19 March 2013

Travels: Paris Day I


And that is about all I can say in French. I'm in a hotel room in southern Paris and just finished uploading some photos, so I figured I'd post here about my first day abroad.

When we got to Paris, we were nearly five hours early for check in, so we dropped off our bags and went exploring. Of all the fantastic things in Paris, the first thing I took a picture of was a Starbucks beverage. Where are my priorities?? But I love this photo because it shows how different and how similar Paris is to the States: my name is spelled incorrectly and I dropped 4.50 euro ($6.38) on this tall sized coffee. Interestingly, Paris does not accept Starbucks cards, so watch out for that.

After our Starbucks refuge, we headed north to the gems of Paris.

The Seine and the sky made this a beautiful day. It was brisk, but the sun popped out every now and then. Forty degrees in Paris is loads better than in the windy Midwest.

Our first destination was Notre Dame. I've seen pictures before, but I was shocked by just how HUGE it is. It is massive and every square --f-o-o-t-- meter is detailed work. I wondered what it would be like to climb all the way to the top and then abandoned my ridiculous musings and headed inside.

One of the best features, for me, was this statue of St. Therese de Lisieux, which can be found on the right side toward the very front by the altar. St. Therese will very likely be my Confirmation saint, so it was such a nice surprise after saying, "Who is this?" to myself at every statue to see someone I knew instantly.

Another one of my favorite features was this statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the stained glass behind her. Notre Dame is magnificent at large, but it becomes so much more impressive when each side altar and small space is filled with more detail. Examination of the little panes of stained glass and painted pillars makes you realize how beautiful the church really is.

Some statues stood pretty alone, compared to ones which were massive, framed by stained glass and flagged with tombs. This one of Saint Paul (at least, I think it's him; correct me if you know I'm wrong) is one example.

This statue of Mary with infant Jesus is another example. Any statue or image of Mary fils me with such love for her. The grander ones may make me reflect on this more than one dimensional pictures, but I think that is because of two things: the first, a three dimensional image of Mary better allows me to understand that she is a real person. I can see her as having a physical body, a frame, even hair as I do. This reality is exaggerated by reason the second, certain postures are better produced by sculpture. As in this picture as she is holding the Child or in the renowned Pieta, any remake of which I will rush to eagerly (unfortunately, while there was a pieta sculpture at Notre Dame, it was inside the sanctuary where I am not allowed.). This is not to say that I don't like paintings of the BVM. There is one at my parish at university where she is looking with such care and compassion at a young Jesus who is teaching while Joseph stands by. The expression on her face and gesture of her hand toward her Son at once feeds and shatters my desire for children because I want to love my children that way and because I know it will be so imperfect compared to the way Our Mother loves all of her children. Moral of the story: I love Marian artwork.

Notre Dame has gone through several renovations since its first building. It is 850 years old (which is baffling) and there were signs showing how the church has changed and, most notably to me, expanded. The ceiling reminds me of the Great Hall with how large it is, but it is so much prettier. We started touring at 11.30 and had Mass at noon. It was in French, which made it a bit difficult to follow, but after going to Latin Mass and trying to interpret all the time (even though the English translation is given along side) and simply being used to the order of the Mass, I was able to follow well enough and knew what Gospel reading it was (thank you, cognates and Spanish!). It helped that I knew it was St. Joseph's feast day, admittedly.

After leaving Notre Dame (I'm sure we'll be back), we crossed the Seine to the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Great authors like Hemingway and Joyce used to frequent the shop back in the day. There a books for purchase downstairs and quiet reading rooms upstairs, one with an upright piano (basically my dream bedroom).

There are also several typewriters, some for use. I liked this one by the window because it had a view of Notre Dame and a chess set and newspaper with an article concerning Pope Francis. As today was his inauguration Mass, it is all still very new and exciting. I am very happy with the man who is now leading the Church as Pope. 

Finally, somewhere around seven and a half hours after landing in Paris, we got food from a corner boulangerie, or bakery, on the way back to the hotel (to check in, at last!). I got a warm chevre tomato pastry (which was super soft and buttery on top) and a small baguette with raisins (which taste like they soaked in a cinnamon spice white wine mixture, they were so juicy and delicious). The two were just under 5 euro and my boyfriend C got pain au chocolate for about a euro each. We will definitely be going back there during the week. Honestly, I'd be happy to eat there every day: reasonable prices and awesome baked goods? Can't beat it.

That is all for now! Time to get some more sleep and prepare for our day trip to London tomorrow.

Nos vemos! (I've been saying a lot of Spanish stuff to myself, as I do anyway, in Paris. Totally not the right country....)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, sooo cool! Gorgeous pictures too!