Sunday, June 23, 2002

Paris, France

Just a glimpse of the famous bell towers... but first...

Hotel des Invalides 
Here's a close up of that golden tower we took pictures of from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. We didn't actually go in (seeing Napolean's tomb didn't excite us all that much), but we walked around the Hotel. The grounds and the architecture are impressive!

This is the other side of the Hotel. We were once again struck by the amount of detail that went into these buildings.

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris 

We were shocked to learn that this amazing structure was once scheduled for demolition! Thank goodness for the popularity of Victor Hugo's Hunchback to Notre-Dame -- our tour pamphlet credits this book and it's author for spearheading the restoration movement that saved it from being turned into rubble.

Stryga (at Notre Dame):   Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a gargoyle! We learned that gargoyles are the critters designed to act as drainspouts on gothic buildings -- this stone creation is certainly not equipped to do that! The large, fanciful creatures like this one are known collectively as Chimera -- as an individual, this one is known as Stryga. The tour pamphlet suggests that he looks pensive, but I think he's rather mischevious. After all, he IS sticking his tongue out at the city of Paris!

This is looking west from near the top of the Cathedrale.

Looking northwest-ish(?)

Sacre-Couer from Cathedrale de Notre-Dame.  Just another view of the Basillica on the hill.

This is from the VERY top of the bell tower, looking east. You can see the green statues that were in the previous picture (actually, it's two pictures back) in the bottom left of this picture -- that should give you an idea of how much further up we've climbed!

Just another view of the city of Paris.

These are just three of the many stained glass windows in the Cathedrale. The soft glow that they cast over the inside of the building somehow seems to warm the cold, stone architecture. The mood inside is one of quiet reflection -- it is somehow unthinkable to speak any louder than a whisper.

This is a closer view of those windows, with the giant chandelier in the foreground.

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