I opted for making the Cathedral of Notre Dame the first place I’d visit in Paris since it was only two stops away from my hostel using the RER B. From there, I could also just take the M1 afterwards to the Louvre.
Practically all of the knowledge that I had about the cathedral before visiting came from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. I actually didn’t like the movie very much when I was younger, but I grew to appreciate it more because it has some great songs, including the best villain song EVER, “Hellfire”. It’s just so angsty and I can’t believe that it was actually featured in a Disney movie.
I also liked “God Help the Outcasts” as well, and you can see more of how Disney depicted the inside of the cathedral in this video.
The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid in 1163, but the building wasn’t completed until almost 200 years later in 1345. It is built with a gothic architectural style and the facade is decorated with, among other things, saints and gargoyles. It’s also free to enter, though because of that, there can be an intense line. It does move pretty quickly.
I had a really weird experience while taking pictures in front of the cathedral. An older man came up to me asking for the time. I know how to tell time in French, but for some reason I totally blanked out and just ended up showing him the time on my phone. He asked me where I was from and I replied in French saying that I was from the United States. He then asked me if I wanted to go to a new museum with him. I asked him what it was called, but he completely ignored the question and said that he was going and that I should go with him. I told him that I had planned to go to the Louvre later that day already and he just walked away. He just gave me a very strange vibe and I had flashes in my head wondering if I would have ended up like Maggie Grace in Taken if I decided to join him. At least I actually got to speak some French!
Inside the cathedral, I rented an audioguide and proceeded to follow the path to learn more about the building’s history. Now, I remember saying a couple posts back that I like getting audioguides because it helps me take in information better, but I don’t remember a lot of what the audioguide mentioned and I stupidly didn’t write any of it down. Everything looked pretty nice though.
The stained glass windows are usually my favorite parts of churches, especially if they are colorful. The rose windows on the north and south walls of the building are pretty spectacular and were added in 1250 and 1260, respectively. The north rose window features images from the Old Testament and at the center is the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. 85% of the glass is still original. One of the cathedral’s rose windows actually makes an appearance in each of the Hunchback of Notre Dame videos that I put up earlier in this post, so see if you can spot them.
There are choir screens around the chancel that have sculptures depicting the risen Christ in the south and the four gospels on the north. There is also apparently what I think I remember as an altar to the crown of thorns? Honestly, I’m more interested in the history and architecture part of churches and cathedrals that I visit than the religion part, though of course I also know that they all interconnect and are related in some way.
Because Notre Dame still is a church, everyone is asked to keep quiet while visiting. To make sure everybody understands, every ten minutes or so, an announcement plays over the loudspeaker asking for quiet in several different languages. It can be a little jarring (and a little counterproductive) to all of a sudden hear the announcement play, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.
After leaving Notre Dame, I found that guy from earlier and decided to go with him to that new museum he was talking about.
Just kidding, I went to the Louvre.
Next Post: EuroTrippin’: Paris (Part 3) – The Louvre