Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 9: Paris (Sept. 25)

Today's photo set is here on Flickr.

With today's changed schedule, I was kind of stuck because while everything else was open all day, I wanted to see the organist at St Sulpice church, and that was only open from about 12:30 to 1pm, so I decided to sleep in. Got some lunch and after a trip downtown I arrived at the church. 

Apparently it's not a well-known activity, as there were only about 10 people in line in front of me; they can only hold about 15 people in the organist room at a time, and so I finally got in around 12:50. At the top, a plaque listed the names of the organists in residence since the 1600s, and there were very few names - just 12 men since 1619 (including a father/son team from 1783 to 1849). The current man has been on the job for 30 years, which looked to be typical. While the church service was going on below, we got to watch him play the 5 keyboards, about 20 foot pedals, and lots of knobs to push and pull to get the organ sounding just right. We were there at the end of the service to hear a 3-minute "solo" which was amazing to watch and hear. One of his helpers told us that actress Catherine Deneuve has the top floor of an apartment building right across the street from the church (also featured in "The Da Vinci Code") but doesn't go to services there.

Next stop: take the train to the Pantheon. Outside it looks a lot like the US Capitol/Supreme Court buildings, but inside is a cavernous room which is a national assembly hall and where they entomb great people after death. There's also a Foucault Pendulum hanging from the top of the dome inside. Took the tour up to the top and saw the city from the top of the dome outside. You can get an unobstructed view of the entire horizon (Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Montmarte, etc.). In the basement are crypts of famous people and heroes of France, including Rousseau, the Curies, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Emile Zola, and Voltaire.

I took Linda's advice from yesterday and went back to St Chappelle church to see their stained glass windows. She was right, they're not "just" stained glass, this has the entire upper 3/4 of every wall with nothing but stained glass. The first few sections tell the Old Testament stories while the rest is (of course) about the life of Jesus. Looks fantastic on a sunny day. In order to see St Chappelle and the Orsay Museum, I had to give up on the other stuff I had for the day, like the Jewish Quarter and the Pompidou Center. My last stop for the day was the Orsay Museum, but I didn't get there until about 5pm, and had a chance to skim the top floor and part of the ground floor before they started closing down. By 5;45 they ushered everyone out of the building. I did get to see quite a few Van Goghs, Cezannes, and the like.

I hung out outside the Orsay for a while to watch some street performers. At one point there was a crazy homeless-looking guy doing a mime-ish act following people behind their backs and making fun of them, a clarinet player, and a guy doing tricks on roller skates. Sat for a bit with Shannon and Shelby from Seattle, then made my way back to Notre Dame to meet Jeff & Linda for dinner.

Unfortunately I got there just a few minutes after they left, so I ended up on Ile St Louis for dinner on my own. I had "la salade de chevre tiede sue son fit de salade, le matter de canard a la creme de mure, and les crepes facon Suzette" (aka a salad with warm goat cheese, duck, and crepes Suzette for dessert). I had to stop for some Bertholdi ice cream too. After dinner I stopped back at Notre Dame, lit up for night. Back to the apartment to check up on my email and finally get some sleep.

Today's photo set is here on Flickr.

(Originally posted on 10/2/11 at 2:31am, Copenhagen)

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