Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13

Some nice Paris surprises:

  • The New Orleans Jazz band outside the Metro at the church of Saint Germain des Pres.
  • Bullfrogs in Monet's Garden--they are as loud as a flock of geese!
  • The breathtaking windows in the upper chapel of La Sainte Chapelle--in that space, even an atheist might say, "Oh. Maybe there is a God..."
  • A concert in this very chapel, which has the clearest acoustics I've ever heard--the traffic out in the street sounded like gusts of wind.
  • Croissants, like nothing we have here. And hard, unsalted butter.
  •  Coming upon a Latin mass in St Severin on Ascension Thursday. The priest faced the altar and mumbled everything in Latin, except for the excessively long sermon in French. The organ and the organist were superb.
  •  A Chagall exhibit in the Luxembourg Garden Museum.
  • The tapestries in the Musee Cluny, just up the street from the hotel.

Final step count: 122,901
Translated to miles: 57.76

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5

So this cranky old guy swept us out of the church of St. Germaine des Pres exactly at closing, before we got a chance to see much of anything. I said I wanted my two euros back. He pretended not to understand English, or didn't understand English. To my chagrin, I certainly don't understand much French. Amazing how much language disappears through 45 years of disuse. Sad, too.

The Louvre is too big for a one-day visit, but the D'Orsay is just right. Yes, I could go back and look at all those incredible impressionist paintings that I've seen in books for years another 10 or 12 times, but a one-day visit was also marvelous. I asked a restaurant server if Parisians bring their children to the art museums, because there were so many children at the two I've been to do far, and she said no. People who live with all that culture on a daily basis tend to take it for granted, she thought. I suppose so. Glad there were a lot of children at the Louvre, though. Wherever they were from.

Step count since leaving Minnesota: 64,258
Converted to miles: 30.2

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3

Notre Dame's rose window - facing the Seine
Some of Notre Dame's many gargoyles

And now, for something completely different, as the Monte Python boys used to say. I probably won't be writing a daily poem from Paris, but my sister asked me to blog, so I thought I'd write a note or two.

Practically the first thing we say upon arriving in this vibrant city was Notre Dame Cathedral. What was the Gothic mind like? Looking at the jagged spire, the gigantic rose window, the flying buttresses and gargoyles everywhere, I would say "complex." The Gothic mind was complex. Messy, even. Each facade of the building looks completely different. But all show the same wear--I guess a few hundred years takes its toll. The gargoyles are gradually turning into pillars of shapeless stone, pigeon perches. Someday the exterior of Notre Dame will be worn smooth. The centuries washed away.

Well, in this town, great architecture is a dime a dozen. There are magnificent buildings everywhere. And you can look at most of them seated in a sidewalk cafe, fighting off the brazen English sparrows sparring with you for your food. It's an athletic endeavor here, in Paris.