Pomp and Pompidou

Today was really cold, windy and very rainy. Much more fall than spring weather.
Nevertheless, Saint-Denis cathedral in the northern suburb was still worth a visit.
Denis was christian but unluckily beheaded on Montmartre by the Romans around 250 AD. He managed, though, to walk 8 km northwards carrying his head that was preaching the gospel. Where he finally collapsed a church was built. The current building dates from c. 1130 and it was the very first church constructed entirely in the revolutionary new Gothic building style.
Besides being grand in all ways, the cathedral is also the official burial place for France's many kings and queens since 639 AD and until the mid 1800s.
All in all: 43 kings, 32 queens and a multitude of princes and princesses, plus a number of non-royalties from the uppermost echelon of the French society.
Even though this royal couple lost their heads by the guillotine during the first French Revolution, their sparse remains were dug up 20 years later and reburied here. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette appear to be most pious and grateful for the change.
King Louis XII (1462-1515) and Queen Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514) have got an almost voluptuous tomb in beautiful white marble. Inside the columns the pair is reproduced lying naked on their coffins while they are also – fully dressed – praying on top of the whole deal.
A rare peak at the underside of a queen's feet. Apparently, Queen Anne didn't use non-constraining footware in her 37-year-long life.
Almost all the recumbent statues of the deceased females have small dogs at the foot end. The recumbent kings have lions. A lion is a sign of strength and power; a dog is the sign of fidelity.
This black recumbent statue of an unnamed queen has, however, two headless reptiles that look like dragons. – I guess that nobody really liked her!
The dark crypt under the cathedral has still more tombs from even further back in time, but the ones, I could see, were empty.
The signature of a flawlessly constructed Gothic cathedral is the magnificent rose window with its stained glass mosaic.

After lunch we ventured out again in the miserable weather to visit Centre Pompidou that is Paris' Musée National d'Art Moderne.
Pompidou was full of other people who wanted to spend the afternoon indoors, – and most museums are closed because it's Monday today.
We were especially interested in seeing the collection from Marc Chagall's 1918-1923 post-revolution period in Russia, but we went through a lot of other artists from the early 1900s.
Marc Chagall, 1920. Le vieil homme aux lunettes.
Marc Chagall, 1919. Anywhere Out of the World.
Vassily Kandinsky, 1916. The Red Square, Moscow.
Pablo Picasso, 1907. Buste de femme.
Sonja Delaunay, 1913. La bal bullier
Yves Klein: Blue square.
However, I think that this old-timer and art afficionada took the prize.

The view from Pompidou's top is half bad, even on a spring day with winter weather.


Gargoyles, Gobelins and Vivaldi

An early, grey,  overcast, and rainy Sunday morning.
A splendid time to pay a visit to Our Lady of Paris.
Notre-Dame de Paris is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
With c. 14.000.000 visitors annually is it definitely worth being early, so I entered at 8,
– and I was able to enjoy the tranquility inside this grand cathedral before the first morning mass commenced.
Notre-Dame was built from 1163 and onwards. The popular gargoyles on the facades are, however, recent elements added during the restoration of the cathedral c. 125 years ago.
Outside Notre-Dame and in front of the towers is the insignificant stone in the pavement marking the "ground zero" of all maps of France. From this very point all distances are counted. This is the centre of the French universe.
Close by the cathedral, a small outdoor market opened selling live birds (poultry, pigeons, quails, parakeets, canaries, budges and similar types of caged birds). The cold and rainy weather was, however, not stimulating for the business, – and the birds seemed disappointed too.
In the Metro this add tried to convince Parisians to learn at least some English. The shoulder tattoo is a wonderful example of "Franglish" [it reads: I lo ve English].
During the afternoon we drove to the 13th arrondissement to visit yet another museum. In 1447, the Gobelins brothers established their watermill driven dye works on the banks of the small  river Bièvre. They soon began supplying weavers with wool dyed in all colours.
Because of this, a skilled production of big carpets for walls or floors was initiated by the Gobelin brothers, – and ever since woven tapestries have been known as "gobelins".
Joan Miro, 1978. Hirondelle d'amour.
We visited the Manufacture des Gobelins at the very same address (42 Avenue des Gobelins) to view an exhibition of their tapestries from 1918-2018.
Henri Matisse, 1948. La Femme au Luth.
Pablo Picasso, 1968. Femmes à leur Toilette.
Nicolas Schöffer, 1974. Murluz. (top) and Marie-Claude Bugeaud, 2014. Plié-déplié.
An interesting and colourful demonstration of the ancient art of weaving used in an modern context.
This evening we went to a concert in the Gothic shrine Sainte-Chapelle adjacent to the Palais de Justice at Quai des Orfevres. This unusual church is a royal chapel from 1248 within the medieval Palais de la Cité, then the residence of the Kings of France.
The interior is stunningly beautiful. 15-m-high stained glass windows fill out three sides of the nave.

The concert was performed by a sextette of extremely skilled French musicians who played compositions of Pachabel and Vivaldi.
The performance was superb, the acoustics impeccable and the setting was sublime.
A wonderful evening to be remembered ! 



Despite the forecast the day was sunny and but still cool as we visited the ancient Roman amphitheatre Arène du Lutetia. Even the remains of this 2100 year-old entertainment centre are impressive and let you imagine the staged life-and-death "shows" with gladiators or with people versus lions while 15.000 spectators cheered. 
The Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont (at left) is one of the most beautiful among Paris' 200 churches. The cornerstone of Saint Stephen's church was laid in 1492 and construction went on for 130 years. Well, the end product is first class both on the ex- and interior.

The choir screen, exquisitely carved in stone, is the sole surviving example in Paris.
Neighbouring St. Stephen is the mighty Panthéon built 1755-1790 by the order of King Louis XV. His ambition was to outdo the churches of St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. The monumental columnar entrance was inspired by Hadrian's ancient Pantheon in Rome.
In this grandiose building the official France celebrates the history of the nation and commemorates the nation's greatest men and women, – and a number of them are buried here in the crypt.
The tomb of Maria Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre Curie in the Panthéon crypt.
Suspended in a 67-m-long wire from the very top of Panthéon's dome slowly swings a 28-kg brass/lead bob: Foucault's pendulum.
 This is a simple device named after the French physicist Léon Foucault and in 1851 he conceived this experiment to demonstrate the Earth's rotation and the 24-hour clock as well. Read about the mechanics
This photo was snapped at 11:50, and Foucault was right on the spot!
On our way to Jardins du Luxembourg for lunch we encountered these wild and electric onewheelers. They are fast and seem dangerous when meandering the dense Parisian traffic.
We had our lunch in the park next to Palais du Luxembourg, the home of France's Senate.
A small museum dedicated to Marie and Pierre Curie was the last item on today's agenda for us.
Madame Curie in her office next to the museum.
In the first decades after Curie's discovery of radioactivity a lot of innovative uses of radium were marketed – and sold. Here's an add for wool yarn treated with radium. Highly recommended for sweaters to babies because the radioactivity would produce a "healthy and soft heat" and keep baby's body warm and cosy !!!
On our way home we relaxed with these youngsters at Place de Mouffetard.
After sunset (i.e. after 21) I headed out of flat and around the corner to check out the wildlife in front of the Opera.
All in all, a very nice Saturday evening in Paris, the City of Lights. 💥