Posted by: vikingsinspace | March 10, 2010

I.4.02.05.2. Climb to the top of Notre-Dame

Date Accomplished: 22 February, 2010

Notre Dame

 I had been to Paris three times before I was finally able to climb to the top of Notre Dame.  On my previous visits, the weather was either horrible, or there was such a long line to go to the top that I didn’t want to waste my time in Paris just waiting.  On this last visit, I feared I was going to have a new excuse: illness.  Yes, once again I caught a cold while on vacation.  But this time, I wasn’t going to let that stop me: the weather was gorgeous for the time of year, and the line was relatively short (I waited maybe 15 minutes).  I had noticed that they were making quite a big deal about Victor Hugo’s book The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I had never read this, and was hoping this wouldn’t detract from the experience.  Of course, it didn’t.

 

My parents had a replica of this grotesque in the house in which I grew up

Under normal circumstances, I would have been able to climb the stairs fairly easily.  Of course, fighting the illness, I was a little winded by the time I got to the top, but it was worth it.  The views from the cathedral were nice, but nothing that couldn’t be seen by climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower or up to Sacre Coeur.  What really makes the trip worthwhile is getting to be up close to the gargoyles (‘grotesques’ or ‘chimeras’ technically, since a gargoyle is only the term for a grotesque that doubles as a drainage apparatus, but screw it).  These statues are not medieval by any means (nor are many of the decorations on the outside of the cathedral, as most had been destroyed in the revolution; what is seen now is 19th century replicas), but are still beautiful pieces of art.  I was however a little surprised when looking up close at one or two to see that they looked like concrete and not carved out of stone.  I could be completely wrong about that, but that is how it appeared (or perhaps this is damaged caused by industrialization and pollutants?).  I also received a pleasant surprise when exiting the bell tower to find one statue in particular that my family had a replica of in my home when I was growing up.  I didn’t know that it came from Notre Dame, but I suppose I should have figured this out from the many stories my father has told me from when he visited Paris (“back when there was no fence and you could climb out with the gargoyles” he would say…).

Grotesque and Sacre Coeur (in the distance)

When I got to the top of the South West tower, the wind began to really pick up, and this was playing heck with my cold.  Rather than enjoy the view, I made a move to go back downstairs.  I wasn’t to bothered; as I said, the view can be seen from several places.  What’s really worth seeing are the statues, and this I had accomplished.

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