Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paris: Easter 2011

Paris. A truly beautiful city and an especially beautiful city in the spring.

We spent five full days in Paris and enjoyed every minute - even with the exceptional heat! (We got sunburned waiting to get into the Palace at Versailles!) I guess I should say we spent three days in Paris, one at Versailles, and one at Giverny. Half the fun was getting the trains and finding our way to Giverny and Versailles...although Versailles was hard to miss!

Here's Charlie at a Metro stop. Paris is pretty easy to get around in. 

Surely the most memorable time we had was on Easter Sunday at Mass in Notre Dame. Just thinking of all the people who have attended Easter Mass at this very spot over so many generations gave us pause. And the ceremony was so moving. It was a  Gregorian Mass sung by a  - needless to say - fantastic choir of French monks. What an experience.

A close up of the front. I love the gargoyles who also serve as gutters. They peek out over the roof.

Even closer up - I thought this guy was so creepy. No wonder the people of the Middle Ages were obedient if this is what you got for being bad!

Inside - the glorious arches of the main aisle. The church is huge.

Down the aisle. How many kings have walked this aisle to be crowned or married.

Everything large and small is a work of art. I loved the detail on this column.

Here's the organ.

 It is customary to lite candles for personal intentions. We lit one for Charlie's mother who was still with us at that time and in memory of Charlie's father and my parents.

And here is the Lady herself...

The grounds were so beautiful at this time of year. Here's the back of Notre Dame with spring tulips!

An on a more materialistic note...I have to pay homage to Paris shopping. I thought this window was very Parisian.

We stayed in the Marais district and just loved it. It was full of small side streets with little shops...great little surprises everywhere you looked. There was a small square next to our hotel and at night the locals came out with their kids and dogs to visit. It was so charming and felt like a real Paris neighborhood.

We saw some spectacular stained glass windows in the churches of Paris. The church of Saint-Severin has a gorgeous juxtaposition of the old and the modern. The church itself was built in the eleventh century. In 1964 seven new windows were added that are very contemporary. Here are photos which will hopefully give you a feeling of the church. There is only one photo of the old stained glass.

The old....

And the new...

Each pillar has a different design.

If you ever go to Paris, Saint-Severin is a must-see. And there is a nice cafe just across the street where you can have a nice lunch...which is just what we did!

After lunch we continued our tour and found the SPECTACULAR church of  Sainte-Chapelle. Unbelievable...truly. The church was built around 1240 by Louis IX to house what he believed to be Christ's Crown of Thorns. The Crown is actually still there but only taken out for display on Good Friday. We missed it by a day.

Here is the main room of the church with the exquisite windows.

Here is Louis's statue.

This arched pavilion was built to house the Crown. The carving is magnificent.

A close up showing angels holding the Crown.

One of the pillars along the wall...the carving... the wall covering...so beautiful

I think Sainte-Chapelle is another Paris "must". The photos don't do it justice...and to think it was constructed in the 1200's. Just amazing.

And then there is ... VERSAILLES.

Here are the golden gates of the Palace of Versailles...really GOLDen. Since photos are not allowed to be taken inside the palace, here are some of the outside. To say the Palace is opulent is quite an understatement. All Charlie could think while we toured it was - no wonder they killed them....enough said.

It was a beautiful day so our tour of the grounds was enjoyable. We didn't make it to Marie Antoinette's little farm which was some distance away but did walk the "mall". The grounds are astounding. too. There are short roads running off the main boulevard leading to various other little "parks".

Just a little "side yard"

And the fountains!

A view looking back toward the palace. This was not even halfway down the mall.

Although photos are not allowed inside, I did cheat a bit. I had to take this photo of Louis XIV's profile. His nose is just like Charlie's! I'm sure there is some shared DNA. Really.

The next day we went to Giverny to see where Claude Monet lived and worked. We decided to go at the last minute and it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. The gardens were beautiful but that is for the next blog!

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