Archive for the ‘Notre Dame’ Category

Versailles and Mass at Notre Dame

Monday, July 9th, 2012

On Saturday morning, the whole MICEFA group got on the RER and we went to Versailles.  It was drizzling and you could see the crowds entering Versailles, which didn’t seem promising.  At first, our audio tour taught us the history of the chateau, then we were lead through the rooms in the main part of the building, such as the Hall of Mirrors and the King and Queen’s Bedchambers.  Versailles is ridiculously ornate.  There is gold everywhere, the ceilings are painted, and there is rich wall paper and paintings on the walls.  It is hard to imagine how one lived in such a place, and harder still to imagine how normal it seemed to the royalty who called it their home.  The only major difference with how Versailles appears now, besides the lines and portions roped off, is the modern art displayed both inside the building and in the garden.  I thought that it deterred from understanding what Versailles looked and felt like at the time.


On Sunday morning, I went to mass at Notre Dame.  I did not understand what was going on most of the time, especially since it was in French and Latin, but it was still a spectacular experience with the incense, recitation, readings, and communion.

This weekend it has rained a fair amount.  If I was at Mary Washington, all of the girls would be wearing rainboots, but I have not seen a single pair in Paris.  In Paris, the women wear fashionable shoes no matter what the weather or the condition of the sidewalk.  The puddles on the sidewalk are not as bad here though because the sidewalks are slanted and have drains built in.

Today, there were multiple jets that flew over Paris.  Everyone on the streets stopped and watched them and took pictures (including me).  I tried to find out if there was any news about it, but couldn’t find any.

Tonight, in honor of our visit to Versailles, we watched Marie Antoinette.  I had never seen it before and honestly do not know much about how historically accurate or inaccurate it is, but it was really cool to see the palace in it and recognize the rooms.

Notre Dame

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Yesterday, we visited Notre Dame and the two islands.  Notre Dame was magnificent.   It was constructed between 1163 and 1345 and replaced an old cathedral in order to better match Paris’s expansion and power (  The gothic style with its flying buttresses and the stain glass windows are an impressive feat.  However, I am curious about if the reason for the extensive time it took to build Notre Dame was not only due to technology.  Also, because there were different people in charge over construction over 200 years, I wonder if they made distinct changes to the design.

Professor Smith then gave us an assignment to find government buildings, which is easy to do since the island was the heart and fortress of Paris.  I found the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris, which was the first hospital in Paris, founded in 651.  Unfortunately, much of the building was destroyed in a fire in 1772 and was then rebuilt  Today, it is still considered a quality hospital (

The second, smaller island was originally only used for farm land, until it was given to the church.  Then, it was sold and became an area of expensive apartments and shops (and good ice cream!).  After class, we tried to see if we could go up Notre Dame, but the line was already cut off for the day.

Yesterday with the 4th of July, but I almost forgot! To celebrate, we decided to have hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner in honor of America at a French restaurant.  We tried to talk to our waiter  about Independence Day, but he did not understand what we were talking about.


the French even make AMAZING hamburgers!