Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris, the lens perspective

A few weeks back, I took a trip to Paris (4hrs away) to explore the darker side of the 'city of lights'.  It was around Halloween, so I thought it most appropriate to get a glimpse of some things I have wanted to see for a long time.  Mostly, I wanted to take the opportunity to use my awesome camera and also, my husband wasnt interested in going and I wasnt interested in taking my kids down under Paris into the catacombs, so it was a perfect solo adventure for me (I did have a guide). 

First, a quick jaunt to the Eiffel tower, 

Looking up towards the gargoyles of Notre Dame:
 then off to another great sight for my lens-- the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  You walk up a gazillion never ending little stairs that spiral up to the bell towers, where the beautiful, yet mysterious creatures greet you, as they guard their ledges.  They have been there for hundreds of years, watching over Paris.  If I could have only seen all the things they have witnessed perched on those ledges over many lifetimes..

It was a rainy, and rather gloomy weekend, with intermittent moments of sunshine, which was perfect and set the tone for my sightseeing adventures.  

After a little shopping, some hot mulled french wine, a nutella crepe and a quick stop to the Arc de Triomphe, I headed to the hotel for a rest and then to a nice eatery in an old wine cellar within the super cool Latin quarter, where I dined on french onion soup, beef burgundy, chocolate mousse (just a taste) and about a gallon of red wine.  After that it was time for a night cruise on the Seine.  It was a beautiful sight at night.  Seeing Paris at night from the river was a real treat, the little lights, dancing like stars on the waterfront was wonderful!  The highlight was that the Eiffel tower would light up ever so often and the lights would start to sparkle and blink, her toast to me for coming to this great city.

The next day was the highlight for me, the catacombs.  I have always wanted to go, but not because Im fascinated with death, but because I am fascinated with history, and a respect for those that have departed, and there are over 6 million Parisians buried beneath Paris.  What also fascinates me, is the tunnel system itself.  There is a complete history and if you research it on the internet, it is quite fascinating, but Im too lazy to type the whole spill here right now...

The entrance to the catacombs, nothing scary in this very normal french neighborhood, but what lies beyond this simple door? p.s. if you go, get there early, a long line formed, glad I got there first:

*short background story here*
When I was a kid, probably like 13, there was a tunnel system under our town.  Every day one summer, we would always go into these tunnels, with no flashlights or anything.  It would take us at least an hour to get from one side to the other.  In the pitch dark.  Many times we experienced strange people in there, druggies and transients.  Always in a group it was fun and scary at the same time to go and try to freak each other out, I might of even had my first cigarette down there, but it was a moment of liberation down there for us young kids, having fun, being rebels...anyway, I now know, being the adult I am, the dangerousness of the situation and even cringe at all the possible terrible things that could have happened to us, but nothing did, so its the memory of those times as well, that makes me fascinated with underground tunnels systems,,,,end of background story

After a long walk down below the city of Paris, you come to the entry which reads : Stop!  This is the empire of death: (yes, kinda gave me goosebumps) 
Anyway, as I was one of the first people down there that morning, I enjoyed the silence of it all and absorbed the workmanship and the labor that went into creating final resting place for so many.  Temp-wise, it was cool, and moist.  Ever so often my boots would hit a small puddle of water on the dirt floor, or a drop or two would hit me from the ceiling, reminding me I was hundred of feet below the surface of civilization.  The feeling I had once I was walking for awhile, was one of curiosity and one of awe.  It is only a small portion of the actual catacombs that the public is allowed to see.  There are so many stories that we will never know, so much history and of course the awe of it is how they brought so many down there and the arrangements that were made, in a way as a memorial to those that had passed.  Overall the experience was a somber one.  Afterall, it was a graveyard and one should always be respectful of the dead.

random pics:

graffiti stained walls in one area of the catacombs:
Immediately after the catacombs experience, this girl (me) was happy to be back amongst the land of the living! (my expression sucks):
 Inside St. Sulpice:
After that, a quick stop to St. Sulpice, a quick look at the rose line, featured in the book the Da Vinci Code, lunch then finally to Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Chopins grave has the white statue on it:
What an amazing sight, visually, not to mention the size.  It is huge, you could easily get lost within the walls.  Which wouldnt be a terrible thing.  There is a beauty within this place that lures you to seek out those very famous people that had some impact on the French, if not the world, at one time or another.  I first wanted to see Jim Morrison though, whom I have wanted to see all my life (although he died before I was born).  

 At the gravesite, there is still an air of presence, if not him, through his fans.  Thousands visit his grave and because of this, it is cordoned off with barriers.  A tree close to the grave is littered with "grafitti", writings of those wanting to pay their respects and show how much they adore this man, even after so many years.  I was truly touched by that spirit that continues to linger.  If you could say Goodbye to the lizard king, what would you say?
This one is my favorite, "Thanks Jim Find Peace":

So many notable people are buried in this cemetery, its definitely worth a visit on your trip to Paris.

 After all of this, I was feeling a bit drained, and missing my family, it was time to head back home.  

I cant wait to go to Paris again soon, but next time with company.
And so I say Au Revoir and leave you with this last little bit, complements of Mr. Morrison:
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land....
 All photographs are the sole property of Angela Koppa and cannot be reproduced or copied without her permission.

No comments: