Visiting Notre-Dame on the day that we landed in Paris was a great way to kick-off our trip to France…and a great place to take refuge from a brief rainstorm. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris in French) was every bit as beautiful inside as I had hoped it would be. Notre-Dame is on the eastern half of Île de la Cité, and is a great example of French Gothic architecture. Notre-Dame’s cornerstone was laid in 1163, and construction was completed during 1345, though it was damaged, restored, and updated many times throughout the years. It was one of the first churches built with flying buttresses as supports. It was designated a Monument Historique in 1862. Fun fact: much of the outside of the cathedral, including the gargoyles and chimeras were painted in vivid colors at one point in time, though all of the paint has since worn off.
We got to our hotel in Paris around 10 AM, checked in to our room at Hotel du Cadran, grabbed our backpacks, and ventured out into the city. Our first stop was Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. It started raining almost immediately when we got out of the metro station, so we went straight into the cathedral without spending any time outside. The inside of the cathedral was beautiful, but I really wanted to go up into the towers. Thanks to the rain shower (which passed quickly) the line for the Notre Dame Towers was fairly short, so we didn’t have to long to wait.
As I understand it, the gargoyles are used as water spouts to direct the flow of water off of the cathedral roof. I assume that everything without a water spout is a chimera. Chimeras are mythological fire-breathing creatures, most often portrayed as lions, though I did not see any lion-esque chimera at Notre Dame.
Being eye-level with the chimeras was amazing, and the views of Paris were spectacular. The 387 step climb to the top of the South tower was well worth it! I was amazed to see that each of the chimeras on the upper levels of the cathedral appeared to be unique. So much thought and artistry went into the design of older buildings. It always amazes me that mankind was able to accomplish so much with such little technology. According to the cathedral’s website, the gargoyles and chimera were installed during the 17th and 19th centuries and were designed by Viollet-le-Duc and Emmanuel Bell.
For reference, I thought I’d include a photograph of the front of the cathedrals so that you can see where the towers are. The South tower is on the right.
Notre Dame Cathedral Towers
September must be the month for photo contests. Birds & Blooms’ Backyard Photo Contest entries must be postmarked by September 15th, and entries for Solvay’s Specialty Polymer’s Business Group’s 2016 calendar are due on September 15th, as well. Entries for the 2015 Amarillo Tri-State Fair are due on September 17th.
Birds & Blooms – Backyard Photo Contest
I was cleaning up my office when I came across a page out of the September 2015 Birds & Blooms issue about a photo contest that I had intended to enter but had completely forgotten about. There are three categories in the competition – Best Flower, Best Bird, & Best Butterfly. I regularly take photos of all three of those items, so I decided that I’d go ahead and purchase one print to enter into each of the categories.
The flower photograph that I’m going to enter is a photo of some gladioli that I planted this year. I love that they’re tri-colored, because all of my other gladioli are only one color. I also think that our “rustic” fence makes a nice photo-background.
Prior to embarking on our trip to France, I contacted a good friend of mine from college (Chris — who had just gotten back from Paris) to see whether or not he brought his tripod with him on their trip, and, if he did, whether or not it was worth the hassle. I brought my tripod with me on the December 2014 trip that Bryan and I took to New York City, but I did not use it a single time. I didn’t want to bring it along on our trip to France if it was just going to sit in our hotel room the whole time. Chris more or less said, Sarah — Paris is The City of Light, if you’re going to bring your tripod on only one trip, it should be this one. Chris took some excellent night shots during their trip to Paris, and he made a convincing argument in favor of toting a tripod overseas, so I made the decision to bring mine — and because I decided to bring it, I told myself that I would definitely use it — no ifs, ands, or buts.
For being such a populous city and popular tourist destination, it was surprisingly easy to find places in Paris to set-up a tripod (without inconveniencing others) in an attempt to get nighttime shots of many of their popular tourist destinations. Bryan patiently (and graciously) escorted me around the city late at night (it did not get dark in April until after 10 PM) so that I could take photos of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and Notre Dame.
The first stop that we made for nighttime pictures was Pont Alexandre III, one of the many bridges that crosses the Seine in Paris and a location that Chris suggested for getting photos of the Eiffel Tower at night. The location definitely did not disappoint, and being able to get portions of the bridge, the Siene, and a neighboring bridge all in the same photograph as the Eiffel Tower made the photos a little more interesting. Here are two of my favorite shots from that location.
During May 2015 we took a trip to France. After spending three full days in Paris, we rented a car to head out to Normandy and then on to the Loire valley. We stopped at Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny on our way from Paris to Bayeux. I’m not sure if the gardens of today are still true to how Monet planned them, but they were lovely nonetheless. I was particularly excited to get to see the ponds and water lilies and a slightly-modernized version of his Japanese bridge — both made famous by his impressionist paintings. I was truly amazed at the huge variety of plants and colors that were present in Monet’s gardens. I like to think that Monet put a lot of thought into designing the gardens and that maybe what is there today still looks like what he envisioned in his head…like a living work of art. We got a little bit turned around after we left the parking lot. There weren’t really any signs indicating where the entrance to Monet’s Gardens was, so we walked the wrong direction for a bit. We eventually gave up and turned around, and I took this photograph on our way to the entrance, not knowing that it was actually the back of Monet’s house. I thought that the shutters, vines, and colors were charming.