Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Notre Dame Cathedral

First destination for the morning was Notre Dame Cathedral.  We have got into the habit of getting a taxi to our first port of call, then spend the day walking back to our hotel, via a range of museums, shops and other destinations depending on where we are and what is on my list of things to do.  This has now been transferred from the iPad onto a map.   So far so good.  Between knowing where we want to be, my map, and the Map function on Frank's phone we have found our way well. The phone app has been great.  Also less of a give away for Gypsy's and others targeting tourists.  Was amazed at how many people harass you and approach you in the street.  On a side note, I have given Frank his own personal map as his handling of them leaves them looking far from pristine.  Somewhat of a challenge for this librarian.   The cathedral is quite impressive, even for this non Catholic.  The churches seem to have a knack for getting prime locations, building huge edifices and fitting them out with the ultimate in the luxury goods of their time.  This translates to gold, leadlight, paintings and other art forms compared with Louis Vuitton or similar as contemporary embellishments of success. The lead light while exquisite is no less gorgeous than that in the Galleries Lafayette in my book.  Maybe a sacrilegious way of looking at it, but as far as art goes both equally beautiful.  Given the centuries between construction however, the cathedral is a statement of work by master craftsmen. The highlight for both of us however was the gargoyles decorating the exterior of the building.  With the weather deteriorating we didn't go up the towers for a close look, but both of us captured photos from the ground.  Given many of the gargoyles have a functional reason for being, working as water spouts, they are high on the building and hard to view with the naked eye.  The camera however reveals incredible detail and there are definitely two camps of gargoyles.  The goodies and the baddies, perhaps equating with heaven and hell. The amazing thing for me was the lack of respect shown by many of the visitors.  Although ample signage, in multiple languages requested silence, removal of hats and encouraged photography, but without a flash, it was disconcerting to hear loud conversations, see people's flashes discharging and the number of hats on heads. Some tourists moved around the cathedral having their photo taken at every point of interest - never once looking at the artwork, or building detail that was featured.  It was, smile at the camera/flash a peace sign, and move on.  Incredible. 17.10.2012

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