Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3-23-11 Paris

Above, the page of my old scrapbook with my room card, as they didn't give you a key, just the paper you had to have to get the key when you entered the hotel. And the exchange rate, a map, and a bona fide pigeon feather plucked from the streets. I've always had a thing for picking up feathers.

 And. . .  a Parisian pigeon. See that look? Very French.

So in the interest of some semblance of a narrative here:

 When last we left London . . .  we were pulling away from the white cliffs of Dover, since this was still the only way across the channel.

Stop #1, of course, was the Eiffel Tower

Stop #2: The Cathedral of Notre Dame

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris

The Fountain of the Virgin is in the center of the gardens at Square Jean XXIII, behind the cathedral near the Seine.

An upper window near the Nave. 

And the window from the outside.

Dated from the 13th century, the Rose Window, above, includes a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus, flanked by two angels. The center of the window forms a halo around Mary's head.

The Gallery of Kings is beneath the balustrade, representing the 28 generations of the kings of Judah.They also quickly became associated with the kings of France, which would explain why they were largely decapitated by French Revolutionists in the 18th century. In 1843, their restoration was undertaken. 

The central portal beneath the kinds is known as the Portal of the Last Judgement.

The area directly above the massive doors depicts the dead rising from their tombs.
Above them, souls are being weighed by the Archangel Michael, depending on the love and deeds done upon earth. Those deemed worthy are seen looking up at Christ, just below His throne, on the left, following the angel. To right of the Michael are two devils, directing those on the right into hell.

Christ on the throne is showing the scars in his Hands, while an angel on either side of him hold the nails and spear on the left and the cross on the right. On the outside of the angels are Mary and John the Apostle. Above all of this in the archivolts are innumerable figures of the host of heaven, each with their own individual details. The wise virgins are depicted on the "heaven" side, the unwise with empty lamps near hell.

The portal to the left is the Portal of the Virgin. Directly above the doors themselves are three Old Testament prophets and three Kings, holding phylacteries to depict the fulfillment of the prophecies. Between them is the Arc of the Covenant. Above them is Mary on her deathbed surrounded by Christ and the Apostles. Angels are lifting the shroud to take her to heaven. Above this scene (only partially pictured below) she is seen with Christ on the throne being crowned by angels and presented with a scepter from Jesus as Queen of Heaven. Above her on the archivolts are more patriarchs, martyrs, kings and angels.

Between the two doors and to their left and right are larger statues. The center is the Virgin holding the Baby Jesus, whose hands are making the signs of blessing. On the left are Emperor Constantine, and angel, the Saint Denis (holding his head), and another angel. On the right are John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve, and Pope Sylvester. And on the small columns nearest the doors to the left and right are depictions of the 12 signs of the zodiac representing the months of the year and the labors associated with each month. 

The spire was built in 1250 and functions as the bell tower, which has housed up to five bells at the same time. 

The buttresses allow for the amazing number of windows that allow light into the cathedral.

The Great Organ is situated below the rose window. It has five keyboards, 190 ties, and 8000 pipes.

From the gardens in the rain. 

We took a evening boat trip down the Seine, which was beautiful, but you were on your own to figure out what you were looking at. 

It was Paris, after all . . .

The Gare d'Orsay, a railway station for nearly 100 years before being converted into a museum that opened only a few months before we visited. The interior was the setting for Orson Welles' version of Kafka's The Trial.

And there was the Louvre . . .
from the outside

And in, with its natural light and walls and walls of art.

Mona Lisa behind bullet-proof glass

Clearly impressed by size, I seemed to have been most captivated by Veronese's 1562 The Wedding FeaSt at Cana. It is the largest painting at the Louvre and measures 220.5 feet high by nearly 326 feet wide. I wish the pictures captured how massive this thing actually is. 

It's a mixture of the biblical with the contemporary Venetian society of the 14th century.

There are 130 people in this painting and not a single one is speaking, a nod to the Benedictine's vow of silence, for which the painting was commissioned.

It hung in the San Giorgio Maggiori monastery at Venice for 235 years until Napoleon stole it and shipped it to Paris. It was never returned to its rightful place in Italy.

The table is set with fruit and dessert items while the men above Christ are butchering meat (thought to be lamb.) 

Interesting that after I took these pictures, the painting became a relations nightmare for the Louvre. 

In 1989, the Louvre began a $1 million renovation but in the summer of 1992 the canvas was spattered by water from a leaking air vent and two days later the entire painting fell to the floor, tearing five holes in the canvas, the largest four feet long.

On 11 September, 2007, the 210th anniversary of the looting of the painting by Napoleon's troops, a facsimile of the original was hung in its original place in the Palladian Refectory. The original is now stored away at the Louvre.

Venus De Milo says, at least they all still have their parts. . .

Winged Victory thinks Venus could have things worse. . .

The Arch de Triomphe

And decidedly less artistic. . . this picture was specifically all about the Burger King. We were desperate for "American" food by this point. I do like that the Parisian Mercedes Benz is right next door to the BK.

Another fun fact: the chocolate store is next door to the Horse Butcher. 

And finally, the view from our hotel room. This one was actually pretty spacious and I am still lost as to why I never took a single picture of it.


When we returned in 1988, I didn't seem to keen on taking pictures of the same places, so other than the requisite Eiffel Tower picture:

It's a lot more random stuff from the scrapbook.  On the way from Switzerland (see Benneton shirt purchased the day before) I did a nice cross-over look with the beret.

The Paris Opera House

 French Parliament

The Gare d'Orsay

The statue of George Washington in the middle of Parisian traffic. Those French revolutionists put him up. They liked his moxy.

The second trip did offer a visit to the Palace of Versailles:

And to think, this started out as a little hunting lodge. . .

The 1668 Apollo Fountain

The Gardens of Versailles cover about 2000 acres.

The Hall of Mirrors

Me and Louis XIV in the background. (Although that bouffant might suggest otherwise, Louis can have the place. It's a little too glitzy for my tastes.)

Next installment: Switzerland, Austria, and Germany


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