After traipsing around the heart of Paris over the last few days, we headed to a couple museums and wandered through a variety of outdoor gardens.We spent a good amount of time in the Saint Germain area, and then decided to take the metro out to see Notre Dame. Our original plan was to hit it during the day, but that went somewhat awry, and it was overcast and nearing dusk when we first arrived. There was a strange sort of display in front of the cathedral, which we eventually figured out was supposed to be a very large wreath with candles in it (at first it looked like random bits of evergreen with white wavy things lit up and sticking out of them). We were, unfortunately, a bit too late to go in to the cathedral, as if we were inside when mass began, I would feel obliged to sit through it (quite disrespectful to enter/leave midway through, in my opinion. There’s a professor at the University College who does walking tours, but refuses to go into the Catholic churches because he’s had students stay behind because they hold the same opinion, which he found absurd–and I found his finding it absurd equally absurd!). We did, however, have a lovely time walking around outside, then went down the street some, did some souvenir shopping, and found a nice place to eat.
There is a handy rule of thumb that I once heard: never buy or eat something right next to a major attraction. So far, this has proven to be a good idea, mainly because everything close to, say, the Eiffel Tower, is expecting hungry visitors to come by. People in need of something, but unfamiliar with the area, are the sort of people who will pay more than they need to for food because, well, they need food, and they don’t know where else to go. They don’t know that if they walk a block or two, they can get better food for cheaper, so they get meh food for wow food prices.
Such was the case tonight. There were a few cafes close to Notre Dame, but they all had, literally, the same pre-wrapped sandwiches which a) looked disgusting and b) were about 15 euros each. So we kept going, eventually coming on a cafe with good, fresh soup and made to order sandwiches for about 12 euro. Sure, we couldn’t sit out in the freezing cold and stare at Notre Dame, but we did get to take our coats off because we were indoors,and it was nice.
The sun set while we were inside, and the Cathedral was all lit up when we walked back. It was just starting to snow the tiniest bit–not enough for it to actually be snow, but enough to have little white bits of fluff whirling around in the air. We had gone past Notre Dame to find dinner, so we had not paid too much attention to the flying buttresses at the back of the Cathedral. In the night lights, with the snow all around, was the most beautiful church I’ve seen. Something about the arches and the snow and the lights made it sort of glow, and you could vaguely hear the singing from the mass inside. And I loved it.
Merry Christmas, a day late, and Happy Hanukkah.