Friday, August 24, 2012

Paris Day Two: The Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Hotel de Ville, and the Tour St-Jacques

After visiting the Hotel Invalides and Dome Church, we ventured to Notre-Dame. "No other building is more associated with the history of Paris than Notre-Dame. It stands majestially on the Ile de la Cite, cradle of the city. Pope Alexander III laid the first stone in 1163, marking the start of 170 years of toil by armies of Gothic architects and medieval craftsmen. Ever since, a procession of the famous has passed through the three main doors below the huge towers. The Cathedral is a Gothic masterwork, standing on the site of a Roman temple. At the time it was finished, in about 1330, it was 430 ft (130 m) long and featured flying buttresses, a large transept, a deep choir and 228-ft (69-m) high towers." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 82.) The line to get in was extremely long, so we only walked around its perimeter. 
This rose window "pictures the Virgin in a medallion of rich reds and blues."  (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 82.) More about this in another post.
Do you see the row of figures directly beneath the rose window? It's referred to as The Kings' Gallery. It depicts the 28 kings of Judah. (I just noticed that this photo totally tilts to the right. See, Christy? You're not the only one!)
The tower on the right houses the Emmanuel bell, made famous by Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
These are views of Notre-Dame from different sides and angles. Just me being artsy.
Check out the gargoyles. According to local lore, their purpose is to the ward off evil spirits. I find that rather amusing since the gargoyles look quite evil themselves. The official purpose of the gargoyles is to serve as extensions off the rain gutters so that the water drains away from the building, rather than down its sides, to prevent damage. I prefer the "warding off evil spirits" explanation. It just seems more interesting than rain drainage. Either way, they're intriguing.
There is a park-like area adjacent to the east end of Notre-Dame known as Square Jean XXIII. It is a beautiful little park/garden. We enjoyed just sitting there to people watch.
This cafe is across the street from Notre-Dame. Do you get its name? (I know Christy will!) Ever heard of Victor Hugo's book entitled The Hunchback of Notre Dame? I don't want to give too much of the story away, but its primary setting is the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Quasimodo and Esmeralda are key characters. Though I looked up to the bell tower in search of Quasimodo, I wasn't able to find him. I was, however, tickled to see Esmerelda's name on this awning across the street. 
Okay, you definitely need to rent the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Better yet, read Victor Hugo's book!

Next, we strolled along the Notre-Dame's neighboring streets..
We eventually landed at the Hotel de Ville. "Home of the city council, the town hall is a 19th-century reconstruction of the 17th-century town hall that was burned down in 1871... The square was once the main site for hangings, burnings and other executions." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 102.) It's hard to believe that such a beautiful building was once the site of executions. Check out the intricate architectural details.
I just adore the photos of Emma and her uncles. They are the best uncles EVER! (Yes, I will probably say that a million more times, but it's true.)
Not far from the Hotel de Ville stands the Tour St-Jacques, an "imposing late Gothic tower, dating from 1523." This tower "is all that remains of an ancient church that was a rendezvous for pilgrims setting out on long journeys. The church was destroyed after the Revolution. Earlier, Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century mathematician, physicist, philosopher and writer, used the tower for experiments." (Both quotes  taken from DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 115.)
The Tour St-Jacques boasts yet another beautiful French garden where we sat to rest for awhile. Miss Emma took that as an invitation to put on a dance show for us. We weren't disappointed! 
Check out her moves in action.
This was a pretty packed day for us: the Eiffel Tower, L 'Hotel national des Invalides, the Dome Church, Notre-Dame, the Hotel de Ville, and the Tour St-Jacques. We settled down for dinner then retreated to our hotel. Our feet were exhausted!

Up tomorrow: the Palais du Luxombourg, another beautiful Parisian site. 

1 comment:

Christy Lynn said...

I had to watch Hunchback of Notre Dame again after we got home from Paris :) I read the book when I was in high school and I thought I might reread it, but it's been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while, still unread.