The Nagasawa family trip to France:  May 1 - 15, 2011

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Paris (Seine River)

May 1 Arrive in Paris, Eiffel Tower
May 2 Louvre Museum, Jardin Tuileries
May 3 Cathedrals, Jardin Luxembourg

Sarlat (Dordogne River)

May 4 Sarlat
May 5 Cave paintings, Roque St. Christophe
May 6 Castles, Laines at Blagnac

Blagnac (Garonne River)

May 7 Laines at Blagnac, L'Amphitryon
May 8 Toulouse, Hiking
May 9 Cite L'Espace
May 10 Toulouse

St. Remy, Lyon (Rhone River)

May 11 Nimes, St. Remy
May 12 Pont du Gard, Camargue
May 13 Des Baux, Avignon
May 14 Lyon
May 15 Train to Paris, fly home


May 3

Cathedral #1:  Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur is a cathedral built to express repentance for the uprising called the Paris Commune of 1870-71, when hostages were executed on both sides.  Sacre Coeur also sits amidst the Montmartre district, the most seedy area of Paris and location of the story Moulin Rouge.  The architecture is Romano-Byzantine.  I love the light and airy nature of the interior.  I would have loved to pray here more. 


This is what the interior looks like.  The high, unadorned dome lets in lots of light.



Stained glass with larger portraits.  Put against the white travertine stone, the sharp colors glow.


I tried to get more of the colors from the stained glass, but I couldn't get the settings on my camera to work match the light coming in.  I'll have to figure that one out.




On the ceiling above the altar is a picture of the Father sending the Spirit upon Jesus the Son.  Great scene.


Cathedral #2:  Notre Dame

Still a cathedral where Roman Catholic services are held, Notre Dame is also the seat of the Archbishop of Paris.  It took almost two hundred years to build (1163 - 1345). 



Notre Dame de Paris one of the leading example of French Gothic architecture where the pillars rise up and branch into great arches.  I think it was made to look like the medieval European forest.  The stained glass windows represent the sun shining through the branches of the dense trees.  All in all, I've come to appreciate this style more because of its correspondence to nature, and perhaps even the garden, God's original sanctuary.  Still, Notre Dame is a bit dark for my tastes.  I prefer the light airy feeling of Sacre Coeur, or some of the older Gothic Romanesque style cathedrals we saw later in the trip.


Nice high arched ceilings...


The stained glass rose petal


The rose window


I think it's strange that my camera makes us blurry while the rest of the Notre Dame interior turns out quite well.


A portrayal of the Last Supper.


The guy with his head cut off was martyred that way.  Denis, third bishop of Paris, was killed in the persecutions of the Emperor Decius, after 250 AD.  Having presented Christ faithfully to many Gauls of that time, Denis became feared by the pagan priests.  He was beheaded on the highest hill in Paris, which is now called the Montmartre where Sacre Coeur stands.  After being beheaded, Denis was said to have picked up his head, walked six miles, preaching all the way.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that a virtuous death preaches for all time. 


This is point zero, from which all the map distances in Paris are measured.


The Crypte Archeologique gave a lot of the history of Paris as a city. 


This is worth seeing.  It shows you how Paris developed over time.


I believe this portrays the victory of the archangel Michael over the demons.


The Jardin de Luxembourg is a gorgeous public park.


Here is Zoe standing next to a statue of Saint Bathilda, a personal hero of mine.  Bathilda was a British woman who was captured by slave traders and then sold as a young slave to the royal household of the kingdom of the Franks in the 600's.  The teenage Clovis II fell in love with her.  After he became king, in 649 AD, he set her free, married her, and made her his queen.  They were both Christians.  Together, they abolished the slave trade in the kingdom of the Franks because the early Christians put forward very vigorous critiques of slavery and set slaves free very often.  Sadly, Clovis died in 657.  Bathilda ruled as Queen and regent until her son came of age.  She took the battle against slavery a step further; she made it illegal to acquire more slaves and declared that any slave entering the kingdom would be immediately set free.  Within one generation, slavery was therefore abolished in early France.  This was the first kingdom in the world to abolish slavery, because of Christian faith.  Upon her death, the church recognized Bathilda as a saint.  Someone should make a movie of this woman's story.



There was a stand-up zip line in the park.  Awesome playground for kids.  There were also tennis courts and basketball courts.


This building now houses the French Senate.


This is a building connected to the Sarbonne, a university in Paris.  It dates back to the 13th century and was one of the first universities in the world. 



Ming got a recommendation to go find the best pastries in Paris here:  Pierre Herme.  They were so strict, they didn't want me to take pictures of their pastries inside. 


But of course I did anyway...



Here are the two pastries that we bought there.


John exhibited our excitement about eating them!


We sat outside another pastry shop that had these goodies.  I regret not trying more of the tarts!



Cathedral #3:  Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle is on two levels.  The lower level was built in the 1200's by King Louis IX to house relics:  what was thought to be the crown of thorns worn by Christ, the Image of Edessa, and thirty other relics of Christ that had been in Louis' possession.  Historians believe that King Louis IX was trying to rival the Emperor at Constantinople.  The stained glass here on the upper level was added in the 1400's.  Each long vertical panel was designed to tell the story of a biblical book.   





Here is John standing under the panel depicting the Gospel of John.


This is a scene from Ezekiel 1:  the vision of the throne of God, surrounded by the four cherubim.


Another rendering of the throne of God from Ezekiel 1.


Musee D'Orsay

We walked as fast as we could from St. Chapelle to the Musee D'Orsay, where many French impressionist paintings are housed.  On Wednesdays, the D'Orsay lets people in for free precisely at 5pm until 6pm, when it closes.  Alas, we made it there at 5:09pm.  Doors closed.  C'mon!  The D'Orsay has Ming's favorite collection of Monets, whose experiments in painting light, on water lilies and bridges and such, is really fun to look at.  Manet and Van Gogh were other impressionist painters.     


The kids posed next to interesting statues outside the museum.



Clyde kindly bought us crepes for dinner from his favorite crepe stand near the Ile de la Cite.  We sat on the banks of the Seine River in the nice evening sunlight.


Then we went to get gelato and ice cream.


We meandered around the other side of Notre Dame.  Here are the famous flying buttresses.


Also behind Notre Dame is a small little area.  There was a seesaw that John and Zoe jumped on.


Back in May of 2002, when John was less than 2 years old, Ming and I visited this very spot.  We met my friends Alex and Alma Cho here.  Nine years ago, John played with Luke Cho on this very same seesaw.  :)


Then we went over to the Eiffel Tower again to wait for sunset and the lights that lit up the Tower.  In France, the sun goes down at 9:30pm.  The Eiffel lights came on at 10:00pm.  We tried to avoid all the guys who were selling little key chains. 


Here are pictures of the Eiffel Tower between 9pm - 10pm.


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