Yesterday was perhaps the first sunny day in the last month in Paris that was warm enough to make walking around pleasant. Unable to pass up the opportunity for some outdoor time on such a rare occasion, I grabbed my camera and set off toward to Seine, Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame towers over the other structures of Île de la Cité, the historic center of the capital and the geographic epicenter of modern Parisian life. The cathedral is such an iconic image that perhaps photographs of Notre Dame rival only those of the Eiffel Tower for cliché images of the city. And yet I am still not over it. I stil always turn and look back at the Cathedral every time I walk by. And I never get tired of photographing Notre Dame.
Even just focusing on the western façade of Notre Dame, the opportunity for photographs is endless. The intricacy and patterns of the stonework encourage both up close and wide angle frames. When the sunlight hits the stone, everything changes. And again, when the sun goes down and the façade is illuminated, the Cathedral imparts a different mood.
Notre Dame, whose construction started in the 12th century, is a symbol and also a reflection of Paris’s history ever since. The Cathedral saw the coronation of King Henry VI of England in 1431, the wedding of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1558, the coronation of Napoleon in 1804 and sadly, some damage to its stained glass windows during World War II. These are just some of the marks that Notre Dame has made on history and that history has made on it.
Notre Dame is open to visits Monday through Friday from 9:30AM to 6:00PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00AM to 6:00PM. In addition, numerous services are conducted each week. For a bird’s eye view of the city and a fair bit of exercise, climb up the tower (entrance at the northwestern corner on Rue du Cloître Notre-Dame).
Follow my ready-made itinerary for the islands of the Seine to see the highlights of the area surrounding Notre Dame de Paris.
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