Saturday, 30 October 2010

Drunk In Church

I mentioned in my last travel post that I went on a day tour of Paris. After seeing the Louvre and a few other snazzy things, the group went on a lunch cruise along the Seine. I'm sorry to say, but that was the only time I had really quality food in Paris. I read a few months ago that most native French people very rarely eat out because they can cook better food themselves. I'm increasingly of the opinion that you have to know someone to get good food in Paris. Or know something about where to find it. Or not be totally clueless like we were, anyway!

Anyway, so we were on this 2-hour lunch cruise up and down the Seine. The food was excellent. For starters I had Caponata style vegetables (the only vegetables I had in Paris - and they were pickled!). For the main I chose the Chicken with Cous-Cous and Lemon Sauce. It was delicious. There were wines matched with each meal. We were supposed to have one glass with each course, but there was some kind of mix-up because it was the first week that the company was running lunch cruises (they had previously only run dinner cruises). The upshot was - there was too much wine. Oh dear! So we ended up getting one bottle per couple with each course. Yup. The waitress seemed quite horrified that Anth was drinking Red with his prawns and the same with me and my chicken. But it was right there on the table and we didn't want to waste it!

Before I'd drunk too much, I managed to get these photos:

The Pont Alexandre III with random cruisers in the foreground

The Eiffel Tower as it appears when I'm tipsy.
Then we stumbled off the boat and back into the mini-bus. Our tour guide helped us back on like he'd seen it all before. Which I'm sure he had. Then he drove us to Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. Now, I'm not religious so a visit to a church has a different meaning to me than it does to many people. I did however, study Romanesque and Gothic Architecture at university. It was one of my favourite subjects, and ever since I've been itching to see a real, live Gothic church. (Not one of those knock-off, 19th-century Neo-Gothic ones we have at home. In fact, any building constructed before approximately 1850 is something I'd never seen before this trip.) So I got to see a real Gothic church, and not only that, but one of the most iconic examples ever built - but I never thought I'd do it drunk!

I did manage to get a few pictures, though:

The North transept (side entrance). Wow!!

Exterior of one of the aisles. Detail of the flying buttresses.

That is one gorgeous archivolt! The statues on the jamb aren't half-bad, either.

The Interior. My camera doesn't do so well in low light, so it's a bit blurry. Still amazing!

Perhaps the dizziness that comes from being drunk adds to the sense of awe on entering a sacred space. I certainly felt awed at being in a building with such beautiful art and architecture, that's so old, that so many people put their heart and soul over 100 years into building, that so many people feel compelled to visit even 800 years later. I've read that there are some who believe drunkenness brings one closer to the divine. But that's getting a bit off topic. =)

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