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Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris
November 26th 2012
Published: November 26th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life". Oscar Wilde

I heard from my girls that it snowed in Ottawa. I have to say, we've had really nice weather since we got here Saturday morning. It's been sunny and up around 10C as a high. Today is the exception with it being a bit overcast & spitting rain.

Further to our tour yesterday, all & all it was fantastic. We bought a two day "hop on & hop off" bus tour called L'Open Tour which runs four different routes of the city. This time of year there's lots of room to hop on the bus, so to speak.

Yesterday we did the "green tour" which is the main leg of the tour taking in the Louvre, Palais Royal, Concord, Musee D'Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral, Latin Quarter, Champs-Elysees and finishing with the Eiffel Tower. It was a fantastic tour on the top of a double decker bus. I felt like a "babooshka" with my coat, hat, scarf covering my face to endure the wind whipping on the top of the bus. You are given ear phones to hear the commentary of the language of your choice. However, when the bus stops, the commentary starts, and they don't always start it again on cue, so quite often they are talking about a landmark that hasn't come up, or has gone by. Someone is asleep at the wheel...literally!

Notre Dame Cathedral ("Our Lady of Paris") was one of the main highlights of the tour for me. Reading about it is one thing, but OMG, seeing it is a totally different experience. When I first saw it I looked upon it with wide-eye wonder, at all of its 110 feet. It's no wonder that 13 million tourists visit it each year & it actually beats the Eiffel Tower for visits.

Notre Dame is a world-famous gothic-style church built over 8 centuries ago, which is absolutely jaw-dropping and inspirational to witness in person. Outside the cathedral is a statue of Charlemagne, who was claimed by the church as a saint & the French claimed him as their greatest king. It's quite impressive.

The cathedral with its dramatic towers, awe inspiring stained-glass rose windows (which alone are over 10 metres high!), statues, crypts, famous organs (with pipes extended through the walls) gothic art, portals, gargoyles are a world wonder. The west front of the cathedral is its more notable features, with its two tall towers over 228 feet high. The south tower houses the infamous bell, called the Emmanuele (which weighs over 28,000 pounds!)

Anything that requires two centuries of building deserves some major respect. I can see why Victor Hugo immortalized it in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Who can forget the tragic hero Quasimodo, who was feared by the townspeople due to his hunched back & deformities. He found solace in Notre Dame and loved the bells & hearing them ring. "Quasimido" means, half-made. I looked around for good old "Quasi" and he was nowhere to be found. (let's hope he was having fun at a local watering hole!)

We lined up to go in which is free, and there are signs for "silence", and "no-flash usage allowed " on cameras. I turned my flash off & of course, my camera was the only one it seemed that kept using the flash, despite my attempts to turn it off. Not good to swear in Church, and I didn't Mom honestly , despite my aggravation with my camera! This little Canon camera has been a real gem to me, but I think it's time to look for a new one with the way it's been acting up and disobeying me!

When you enter this amazing cathedral, you can light a candle in memory/honor of someone, and I lit one in honor of Bill (my brother who passed away suddenly in 2010). You can also request a mass for a loved one, and I paid to have a mass said in his honor. Request masses book up quickly, as they take only one request per mass, and they only do 3 masses per day. I think that it's great they only do one person per mass, paying tribute to one person only; a family's loved one.

Right now they are booking masses for 2013 & I tried to have his mass said on his birthday, January 12th, but they were booked for all three masses that particular day.

So I chose the day before he left our lives, on Feb. 19th. The 20th is always a day that reminds us of our loss, but having the mass on the 19th will be a remembrance of when he was still with us and life as we knew it was happy & normal.

So on February 19th, 2013 at 8 a.m. it will be rather cool knowing that his name, "William John Foran" will be read out in the Notre Dame Cathedral.

I don't know what he'd make of that, despite the fact we grew up Catholic, he wasn't a religious person, but he was a deep person with strong principles, ethics & convictions, so I hope he'd get a kick out of having his name announced in such a prestigious landmark. When I saw the lady write, "William John Foran" in the mass book for that day at that time, I gotta say, I was very moved. It's good I brought some tissues.

I have had some moments in this beautiful city to have some quite time; call it self-introspection, and I'm feeling pretty darned blessed in my life. I feel blessed to get this opportunity to come to Paris because frankly, back in 2010 when Bill died suddenly, the rug was pulled out from me (and his family), and I never thought there could, or would be any joy left in life. (There was a glimmer of hope because of the kids & Al). But still, I felt like there was no overcoming his death; and that grief would haunt me all the days of my life tied to me like a ball & chain. So, to be here and enjoying myself so much, I'm very grateful for. Every day that I plant my feet on the ground, I think of you Bill, and despite still having rough days, your family somehow musters on. (I just miss the heck out of him; he brought so much to our lives...(I attached the mass card they gave to me with the details.)

To change the tone from somber to amusing, when we were looking up the cathedral yesterday, Marth says to me, "It's ogre day at the cathedral". Ogre day? WTH? So I made a joke, "is it bring your ogre to church day", (like who has an ogre hanging around? A Shrek doll maybe?). Then she re-reads it and it actually said, "Oh, haha, it's sacred ORGAN day coming up in 2013". I guess "ogre" was on her mind with Quasimodo and all...I just never know what will come out of her mouth.

After our tour yesterday, we had happy hour at La Bombe, then a dinner at Mesturet with chicken stuffed with prosciutto, braised cabbage with au jus sauce with fresh vegetables. It was quite tasty, and not too heavy.

Today we headed out on another leg of our bus tour over to the Montmartre area with the Moulin Rouge and the Sacre Couer Basilica which is located on the hill of Montramatre that can be seen far and wide. It is quite a monumental site; when you come upon it, rising up on the hill, it's a moment when you stop to catch your breath. There's hundreds of steps to get to the top, and even if you're not religious, trust me, you still thank "God" for having the breath to get to the top!

The Montmartre area was hitorically known as the "artists" corner back in the late 1800's with well known artists such as Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Dali, and others who sat around "wine testing" These are my kind of folks!

This area became even more popular after the movie, Amelie (which I mentioned in another blog!) and Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman.

Will update more tomorrow; heck it's getting late here & lord knows we need our beauty sleep (especially "Ethel"!)

I will leave you with a Victor Hugo quote.

"Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots."


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27th November 2012

WOW that stained glass is something, so beautiful! Yes we got hit with some snow, and chilly weather, but we are Canadians so we can handle it just fine :-) Sounds like you had a wonderful tour with the hop on hop off bus, lucky duck!

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