22 July 2018

The Second Day in Paris- Notre Dame, Conciergerie & Musee Rodin

The Notre Dame

Stained Glass at Notre Dame

Ornate Door at Notre Dame

The Angels carved at Notre Dame
The second day in Paris. We were drained out after the excitement and adrenaline rush of the previous day. But we wanted to make the most of our day before the scheduled "package tour" began. We headed to the RER station of Aulnay de boise, a northern suburban stop on the line to the airport. I wanted to avoid an adventure like the previous day, so I took detailed instructions from the ticket attendant. I bought tickets till Notre Dame and dutifully paid €16.80. The RER this time was super fast and didn't stop anywhere till its destination, Gare du Nord. There we changed to a metro for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. But once you stand in front of it, you can only say "Its massive!" Being a free entry site there are serpentine queues of tourists from a variety of countries. Their guides are sporting flags to keep their flock together. I spot the flags of Brasil, Korea and of course, China. The carvings on the exterior are exquisite, to say the least. The queue moves fast and in a few minutes, you are inside. The eyes take some time to adjust to the darkness. The stained glass is overwhelming. The soft lighting, enormous proportions, a pall of silence and the intricate architecture all help create an aura of sanctity inside and one does feel a sensation of piety, even if one is not a Catholic. On my way out I am spellbound by the rows of carvings of angels and the ornate door.

The Conciergerie
 
The waters of the Seine pouring down a waterfall
 A short walk away is a different type of Parisian landmark, The Conciergerie. It has played an important part in the French Revolution. It pays to brush up your history before you visit this place. But even if you are broadly aware of the French Revolution, you can connect with the atmosphere of the building. As one enters a dynamic artwork meets the visitor. Water from the nearby Seine river is channeled through various ducts and falls from the top of the ceiling as a small waterfall into a small pool. This artwork commemorates the great flooding of Paris by the Seine river in 1910. The rest of the building exhibits the living condition of the inmates of the Conciergerie, as it housed the prisoners of the Revolution. The most famous inmate was Marie Antoinette. Her living conditions were spartan provides a stark contrast to her chambers at the Versailles Palace. One does feel a bit sorry for her, having been painted as a villain when she was just as human as any other. 


Staircase at Musee Rodin
Musee Rodin
 From the Conciergerie, we take a short taxi ride to another of the art museums of Paris, Musee Rodin. It is housed in an enormous villa with large garden. While the artworks by Rodin are indeed beautiful and some of them are spellbinding, the environs of the Museum are equally beautiful for a philistine like me! One can find painters in the large garden, painting the various scenes. The golden dome of the Musee de Army, where the remains of Napoleon are kept, form the backdrop of this garden. We walk a few steps from the museum and have our lunch at the Museum Cafe. Hamburger with fries it is for lunch. We take the metro from the nearby station of Varenne to the unpronounceable station of Barbes-Rochechouart. From this unpronounceable station, we walked to Gare du Nord where our rest of package tour had just arrived from the UK on board the Eurostar.
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