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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris

Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris is more commonly known as Notre Dame, as the name in French is Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris. A bronze star at the square in front of the Cathedral was once the benchmark for distance measurement in the city of Paris, which shows the significance of this most visited site in Paris.

I went to the Cathedral on 6th June, 2009, and I don't know whether I was fortunate or unfortunate, Barack Obama decided to visit at the same time! So, I couldn't even get close to the Cathedral and I could only see it from across the square in front of it. The whole place was heavily guarded, gardens included. I even saw snipers on the bell towers!

Beyond the barricades, there was a big crowd waiting to have a glance of Barack Obama. Some of them were even equipped with super-tele-zoom lenses. After hanging around for a while, I decided to beat the crowd and went on to look for dinner. There were policemen and policewomen all over the place, even on the billboard!

I selected a restaurant nearby Notre Dame where there was also a big crowd lining along the road in front of the restaurant. After ordering my set meal, I sat back and relax and watched the crowd waiting for Barack Obama's car to pass by. Minutes later, my entrée of gratinated onion soup arrived on my table. It tasted great in the beginning but I felt there was too much cheese towards the end of savouring it.

Once the waiter had cleared the bowl, my main course of confit de canard (conserve of duck) was served. It was too salty to my taste bud. I had to eat it along with a lot of water. The fries were also of very generous serving size that I couldn't finish them all. Half way biting through that drumstick of duck, I heard the crowd along the road cheering, whistling and waving. I knew that was Barack Obama's vehicle passing by. I stood up but couldn't see anything, so I sat down again to enjoy my meal.

How could I leave Paris without seeing Natre Dame up close? So, I went back two days later. It was still as elegant without Barack Obama.

This massive Cathedral is said to be able to accommodate 6,000 worshippers inside at any one time, but there were not as many visitors during my visit. If not, I would have difficulty moving around.

Above the main altar is a series of stained-glass windows.

There are two big rose windows, each at one side of the Cathedral.

The most beautiful rose window is not amongst these two. It is the one right above the centre portal of the main entrance. Unfortunately, part of the view was obstructed by the Grandes Orgues (grand organ).

When the weather got better towards noon time, I went out of the Cathedral again and walked to Square Jean XXIII, a little park at the back of the Cathedral to look at one of the best views of Notre Dame.

The clouds were moving very fast, so it was a challenge that I had to click the shutter-release button in a split of a second to capture the scene. The sun was too shy that it illuminated the Cathedral for only a few seconds before it hid itself again.

I had to wait again if I missed the opportunity of capturing the moments of illumination from the sun. Well, at least I have got some good shots, so it was worth the wait.

I circled around the Cathedral to look for some good angles to shoot again, although my Lonely Planet travel guidebook only recommended the view from Square Jean XXIII.

After I was satisfied of seeing Notre Dame from the outside, I proceeded to climb Tours de Notre Dame (Towers of Notre Dame), but that is another story.


Mojo said...

The windows are positively awe inspiring. And the organ pipes actually add to the shot of the one more than they take away from it. Or I think so anyway. Great job incorporating them into the composition!

Ruey said...

When I visited in July `03 it was pouring cats & dogs. But the sun came out when I went to visit Sacre Coeur the nx day. Most of my friends had the same experience, rainy Notre Damne and sunny Sacre Coeur. So wow, lucky you to get great weather on both days that you visited! :-)

CK Ng said...

Mojo:> Thanks for your input. I'm glad that you like the shot of the rose window with the organ pipes.

Ruey:> Actually the weather was not on my side as well when I visited Notre Dame. When it was raining, I went inside. I went outside when the rain stopped and waited for the right moment to capture the scene. As I have mentioned in the post, those moments were so short that I had to wait and act fast when they appeared!

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