What could match a day that included Versailles Palace? Well a close up “look see”of Notre Dame Cathederal and a while in the Louvre with all the iconic items that one has seen in picuures all their (long) life could do it. Of course the Louvre is an icon in itself!
We started at the grand Cathederal and Greg, our tour guide who is a historian and journalist, informed us of the position that such a grand edifice played in the history and culture of a locale such as Paris. He gave great background of how the priests preserved their and the churches position, after the Romans left power, by helping the Norsemen conquered to keep reign on the people through the religion and the conqueres would allow them some form of control and continued religious practice. Greg also gave an informative talk of how the message the church wanted to send to the illiterate population was carried through the artwork and used the carvings at the grand entrance as examples of how the message of obedience and its rewards and consequences was delivered to the people. We discussed the architecture and the amazing windows before entering the facility. Not only was the awareness of the spiritual experience that most who enter would feel, the amazement of the engineering and construction of this venerable Cathederal struck me and I just sat quietly (yes, me!) and absorbed it for a while!
After lunch on our own, partaken at a “brasserie” that made me think of movies from the mid-century, we headed to the Lourve, just a pleasant stroll across the River Seine. We already had some history explained, as we had seen the building on tour and went in fairly quickly. Our experienced guide knew a “back way” in and knew the best times so we avoided the long lines. Entering the mall under the great courtyard was interesting to me as I marveled at the juxtaposition of the new and moderne hidden under the almost ancient facades of this amazing spread of a former palace. While there was the usual large crowd, it was not hard to get around if one didn’t mind stairs and long hallways. I spend as much time marveling at these iconic structures as I do the items exhibited, and this was no different. Having read about and watching documentaries about thi world’s largest museum, I was aware of its evolution from a fortress to a palace of many additions and changes, and found that navigating its halls and passages was as much the experience as viewing the artifacts. Of course, there was the featured pieces and I found the Mona Lisi hanging demurely on a wall of her own…me and several others! A close inspection was not doable, as for the crowd and barrier that kept us out of position to do harm, but seeing the one most famous piece of art was worth the effort. I also saw the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and a thousand other sculptures along with the many fine paintings, some as large as the floor space in my house! As I explored I discovered the recently (relatively) uncovered remains of the original fortress.
After leaving the Louvre, I took some down time at the hotel and caught up with the group at a nice restaurant on the Montmatre. This, the highest hill in Paris is topped with another of the many fine churches and a surrounding “village of shops and restaurants and accessible by a fun little rail car, known as the Funacular!