Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Finishing Up Paris or Trial by Nostalgia

We finished up our brief visit to Paris today and will be heading on to Amsterdam for a couple more days with the family before we return home next week.

Paris for me is different than anywhere else I travel. It is the first love. It is a place that always makes me feel comfortable and at home when I visit. The first city I ever visited and stayed in when I came to Europe to study in 1967-68. Even though we only spent 6 weeks here before heading off the Normandy for the bulk of our time, I would always be coming back to Paris for weekends. Then as I went on with life, I would keep coming back. I took Wife there for our first international trip right after we were married. I took my girls there as very young ones and as early teens. And as travel has become a major part of my transitioned life, Paris still beckons.

The city has changed and yet seems to not change. The roads, the way the buses and the metro work, the small shops, the pace of life somehow seem the same. I'm sure if I had lived here all this time I would see much bigger changes. But for a person who drops in every so often, it is strangely consistent.

What has changed to me seems for the better. I don't see hardly any of the haughty francocentric arrogance that used to be a hallmark of visiting this city. We have been blown away by the kindness of so many people like when Wife's backpack got caught in a metro entrance and two middle aged women helped her get through or the young bellman at the hotel our first night who seeing we were whipped made sure everything was going as we needed, or the two waiters we had the last two nights for our meals who spoke a combination of English and French without any hangup of which language was being used and who looked genuinely pleased at our pleasure with the meals.

Paris Pictures

Breakfast at de-I HQ/Eldership Paris
We are on the Left Bank, 5th Arrondisement, the Latin Quarter
I try to go elsewhere in the city as a base but some how 'home' keeps calling me back

The well known corner of the Rue St. Jacques and Rue Soufflot
To the West, the Eiffel Tower
To the North, the Sorbonne

And to the East, the Pantheon

Go past the South side of the Pantheon for three blocks and you come to:
And where it all began for me
Which today is a nice set of residential flats but back in the day was a cheap little student hotel
I was up on the fourth floor in the center room.

Go around the opposite, North side of the Pantheon and you come to the Church of St. Genevieve.
The origins of this church go back to the earliest conversion of the Gallo-Romans to Christianity. But the current church, although it looks Gothic, was actually built the late 1600's to early 1700's. So much of its decoration is Baroque. Believe it or not this was my first time in this church.

Then we headed down to Ile de la Cite and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. One of the pillars of Gothic Cathedral architecture. As with so much of older France and especially the church buildings, it had deteriorated and then was greatly damaged during the French Revolution. What we see know is the result of massive renovation.

Let's talk about Stained Glass
I remember as the young student seeing my first authentic, Gothic age stained glass windows in a Cathedral and being blown away by their beauty, their color, the massive amount of information they are designed to pass on, and the detail of their construction. 

I never knew much about how they were made until this trip when we went to the Musee de Cluny, the National Museum of Medieval Art. They discussed the art of making stained glass in great detail. 

A typical stained glass window scene consists of a number of panels. Each panel is made variety of techniques. They will paint, scrape away, etch, add washes. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article if you'd like to know more.

An example of a single panel
Note the detail of the musculature, clothing and the action of the figures
Now see panels in an ensemble
And the effect of entire windows from both St. Genevieve and Notre-Dame
(By the way, a pat on the back to photographer me. For as long as I can remember taking pictures of stained glass windows always came out with them being over exposed and not really seeing the colors as you saw them with your eyes. I used the manual settings on the camera to offset this problem with a fair degree of success)

Last French Foodie Post!
After a couple of not so great meals, I used my apps (TripAdvisor & Michelin) the last two days for our big lunch meal. Both were at bistros specializing in country style cooking. Sorry that yesterday we were very tired and didn't take pictures but had a wonderful sweet potato soup poured over vegetables and lardons of smoked pork. Then we had a stew made of beef cheeks with carrots, potatoes, turnips, and mushrooms. It sounds very prosaic but was exceedingly good.

Today we were in a place that specializes in the Burgundy area
Wife started with the classic onion soup, something she loves and rated two thumbs up
I had a classic Burgundian appetizer of poached eggs with a red wine sauce
Wife had a grilled Chateaubriand steak she announced was the best meat of the trip
While I had the classic Boeuf Bourgenion, beef stew, that was equally as good as the daube in St-Paul-de-Vence or the stew we had yesterday.
Accompanied by a glass of Givery from Burgundy, and the service of a delightful waiter, Wife and I agreed, it was an excellent way to end our stay in France.


Bernice said...

Great stained glass pictures.

Agent W and the Derf said...

We love all your great pictures! The stained glass photos are fabulous! So glad you enjoyed your time in France!

Agent W said...

Paris is your "home away from home" indeed!!!

alexis said...

I vaguely remember reading about stained glass once, I will have to follow up that link!