I am officially back from Paris, and what an amazing time I had! Although we were only there for two full days, we managed to pack a lot of things to do within the time that was available to us. The only thing to note about Paris in February is how cold it is! The weather wasn’t quite amazing, yet that did not dampen our spirits! (Pardon the pun about the rainy whether…)
Wednesday was the first ‘official’ day of our trip here in Paris. We were very lucky to be given a late start that morning, which meant that we got the chance to do some exploring of the city before we got to grips with the Virgin Mary in Paris. I headed to the Sainte-Chapelle as I am currently researching/writing about it for my dissertation! It was great to get back in there this morning – I absolutely love it, and if you haven’t been you must! I always have a very transcendental experience whenever I enter the chapel. Below are a few of the photographs that I snapped on my phone, but I am currently in the process of uploading all my photographs to my new Flickr account, so I’ll post the link soon so everyone can have a look! This is the third time that I’ve been in the Sainte-Chapelle, and it was the quietest I have ever experienced it. Last summer the chapel was heaving with people, whereas this time round it was pretty empty, as you can see. I can only imagine what it must have been like for individuals, such as King Louis, to be alone in this place – breathtaking.
After exploring the Sainte-Chapelle, l I headed over to Notre-Dame Cathedral which is a stones throw away to meet with the rest of the group! We spent the rest of the morning exploring the facade portal and the transept portals, and had a wonder round inside. Notre-Dame Cathedral is stunning, and it was great to head back there once again.
For lunch, I attempted to practice my French (not so great, but I’m really trying to improve!), and then a few us and our tutor Michele went looking around some vintage/second hand clothes shop. I knew Paris was famous for its cloths, but there were so many of them! Some had some great bargains, and some not quite so much. As well as looking around some of Paris’ shops, we also stumbled upon the Centre Pompidou. We didn’t go inside, but had a good look at the architecture of the building. I’ve seen the Pompidou in photos before, but I’m not too sure what to make about it in person; I’m not convinced that I’m it’s biggest fan! But it was still cool to see what the shops were like surrounding the Pompidou, and seeing the various contemporary sculptures and street-art. My favourite was the Salvador Dalí image on the wall as seen below.
Our next and final stop for the day was an exploration around the Lourve. Michele had selected a variety of works for us to see, and so we spent a lot of the time wondering around the labyrinth that is the Louvre to find them! We saw a wide variety of works, ranging of Romanesque stone sculptures, wooden sculptures in the round and some Renaissance paintings; all relating to the Virgin Mary. One of my favourites was an ivory sculpture of the Virgin and Christ Child from the treasury of the Sainte-Chapelle. This small sculpture was believed to be made before 1279, and i think it is one of the most delicate objects I have seen pertaining to the Virgin. The fact that it is made in ivory, one of the most expensive objects at the time, just shows the sheer expense and material value imbedded within the sculpture. (More information can be found here: http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/virgin-and-child-sainte-chapelle) Another work that I really enjoyed seeing was Cimabue’s ‘Virgin Enthroned with Angels’, which we had studying just the seminar before coming to Paris, so it was great that we could see it in person; and it’s so big! Scale is definitely something that one needs to think about and remember when thinking about Medieval art, as just by knowing how big a painting Cimabue’s ‘Virgin’ is changes my perception of people may have viewed it in the 13th century. (See Cimabue’s painting here: http://arthistoryblogger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/cimabue-giotto-and-duccio-comparison-of.html)
Once we had seen the assigned Virgin Mary images, some friends and I headed to see the Mona Lisa, and yes, we did the compulsory ‘selfie’ that one must do when seeing the painting! (Mine is below – I look way too happy!) Despite it being quite late in the evening, there were still so many people wondering around the Lourve and crowding around Leonardo’s Mona!
So as you can tell, Wednesday was a busy first day in Paris! We headed back to the hostel to tuck into some food, and just chilled for the rest of the evening. We had to be up pretty early the following day to catch our train to Chartres, so sleep was definitely a must for me – especially in order to function the next day! After walking around Paris the whole day, it was nice to be able to put our feet up and relax.