Today was a special day. There’s no other way to put it. It was special to Dad and me both because, for the first time ever, we visited the city of Paris! We left our apartment sometime after twelve to catch the bus, and somehow found our way into the big city. After getting our bearings straight, we decided that the first thing we would do would be to take a trip to the famous cathedral of Notre Dame. By the way, in case you didn’t know, “Notre Dame” means “our lady” in French, and it was named after Saint Mary, who was the mother of Jesus.
The walk there was a new experience for me, a leisurely stroll through the streets, some busy, some quiet, but all lined with pompous and majestic buildings. The people were different, too. They moved with purpose, but not with frantic haste. Their style is foreign to us Americans, but very very slick (by the way, man-purses are in, flip-flops are out). They were courteous in their greetings, and friendly in their goodbyes. The streets of Paris are, in a word, peaceably beautiful. Yes, I know that’s two words. Deal with it.
We took our time as we walked, soaking in the language and culture. Finally, after thirty or so minutes, we reached the square in front of the cathedral. Wow. When you see a thing like Notre Dame, you just can’t take it in all at once. You have to take it in a few dozen feet at a time. The intricately carved doorways almost ruptured my brain with their beauty, kind of like the first time I saw a silver Ferrari 458 Italia. Ooh la la. Another cool thing about the outside of the basilica is the famous “Point Zero”. This is the spot from which all distances in the entire country are measured, and it’s about 30 yards from the centre (that’s center for you non-French) door of Notre Dame. When we finally walked inside, the awe only grew. The inside is silencing, with its arched Gothic-style roof that soars upward, and its immense pipe organ, dominating an entire wall.
There are stained glass windows and stone walls, and many side rooms with individual scenes, statues, frescoes, and such that command your attention. After looking at the wonders on the inside, we decided to risk decimation to our bodies and climbed the winding stair to the balcony above. There we found ourselves looking down at the square, flanked by the immovable inhabitants of Notre Dame; the gargoyles. Of all shapes, designs, and forms, the silent watchers of the cathedral observe the tourist, the native, and the worker, all without blinking a lash or uttering a sound. They also make great rainspouts.
We took tons of pictures, and then moved onward to the top of the minster. We were up pretty high, and we could see the bottom tier of the Eiffel Tower from where we were, even though the rest of it was lost in the clouds. The parapet we were on ran the entire circumference of the bell tower, and so we walked along the top of it, looking at the people below us. I also saw a really cool sports car, and I figure it was probably the famous Hatchback of Notre Dame… I’m here all week folks.
On the way back down, I counted the steps, and it totaled 385 of them. We then took a whole lot more steps on our way back to the train station, and then back to the hotel. Going to see Notre Dame was a great idea, and I loved gazing in dumbstruck awe at the beautiful designs and scenes on its exterior. And now, as I lay back to go to sleep, I know that Paris will always hold a place in my heart. Right next to Lord of the Rings and waffles.