The Notre Dame de Paris is recognized around the world as a masterpiece of architecture. Thanks to Disney’s movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” even young children will recognize the famous cathedral.
Of course, we see the architectural beauty of the façade, but what about the framework? See the following excerpt from the Notre Dame de Paris website:
“This building has been given the romantic name of “the forest” for many of the beams used to build it, each beam came from a different tree. The structure is made from oak.
The gothic arches required sharply-sloped roofs. Notre-Dame de Paris’s roofs are at a 55° incline. In addition, as framing timber became less common due to deforestation and urban development at the time, it was necessary to use weaker and lighter cutting wood, which made it possible to erect the structure and increase its incline.
The first choir structure was built using wood cut around 1160-1170 (some of these trees could have been 300 to 400 years old, coming from trees planted in the 8th or 9th centuries!!!). This first structure did not last, but the wood was reused in the second structure built in 1220. The wood is still there today.
The nave structure was built between 1220 and 1240. This structure supports a lead roof composed of 1326 tiles, each measuring 5 mm thick, for a total weight of 210,000 kg.” See the Notre Dame de Paris website for more.
A long line of tourists wound its way around the cathedral on this beautiful day at the first of June when Jim and I were among the colorful crowd. Did we join the tired, waiting, sweating folks with faces of pain resembling the scowling faces sculpted on the nearby bridge? No, we didn’t trudge along with them since we have previously opted for out-of-season visits with fewer tourists knocking on the massive front doors of Notre Dame.
We mingled with the happy crowd, not in the long line, capturing photos to show folks at home in a Facebook or Twitter message: “Look where I am today!” Just married, or soon to be married couples, posed in radiant happiness for photographers. Exuberant, playful, young members of the American Boychoir School were there wearing their bright red sweaters. Sitting on a bench in front of a rose garden, they behaved like typical boys on the loose. Just as I readied my camera for a photo, two boys stuck fingers into their ears (at least, it wasn’t up their noses) and one of the larger boys tried to push a small one off the bench. They never even looked my way. I could report to their mothers that the youngsters were nicely mannered, and they could be proud of the budding young men.
We joined a group of lovely young ladies who had discovered tiny birds in the shrubbery in front of Notre Dame. A gentleman with bread crumbs showed them how to attract the little birds for a landing and a photo. Jim was once again mingling with the pretty ladies, and I was busy with my camera. I asked Jim, “Are the odds for a bird in the hand higher at the Notre Dame?” Jim edged away from the group and replied, “Could be. You might just find a bird poo decoration on your pretty hat if you don’t get a move-on outta here! Enough of feeding these birds! I’m hungry. If you aren’t planning on barbecued bird wings by the river, we need to be on a search for a restaurant.” Watching out for poop on my hat and hoping to satisfy Jim’s growling stomach, we crossed the bridge to check the possibilities.
Atmosphere and ambiance head the list when I’m looking for a place to eat. Jim’s focus is all about the food and the price.
Which one would you chose? A small café near our hotel was our final choice. We were seated facing a large fountain near the Luxembourg Gardens with my camera finally switched in the off position. The waiter brought my favorite, a jasmine tea from Mariage Frères, Maison de Thé à Paris depuis 1854 – the perfect way to end the day.
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