Notre Dame and the Louvre

Notre Dame and the Louvre

I don’t have much exciting to report about Notre Dame and the Louvre. Of course I would recommend that you see them if you are here but I did not find them as fascinating as I should have. It’s funny so many people said to me, “You must be going to Paris for the art because you are an artist!” and I nodded my head like a dummy thinking: yeah, sure I’m part of that club. But in reality I’m a traitor. I never studied art history and I only took a few beginning art classes in college. I majored in journalism and I have a minor in English so how I turned into a real “artist” is just sheer will and trickery.

Not to get too far off on a tangent on valuable Paris time but… Seriously, one day I tried that mental trick where you look in the mirror and say you are whatever you want to be and then you keep doing it day by day until you start believing it yourself. That’s what I did and now I call myself an artist all the time. And the funny thing is PEOPLE BELIEVE ME!

I’m ashamed to admit that I wander through museums and I gaze at the art, but a lot of the time I don’t know the difference between a Monet or a Manet and of course I have no clue what time or during what period they were painted. I wish I could say that I walk in and stand there mesmerized, gazing at every brush stroke with wonder. But I don’t. I have the attention span of a gnat. I do like to hear the stories about the artists though. That’s like reading People magazine from the 1800’s or earlier. I love the gossip of who chopped their ear off or who was color blind and who had affairs with men. That’s all good fun. I really do intend to enroll in an art history course and take it credit no credit so I can just listen to all the stories and not worry about memorizing any dates or taking any tests. I already did my time in college.

Anyway the Louvre was nice. Crowded and not as air conditioned as museums back home but very very very very very very big and amazing. My sister-in-law told me that if you take 6 seconds to look at every item in the Louvre you will be there for twenty years. TWENTY YEARS!!!! I totally believe her. So what you have to do is pick an area and see that or make a beeline to the specific areas you want to see and don’t dilly dally in between.

My mom and I decided we better see the Mona Lisa because we knew everyone was going to give us hell if we came all this way and we didn’t at least take a peep. But Puleeeze! It was worse than Chinese water torture getting there. The massive tour groups herding us along with them whether we wanted to go or not, the small doorways, the pressing bodies, the teenagers goofing off and stepping on my mom’s neouropothic (is that a word?) feet (a very very painful disease that affects your nerve endings in your feet and hands… but life is short, so we try not to dwell on it) … it was bad. I feel crappy whining about such a wonderful part of Paris but in contrast to all the other fun stuff we’ve been doing, seeing the Mona Lisa gets a negative 2 on a scale of 1-10. Sad, I know. But I’m just telling it like it is.

You know something strange about being in Paris? There isn’t much air conditioning here. In some ways that’s nice because I’m always cold and I hate being frozen all the time but when I was in the Louvre I found it very stifling in some of the smaller rooms. Being so close to so many other breathing bodies was weird. Don’t get me wrong, the Louvre is probably quite air conditioned just not as much as it would be in the states. I’m used to any building with marble floors and walls being near freezing. The Louvre was easily 80 degrees F.

Enough about the Louvre.

I did like climbing the stairs of Notre Dame. It was not crowded and the top tower was closed so I didn’t really get to experience the 342 narrow winding claustrophobic stairs that you hear so much about. Not everyone in our group chose to climb the stairs so my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a crack-up-old-man named Dave from our group got to have our very own guided tour from our tour guide’s husband. Our tour guide’s husband is a Harvard graduate and he studied French History so he’s been peppering our trip with several interesting bits of information. Sometimes he throws in fiction just to see if we we’re paying attention. I enjoy his company immensely. He’s the first lawyer I’ve ever met actually, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

It was fun to see the Notre Dame gargoyles. If you tilt your camera just the right way you can make the scary monkey goat guy look like he’s eating the Eiffel Tour. I think that was the high light of my trip to Notre Dame. Does anybody know why there are gargoyles on top of the Notre Dame? I haven’t seen the Disney movie and I haven’t read the famous book either so of course it’s all new to me but our lawyer tour guide told me he’s never heard an explanation for them either. They are really quite funny but they seem so sacrilegious. It’s not like the Catholics were trying to keep the evil spirits away is it? I have no idea.

The inside of Notre Dame is quite impressive as well. Of course the rose windows are beautiful. It is really really dark inside. It would have scared the crap out of me to live back when they only had candle light and confess my sins in the shadows of some dark dank confessional. (Not to mention the gargoyles! I probably would have never gone to church!) I’m really curious about how they painted and built the thing. In the middle of the day I could barely see from one side to the other.