Arts (10€). A noter que cette entreprise créée par 2 jeunes femmes organise des visites guidées thématiques à travers Paris toute l’année.

The Palace of Versailles: visiting a royal past

Versailles has been quite in fashion this month. First, after setting its new J’adore campaign in the Galeries des Glaces, Dior released its “Secret Garden – Versailles” video.

Then Chanel showed its latest cruise collection in the gardens last week. This reminds me of my short trip to Versailles to see a fashion exhibition last summer. Papa Ritournelle had dragged me there as a child and I was too young to appreciate his encyclopedic knowledge in history. But reading Stefan Zweig’s excellent biography of the legendary queen after seeing Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette made me realize what a fascinating place the Palace is.

Let’s now push the gates to start our visit.

It is on this balcony that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette appeared in front of an angry mob during the French Revolution in October 1789. People were aiming at the queen with their rifles but were soon impressed by her bravery.

King Louis XIV, who reigned on France from 1654 to 1715, is responsible for the magnificence of Versailles. During a traumatic childhood episode, the king’s authority was threatened and he had to flee Paris with his family. As an adult, the Sun King decided to have the Palace of Versailles lavishly modernized and adorned with the most beautiful gardens. The noble elite were compelled to inhabit the Palace, consolidating a system of absolute monarchical rule in France. They lived far away from the realities of the country leading up to the French Revolution.

The chapel is one of the key features of the Palace. Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI at this altar at the tender age of 15.

Then, you are certainly already acquainted with the lavish Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) and its tall mirrors and heavy chandeliers. The gallery faces the peaceful Grand Canal. A perfect setting for balls and other festivities.

You then enter the King’s Private Apartments. The king’s awakening and going to bed were ceremonies to which being invited was a great privilege.

Likewise, the queen had her own apartments reserved for her personal use. Near the bed you can see an open door, a secret passage through which Marie Antoinette escaped in October 1789 when an angry mob marched on Versailles.

Imagine Marie Antoinette waking up to this view.

I ended my visit at Angelina which has a tea parlor in the Palace. It was my first time tasting their legendary hot chocolate, and let me tell you, it was divine! A sweet pleasure Marie Antoinette would probably have loved herself.

Have you ever visited Versailles? What are your impressions on the Palace?