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September 9th 2007 by Tina
Bonjour! We are in Paris!

Posted under Europe & France

This city is so alive with its eclectic mix of art, architecture, and multiculturalism, all of historic significance. One has no choice but to dive right in and so, powered by adrenaline and cafe au lait, that’s exactly what we did!

We checked into our hostel, dropped our bags, and headed straight to Sacre Coeur. Started in 1875 and completed in 1914, the cathedral is located on a hilltop in Montmartre. The old stone walls are ominous and foreboding, however, the view of the city is marvelous and inside a luminous mosaic of Christ is the dominant feature.

Notre-Dame preface: My most vivid, though adolescent, reference to this famous monument is of course “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and I couldn’t stop thinking of Quasimoto ringing those bells!

In reality, the churches (Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, St. Sulpice so far) are some of the most famous and beautiful in the world. They are breathtaking inside with their Heavenly domed ceilings, stained glass iconography, giant stone pillars, marble sculptures and murals depicting the life of Christ and stories from the Bible. The architecture in Paris is thus far unmatched by any that we have ever seen. Each cathedral has a main altar in the middle and there are smaller individual chapels around the inside perimeter that each have their own pious persona. Candles are alight all throughout the nave and in the individual chapels. Each has a grandiose pipe organ which, with a choral accompaniment, likely makes for an unforgettable Christmas service.

Musee du Louvre: Let me preface this next excerpt by saying that I am a total museum fanatic! When I check out a new town, the first thing I want to know is what kind of museums it has. This bias is important to note when I say, without hesitation, that every person should make it a priority to experience the Louvre at least once in his/her life. Once a fortress, the U-shaped building is lined with sculptures and the famed glass pyramid at the main entrance is a fine, if unexpected, contrast to the squared building. We arrived early and made a beeline for the Mona Lisa, rushing past brilliant works of art on both sides of the long corridors. The draw of the Mona Lisa has more to do with its fame than with the painting itself but nonetheless, a crowd of early-risers had already congregated around it. After snapping the required photos, we worked our way casually through the Pavillion Denon, which houses many of the awe-inspiring Renaissance oil paintings (my favorite) and sculptures from France, Italy and Spain. For anyone who has the slightest interest in the Christian faith, these oils are not only humbling for their artistic magnificence but they also bring to life the scriptures read during a lifetime of Sunday liturgies. (As a side note, I must confess that I am enamored with the perky but voluptuous female subjects of the Renaissance and am anxiously awaiting the day when that body-type is back in vogue. Until then, I’ll just keep turning down that second “croissant du chocolat”). Also unforgettable are the marble sculptures. I read The Agony and the Ecstasy some months ago and was intrigued by Michelangelo’s methods of studying corpses to learn the musculature of the human body. With that in mind, I studied these incredible carved marbles with an eye for muscle tone and curvature. The definition of each curling lock of hair, the torsos so exquisitely arched and curved that you think they are going to heave with breath; they are simply astounding! The art and architecture of the building itself are nearly as marvelous as the works inside. The brilliant, high ceilings are laced with murals with incorporated sculpture and, if you don’t spend a few moments admiring these masterpieces above, then you have done yourself a disservice. We have not even scratched the surface of the Louvre; we must DEFINITELY go back again soon!


4 Responses to “Bonjour! We are in Paris!”

  1. Mark on 11 Sep 2007 at 7:46 am #

    Tina – you are a fantastic writer…the part about Michelangelo’s sculptures nearly heaving with breathe was so good I had to forward your URL around the office. Travel Writing as a career…when you get back? Make sure to save every scrap you write down!

    OK Aaron, you’re good too. And yes your writing advice did get me into business school!

    Sincerely miss you guys…

  2. Valerie Simpson on 11 Sep 2007 at 6:19 pm #

    Wow….the writing just keeps getting better……. I love reading and really feeling like I am there. Tina, my favorite excerpt from your last post was “I must confess that I am enamored with the perky but voluptuous female subjects of the Renaissance and am anxiously awaiting the day when that body-type is back in vogue.” I too look forward to the day that body-type is back in vogue and the focus is on health rather than the “look” Hugs, Mom

  3. Catherine Rodgers on 12 Sep 2007 at 2:28 pm #

    Amazing. Inspiring. Magical. Thank you for taking me with you on this magnificent journey through your beautiful writing. So, glad your first stop abroad has been so wonderful. -Catherine

  4. Emad on 07 Oct 2007 at 12:47 am #


    What a difference between the produce stand in France and the one in Egypt !!

    Be Safe,