France- Day 2, Musee de Louvre and Notre Dame

On Thursday morning I woke up, showered and dressed and went for a walk alone.  It’s the Tony Hall in me I suppose but I love walking in new places.  I stopped at a patisserie and grabbed some things for breakfast.  The two women there didn’t speak much English and I speak no French, but they were kind and we laughed and pointed and I tried not to buy every single pastry.  I didn’t take pictures at this shop, but I did later on.  

Flowers, motorcycles and bakeries seemed to be the essence of Paris. 

I went back to the hotel, reunited with the gang and off we went on the Metro. First stop- the Louvre!

I always thought of the Louvre as a museum, but that hardly seems like an adequate label. It’s more like a fortress and I couldn’t figure out any way to get a picture that included it all.  

The structure of the buildings is in a U-shape, surrounding this courtyard, with the glass pyramid as the centerpiece.  We actually entered the Louvre from the underground because of where we got off the metro.  Our first views were of the inverted pyramid in the shopping area beneath the ground.  
Unfortunately, by the time we bought our tickets, used the loo, waited in line at security, and figured out what we wanted to see the kids attention spans were virtually gone.  

So we did a quick walk through the Italian Art on our way to see the Mona Lisa (which seemed obligatory). 

I’m not sure what the groundwork was for my emotional collapse, but standing in front of this painting I lost it. I just started weeping.  Everyone else had gone ahead to the next gallery and I just had this moment.  I am not an artist or knowledgeable about art or anything like that.  But this painting moved me. I’ll never forget it. 

By the way- the painting is by Fra Angelico (Guido de Pietro) and it was done between 1450 and 1455.  

We worked our way through the Italian Renaissance galleries, which were not only full of amazing paintings, but the building itself is art. 

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There you have it. The Mona Lisa. (Behind glass.) It was obviously not my favorite, but I didn’t dislike it. She really is quite charming.

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Just to prove they were actually there…

It’s difficult, nigh impossible, to fully appreciate the Louvre with children, so I’m already planning a trip to Paris without them. Somehow.  Because I know I only dipped a toe in the waters and I’ll be so disappointed if I got that close and couldn’t see more.  

We left the Musee to find a place for lunch and found a really crowded but cozy cafe and ate our little hearts out.  Gordon and Julie decided to go back to the Louvre to see more, and Richard and I wanted to see Notre Dame.  

Richard and I took turns in Notre Dame.  He stayed at a nearby playground with the kids while I went through, and the I took the kids on a hunt for a public toilet while he went through.  

Just like the Eiffel Tower, the cathedral was bigger than I could have imagined it.  Unfortunately we were there too late in the afternoon to go up into the bell towers, they were already closed.  But I walked through through the main level.  I have a friend from Slovenia who is planning a pilgrimage for next summer with her mother.  She asked me if Mormons do pilgrimages and I wasn’t sure how to answer.  In my own life I have traveled with my family to visit places of historical significance in our church, and I have felt the sacred nature of those places.  I suppose that’s about the closest I’ve come to a pilgrimage, aside from periodic visits to LDS temples, where I can worship and feel close to God.  

But it was really neat for me to watch the people enter the Cathedral and see the reverence in their faces.  It was quiet in there, and it was clear that some people were feeling close to God and solemnity for the sanctity of the place.  This moved me as well.  I promise I’m not pregnant but man was I having an emotional day! 

I didn’t take any (except one) pictures inside the cathedral because there was just no way to do it justice and I wanted to just be still and respectful.  There were stained glass windows everywhere, beautiful sculptures and statues and so many candles.  It was gorgeous.  Magnificent.  Peaceful.  

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From the outside this window is lovely, but from the INSIDE, with the afternoon sun shining through, it was a stained glass masterpiece, depicting biblical scenes with great detail.

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The north transept rose window.

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The only photo I took inside the cathedral. Joan of Arc- a personal hero.

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Flying buttresses!

After Richard had his turn to walk through we decided to walk down the river, then on to the Arc de Triomphe.  

I have to say that I was so proud of the kids, and grateful.  It was such a long day and we did so much walking.  They were pleasant and cooperative and I think they even enjoyed/appreciated it all.  

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