Saturday, September 29, 2012

Notre Dame in Paris | Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Latin Quarters, Paris

I was contemplating on purchasing Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" at the Shakespeare and Company store in Paris but then I shuddered at the thought of stuffing what looked like a 1000 plus page paperback into my bursting-at-the seam luggage.

The book would have been a memorable souvenir with the "Paris Point Zero" stamp on the front page.

The Shakespeare and Company book store was crowded each time we dropped by in the late afternoon. The store was packed with books from floor to ceiling filling in every nook and cranny. I was too tired to go upstairs to have a peek.

Instead of browsing there, we sat at a nearby cafe taking a break and watching the Parisian flow of human traffic from Notre Dame to Latin Quarters and vice versa.

Notre Dame in Paris

Victor Hugo was one of the instrumental figures in helping to restore Notre Dame to its former glory. The gothic cathedral was badly damaged during the French Revolution. It was here in Notre Dame that Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself as Emperor of France.

Notre Dame in Paris

My earliest memory of Notre Dame was from Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" book. Alas we were not able to walk in all the footsteps of Esmeralda and the Hunchback. We did not have the patience to stand in line to wait for our turn to climb the 387 steps to the bell tower.

Point Zero marker in Paris

We did find the Point Zero plate, a bronze marker in front of Notre Dame whereby all distances from Paris are measured.

Notre Dame is not the oldest church in Paris. The distinction belongs to Saint Germain des Pres which was constructed around the year 1000.

Sitting in these churches gave pause to marveling at the majestic vaulted ceilings, the beautiful stained glass windows and the resourcefulness of men in building these majestic cathedrals with medieval tools. Just like hundreds of years before them, the congregation today continue to worship here, bathing in the sunlight streaming through those stained glass windows and lifting their musical voices to God.

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