In Search of Saints & Gargoyles

What must be the rule of thumb for your third day in Paris? Slow down the pace. And if it’s a bright sunny day – you’d be in luck. Keep it simple. Walk, do the touristy stuff, take a break, and enjoy whatever you see en-route.

The narrow alleys which lead to the Notre Dame Cathedral can turn out to be confusing. But, getting lost in them, isn’t half as bad. In the morning, most of the street shops are shut. Alleys desolate. It’s perfect to dream and wander. After all, you’re in Paris.

I’m not sure if I knew what gargoyles were before visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral. Basil, being the SETI/paranormal/supernatural buff that he is, more than made up for my inexperience in the particular subject matter. But, it doesn’t matter if your aren’t one either. The Notre Dame Cathedral is equally fascinating, even if you want to observe and not understand.

A fine example of French Gothic architecture; it’s hard to miss the towering spire and depressingly dull brick tones of its external façade. Undoubtedly, the most notable feature of the exterior are its spooky gargoyles. Believed to ward of evil spirits and resembling a hound with wings; gargoyles are frightening all right. Architecturally, gargoyles were included to channel rainwater from the roof away from the main building.

On the inside, the cathedral is dimly lit and cold. Statues of saints and the religious line brick walls. Flickering flames light up red candle holders in front of them. There is a sense of calm and eeriness – at the same time. To complete the experience, hymns resound in the background. Scenes from the bible play on wooded panels while religious relics and artefacts complete the collection of exhibits on display. The great organ with 8000 pipes is definitely impressive. Stained glass windows beautifully play with colour and light. Although tourists abound the church, if you care to look up – the emptiness drowns out all the fuss below.

After a quick meal, it’s time to head towards the Pantheon. The walk will be good to digest your meal and admire interesting buildings on the way.

The history of the Pantheon is intriguing. It’s true purpose changed over a period of time. Originally built to be a church, the pantheon was converted into a mausoleum – to honour a long line of illustrious French men and women. Probably, that’s why, today it seems to be a strange parody of beliefs.

The giant replica of the Foucault Pendulum cannot be missed. The ceiling is a melange of art, splendid architecture, and natural light. Circuitous stairways lead you to the underground chambers. Dimly lit, desolate, and cold; it can get slightly spooky. The end leads you to the final resting place of the likes of Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Voltaire, and Louis Braille. This, I find to be the most fascinating part of travel – the possibility of travelling back in time – to stand at the very same place (albeit final) of some of the most interesting people you’ve read of.

Jardin du Luxembourg is perfect to end the day of too much exercise for the legs and grey cells. Sit back and relax. Breathe in cool air and let time pass.

10 responses to “In Search of Saints & Gargoyles

    • Thanks Emily! 🙂 I wish we could have spent more than four days in Paris. A week or two perhaps? That would call for many more slow paced days and lazy cafe breaks.

  1. I really like gothic architecture, the sense of details was impressive at that time. I’ve read that you haven’t heard about gargoyles before, so I suppose you haven’t seen the animated film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Disney ? 😀

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