Saturday, February 28, 2015
Meaux is located about 40 km (24 miles) east of Paris. This is a side view of the Meaux Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Meaux) located in the center of the old town. The buildings were close to the church so it was difficult to step back far enough to get a complete image. Construction on the church began in the 1170's and continued intermittently over the next few hundred years. (Panorama - click on image to view in full width).
Partial front view of the church. It was cold (30's and 40's F) and windy today so not many tourists were out and about - only a pair from Plymouth/Boston/United States who thought it was a heat wave going on. (That would be us).
In mid-afternoon, the sunlight had moved around to the front side of the church.
The interior of the church was spectacular.
A hand from one of the marble sculptures inside the church.
Typical of much of France, commerce slows or stops from noon until mid-afternoon so folks can have lunch. So we did too - we found a nice vegetarian lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in the downtown area. And yes, more red wine. As they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" or, in this case, when in France..... And didn't I once read that red wine is good for the heart? I'll stick with that idea for now.
Random street scene in the old part of town. Meaux is well known today for a particular variety of Brie cheese produced here. The town is located on a tight bend in the Marne River and has been inhabited for thousands of years with archaeological remains dating at least to the 4th century B.C.
Friday, February 27, 2015
The Seine River flows west to east through the center of Paris. In fact, Notre-Dame is on an island in the middle of the river. The bridges offer good viewing of nearby buildings and, of course, people watching.
Some folks are content to walk across the river......
....and some feed the pigeons and gulls from a bridge. (Yes, I know it's hard to see both the man and the birds but, I like the sense of place anyway).
Bridges are a short walk apart (this is a panorama so the distance appears compressed a bit - click the image to view full width)........
...and each bridge provides wide, comfortable sidewalks.
Some folks choose to ride bikes, although frankly, for me, the world already passes by too quickly on foot. I think I'll stick to just my feet.
Lunch in the warm sun would be more my style - like this young couple sitting here on the river bank, in this case, the Right Bank (in French: La Rive Droite).
Warm winter sun always bring out the best .... for making music, laughing, and enjoying life in Paris, the most popular tourist destination in the world. It bustles with life, even in the off-season. Come to think of it, I'm not sure there is an off season - it's either busy or busier.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The south side of the Seine River in the center of Paris is known as the Left Bank (in French: La Rive Gauche). This small park, Square René Viviani, nicely frames the Notre-Dame Cathedral in the background. Notre-Dame sits in the middle of the river on an island.
There are a few pedestrian-only streets that wind through the area and are very popular with the tourist and local crowds for lunch.
And barely a stone's throw from the river, Amy found us the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Paris, Grenier de Notre Dame (1978), where I enjoyed this avocado-mango-sesame seed appetizer.
The water and wine is gone so I guess lunchtime must be over. We've been trying out the French-style two-hour lunches with wine - très bon!
After lunch, wandering further brought us to this outdoor stand where made-to-order crepes filled with Nutella were the speciality - of course, we had to have one to warm us up on this winter day in Paris..........ah yes, a fresh, warm crepe in Paris, how fitting........bon appétit!
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
The side aisles were less crowded with worshippers than the central nave. The nave is to the right on the other side of the marble columns in this image.
Not everyone could focus on the Priest's words - this sweet child chose quiet dancing and twirling instead.
The line to get in was about 100 meters/yards long but it shuffled along quickly and once inside, it did not feel very crowded. There is no admission fee.
Marble statue of Joan of Arc.
Soaring ceilings and details had many visitors walking around with their necks craned upward - including me.
The light streaming in the stained glass windows was ethereal.
This wood replica helps to appreciate the scale and complexity of the entire structure. The actual building construction began in 1163 and continued for almost 200 years.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
"Let's go into Paris today and visit Notre-Dame" - I've never said that in my life before but, I did say it today. It's a visit to a mythical place in my mind - a place I've heard of since early childhood but never seen. It's Paris, the cultural center of both the modern and old world. A place where humanity has lived for more than 2000 years continuously.
Construction of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, or, in English, "Our Lady of Paris," began in 1163 and continued for almost 200 years.
The statue to the right is of Charlemagne, a Frankish king in the 8th century who helped shape the Western Europe that we know today.
After much discussion about driving for an unknown length of time based on traffic or taking a 40-minute train, we decided to drive. How bad could it be? It's a Sunday morning. I've driven hundreds of hours over the years in Boston, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, it couldn't be much worse, could it?
Turns out it wasn't too bad at all. The lanes are narrower than I'm accustomed to or, in some cases, not marked at all, drivers are very aggressive and fast but, all in all it worked out well. The destination was Notre-Dame and amazingly I ended up parking underground beneath the square directly in front of the Cathedral! It took 40 minutes to get there and, the six hours of parking cost 18 Euros (about $21 USD). So it was cheaper and less time-consuming than driving to the train, riding on the train, transferring to the subway and then reversing the whole routine to come home.
The drive certainly isn't for the faint hearted but, based on this experience I'll try it again soon on a weekday.
With the sun shining and the temperatures in the high 30's and low 40's F, most tourists were just happy to be out and about ......
....but at least one hammed it up by hanging onto a lamp post.
Others had their wedding photos taken by a side doorway.....
....and at least one had orange hair and a green suit - go figure - certainly not in keeping with the chic Paris fashion of mostly dark/black clothing.
As they say in French, "vive la différence!"
Most folks, however, were content with the basic normal portrait.
But enough about the outside, entrance to the Cathedral is free and the waiting line was less than five minutes so, let's go inside.......
....but to get inside, we must pass beneath these dozens of heads carved into the archway........tomorrow I plan to post about the interior of the Cathedral.
Monday, February 23, 2015
What could be more French than renting a Peugeot automobile during our stay in France. Location: Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.
Lots of swans, geese, gulls, and pigeons - they've gotten used to humans as a food source and come running when they think a handout is imminent. Location: Lagny-sur-Marne.
The French do love their small dogs. Location: Magny-le-Hongre.
The advantage of a stormy and rainy day is that sometimes, when the timing is right and the sun comes out for sunset, the clouds explode in color. Location: Bailly-Romainvilliers.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
We spent a pleasant few hours roaming about Lagny-sur-Marne along with the rain, wind, and cold. Cold is relative, being in the thirties and forties Fahrenheit here in France feels comfortable by comparison to how it was at home recently. By the way, always bring a red umbrella when traveling to spice up either yours or another photographer's image.
It's quite a challenge at first getting around. The signage is confusing to me and I don't understand the language very well but, I will muddle by and things will get easier.
Pedestrian traffic was very light in this weather.
Surprising to me how few people carried umbrellas of any type or color.
Fresh produce is never far away.......
....nor is a church, this is Paroisse de Lagny Notre Dame des Ardents, a 13th century construction formerly known as Saint Peter's abbey church.
It is amazing what folks could build a thousand years ago without modern tools and technology.
One of many beautiful stained glass windows.
This building was being remodeled and rather than covering it with drab plywood, they created a work of art to cover it up. Makes quite a statement on this traditional pedestrian-only street.