Saturday, July 14, 2012
My Notre Dame View of Paris (Part Two)
The towers stand 226 feet above the square, housing five bells. Its biggest bell, Emmanuel, is used to mark the hours of the day. It was also rung to announce the liberation of the city from the Nazis in the middle of the night.
In the center you can see two cathedrals: on the right, the bigger one is the 15th century Saint-Severin, on its left is the smaller Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre from the 13th century. In the Square below it, called Rene Viviani, you can just make out the oldest tree in Paris. A locust tree, it was planted in 1602, and can be seen on the side of the church, with open gravel to its left. Across the street from the square, on the right, is the famous Shakespeare and Company, an English language bookstore opened after WWII. Though not the original one run by Sylvia Beach (made famous by her customers Hemingway and Joyce) it is an enduring symbol of English writers in Paris to this day.
To the left of the Pantheon, you can see Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, built in the 16th century, where you can find the tomb of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. Blaise Pascal is also buried there. Movie fans will recognize the steps on one corner of the church, where Gil Pender, Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris finds a magical portal to 1920's Paris.
On the left you can see Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais. Though the present building was erected in the 16th century, the earliest mention of the church itself comes from the 5th century. Sadly, in 1918, a shell from the infamous German "Paris Gun" (which had a range of 81 miles), hit the church during a Good Friday service, killing 88 worshipers.
The Seine, as seen here, is traversed by the Pont Louis-Phillipe, built in the 1830s by France last King, Louis-Phillipe the First (and last). The present bridge was built in 1860.
Next we'll climb back down to the Gallery of Chimeras for a closer look at the oddballs gathered on the balcony.